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

Now Jack Jones is under fire for a cheating scandal at his academy, where four officers refused to give rookies answers to tests and have filed lawsuits against Jones and APD chief Gorden Eden. Jones had shortened cadet training by 6 weeks, instituted physical fitness exams that are the same for men and women and added live-fire vehicle stops, teaching them to shoot “to stop a car with a bullet”. Intelligence tests can be passed with a minimum grade while shooting and SWAT training are emphasized. This all came out after the viral video of a NM State Police officer shooting at an African-American family fleeing in their mini-van away from a traffic stop near Taos back in October.

Oriana Farrell and her family of 4 boys and one girl survived the speeding ticket ordeal, the officer who shot at her family van was fired, and her trial for child abuse and aggravated fleeing has now been moved from April to October. Local and national media had taken sides on the issue as the video caused a national sensation and a little state disgrace. Law experts said there was “no threat” to the officers and “no justification” to compel them to use their firearms. But they also say considering the circumstances, the officers restrained themselves in their adrenaline-fueled state, and that Farrell should’ve signed the ticket instead of fleeing. The new judge in Farrell’s trial criticized police for not conducting proper evidence collection and the trial delay is due to all evidence having to be made available to the defense.

City of Albuquerque recently refused to co-operate with the reality TV show COPS, because “it puts the city in a bad light”. But now the City is facing local criticism and national scrutiny while the APD has to deal with the DOJ reforms and consent decree. Now there are new lawsuits over past shootings and the FBI is investigating whether some police officers can be charged for the new shootings. Recent polls show 53% thought the Boyd shooting was unjustified and only 36% have confidence in the APD. An eerily similar incident to the Boyd shooting occurred in Saginaw MI, in 2012, when Milton Hall was shot at with 47 rounds and hit 11 times, his mother, Jewel Hall, is an NAACP activist in Albuquerque. The Hall family was awarded $725K for her son’s death.

There was much commentary on Balko’s book, Rise of the Warrior Cop, the most relevant statement was “we don’t yet live in a police state, but why wait until we do? It would then be too late to do anything about it.”

Alex Jacobs
Santa Fe NM
April 18, 2014


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Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
I've lamented the fact that police now see themselves as a sort of paramilitary group. Certainly, I can understand SWAT teams wearing military-style clothing, but regular policemen are beginning to look more and more intimidating and less approachable by the general public. This serves only to distance the police from the public they are sworn to protect. I would advocate more empathy training for police officers, starting in the academy with "refresher courses" every six months. In Japan, police officers were forced to "walk the beat" in the neighborhood where they live. People know the policeman by name and never hesitated to call him or talk to him about potential problems. Keeping the neighborhood quiet was in the officer's best interest because HE LIVED THERE! I've worked as a police officer before and I'm aware of the dangers and the fatalistic mind-set that often trips police up when dealing with the public. My personal opinion is that EVERY single shooting for the past five years should be carefully investigated, and those connected with unjustified killings should be tried in court. Secondly, I would fire everyone and start over again.