Justice Department Announces Major Milestones Achieved in Policing Reform Efforts for the City of Albuquerque and Albuquerque Police Department
The Justice Department announced today that it has joined with the City of Albuquerque in filing a motion seeking changes to the requirements of the consent decree regarding the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) after achieving compliance with a vast majority of the consent decree.
The proposed modifications are based on the city and APD’s notable progress in implementing the consent decree and continued self-assessment of certain provisions of the decree. According to the Independent Monitor, APD has achieved compliance with 80% of the consent decree.
These proposed changes will help APD improve how it investigates low-level uses of force; improve its process for investigating allegations that officers committed misconduct – a crucial component for APD to enforce the requirements of the consent decree in its day-to-day operations; and build on the successes of Albuquerque Community Safety, a city agency that sends trained civilians instead of police officers to 911 calls for mental health, substance abuse, and homelessness issues. This approach allows officers to focus on addressing violent crime, while also connecting people with the services they need.
The Justice Department and the city agreed to critically consider areas where APD has not achieved full compliance in key areas – such as officers’ use of force – and develop strategies for improvement.
“The Justice Department’s consent decree has provided the strong medicine necessary to remedy problems and improve the way policing is carried out across Albuquerque,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “After almost a decade of meaningful reform called for by our consent decree, we are ushering in a new day for people across the city. We are recognizing the progress that the Albuquerque Police Department has made towards achieving compliance with this consent decree for both the court and the public. Though challenges remain, the Justice Department is committed to supporting city leaders, community stakeholders and the police department as we work together to implement lasting institutional reform that makes constitutional policing a reality for everyone across Albuquerque.”
“Together, we are building the effective and constitutional police department the Albuquerque community deserves,” said U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez for the District of New Mexico. “This is apparent both in technical compliance and in actual overall reductions in serious uses of force, which showed a 30% reduction last year. This is a credit to the hard work of the City of Albuquerque, the men and women of the Albuquerque Police Department and the relentless involvement of our community partners. We can now focus our efforts on the central mission of this journey: ensuring that APD conducts thorough, timely and reliable investigations of officers’ use of force. Our staunch commitment to this goal, as a community, will deliver a change in the culture of policing that centers the safety of all members of the public.”
Over the past eight years, APD has made significant strides towards achieving compliance with the requirements of the consent decree. For example:
- Equipped All Officers with Body-Worn Cameras: APD provided all officers with body worn cameras, which must be activated during all law enforcement contact with community members.
- Created New Civilian Investigative Unit: APD launched a centralized unit of civilian investigators responsible for investigating low-level uses of force as part of a pilot program.
- Increased Crisis Intervention Training: The city and APD instituted programs and initiatives to minimize the use of force against individuals in crisis due to behavioral health issues. Approximately 54% of patrol officers serve as trained crisis intervention certified responders – far more than APD’s initial goal of 40% of patrol officers.
- New Data Collection Efforts: APD hired a Director of Analytics who oversees APD’s data collection and analysis efforts and develops evidence-based recommendations for policy and management strategies.
- New Policing Reform Office: APD created the Bureau of Police Reform to accelerate reform efforts, provide oversight for internal investigations of officers and ensure that officers receive discipline that is fair, consistent and commensurate with their misconduct.
- Successful Training Academy: The APD Training Academy has received consistently high ratings from the Monitor.
The District Court for the District of New Mexico entered the consent decree in June 2015. The decree, as well as information about the Civil Rights Division, are available on its website at Special Litigation Section Cases and Matters. Additional information about implementation of the consent decree is also available on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office at Investigation into Albuquerque Police Department.