Remarks as Prepared for Delivery By Acting U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, District of New Mexico, on the Albuquerque Police Department Investigation
Good morning and thank you for being here. I am pleased to welcome Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels and members of her staff from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to Albuquerque. It has been a privilege for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico to work closely with Jocelyn and her staff over the past 16 months on the Justice Department’s civil investigation into whether the Albuquerque Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of violating the Fourth Amendment by using excessive force. We are here today to announce our findings and conclusions, and the next steps for the Department of Justice, the City, and the people of Albuquerque.
Jocelyn and Jonathan Smith, who is the Chief of the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division, will address the scope and conclusions of the investigation, and discuss our next steps. Before they do, I would like to make a few important points.
Today marks a critical milestone in our community and for the Albuquerque Police Department. Understanding how we arrived here is very important, but how we move forward is even more important. The coming days and months will determine what the next generation of policing will look like in our City. We are at a unique time and place where the City can decisively determine the culture of the Albuquerque Police Department and its relationship with the community it serves. We are in a place where the City and the community can collaborate and develop a productive working partnership to rebuild and to maintain the foundation of trust that is essential for effective, productive law enforcement. Although there are difficult and systemic issues to resolve, we embrace these challenges and are very optimistic for the future of the Albuquerque Police Department.
Our optimism is based on three important factors:
First, although our investigation has found serious constitutional problems that Acting Assistant Attorney General Samuels will discuss in detail, it also has confirmed that the great majority of APD officers are honorable law enforcement professionals who risk their physical safety and well-being for the public good on a daily basis. Their work is not easy and their duties often are performed under difficult and dangerous circumstances. For most officers, policing is not a job; it is an honor and a profession. It is about promoting public safety and service to their neighbors and the community. The dangers they face on the job are real, and they must have the tools needed to protect the public and themselves. We are optimistic for the future of the Albuquerque Police Department because so many of its officers are committed to making our neighborhoods safer places to live, to work and to play, and do so with integrity and in compliance with the Constitution and the law.
Second, we also are optimistic because the City and the Albuquerque Police Department gave the investigative team access to every document and person requested during the investigation. Additionally, the Mayor and other City officials have expressed a strong desire to address the deficiencies uncovered; and have assured us that they are committed to working with us to remedy the problems. We have every reason to believe that we will move forward in a way that honors both the men and women working in APD and the residents of this great City they serve.
Finally, we are optimistic because the people of Albuquerque want and rightfully demand the highest standards for their police force. The residents of Albuquerque also want safe neighborhoods and want the police to succeed. Clearly, the residents of Albuquerque support the changes needed to fix the problems present in the Albuquerque Police Department. During our investigation we have heard from many people, coming from all walks of life in our city. They came forward because they care about this City, and because they care about the police department that serves them. The people of Albuquerque are committed to being part of the critical dialogue necessary to ensure that reforms are in place to promote constitutional policing while giving the men and women of the Albuquerque Police Department the support they need to fight crime effectively.
These three critical factors give us great optimism that the City, the Albuquerque Police Department, and the community will come together to ensure that the deficiencies identified by the investigation are corrected.
I now turn the podium over to Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels who will discuss the results of the investigation.
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