2 shootings by state police in Albuquerque spur concern
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police reform advocates expressed concern Friday over two shootings by state officers that occurred within an hour of each other, saying the mayor and governor must ensure state police recently assigned to patrol the city follow the same use-of-force policies as local officers.
The non-fatal shootings came less than a week after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she was dispatching 50 state police officers to help bolster the law enforcement presence in Albuquerque, where officials have been challenged by a years-long crime problem.
The group APD Forward, which includes the American Civil Liberties Union, noted in their statement that the governor and Mayor Tim Keller had not clarified whether state police would be held to the same standards as Albuquerque officers.
For several years, the Albuquerque Police Department has been monitored by a court-appointed team as it reforms use-of-force policies and procedures mandated through a federal settlement agreement. The overhaul resulted from a U.S. Justice Department probe that found a “culture of aggression” among Albuquerque police amid a high-rate of shootings by officers.
“Bringing police officers into Albuquerque who are not held to the same standards increases the likelihood that already over-policed black and brown communities will be further criminalized,” said Adriann Barboa, field director of Strong Families New Mexico, a member group of APD Forward.
New Mexico State Police Chief Tim Johnson called the shooting incidents unfortunate but said he believed his agency was making a difference in Albuquerque.
In one of the shootings, an officer fired at a stolen vehicle after the driver fled a traffic stop, Johnson said.
State police said the man had driven the vehicle toward the officer at one point. A suspect was later arrested with a gunshot wound to his shoulder. No officers were injured.
In the other shooting, Johnson said the officer who opened fire in northeast Albuquerque had attempted to pull over a vehicle and then pursued it. The driver was able to get away after the state police vehicle crashed into another vehicle.
The driver of that vehicle was not injured. The officer hurt his shoulder.
Albuquerque Police Chief Michael Geier said state police mostly are providing backup and conducting traffic stops in Albuquerque as local police respond to calls, with the expectation that the extra police presence could deter crime.
Geier also said the state police surge in the city was expected to last roughly six weeks.