Is DOJ invite strategically timed?

Created: 04/02/2014 10:09 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry Wednesday told New Mexicans he has reached out to the United States Department of Justice.   

Berry has invited the DOJ to set up shop inside APD to monitor its processes.

It sounds like a huge step.

But is it?

The announcement comes after a large-scale protest against this city's police department, and only five days after the FBI's announcement they will for the first time launch a criminal investigation into an APD shooting -- the one that killed homeless man James Boyd.  

The DOJ has been investigating the department for two years and many anticipiate findings soon. 

Even before those findings are released, Albuquerque is inviting more DOJ presence.

"This in no way should be even thought as us asking or even suggesting a Department of Justice take over," said APD chief Gorden Eden.  

Repeat: It's not a "takeover." But it seems close.

"It's an auditing function in one way but also we see it as more than that, we see it as a collaborative opportunity," said Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry. 

Berry Wednesday said he's asked the DOJ to work within APD's offices -- to monitor the department as reforms are made, and to help set benchmarks for new reform.

The announcement comes three days after protestors swarmed APD headquarters and demanded change, and as the FBI announces a criminal investigation into the shooting of homeless man James Boyd in the Albuquerque foothills.

Could it be the city's effort to step up transparency before the DOJ forces it? 

"The easy thing to do would probably be to point fingers," said Berry. 

Instead, he has invited DOJ agents deeper into the department.

After similar outrage over police use of force in Seattle, the DOJ decided to take over that city's police force entirely -- something that could still happen if Berry's request is denied.

If his request is approved Berry said DOJ monitors would work at APD with commanders.

He said it could be one person in charge, with a team of others. But in any case their work would be funded by the city, by you.

Meanwhile, Berry said APD chief Gorden Eden is already making big changed including crisis intervention training for all officers on the force.

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