Read Mayor Richard J. Berry's complete veto message on R-11-247.
SUBJECT: Veto Message on R-11-247: Directing The Administration To Retain An Expert To Make Recommendations Regarding The Training Procedures And Training Policies Utilized By The Albuquerque Police Department Related To The Use Of Deadly Force; Calling For A Public Dialogue. Directing City Council Staff To Request A Department Of Justice Investigation Into Whether There Have Been Incidents Or Patterns Of Civil Rights Violations By The Albuquerque Police Department.
I hereby exercise my veto authority and apply it to R-11-247, which passed at the City Council Meeting of August 1, 2011. I have made my decision to exercise my veto authority for the following reasons;
1. R-11-247 requests that the Administration retain an expert to make recommendations regarding the training procedures and training policies utilized by the Albuquerque Police Department. The expert recommendations required by this legislation are already in hand and are being implemented after a comprehensive nine month study by an expert in the field. At my direction, the administration has already retained the experts at the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) to conduct a thorough study beginning in September 2010. The results of that nine month study were released on June 24, 2011. The study acknowledged that Albuquerque already has a wide array of mechanisms in place designed to manage officers’ use of force and to monitor and investigate officer involved shootings. As noted by PERF, these policies are consistent with those found in progressive law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. Furthermore, although the study did not identify systemic problems regarding the training procedures and training policies utilized by the Albuquerque Police Department, researchers did point out that there is work to be done in this regard, and this administration agrees with that finding. The study outlines 39 recommendations for improvements in operations within APD and states clearly that while no single recommendation is likely to improve outcomes on its own, as an aggregate the recommendations could lower the number of officer involved shootings in the future.
2. R-11-247 calls for an “expert” to be retained to conduct the study. The organization commissioned to study this issue is in fact an expert in the field. A competitor of PERF, who is also an expert in this field and who is currently employed by the City Council to conduct a regularly scheduled audit of the Police Oversight Commission reviewed the findings of the PERF study and in a letter to the City stated that “MGT, at times a PERF competitor, finds the report to be credible.” The letter goes on to state that “Once the city and the department have implemented the recommendations, they should evaluate the impact to determine if additional measures are needed.” The letter referenced is entered into this veto message as Exhibit #1.
3. The amendment proposed by Councilor Garduno and ultimately passed by the City Council on a five to four vote is problematic in that it is not germane to the original legislation. Both the legal counsel for the City Council and the Interim City Attorney agreed at the meeting and prior to the vote that there were concerns with Councilor Garduno’s amendment in that it could potentially violate the New Mexico Open Meetings Act. Mr. Bruce Thompson, the attorney representing the City Council, stated “There is a real concern under the Open Meetings Act whether or not there’s been adequate notice that this particular amendment is going to be in front of the City Council. I have some real concerns about whether this is an appropriate amendment given the actual notice that’s been published.” Mr. Robert Kidd, the Interim City Attorney concurred with this statement. I have difficulty signing any legislation that based on legal advice from both the council’s legal staff and the City Attorney’s office could potentially violate the New Mexico Open Meetings Act.
4. Finally and most importantly, the Administration, upon learning that the Department of Justice is already in the process of reviewing whether or not a “patterns and practice” investigation should be conducted on the Albuquerque Police Department, has reached out to the DOJ to inform them that we will fully cooperate and will work collaboratively in regards to any investigation they choose to conduct into this matter. I have attached those communications for your review, listed as Exhibit #2. Correspondence between myself and my staff and the DOJ regarding this matter is currently ongoing. As the Department of Justice is already underway with their review it is unnecessary in my view to produce additional requests in this regard.
As Mayor of this great city, I see my responsibility to protect the public as my number one priority, which is why I commissioned the study by the Police Executive Research Forum over eleven months ago. This comprehensive analysis of our police department resulted in numerous recommendations that are already being instituted or implemented at the Albuquerque Police Department. While the overall use of force has decreased along with violent crime in Albuquerque, I want assurances that we are doing all we can to reduce incidents involving deadly force. The recommendations called for by the PERF study and by the Albuquerque Police Department include community involvement at a variety of levels to ensure that the concerns of all the citizens of Albuquerque are heard. It is my belief that the Albuquerque Police Department should be given a reasonable amount of time to implement and evaluate those 39 changes plus the 19 additional changes that were proposed by the Chief of Police.
I look forward to working together with the community, the Albuquerque Police Department, the City Council and all interested parties towards community outcomes that result in fewer officer involved shooting and use of deadly force as we look towards the future.