ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The leader of a state agency said he’d rather burn law enforcement training tactics before releasing them to the public. That comment sparked an uproar from a civil rights group, but one of the state’s top cops said the director’s remark was taken out of context.
Despite what the director of the state’s Law Enforcement Academy said to the Santa Fe New Mexican last month, New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas told KRQE News 13 the LEA always planned on releasing the records, and that the public does have a right to know how officers are being trained.
There’s no question officers’ use of force has been under scrutiny around the state. So when LEA Director Jack Jones was quoted in the Santa Fe New Mexican saying he’d rather burn law enforcement training materials before making them public, Chief Kassetas, who’s also an LEA board member, said that comment was taken out of context.
“There was a lot more to that interview than the last comment he said, and in talking with Director Jones, he was referring to releasing anything that would give our officers a tactical disadvantage,” explained Kassetas.
Kassetas claims the LEA, which oversees the training and licensing of cops in the state, will comply with public records requests for training materials, and handed News 13 pages of academy curriculum.
But things like officer survival and patrol tactics, he says, are another story. “Its not that we’re not gonna release those two, but we’re going to have to redact some of the stuff in there,” he said. “It’s a playbook essentially.”
A playbook, Kassetas said, that could put officers’ lives in danger if criminals got their hands on it.
It’s a topic at the core of the controversy, the LEA’s new guidelines for use of force. The ACLU wanted to see them, so it filed a records request with the LEA.
“And I think the public does have a right to know how their officers are being trained,” said Kassetas.
With all the recent police shootings, highlighted by the state police officer firing away at a minivan full of kids near Taos last October, Kassetas said he understands public concern with officer tactics.
“I’m here to say you know what, everybody calm down, we’re going to release it, its releasable and we’ll stand behind our training, and those tactics which we think will put our officers in jeopardy, we’re going to hold onto those,” explained Kassetas.
Chief Kassetas said the academy will likely release the draft form of the LEA training materials in response to public records requests by the end of next week. He said each board member has input, and that the public will also have an opportunity for input at the next law enforcement board meeting.
Every law enforcement agency in the state follows the basic LEA course material, but agencies like APD and State Police have their own academies where they add onto that.