ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Police Union is sounding off after the Department of Justice released their findings on APD Thursday.
In a statement they released Thursday, they say “We have a great department with great officers who have worked hard to protect and serve the citizens of Albuquerque and will continue to do so on a daily basis,” APOA President, Stephanie Lopez said.
Lopez says it’s difficult to hear the DOJ’s findings but says she’s relieved there won’t be a takeover of the department.
The Department of Justice indicates there are a number of deficiencies in the department’s training program and an over-emphasis on using force.
Union President Stephanie Lopez admits any additional training would be a benefit to officers but says, she believes APD is an adequately trained department. Lopez also says she believes the department has done a good job holding officers who use force accountable, despite the DOJ’s report indicating the department’s “failure to implement an objective and rigorous internal accountability system”.
The DOJ did point out most police officers in the department are good despite but cite a problem with APD’s culture.
Lopez says she finds the DOJ’s findings on less lethal force particularly upsetting.
“The less lethal is there so we don’t get into the lethal encounters so, that’s the difficult part is, okay, so we’re wrong on both. We’re wrong when we use less lethal and we’re wrong when we use lethal force,” explains Lopez.
The Department of Justice also says they see a disconnect between officers and residents about the perception of overly aggressive conduct by officers and observed officers were dismissive of residents’ concerns. They also call for more civilian oversight.
Lopez says she supports more civilian oversight but it must be reasonable and unbiased.
“A lot of times when you have civilian oversight, they don’t have the knowledge or the understanding of our profession and that would be like asking me to criticize or grade a surgeon who’s done open heart surgery…I do believe the community’s opinions matter, I just want it to be in a fair and unbiased way,” Lopez says.
Now, Lopez says they’re looking towards the future.
“Our department looks forward to learning and advancing from the DOJ’s guidance and additional training to make us a better department in the future,” Lopez added.