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DOJ: Serious problems found in Albuquerque police

By: Jamel Valencia and AP
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.  - An investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department reveals it has violated the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced its findings Thursday; it revealed the police department has engaged in a pattern of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The federal agency began its investigation in the police department on Nov. 27, 2012. According to its findings, Albuquerque officers too frequently used deadly force on people "who posed a minimal threat" and used a higher level of force too often on
those with mental illness.

Patterns of excessive force:

- APD officers too frequently use deadly force against people who pose a minimal threat and in situations where the conduct of the officers heightens the danger and contributes to the need to use force

- APD officers use less lethal force, including electronic controlled weapons, on people who are passively resisting, non-threatening, observably unable to comply with orders, or pose only a minimal threat to the officers

- Encounters between APD officers and persons with mental illness and in crisis too frequently result in a use of force or a higher level of force than necessary.

Deficient policies, failed accountability systems, inadequate training, inadequate supervision, ineffective systems of investigation and adjudication, the absence of a culture of community policing, and a lack of sufficient civilian oversight all contributed to the problems the police department is facing.

Acting U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez says investigators found "serious constitutional problems," but yet the findings will help the city determine "the next generation" of policing.

The announcement followed an investigation into allegations of civil rights violations and excessive use of force that spanned more than a year. The police department has faced intense criticism over 37 shootings by officers since 2010.

The full report can be found at http://justice.gov/crt/about/spl/findsettle.php and http://www.justice.gov/usao/nm/APD.html. For more information about the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, please visit www.justice.gov/crt/ Any comments or concerns regarding the report can be directed to at community.albuquerque@usdoj.gov or 1-877-218-5228.