Research firm MGT of America is evaluating the effectiveness of the Police Oversight Commission and the Independent Review Office in addressing citizen complaints. The city hired the firm in May on a $40,000 contract.
An MGT analyst observed the Thursday, July 14 commission meeting, during which local attorney Steve Torres was escorted away by two Albuquerque Police Department officers. Torres' 27-year-old son Christopher was killed by APD in April.
As the commission discussed the August officer-involved shooting death of Enrique Carrasco, Torres attempted to ask a question. After several verbal attempts by Chairman Bambi Folk to stop Torres from talking out of turn, two uniformed APD officers moved into place and physically escorted Torres out.
(To view the full meeting, go to the city’s GOV TV site. Scroll down to the section titled Police Oversight Commission.)
Earlier in the meeting, Torres accused the commission of not fulfilling its function and rubber-stamping most of APD’s behavior. Other public comments also claimed the commission merely justifies the force's actions. “How can you sleep at night?” Mike Gomez asked. He is the father of 22-year old Alan Gomez, who was killed by police in May.
In an interview with the Alibi, Internal Review Officer William Deaton said the IRO and the Police Oversight Commission have a broad reach but do not have power to impose penalties—only to make recommendations. Deaton’s findings can be ignored or discarded by the Police Oversight Commission or by the city’s chief administrative officer.
For instance, it was Deaton’s opinion that the shooting of Kenneth Ellis III, a 25-year old Iraq War veteran, was not a reasonable use of force and the shooting should not have happened. The Police Oversight Commission disagreed, rejected his opinion and called the shooting justified.
Deaton said MGT analysts will be around in the coming weeks, gathering more information and data for their study.