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City of Albuquerque Joins DOJ in Proposal to create External Force Investigations Team

Motion would create a temporary, independent team to assist with investigations of use-of-force incidents by officers with APD.

Feb. 5, 2021

The City of Albuquerque joined with the U.S. Department of Justice to file a motion in court today that would create a temporary, independent team to assist with investigations of use-of-force incidents by officers with the Albuquerque Police Department.

City officials and DOJ lawyers suggested the idea of an External Force Investigations Team during a hearing in December before U.S. District Court Judge James Browning. The outside investigation process is meant to address concerns raised by the Independent Monitor about the quality of APD’s investigations of use-of-force incidents.

When officers use force against an individual, whether it is deadly force or less-than-lethal force, the department is required to determine whether the actions are within its use-of-force policies. APD adopted new use-of-force policies as part of the ongoing reform process mandated by the Court-Approved Settlement Agreement with the DOJ.

The joint motion filed in court today proposes a stipulated order establishing an External Force Investigations Team. The team would assist APD in conducting Level 2 and Level 3 uses of force by APD officers, while also assisting the department with improving the quality of its own Internal Affairs force investigations. The team can make independent recommendations to APD.

In addition, the City agreed to: add more use-of-force investigators; receive additional technical assistance; develop a written investigative process that must be approved by the Independent Monitor and DOJ and that will be filed with the court; and create a training for the use-of-force investigators.

APD Interim Chief Harold Medina moved quickly to address concerns from monitors about investigations by APD’s Internal Affairs Division.

“We welcome the resources and expertise as we make these changes to our use-of-force investigations,” Chief Medina said. “While this is a temporary solution, our longer-term goal is to build an internal investigative process that addresses the overall reform of the department.”