Feds: APD uses excessive force, has ‘failed accountability systems’

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The U.S. Justice Department, following a 16-month investigation, has determined that Albuquerque police have a pattern and practice of violating the U.S. Constitution through the use of unreasonable and excessive force.

At a Thursday morning news conference, federal officials unveiled the 40-plus pages of findings on APD they sent to Mayor Richard Berry’s administration. It details the problems DOJ investigators found with this city’s long-troubled police department.

The Justice Department hammered APD for substandard training, lack of accountability in the Internal Affairs process, officers’ inability to deal with people living with mental illness and other issues.

The DOJ appears to have reviewed about 20 shootings by APD officers between 2009 and 2012. Federal investigators determined that the majority of them amounted to unreasonable uses of force.

Citing an aggressive culture, the DOJ also pointed to a lack of oversight of SWAT situations and other tactical police calls.

The Justice Department cited several of APD’s more high-profile shootings as examples of excessive force and APD brass’s failure to discipline officers.

Among the fixes the DOJ says Albuquerque police need to implement are overhauls of the Internal Affairs division, better use-of-force and deescalation training for officers both new and experienced and a more effective civilian oversight system.

The report of findings will serve as a starting point for negotiations between the city and the DOJ. The feds have eight active court-enforceable agreements known as a “consent decrees.” If the city resists, the DOJ may sue Albuquerque in federal court to mandate changes to APD.

It is unclear whether a federal monitor will be installed to oversee changes to APD.

We’ll have updates throughout the day on krqe.com and complete coverage in each of our broadcasts.

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