ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — Voicing frustration in response to the recent Albuquerque Police shooting that killed a homeless camper in the foothills, community members packed a Police Oversight Commission meeting Thursday, demanding action.
More than 20 people filled the Long Term Planning Committee Meeting of the Police Oversight Commission, most raising concerns about the shooting that killed James Boyd. About a dozen people spoke in all, including one woman who shared a story about her fear of calling police this week about a man who was having medical issues.
“As neighbors we were concerned that if we called 911 we didn’t know if a man would be killed,” said the woman.
However, many didn’t get a response they had hoped for as commissioners told them that the P.O.C. is mainly powerless to investigate and that the issue is not the purview of the comission’s “Long Term Planning Committee.”
“Whether you receive us or not, the community is angry and we as citizens demand that any place we speak on these issues ought to be respected,” said another man during public comment.
James Boyd was shot after a 3 hour standoff in the foothills. Video from a helmet camera appears to show Boyd turning around when two officers fired. APD Chief Gorden Eden says Boyd directly threatened a canine officer with two knives.
At Tuesday’s Long Term Planning Committee meeting, three P.O.C. commissioners told people they really can’t do much about police shootings because the group has no oversight or authority to investigate.
However, those words helped shift conversation from doing something about the foothills shooting to giving the P.O.C. more power.
Albuquerque City Councilors Brad Winter and Ray Garduno are now working to draft an ordinance that would change the oversight commission’s rules, ideally to give it more power. Commissioners appeared to agree with many community members’ comments that change needs to happen for the commission to become “more effective.”
Commissioner Richard Shine honed in on giving the Oversight Commission and the Independent Review Office more power by commenting on the city’s appeal to the Las Cruces Police Department to do an independent investigation.
“If in fact the IRO (Independent Review Office) had independent authority to investigate, the Mayor wouldn’t have to in fact say, ‘Let’s go to Las Cruces to get an independent investigation.’ It could have been a civilian run investigation by a police oversight commission,” said Richard Shine, the chair of P.O.C.
KRQE News 13 recently spoke to Councilor Brad Winter about where the ordinance to change the P.O.C. stands. Winter said it would likely be another four weeks before a draft ordinance hits the city council floor.