Created: 04/14/2014 6:14 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
A big task now facing the city of Albuquerque is the selection of a federal monitor to oversee the police department’s compliance with new reforms aimed at reducing the excessive use of force by city cops.
Negotiations are under way on those reforms, but already community leaders are thinking about the qualifications for the person who will oversee that compliance for years to come. It’s going to be a tough job and it’s going to take a remarkable person. Other cities in similar situations have chosen high profile community leaders with experience and expertise in both law enforcement and civil rights. They don’t always go together. Nobody knows that better than Edmund Perea, a retired 24-year APD officer who is now a lawyer.
“There has to be some level of understanding and sensitivity to the role that a police officer performs on a day-to-day basis,” Perea said. “ On the other hand they have to have a clear understanding of constitutional rights issues as it relates to how police officers do their job.”
City Council President Ken Sanchez called for the appointment of a federal monitor a year and a half ago.
“I think it’s got to be someone who has a great knowledge in constitutional rights, civil rights, who also understands municipalities that have been through these problems.”
Legislative leader Moe Maestas, who serves in the state House of representatives, likes that idea of experience.
“Maybe some who’s done it before,” Maestas said. “Someone who’s had success. Someone who understands what cops go through but also understands civil rights, and maybe somebody who has familiarity with Latino populations.”
One more key requirement – that person must have no ties to the police agency involved. The federal monitor could be at work here for up to five years, and maybe even longer. In the negotiation process, the Department of Justice and city leaders will figure out how the monitor will be selected.