Sociology expert: Boyd shooting will have lasting impact

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Monday marks one year since the shooting death of homeless camper James Boyd, yet the incident is still making waves both locally and nationwide.

Lapel cam video shows after hours of failed negotiations Officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez shoot and kill Boyd, who was illegally camping in the foothills.

Sociology experts say the shooting spurred people to question what they believe about the police.

“I think that the immediate incident itself of the James Boyd shooting did change people because, again, it’s that tipping factor so people may not have recognized all the incidents that came before, but they see this incident,” said Senior Research Scientist Paul Guerin.

Guerin works with the UNM Institute for Social Research. He says the Boyd shooting was significant, in part, because it was so widely seen. It sparked city-wide protests and from there, Guerin says people got more news about past incidents involving police violence.

Plus, he says in some ways, subsequent officer-involved shootings are compared to the Boyd shooting.

While Guerin says most people have a favorable view of police, he says the shooting contributed to worsening relationships between the community and the police. He says it’s important we try to better understand the impact of the shooting because right now it’s unclear.

“As far as I know, there’s no survey of citizens in the city of Albuquerque in any time that I know in recent memory that would ask its citizens ‘What are your beliefs about the police/’ ‘How do you feel about the police?’ ‘Are you confident in the police?’ ” explained Guerin.

He says getting a better understanding of how people feel and what they expect from the police would help to improve community relations with APD but he says it’s going to be a long-term process.

Guerin says in Albuquerque, it will partially depend on the settlement agreement with the DOJ and that could go on for years. He says over that time it’s important for APD to change some of the ways it polices and to try to better understand how people want to be policed.

“You have to dedicate time and resources to this and people have to be involved and, I think, part of what has to happen, too, is that police have to change the way they do business in terms of contact with citizens and there are ways they can do that through training,” Guerin said.

Guerin says some of APD’s efforts to communicate with the public are a step in the right direction, however, he says these need to be long-term, good faith efforts and engage a large portion, as well as the right portion, of the population.

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