APD one of the few to allow shooting at moving vehicles

Posted at: 04/14/2014 10:21 PM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The U.S. Department of Justice released its investigatory findings last week, but our 4 On Your Side Team continues to dissect each page of the report to fully understand the culture of APD.

One policy the DOJ noted as problematic is allowing APD officers to shoot at moving vehicles.  The DOJ spells out, “APD’s policy regarding shooting at moving vehicles is outdated and inconsistent with best police practices.  APD’s policy does not prohibit firing at moving vehicles.  Shooting at vehicles is generally a poor tactical choice and could make vehicles even more dangerous instruments.”

But APD leaders already knew this.  In 2010, Mayor Richard Berry paid the think tank Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) to study the department.  PERF drew the same conclusions and recommended that APD change its policy at firing at moving vehicles.  But none of the APD chiefs since 2010 made the change and Mayor Berry never ensured that the policy be corrected or updated.

As the state’s largest police force, you might think APD would be a leader in policing.  But our 4 On Your Side Team discovered smaller police forces across New Mexico take a different approach. 

Policy at the Las Cruces Police Department states, “employees should not discharge a firearm at or from a moving vehicle.”

Policy at the Alamogordo Police Department states, “shooting at or from a vehicle is  dangerous and generally ineffective practice and is not authorized.”

Policy at the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office states, “an impermissible discharge includes one to or from a moving vehicle.”

In fact police departments in Farmington and Carlsbad ban the practice as does New Mexico State Police.

The only other New Mexico department we found that allows shooting at moving vehicles is the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.  Its policy states the only acceptable targets are the driver or engine block.

APD personnel declined to be interviewed for this story citing the department is currently working with the DOJ.