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Albuquerque City Councilors Express Concerns about Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions

City Councilors Isaac Benton, Pat Davis, and Diane Gibson send letter to United States Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich

Albuquerque City Councilors Isaac Benton, Pat Davis, and Diane Gibson sent a letter today to Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich expressing concern over the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama to serve as US Attorney General.  The letter from focuses on Sen. Sessions’ positions on police oversight policies within the Department of Justice and the impacts his administration as attorney general could have on ongoing reform efforts in Albuquerque.

In 2008, Sen. Sessions wrote in the forward to a report by the Alabama Policy Institute that “one of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power is the issuance of expansive court decrees.” 

Referencing the stipulated agreement under which constitutional policing reforms in the Albuquerque Police Department are being implemented, the Councilors stated, “These reforms would not have occurred without the direct intervention of the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and their investigative findings. After years of resistance from police department and city administrative leadership, in 2011 City Council passed Resolution R-11-247 formally inviting the US Department of Justice to investigate police shootings.”

The letter goes on to note that “Albuquerque’s process has led to a redesign of the Albuquerque Police Department’s use-of-force policies and training, and we are proud to report that these initial reforms have led to significant progress.”  Since these and other reforms were put into place, the number of officer-involved shootings has drastically decreased. 

The Councilors also state that any attempt by the Department of Justice to withdraw from these consent decree actions or “lower the bar” for compliance would be devastating for other reform efforts, such as community policing councils and the independent civilian oversight agency.

“Contrary to Sen. Sessions’ assertion that such decrees are dangerous, they are an absolutely indispensable tool to protect civil rights and restore accountability, and have been used effectively around the country to achieve those goals.”