Mayor Richard J. Berry and Police Chief Raymond Schultz announced Monday May 7, 2012 several new additional initiatives aimed at continuing to reduce the number of deadly force encounters.
The initiatives are focused on addressing mental health issues, how APD responds to other agencies requesting assistance, and improving the quality of service offered to the citizens of Albuquerque.
“We have not stopped improving the Albuquerque Police Department and the service they provide to its citizens,” Mayor Berry said. “We have one of the finest law enforcement agencies in the country, but we are not satisfied. We will continue to look at ways we can improve the police department.”
In the months to come, APD will start utilizing Guardian, a new web-based system that informs officers who are dispatched to high priority calls that the person they might encounter has a history of mental illness. The department will also publish a mental health resource guide, adopt a new standard operating procedure that restricts APD to a support role only when their services are requested out of jurisdiction, and the department will start emailing satisfaction surveys to people who have encounters with the police.
Of the deadly force encounters APD has been involved in, 46 percent of them involved someone who was suffering from substance abuse or mental illness. Two of APD’s deadly force encounters occurred outside Bernalillo County
“Every day my staff looks at ways we can reduce the number of deadly force encounters,” Chief Schultz said. “We have looked at best practices across the country, talked to community leaders and listened to advocates. We will never be complacent. “
In the past year APD has already made more than 50 changes to its policies and procedures in wake of the increase in the number of deadly force encounters. The most recent change occurred Sunday when Chief Schultz issued a new policy requiring officers to record all contacts with the public. APD is also in the process of reviewing more than 80 applications for the newly created civilian director of the police academy. One the new director’s goals will be to create a more collegial environment at the academy.
Other changes that have been in effect include:
- Improve Use of Force Reports and Analysis: The department has solidified use of force reporting. Internal Affairs has developed a new use of force tracking/analysis system that has been accepted by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Officers are now required to complete any use of force forms by the end of their shift.
- Dispatch Crisis Intervention to High-Risk Calls: The department now dispatches officers trained in crisis intervention techniques to all known high-risk calls that present a greater likelihood for violence, and calls involving a disturbed person. Trained officers increase the likelihood of a less violent outcome.
- Reduced the Indicator Threshold of Potentially Troubled Officers. The department lowered the early intervention system threshold from five to three events for forced involved incidents in a rolling 12-month period. The officer is identified and offered counseling or other professional assistance before the officer has amassed five events.
- Changed the Psychological Component of the Hiring Process to Increase Suitable Applicants - The department modified its current pass/fail psychological exam to one that bands applicants in most-suited, suited, and not-suited categories. Psychological testing is now done by an independent psychologist.
- Increased Use and Training of Less-than-Lethal Weapons: The department mandated that every officer carry a Taser. The department also implemented a new Taser guidance policy that was sanctioned by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The policy gives guidance to officers on when and where to deploy their Taser.
- Implemented Training that Simulates Real, Recent Events: Training issues uncovered in real-life situations, both from inside and outside the department, are now built into the recruit and in-service training.
- Expanded Crisis Intervention Training and the Frequency of In-Service Training in Dealing with People with Mental Illness: The department has certified nearly 25 percent of its patrol strength for crisis intervention training. Crisis intervention is now included in the regularly scheduled annual training for all officers. The department is also in the process of increasing the percentage of officers that possess the training.
- Supervisors are Required to Respond to All Warrant Services: Supervisors now accompany patrol officers and detectives on all warrant services and at least one officer must be in uniform. A supervisory and uniformed presence will help potentially reduce the confusion of at-risk individuals.
- Supervisors Are Dispatched to Top Priority Calls: Supervisors are now required to be dispatched on all priority one calls such as a person with a weapon, an aggravated battery or a robbery in progress.
The following are changes will come into effect within the next few months:
1. Create a Mental Health Resource Guide: The Mayor’s Office, APD and service providers are preparing a Mental Health Resource Guide that will be made available to the community at city facilities. The guide will include information about what mental health services are available and how the resources can be accessed throughout the Albuquerque area.
2. Limit APD’s Involvement in Out-of-Jurisdiction Incidents to a Secondary/Support Role Only: New policies are being developed that limit APD’s involvement in out-of-jurisdiction incidents to a secondary/support role only, unless there is an immediate threat.
3. Develop a “Police/Public Encounter Survey”: Soon, APD officers will ask for email addresses of persons that they encounter. Contacts that have an email address will be able to have a police report emailed to them and many people will be asked to participate in a survey about the level of service provided by APD. The survey will also be available on-line.
4. Develop “Project Guardian”: The system identifies individuals who are high-risk and have been evaluated by the Albuquerque Police Department. The system tells officers the person's description, their military history, if they have a history of weapons, what triggers set them off, if they are in treatment plan, what words calm the person down and whether they have a history of violence. The system is currently being tested with the APD CIT and FASTT units. The plan is to see if there is high risk information in guardian whenever a warrant is being served. APD CIT detectives, COAST and the APD psychiatrist will maintain contact with these consumers and their family members to assist them on an as-needed basis to continue treatment and/or medication.