Albuquerque police union challenges agreement on reforms with Justice Department

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ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — The union representing Albuquerque police officers is challenging a settlement between the city and the U.S. Justice Department to overhaul police procedures, saying the deal undermines its own agreement.

The Albuquerque Police Officers' Association argued a brief filed in federal court Thursday for involvement in the settlement terms.

Union attorney Frederick Mowrer said in court documents that issues such as how officers will be disciplined for misconduct are in conflict with a collective bargaining agreement, the Albuquerque Journal reported (http://bit.ly/13NG4qH) Saturday.

U.S. District Judge Robert C. Brack said Wednesday that the public would be permitted to submit friend-of-the-court briefs of up to 15 pages. So far, 25 people have filed briefs to intervene including two men who each had a son fatally shot by Albuquerque police. The Justice Department and the city of Albuquerque filed briefs seeking the judge to approve the deal.

The deadline for briefs is Jan. 15.

The police department serving a city of about 560,000 people has faced scrutiny for 42 police shootings — 27 of them fatal — since 2010. The fatal shooting of a homeless man in March sparked protests around the city after video footage appeared to show the man surrendering during a standoff.

A Justice Department report found the police department had a pattern of using excessive force. The report led to months of negotiations between city and federal officials on overhaul plans.

The reform blueprint calls for new training and protocols for investigating officer shootings. It also mandates the dismantling of troubled units.

A federal monitor will be chosen to keep tabs on whether the department is following the agreement once it's approved.

The monitoring team will have access to all documents, personnel, facilities and information related to the settlement agreement and will engage with officers and community members on an ongoing basis, federal officials said.


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

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