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DOJ Praises Albuquerque Police Crisis Response, Amends Pact

The U.S. Department of Justice updated a nine-year-old consent decree with the Albuquerque Police Department on Wednesday to reflect the role of the city’s new civilian-driven crisis response programs. The government began investigating the Albuquerque Police Department in 2012, finding "reasonable cause to believe that [it] engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment." The parties entered a settlement agreement in 2014. At the time, the Albuquerque Police Department had reported 40 police shootings dating back to 2009, according to Courthouse News Service. Over the last nine years, the city diverted more than 15,000 emergency calls reporting incidents of mental health, substance abuse, and homelessness away from the police to Albuquerque Community Safety, a city cabinet-level department. “The Justice Department’s consent decree has provided the strong medicine necessary to remedy problems and improve the way policing is carried out across Albuquerque,” said DOJ civil right chief Kristen Clarke.

Under the updated agreement, the police department will no longer be required to keep a “sufficient” number of crisis intervention certified responders on staff. Instead, the decree reflects the partnership between police and civilian responders. With more than half of patrol officers having completed crisis intervention training, law enforcement will now focus on collecting and analyzing data “to better assess the city’s overall crisis response efforts and determine where gaps in critical services remain.” The amended consent decree reflects the effectiveness of a civilian use-of-force review panel piloted last August. Civilians can review low-level uses of force, a role previously limited to sergeants. U.S. District Judge James Browning must approve the updated agreement. A court-appointed independent monitor said the police department achieved 100% primary compliance with the current decree, 99% secondary compliance, and 80% operational compliance.


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