Talks between Albququerque and the U.S. Department of Justice begin today on writing a court-enforceable consent decree that would change the way the Albuquerque Police Department operates, the Albuquerque Journal reports. If they can't reach an agreement, the U.S. is prepared to file suit to stop what investigators say is a pattern and practice by the police department of excessive and deadly force. “A lot of the most troubling incidents involved mentally ill people,” said Jocelyn Samuels, acting head of DOJ’s civil rights division.
The federal list of remedies calls for the complete overhaul of the internal affairs process and officer discipline; a complete rewrite of use-of-force procedures and training; new policies for recruitment and selection of new cadets; clearer policies for dealing with people with mental illness and disabilities; and civilian oversight of the department. DOJ recommends a nearly complete overhaul of the department’s use-of-force policies, including a prohibition against shooting at motor vehicles and requiring the reporting of all use-of-force incidents, including the use of choke holds. The changes are designed to root out a culture within the department that accepts and even encourages the unconstitutional use of excessive and fatal force, said the Justice Department.