ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Following a city council meeting where hundreds spent hours berating city leaders about the conduct of the Albuquerque Police Department, some city councilors say they want changes but are waiting to see what the Department of Justice announces Thursday.
More than 300 people attended the Albuquerque City Council meeting Monday that lasted for five hours with roughly 100 different speakers. While there was some understanding and support for APD offered, the overwhelming majority of comment was critical of APD and city leaders.
“This is not the police department that I wanted,” said a woman at Monday’s meeting.
“The mayor said the Boyd murder was horrific but where has he been?” asked another person at Monday’s meeting.
“You either help us or get out of the way!” said Adrianna Via, a comment directed to city councilors during the meeting.
So what did city councilors take away from all of the outcry? The focus varied councilor to councilor.
“The public wanted to see changes in the police oversight commission,” said Council President Ken Sanchez.
“Lapel cameras be seriously looked at,” said Councilor Rey Garduño.
“Behavioral Health,” said Councilor Isaac Benton.
But just when councilors will move forward and what exactly they’ll try change at APD is somewhat of a mystery. Councilor Sanchez says he’s waiting for the results of the Department of Justice’s investigation to come down Thursday.
“Because of the time that it has taken, that it will address a lot of concerns and hopefully all of the concerned,” said Sanchez.
Councilor Isaac Benton says he agrees.
“It’s critical, yes the DOJ we got to receive that, digest it quickly and get to work,” said Benson.
However, Benton says he’s also looking into a way of getting the pubic to vote on citizen oversight of APD.
“I was sort of more interested in the idea of an elected police commission who would direct a chief,” said Benton.
Benton says he hasn’t made up his mind on which direction to go, but supports the idea of getting the public involved in voting.
“Getting something on the ballot for a charter amendment, I’m all in favor of it but we have to realize that the deadline for that is the end of May,” said Benton.
Meanwhile, Councilor Rey Garduño has some other ideas on his mind as well, including consideration of an ordinance to make it illegal for officers to not use their lapel cameras.
“That they are encouraged through some kind of penalty if it’s not done,” said Garduño.
He’s not sure what the penalty would be, but says he has some ideas.
“And if it’s as small as a reprimand or something as serious as asking the person to no longer be part of that force that interacts with the public,” said Garduño.
Garduño says he’s also considering a proposal to make the police chief a publicly-elected position.
“If it’s not a popular initiative that goes to the voter than something that says the chief of police has to go through more vetting than just the mayor hiring someone,” said Garduño.
If councilors take up any of those proposed ideas to get the public to vote on a police commission or vote on a police chief, they’ll have to move quickly. Both would have to be charter amendments that need to be submitted by the end of May to make the November ballot.