Albuquerque police reform coalition backs better inclusion of Police Oversight Board and community in reform process
Today, the APD Forward coalition sent a letter to APD Chief of Police Gordon Eden and Mayor Richard Berry supporting a request by the chair of the Police Oversight Board’s (POB), Leonard Waites, that APD grant the board an opportunity to review and comment on any new APD policies related to the use of force before proposed changes are finalized. On Tuesday, September 8, Waites sent a letter to the Chief Eden and Mayor Berry outlining various reasons why the POB and the community should be afforded an opportunity for meaningful policy review.
“An independent, civilian police oversight board is important not just in holding police accountable, but also in restoring trust in the community,” said Nancy Koenigsberg, legal director for Disability Rights New Mexico and spokesperson for APD Forward. “By cutting the POB out of the policy review process, APD is missing an opportunity to build public confidence in the Civilian Police Oversight Agency and closing off a critical venue for community members to engage with the reform of their police department.”
In its letter, APD Forward notes that in bypassing the POB, the Albuquerque Police Department may be failing to fully comply with the consent decree between the City and the Department of Justice. Paragraph 288 of Section XII, subsection D of the agreement reads:
APD shall submit all changes to policy related to this Agreement (i.e. use of force, specialized units, crisis intervention, civilian complaints, supervision, discipline, and community engagement) to the [Civilian Police Oversight Agency] for review, and the agency shall report any concerns it may have to the Chief regarding policy changes.
“By moving ahead with policy changes without first providing opportunity for public input, APD may be running afoul of their court ordered reform agreement,” said Koenigsberg. “We believe that the POB and other community members have important things to say about the policing policies that directly affect Albuquerque residents, and should be given the opportunity to make their voices heard as outlined in the consent decree.”