ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – In the past, SWAT calls for Albuquerque Police sometimes ended with the suspect shot and killed. But, so far this year, despite a surge in SWAT calls, not a single life has been taken.
In the last year and a half, APD said they’ve made changes and revamped the way they handle SWAT calls. The department is glad to see the peaceful trend, but will it stick?
According to APD, there were 39 SWAT calls last year and three deaths with SWAT involved in the call. Seven months into 2015 with nearly the same amount of calls as all of last year, APD said all of their SWAT standoffs have ended without a death.
“There’s several things that we’re doing that have changed. We’ve put a greater focus on our Crisis Negotiation Team,” explained Deputy Chief William Roseman of the Albuquerque Police Department.
Roseman said since the Department of Justice settlement agreement to reform APD, SWAT teams are doing weekly, scenario based training.
Roseman said SWAT has also ramped up resources, such as upgrading equipment and adding a Lieutenant.
“So with his expertise and the personnel under him along with my tactical Lieutenant and the expertise of his officers, I think it’s been a good mesh so far this year,” said Roseman.
However, Roseman also points to the suspects themselves.
“When tactical is activated, there are certain things that we can control, but the one thing that we can’t control is going to be the subject’s behavior and his determination or her’s of whether or not they’re going to end this peacefully or not,” said Roseman.
Last month, a six hour SWAT standoff ended peacefully with a man who told police he wanted to be shot.
Number of SWAT call outs from 2010 to 2015, according to APD:
This year, APD said they’ve already had almost the same amount as 2014, at 33 SWAT calls.
Still, APD said that can be good for everyone.
“Because one of these calls if it was handled by field services, it’s going to drain all of their resources, calls are going to start stacking,” explained Roseman. “They don’t have the resources available to actually handle the situation if it starts to escalate.”
“This is a good sign, but this reform process is going to take as many as four years,” Peter Simonson, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, told KRQE News 13.
Simonson said a national study by the ACLU shows SWAT is often overused. “Often times they are the source of violence, often times they do escalate situations,” Simonson told KRQE News 13.
“I think we can be cautiously optimistic, but certainly not assume that the problems have all been resolved,” Simonson added.
Roseman said the added Lieutenant adds more accountability on the Crisis Negotiation Team during SWAT calls.
The ACLU told KRQE News 13 they’ll wait to see how things have changed within APD after the first report from the federal monitor.