Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina announced plans he has and steps he is taking to address the increase in officer-involved shootings Wednesday in a press release.
The Neighborhood Journal has covered several officer-involved shootings this year. In November, APD shared new statistics over a five-year period when it comes to officer-involved shootings. There were 16 total OIS reports in 2022 with nine being fatal. APD reported 10 officer-involved shootings in 2018 and 10 in 2020, eight in 2019 and nine in 2021.
Here’s how Medina plans to address the increase in officer-involved shootings.
Use of Force Policy Change
Medina has called for a more concise policy that better defines when officers can use less-lethal force. The current use-of-force policy was established as part of APD’s Court-Approved Settlement Agreement with the U.S Department of Justice. APD leaders have been working with the DOJ and the Independent Monitoring Team for the past year to update the policy. The policy change is in the final stages of approval. Once approved, officers will be trained on the updated policy.
“While we have seen a reduction in the use of force, we are obviously experiencing an increase in deadly force,” Medina said. “I want to be sure that officers are empowered to use less-lethal force when it is necessary and when it can be used effectively to prevent an incident from escalating to the point where deadly force must be used.”
High Level Scrutiny of shootings
Members of APD’s executive staff and the city attorney’s office are completing a review of the 18 OIS cases to date. This group will look at the cases holistically and determine if there are any trends that have not been identified. The group will assign specific questions or concerns to subject matter experts and assign deadlines address those concerns. Once the initial review is conducted, the group, headed by the superintendent of police reform, will present its findings to the chief and the city’s chief administrative officer.
“Every one of these cases is reviewed individually by the Force Review Board, which has been an effective process,” Medina said. “But we need to look at all of these shootings together to identify trends that may be otherwise missed during the course of the year.”
This process will be repeated every six months to cover officer-involved shootings from the previous six months.
APD’s training academy is working on finalizing training for officers that will help clarify the circumstances by which officers can use different types of force. Officers must differentiate whether individuals are using passive or active resistance before officers can use force. They may also consider what is known as the totality of circumstances. The academy will train officers so they are making the proper decisions and following policies when they use force. The training will have to be approved by the DOJ and the independent monitoring team.