Albuquerque police close in on James Boyd, a mentally ill homeless man who was illegally camping. Moments later, Boyd lay dead.

What the Hell Is Wrong With Albuquerque Cops?

Alex Jacobs

After a 16 month investigation, the DOJ report on the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) was released and it concluded that “APD engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional use of violence and use of deadly force… and the use of less than lethal force…” and “system deficiencies that cause or contribute to the use of excessive force”, such as substandard training of officers, inadequate community policing, institutional failures in the investigation of shootings and accountability system, an aggressive culture among officers, a disconnect between officers and the community over this aggressive behavior, lack of use of the crisis intervention team and weak civilian oversight. DOJ, City of Albuquerque, and APD will now negotiate a “consent decree” to outline reforms and actions. DOJ has such consent agreements in 8 other cities. A full time Deputy Chief was hired to oversee DOJ reforms, including overhaul of the internal Affairs Division, strengthening the Civilian Oversight Commission, and proper training of use of force and de-escalation tactics.

RELATED: Recent Police Shootings in Albuquerque Draw Federal Investigation

The hacker group Anonymous called for another protest march last weekend, but the DOJ report has taken the steam out of most protesters. There are more people in gatherings supporting APD after the DOJ report. Anonymous did disrupt APD and city websites two weeks ago after the over-reaction by APD in responding to a protest march that turned violent. Protesters spent 12 hours protesting and it turned violent at night, with the APD in riot gear, using tactical teams, tear gas and an armored personnel carrier (APC). These protests were for the shootings of James Boyd and Alfred Redwine, whose deaths were not even covered in the DOJ investigation. The FBI is now investigating the Boyd and Redwine shootings. The video of Boyd’s shooting went viral and set off the protests while Redwine was shot in a separate incident the night of the first protest march.

Training of police recruits has been an issue since it was revealed that Jack Jones, the director of the Law Enforcement Academy that trains rookie police officers in the state, had been refusing to comply with an inspection of public records request to view his training manual. Jones, a 30 year military veteran, was criticized for his “officer survival” tactics and philosophy that taught an officer could die any day at the hands of the public. It appears that these rookies were trained to fear the community they are supposed to protect and serve. It also reinforced the views in Radley Balko’s new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop, which states that police are trained to patrol urban insurgencies and to fear the populace -- even though 90% of police work is not SWAT related. In the Warrior Cop mentality, community policing and investigative forensics seem to be low priorities.


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