Albuquerque City Council approves plan for more civilian oversight of police, sends to mayor

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ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — City Council members approved a plan for greater civilian oversight of the Albuquerque Police Department as it faces criticism over shootings by officers.

The plan was approved 8-0 late Thursday and sent to the mayor, who has said he would carefully review any such proposal, the Albuquerque Journal reported (http://goo.gl/A3KyOi).

The measure is aimed at creating a new civilian agency independent of the mayoral administration and council. It would investigate and decide citizen complaints against police, analyze trends and provide policy recommendations.

The new agency would be better-funded and more powerful than the system currently in place.

The proposal abolishes the Police Oversight Commission and replaces it with a new Civilian Police Oversight Agency. There would be a Police Oversight Board and an executive director who would lead an administrative office that investigates complaints against police.

"I'm very proud of this bill," said Councilor Ray Garduno, a Democrat. He noted that the bill was a product of Republicans and Democrats working together, and a series of community meetings stretching back more than a year.

For months, the city has been rocked by angry protests and a U.S. Justice Department investigation involving more than 40 police shootings since 2010.

Scott Greenwood, the attorney negotiating on the city's behalf with the U.S. Department of Justice, hinted that refusing to adopt the ordinance would hold up the crafting of a reform agreement sought by federal officials.

"This legislation really does strike the right balance," Greenwood told councilors. "Albuquerque will be a model."

The bill faced intense criticism from the president of the Albuquerque Police Officers' Association and its attorney.

"We want to ensure the changes in this institution will not only benefit the community but will also be a fair process to the officers it affects," said Stephanie Lope, president of the union. "There is no need to completely tear down the structure and rebuild it from the ground up."


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com

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