Wednesday, August 03, 2011
ABQ City Council Calls for DOJ Investigation of APD for Possible Civil Rights Violations
At the August 1, 2011 Albuquerque City Council Meeting, City Councilor Rey Garduño amended R-11-247, to include requesting a Department of Justice investigation of whether there have been instances or patterns of civil rights violations by the Albuquerque Police Department. This amendment was passed 5-4. Voting for the amendement were Dan Lewis, Rey Garduño, Isaac Benton, Debbie O’Malley and Ken Sanchez. Brad Winter, Trudy Jones, Don Harris and Michael Cook voted against it.
The vote followed a presentation from The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center Task Force on Social Justice for Public Safety, and stirring testimony from family members and concerned citizens as they expressed a deep mistrust of APD. The Task Force was requesting that the City Council initiate a Department of Justice Investigation of APD.
The Albuquerque Police Department has been involved in 19 officer involved shootings since the beginning of 2010 and 13 of them were fatal. These events have led to numerous family members speaking and presenting their heart-wrenching stories during the City Council public comment period. The MLKMC Task Force on Social Justice and Public Safety is made up of victim’s family members and social justice advocates.
“It concerns me when residents of our community distrust our police department to the extent that they are requesting a Department of Justice investigation,” said City Councilor Rey Garduño. “The community has asked me to support them in this request and I will. This is a step towards social justice in Albuquerque.”
R-11-247 was passed by the City Council and now heads to the Mayor Richard Berry’s desk for his signature. R-11-247 directs the Administration to retain an expert to make recommendations regarding APD’s training policies and procedures related to the use of deadly force.
Mayor Richard J. Berry will have ten days to sign or veto the resolution. If he vetoes it, councilors will need six votes to override his veto. However, Councilman Ken Sanchez said the DOJ could still proceed with its investigation, without the mayor's approval, if it finds patterns of civil rights abuses. Sanchez said a DOJ investigation would not cost the city because it's a government agency.