ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The city council unanimously voted Thursday night to revamp the Police Oversight Commission, the civilian group tasked with holding officers accountable. The bill gives the commission a lot more power, but not everyone is happy with it.
City councilors call it a historic piece of legislation. A year and a half of research went into the proposal to give a civilian group more power and it could be in place for years to come.
When the feds issued their report on APD they said the lack of power given to the civilian oversight group contributed to the problems in the department.
The legislation gives the commission more power to make policy recommendations and gives them the power to subpoena witnesses and officers about investigations. It also requires the police chief give the commission an explanation if he doesn’t follow a discipline recommendation.
Councilors debated for five hours and unanimously passed it. But not everyone is thrilled.
The ACLU is concerned it looks too much like the old group, which spent so much time looking at citizen complaints against officers, it missed the big picture.
“I watched as officer involved shootings rose and rose in this city and to my alarm, the police oversight commission was entirely silent on the matter and spent much of their time delving into citizen complaints,” Peter Simonson said. “We can’t see that kind of situation happen again in the city of Albuquerque.”
The union isn’t happy with it either, saying it goes too far. They’re concerned it was pushed through without their input and say it violates the rights of officers.
The APOA said they’re considering a civil lawsuit to stop the legislation as long as it’s what the rank and file officers want.
City Council President Ken Sanchez said he was very disappointed to hear that. He said the legislation works to protect the rights of officers and citizens and that it’s based on what the Department of Justice wants to see.
The revamp of the civilian oversight board is considered a key component of the department of justice mandate to reform APD.
The legislation still needs the mayor’s signature.