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Mayor Berry Recommends Changes to Police Oversight Process

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Mayor Richard J. Berry sent seventeen recommendations to the City Council Friday that would significantly enhance the city’s police oversight process.

Albuquerque - Mayor Richard J. Berry sent seventeen recommendations to the City Council Friday that if adopted would significantly enhance the city’s police oversight process.

The recommendations come after Mayor Berry and his public safety team spent the past three months reviewing a report that was issued by MGT of America. The report, which was commissioned by the City Council as part of the police oversight ordinance, made several recommendations for the Police Department, the Independent Review Office, the Administration and the City Council to change the city’s police oversight process.

The MGT report noted, "The Police Oversight Committee’s (POC) failure to lead is born of two primary issues, failure to train and educate members of the POC and a lack of participation. Despite requirements for some annual training of POC members in the ordinance, training is neither sufficient nor monitored."

The changes recommended by Mayor Berry’s administration would ensure that members of the Police Oversight Commission attend meetings and that they receive appropriate training. The recommendations also call for bi-annual sessions with the public, a community outreach plan to educate the citizens on how they can file complaints and surveys to be conducted for people who file complaints as well as police officers who were investigated.

"The current police oversight process needs to be improved," Mayor Berry said.  "This is a vital community service and we need to ensure that commission members have the proper training and are held accountable for attendance and participation in this vital oversight capacity."

The MGT Report also recommended giving the POC much more authority over officer discipline.  The administration does not believe this is a recommendation that should be implemented for a number of reasons.  "The board was never designed to be a disciplinary board." said Mayor Berry.   "Under the ordinance, the commission is a fact finding and oversight board. To require a politically appointed volunteer citizen committee to direct officer discipline would be unfair to the commission and potentially detrimental to the community and the officers of the Albuquerque Police Department."

The Mayor’s recommendations include:

1. The Mayor is committed to budgeting  $15,000 a year for members of the Police Oversight Commission to attend the National Police Oversight Conference and other pertinent training. We request your support for this appropriation.
2. Amend the rules so that if a member of the Police Oversight Commission does not attend the required training or police ride alongs within a year of being appointed, the Administration or the City Council can move for their removal and replacement on the commission.
3. Amend the rules so that if attendance becomes an issue for any member, the Administration or the City Council can move for their removal and replacement on the commission.
4. Require members of the Police Oversight Commission to attend the Albuquerque Police Citizens Academy within a year of their appointment. Costs for the training will be paid by the City.
5. Amend the rules so that if a member of the City Council fails to make a nomination to the commission, which has been the case for a number of appointments, the Mayor shall be permitted to nominate someone in his or her place.
6. Amend the rules to establish a mandatory prep session prior to each meeting for the purpose of reviewing cases with members.
7. Revamp the Police Oversight Commission’s Web Site to allow citizens to file, follow and track complaints.
8. When the Independent Review Officer position becomes open, conduct a national search for a new Independent Review Officer.
9. Amend the rules to create a new disposition category for mediated cases on citizen police complaints.
10. Amend the rules to require the Police Chief, the Independent Review Officer and the Police Oversight Commission to hold joint public sessions bi-annually to discuss policy issues, concerns and allow for public input.
11. Resources permitting, require the Independent Review Officer to handle all citizen complaints and Internal Affairs to handle internal cases, thereby clarifying the responsibility for the investigation of these two types of complaints.
12. Develop a community outreach plan to educate the public on the police oversight process.
13. Conduct satisfaction surveys of the complainant and the involved police officer.
14. Conduct a study to determine the optimum tenure of an Independent Review Officer.
15. Request the Independent Review Officer to develop a system to handle third-party complaints and expedite the process to determine which ones have merit.
16. Develop/purchase software that will allow the Internal Affairs Division to better analyze trends in citizen police complaints.
17. Issue an “APD Supervisor Reference Training Guide” for all lieutenants and sergeants. This reference guide will assist sergeants and lieutenants in the performance of their supervisory duties regarding resolutions of citizen complaints.

"We believe these recommendations will strengthen the trust between the community and the Albuquerque Police Department," Mayor Berry said. "We look forward to working with the City Council to improve the police oversight process."

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