The Justice Department today announced it has signed a joint statement of principles with the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, that reflects the good-faith intent of both sides to enter into a court-enforceable agreement to reform the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). The joint statement of principles publicly specifies the measures that the department and the city are undertaking in order to resolve the findings resulting from the department’s investigation into use of force by APD. On April 10, 2014, following an extensive investigation, the department found reasonable cause to believe that APD engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including unreasonable deadly force.
Following the release of the findings letter the department and the city each separately reached out to numerous stakeholders across Albuquerque to hear their ideas and concerns about the reform of APD. Attorneys and staff of the department have spoken to police officers, city officials, mental health service providers, advocacy organizations, individuals who have been personally affected by APD’s past conduct and other community members. The department has held dozens of meetings and met with hundreds of people across the city. Through these efforts, both sides have gained important insights into officers’ and the community’s concerns that will shape the final agreement. The department is encouraged by the feedback it has received and is committed to sustainable reforms that will ensure APD delivers services in a manner that respects the rights of residents, promotes mutual confidence between the police and the community and improves public and officer safety.
“This agreement marks an important step forward in addressing the unreasonable use of deadly force uncovered in our investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "The residents of Albuquerque depend on their police department to serve their community with honor and integrity. In the overwhelming majority of cases, our dedicated local law enforcement officials – who put their lives on the line every day— do just that. But when misconduct does occur, we will never hesitate to act in order to secure the civil rights of everyone in this country. As a result of our ongoing action, I am confident that the Albuquerque Police Department will be able to correct troubling practices, restore public trust, and better protect its citizens against all threats and dangers - while providing the model of professionalism and fairness that all Americans deserve.”
“We commend the city for engaging in good-faith negotiations to reach a court-enforceable agreement that will ensure sustainable reforms of APD,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “The joint statement of principles provides the community with our commitment to work expeditiously with the city to craft a durable agreement that will resolve our findings and will ensure that APD provides effective and constitutional policing to the people of Albuquerque.”
“Since the release of DOJ’s findings letter, we have asked for and received valuable ideas and insights from officers, members of the community, representatives of many organizations, and others who have a stake in the future of our community,” said U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez for the District of New Mexico. “We are thankful to everyone who has spoken to us. The anticipated final court-enforceable agreement, which we hope to enter into with the city of Albuquerque, is already stronger because of the input we have received.”
The department and city have released the joint statement of principles to inform APD officers and the Albuquerque community that their concerns and ideas have been heard and that their ongoing participation will be critical to achieving sustainable reform. Specifically, the joint statement of principles announces that the department and the city expect to develop reforms in the eight areas outlined in the department’s findings letter: use of force policies, interactions with individuals with mental illness and other disabilities, tactical units, training, internal investigations and civilian complaints, management and supervision, recruitment and selection of officers, and community engagement and oversight. The joint statement of principles also indicates that the goal is to reach a court-enforceable agreement that will be overseen by an independent monitor.
During the negotiation process, the department remains interested in obtaining recommendations and information related to reforms from the public. The department continues to monitor the APD community hotline, which is available for both English and Spanish speakers, 1-855-544-5134 and the APD community email address.