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Albuquerque, Justice Department agree to set reforms for city's police

Albuquerque will reform its police department beleaguered by criticisms of excessive force

Albuquerque and the U.S. Department of Justice have agreed to negotiate a series of reforms for the police department, including the eventual appointment of an independent monitor to oversee the changes.

In a statement released on Thursday, the agency and the city jointly announced a statement of principles to reform the beleaguered police department, which has been criticized for excessive force and unjustified shootings. The parties agreed to develop reforms in eight areas, including when force should be used, training and supervision. The final conditions will be overseen by the independent monitor.

“This agreement marks an important step forward in addressing the unreasonable use of deadly force uncovered in our investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department,” Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement. “The residents of Albuquerque depend on their police department to serve their community with honor and integrity.

“As a result of our ongoing action, I am confident that the Albuquerque Police Department will be able to correct troubling practices, restore public trust, and better protect its citizens against all threats and dangers – while providing the model of professionalism and fairness all Americans deserve.”

Mayor Richard J. Berry also praised the agreement.

 “I am very proud of our police officers, Chief [Gorden] Eden, and the city team as they strive for practical processes, establish and implement accountability measures that will assist our department in delivering constitutional and fully effective police services to our community,”  the mayor said in a statement.

 In April, the Justice Department issued a scathing report on the department and looked at 20 officer-involved shootings that resulted in civilian fatalities.

“We concluded that a majority of these shootings were unconstitutional,” Justice investigators wrote. The report also criticized the frequent use of Tasers, especially against people “who are passively resisting, observably nonthreatening but unable to comply with orders due to their mental state, or posed only a minimal threat to the officers.”

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