After many sleepless nights and countless conversations with attorneys I've decided to start a blog that accurately covers events surrounding the investigations of the Albuquerque Police Department and the civil rights organizations involved. This blog will also cover most Albuquerque City Council meetings. I will stress that I will cover most City Council meetings but not all of them because I am a one person operation at the moment.
For those of you who are not familiar with the events leading up to the Department of Justice's investigation of APD let me refresh your memory. There have been 20 shootings by APD officers on Albuquerque civilians within less than one year. 13 of the shootings have resulted in fatalities. The Albuquerque Police Department's Internal Affairs Unit has ruled that the majority of these shootings were justified. However, civil rights groups and families of the victims who were shot believe that none of the victims had to die and that APD could have used alternative methods to resolve the alleged conflicts that resulted in the shootings. Victims Andrew Lopez and Christopher Torres were shot in the back, at point blank range. Both men were unarmed.
In a recent television interview, Albuquerque's Mayor Richard Berry stated that the majority of APD officers do an excellent job serving the citizens of Albuquerque and that the officers that have engaged in the shootings represent only five percent of the department. Both the Mayor and Police Chief Ray Schultz acknowledge that officers need more training. However, three days of paid administrative leave after a shooting is the only solution that APD and the mayor's office seem to have come up with. Civil rights groups cite that much larger cities such as New York have far less police shootings than Albuquerque. On June 23, 2011, the mayors office paid $60,000 for an analysis of the shootings to the Washington, D.C. Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). A letter to the Mayor from the MLK Task Force for Public Safety cites that the PERF report is flawed and blames the victims for police violence, "rather than reviewing whether deadly force was appropriate in these incidents".
It is my humble opinion that there is a problem within APD which desperately needs to be remedied. Perhaps hiring practices need to be reviewed more stringently or new questions need to be added to the psychological assessment in order to weed out aggressive personalities. The cycle of violence that I have seen with APD is similar that of the domestic violence power and control wheel. I was raised to believe that the police are our friends and that they protect and serve the community and I would still like to maintain that belief. But I have difficulty maintaining that belief when I read reports of police officers shooting unarmed civilians in the back and witnessing officers laugh when the family members of the victims speak out at City Council meetings against police brutality.