BERNALILLO COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – A local activist group is calling out the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office over the influx of deputy-involved shootings this year. The group says it even changed its name to highlight the problem.
The latest shooting involving Bernalillo County deputies left two people dead on Nov. 17. It was the ninth deputy-involved shooting this year. Three of those shootings happened within 12 days.
“This year they are on track to be the new [Albuquerque Police Department],” said local activist Selinda Guerrero.
Following this last shooting, a group established in 2010 known as “APD in Crisis” changed its name to include BCSO. Calling themselves “APD and BCSO in Crisis.”
“The idea that BCSO investigates its own shootings we feel like it’s already a biased investigation,” Guerrero said.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment about the group’s concerns Sunday, but after the shooting on Nov. 17, Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said he’s concerned about the crime.
“Obviously there is a crime epidemic in the Albuquerque metro area and Bernalillo County,” said Sheriff Manuel Gonzales.
Yet, the sheriff said he stands by the training of his deputies.
“Our deputies are doing the best they can. They’re highly trained, they are following the policies and procedures,” Sheriff Gonzales said.
Sheriff Gonzales wants to increase the department budget to hire more deputies, but local activists believe that money would be better spent elsewhere.
“He’s asking for $9 million in his budget for next year for more police, not for cams,” Guerrero said.
The group said they worry families impacted by these shootings won’t see justice if law enforcement isn’t held accountable.
“We want to see independent investigators statewide. A completely separate unit to investigate police shootings,” Guerrero said.
For those questioning his department, the sheriff had an invitation.
“They are more than welcome to come and ride with us if they want. So they can see and understand the training that we have and the service that we give,” Sheriff Gonzales said on Nov. 17.
A sentiment that comes too late for those ready for change.
“He’s up for re-election next year and we want to see him gone,” Guerrero said.
“APD and BCSO in Crisis” members say they are reaching out to the county to set up meetings and build a better relationship. Sheriff Gonzales has said he wants to add at least 60 more deputies.