APD regains control of use-of-force investigations
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – It was nearly 10 years ago when the Department of Justice stepped in to investigate the Albuquerque Police Department’s use-of-force.
“It could be very simple in terms of handcuffing somebody, and they resist an officer, and they have to react to that resistance and the officer presents a taser, for example. Or he presents his gun and at different levels, that is considered a use-of-force,” said APD Public Information Officer Gilbert Gallegos.
That investigation holds APD to a DOJ settlement agreement. Back in 2021, both departments decided an external team would investigate APD’s use-of-force cases.
Fast-forward to 2023, they’ve hit a key milestone in their compliance.
“When you look at the area of DOJ, we hit 94% compliance, our highest rate ever. We’re on the verge in my mind of getting out of this process in the near future,” said APD Chief Harold Medina.
The compliance ranking is coming with more responsibility. Moving forward, APD will once again be in charge of their use-of-force investigations.
The department has three separate categories for use-of-force incidents:
- Level one causes “transitory pain”
- Level two causes “injury or complaint of injury”
- And, level three causes “serious physical injury”
“K-9 bites, officer involved shootings would obviously fall in a level three or if they are again hospitalized. That is when they are admitted into the hospital based off an injury directly related to the force,” said APD Deputy Chief Cori Lowe.
APD says the external team will still be in charge of investigating the backlog of use-of-force cases that are under the court-approved settlement agreement.