The standoff in the Sandia foothills in New Mexico between gun-pointing police officers and a homeless camper with a small knife was by all accounts intense. The Christian Science Monitor says the FBI has launched a criminal probe into why Albuquerque police officers killed the man, James Boyd, as he appeared to be giving up. Given a rash of questionable police shootings in Albuquerque and beyond, the camper shooting is bringing more pressure on police to change their training and tactics, particularly to include more precise threat-gauging and offering more options to deescalate tense situations.
Albuquerque officers have racked up 23 fatal shootings in the last three years, one of the nation’s highest per capita tallies. Experts note that police have begun to question if the average 400 “officer-involved shootings” a year is too high, and whether the mix of outdated training and the expansion of military-style gear and tactics even into small town police departments has become a more fundamental problem. New Mexico’s police academy has responded to the federal probe by shifting training to a “reasonableness standard model” where officers have a choice whether or not to draw their gun depending on the level of real threat.