Councilors heard passionate public comment about changes to the Albuquerque Police Department and its oversight structure at the Monday, Feb. 6 meeting. Speakers criticized the higher-ups within APD and called for the resignation of Independent Review Officer William Deaton and chair of the Police Oversight Commission, Bambi Folk. Deaton, 81, had announced a few days earlier that he is retiring this summer from the IRO position, which he has held for about five years.
A handful of people urged the Council not to dissect District 3, which encompasses the UNM, Barelas, Downtown and University areas. The redistricting proposal will be discussed at the Wednesday, Feb. 22 meeting. It parcels out the historical region and creates a district on the Westside. It would also eliminate Isaac Benton's seat on the Council after the 2013 election.
Speakers said another plan that carves up Mike Cook’s mid-Heights district is less disruptive to the city as a whole, given the suburban area's similarity to its neighboring regions.
|Issue||Council's Take||Reporter's Take|
|Oversight OversightThree items concerning the Independent Review Office and the Police Oversight Commission were on the agenda. Two quarterly reports outlining complaints against APD were batted around and then accepted with out any real discussion of their content. A look at a review of Albuquerque's police oversight was postponed until the Feb. 22 meeting. After contentious comments from the public, Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry defended the process, saying the commission doesn't always side with police and, on average, three out of 10 complaints are sustained.||Councilor Rey Garduño said he refuses to believe that seven out of 10 people are filing frivolous complaints. Councilors agreed that changes need to be made to the oversight structure soon. Dan Lewis said the system needs a complete overhaul. Brad Winter said it works in accordance with the rules that created it, and the Council should change the ordinance. Cook said when he was on the commission, it was often difficult to prove citizens complaints.||The time is ripe for some real changes in how the city’s oversight system is structured. But there’s no need to be hasty or to reinvent the wheel. Keep what works, toss what doesn't and appoint a diverse group of fair, nonpartisan people to make recommendations that carry weight. Take a methodical, transparent and bipartisan approach that includes looking at what other more progressive communities are doing. Citizen police oversight is vital to build trust and cooperation, which serve as a foundation for safe communities.|
|Just Git ’er DoneThe Council unanimously approved contributing $50 million to rebuild the Paseo del Norte and I-25 interchange. The city needs about $93 million for the first phase of construction. The state has tentatively said it will pitch in $30 million, and Bernalillo County chipped in $5 million.||Benton said he thinks Rio Rancho and Sandoval County should pitch in as well. All councilors, except Debbie O’Malley who was absent, agreed on this plan to fund the project. The four Democrats on the Council opposed earlier legislation offering up $25 million, saying that was not enough.||Benton is correct in asking for support from our northern neighbors. With a limited number of roads across river, each bridge feeds several regions. How about asking Intel to pitch in a million or two? Paseo—along with Alameda—bears the brunt of traffic moving west and north of the Rio Grande.|