Posted at: 02/27/2013 10:14 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Photo: Richard Berry
In the past few years, Albuquerque has had some of the highest police shooting rates in the country. KOB Eyewitness News 4 has covered everything from protests to independent reviews against the Albuquerque Police Department, and most recently, the Department of Justice's own investigation.
Despite all this, people may have failed to notice, nearly six months have passed without an officer-involved shooting.
Mayor Richard Berry told KOB Eyewitness News 4 he is happy no officer has been in a position where they had to resort to deadly force in the past six months.
A lot of policies and procedures have been implemented to help prevent this very thing; but Berry added it is a work in progress.
From 2009 through 2011, APD reported 25 officer-involved shootings, 17 of them fatal. The department received endless criticism for it. But nearly six months have now passed without a police shooting.
"The fact that we've been able to go several months bodes well, but nobody is resting on our laurels," Berry said.
Berry attributes the noticeable decline in shootings to a couple different things.
"We took that very seriously, very quickly," Berry said.
The year 2010 started with three officer-involved shootings in one month. By September, the city hired an outside agency to conduct an independent review of APD.
In the more than two years since then, APD has implemented several different procedures.
"The lapel camera is one example," Berry said. "Just all the different training, procedures and policy changes; we've put almost 60 different changes in place."
The Department of Justice also launched an investigation into APD back in November. For the last two weeks they have been here, listening to public input and looking closely into APD's practices.
"We've got a very collaborative, very professional relationship with DOJ," Berry said. "If they can find things we've missed to keep officers safe and have better community outcomes, we're more than willing to have those discussions."
Berry said he feels more discussions will lead to further improvement.
"We just never want to rest," Berry said. "We never want to say that we're finished."
The noticeable decline started last year. Berry added there has never been a year without any officer-involved shootings; the average is typically eight.