Albuquerque Police Reach Settlement To Address Excessive Force

Oct 31, 2014
Originally published on October 31, 2014 7:41 pm
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Earlier this year, the Justice Department found that the Albuquerque Police Department engaged in what it called a pattern of excessive force. Today, Justice and the city's police department announced a settlement. It would change how the department uses force and investigates police shootings. Albuquerque police have shot more than 40 people since 2010, many of them fatally. NPR's Kelly McEvers reports.

KELLY MCEVERS, BYLINE: Before Ferguson, there was Albuquerque - first shootings, then protests, then a year-and-a-half-long investigation by the feds. Today was the culmination of that process. Here's acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta on what the settlement will do.


VANITA GUPTA: It strengthens internal review into the use of force and requires continuous performance improvement. It requires training that emphasizes de-escalation before force is used. It provides officers with the training and tools they need to provide effective crisis intervention...

MCEVERS: For the mentally ill, and...


GUPTA: It provides guidelines for the effective use of on-body recording systems.

MCEVERS: Meaning cameras cops will be required to wear. Maybe one of the biggest surprises of the settlement, locals told me, was that the department will eliminate its Repeat Offenders Unit, known as ROP, a unit that at one time had a noose as its logo. Once a federal judge and the Albuquerque City Council approve the plan, a monitor will be appointed to make sure police comply. If not, the department can be subject to fines or court proceedings or a possible takeover.

GUPTA: This agreement comes at a time, as many of you know, where there is much national attention to the use of deadly force by police officers and whether police officers are meaningfully accountable to the communities that they serve.

MCEVERS: The Justice Department is in some kind of process with more than two dozen police departments across the country. Many have agreed to work with the feds. A few are fighting them in court. Kelly McEvers, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.