IRO: Lapel camera violations most frequent

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Record every call, every time. In early 2013, APD dramatically expanded which incidents officers need to record on lapel cameras.

Before that, only a set group of arrests such as disorderly conduct arrests or domestic violence calls fell under the policy. Now, it’s everything from a simple traffic stop to a violent arrest.

But according to a report released by the Independent Review Office, the office responsible for investigating citizen police complaints, that policy isn’t followed fairly often.

In 2013, the IRO looked into 215 citizen complaints, 131 of those were tossed or resolved before a full investigation could be completed, either because they were out of the office’s jurisdiction, mediated informally or for other reasons.

That left 84 citizen complaints the IRO fully investigated. Out of those, the IRO sustained lapel camera policy allegations against 60 of the officers involved in those cases. In several instances News 13 identified, multiple officers were caught breaking the lapel camera rules.

“It was by far and away the most sustained charge or charge that was substantiated that we found,” said Robin Hammer, the Independent Review Officer.

So what happens to those officers?

According to IRO reports, the most frequent punishments were either a verbal or written reprimand for officers caught breaking the policy.

No officer was suspended solely for a lapel camera violation following an IRO investigation in 2013. APD couldn’t tell News 13 Friday if any officer has ever been suspended for either a lone or repeat lapel camera violation alone.

There are signs officers are getting a better hang of the policy. Through July, the IRO has only found 18 officers breaking APD’s lapel camera policy.

Because of some high profile problems with officers using lapel cameras, the city is working on strengthening and improving policies.

“We’re trying to craft some auditing policies for example so that we can audit rank and file folks whether it’s a critical incident or not,” said Mayor RJ Berry in a June interview.

An APD spokesperson tells News 13 the department hopes to roll out those changes in two to three months.

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