The existing mechanisms for oversight of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) are not functioning effectively.
The City of Albuquerque suffers from serious problems related to fatal shootings by APD officers, extremely high annual payments for tort claims involving police officers, a citizen complaint system that is not adequately open to citizens, and a high level of tension between the APD and segments of the community.
The Independent Counsel provides an important measure of citizen oversight of the APD . The Independent Counsel, however, has not fully utilized existing authority to review the policies and procedures of the APD and make recommendations for change. More seriously, the Independent Counsel plays no public role and, as a consequence, has undermined the positive contributions the office does make.
The Public Safety Advisory Board has failed to effectively utilize its authority to conduct studies and make recommendations regarding policies and procedures of the APD. In certain respects the PSAB has become dysfunctional.
The Internal Affairs Unit of the APD has failed to adequately publicize the complaint process. In addition, there are problems related to the quality of complaint investigations.
The City Attorney and the Risk Management office have failed to exercise needed oversight of the APD. Payments for tort claims involving APD officers are unacceptably high. The City Attorney's office does not provide feedback to APD command officers about serious and/or recurring problems.
Over the years, a succession of City Council members and mayors have failed to address adequately the continuing problems associated with the APD.
We recommend that the Independent Counsel utilize its authority more than it has in the past. We also recommend that the Independent Counsel play a more active public role, in order to inform the public about the oversight process and receive input from the public.
We recommend that the Public Safety Advisory Board utilize its authority to conduct studies and make recommendations regarding APD.
We also recommend that the Public Safety Advisory Board be given direct authority over the Independent Counsel. This will help increase the public visibility and accountability of the Independent Counsel.
We recommend that the Albuquerque Police Department immediately undertake an outreach program to publicize the complaint process.
We recommend that the City Attorney, in conjunction with Risk Management, develop a formal program to reduce tort claim payments involving police officers, and to provide feedback to the APD regarding police problems.
We recommend that the City Council and the Mayor take a more active interest in problems associated with the APD, particularly fatal shootings, tort claims, and the openness of the complaint process.
We recommend that public officials examine both the provision of mental health services in the City and the County and APD policies regarding the response to mentally ill persons.