In the past two years, police officers in Albuquerque, N.M., were involved in a string of shootings and high-profile brutality cases that have prompted the Justice Department to investigate for signs of unConstitutional abuses of power.
Officers in the Albuquerque Police Department have been involved in 25 shootings, and 17 of them have been fatal. Incidents have also been reported, including some caught on video, of the officers using excessive force and beating suspects who were in custody or had already surrendered.
“We have concluded that a full Civil Rights investigation is warranted to determine whether APD engages in a pattern of practices of violations of the Constitution or federal law,” Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, told reporters this week. “In particular the investigation will focus on use of force by APD, including but not limited to deadly force.”
The Chief Ray Schultz told the Albuquerque Journal that he felt the investigation was unwarranted and that the department was making needed changes to its policies.
“Our officers are of the highest quality, and receive excellent training. However, we know that we are not always perfect and that there is always room for improvement,” Schultz said in a statement. “The Albuquerque Police Department has demonstrated our commitment to the city and to our citizens. We look forward to working with the [Justice Department] investigative team and its panel of experts and identifying any additional steps that we can take to improve our department and our community.”
The accusations against the police force in Albuquerque are not isolated to that city, however. There are increasing reports about police throughout the Nation abusing power or using excessive force as departments become increasingly militarized.