APD Independent Review Officer defends work against DOJ report

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The city employee who some have accused of letting APD officers off the hook for misconduct is now defending her work in the face of the Department of Justice investigation.

In its report, the DOJ slammed Albuquerque Police for a lack of oversight and accountability in the department and outside of it. The Feds say the city’s Independent Review Office has contributed to APD’s pattern of excessive force.

Monday, KRQE News 13 spoke to the woman at the helm.

The Independent Review Officer, Robin Hammer told us she’s done her job and disagrees with some of what the Feds had to say.

“My career has been dedicated to holding public officials and public employees accountable and I take that serious,” said Hammer.

It’s a defensive statement Hammer, in response to the DOJ’s findings. Department investigators specifically called Hammer out, writing:

“…from our review it appears that the Review Officer is more closely aligned with the department than with the community that the Review Officer serves.”

DOJ investigators also stated:

“We are left with the conclusion that the current Review Officer and her predecessor have simply been too forgiving of the department’s use of deadly force.”

However, Hammer doesn’t agree with that.

In an interview Monday, KRQE News 13 asked Hammer, “do you feel that you are too closely aligned (to the police department to do your job effectively?

Hammer replied, “No, certainly not, because the facts and the standard operating procedures are what govern, I make my findings based upon a full investigation of all of the facts.”

The DOJ also pointed out one case Hammer cleared where an officer shot and killed Mickey Owings in a Wal-Mart parking lot when he tried to drive away.

They say the shooting violated his civil rights and department policy.

However, Hammer said it was justified, saying the shooting was in line with department policy claiming Owings was trying to use the car was a weapon.

“I don’t believe they addressed that,” said Hammer in regards to the DOJ’s review of the case.

“That application is what my review involves, not a review of someone’s Federal civil rights so it’s a different review,” said Hammer.

Hammer says her job is to review and enforce police policy and suggest changes where possible. She believes she’s done that.

“I’ve made findings against the department many times, findings from myself have resulted in officers being fired and officers being disciplined. I pride myself on being fair and impartial,” said Hammer.

Hammer says she came on board in September 2012 and that she was only the Independent Review Officer for four months of the three years that the Feds reviewed.

She says she’ll likely have some input on what comes out of the city’s agreement with the Feds.

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