The Los Angeles Times reports on troubling times for Albuquerque police. The department has had 23 officer-involved shootings, 17 of them fatal, since January 2010, a string that has given Albuquerque one of the highest police shooting rates in the country. Critics charge the Police Department is out of control and are calling for the police chief to step down. Wrongful-death lawsuits have mounted. In July 2011, the city agreed to pay $950,000 to the family of Roderick Jones, an unarmed security guard who in 2009 was shot in the back by an officer. That officer was later fired.
In March, officers fatally shot two suspects, and the Albuquerque Journal disclosed that the police union had been giving officers involved in shootings up to $500 so they could leave town amid the intense media coverage that typically follows an incident. Relatives of police shooting victims called the payments a “bounty” for killing civilians. Mayor Richard Berry and Police Chief Ray Schultz disavowed the practice, which made national headlines, and two union leaders resigned. The department’s reputation took another hit last year when it was found that a detective who had shot a man during a traffic stop had listed his occupation on his Facebook page as “human waste disposal,” while another detective had posted politically and racially charged remarks on his Twitter and MySpace pages.