Thursday, March 27, 2014

Time For Dept. Of Justice To Take Over APD? Another Police Fatal Shooting Has That Question Rising To The Top, Plus: Economic Spiral Downward Adds To City's Pain, And: The Dem Guv Race And APD Crisis 

APD protesters
A takeover of the ABQ police department by the US Justice Department may have come across as a radical measure when Justice launched it's investigation of the extremely troubled APD a year and half ago, but after this week Justice overseeing APD actually seems prudent.

DOJ has now agreed to look at a possible criminal investigation of the now notorious fatal police shooting of homeless James Boyd. That's a start but in light of recent events it seems like a thumb trying to plug a roaring river.

Having the Feds take over would also give a graceful exit to already beleaguered APD Chief Eden.

The surreal turn of events--a large protest over the APD fatal shooting of homeless camper and mentally challenged Boyd--was followed only hours later by yet another fatal police shooting that sent the city reeling again and nearly desperate to halt the mayhem.

But it got even more surreal. A renegade government watchdog group known as "Anonymous" threatened via YouTube to hack the APD computers in reaction to the Boyd killing.

What's next? Threats from the Roswell aliens if ABQ doesn't get its act together?


Albuquerque these days decidedly does not have its act together. We've lost control of our police department and our economy. And as we blogged recently, the Feds say we were the only metro area in the USA to lose jobs in the 12 month period ending in January--some 4,100 of them.

We don't know what a death spiral looks like, but it must be something like what we're living through around here.

Reliable sources report that representatives from electric car maker Tesla will meet with Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela this Friday to talk about where they will locate the company's battery gigafactory. But the business press is picking up on our concern that the chaos that has been ABQ these past two days could be a deciding factor against Tesla bringing to our not so enchanted land its multibillion dollar plant and its 6,500 jobs.


Chief Eden (Bralley)
New ABQ police chief Gorden Eden doesn't exactly look like a deer in the headlights, but clearly was not prepared for two fatal police shootings in his first month--on top of 20 others since 2010--nor the resulting outrage and disdain they've have engendered toward APD.

He appeared again before news reporters Wednesday--somewhat wearily--to explain the events of the late night hours of Tuesday when 38 year old James Redwine was shot and killed by officers at a housing complex near Coors and Central.

But instead of the whole story he did the old "modified limited hangout." He released a portion of police lapel camera video but not the video trained on Redwine. He said that video was being processed, but in this environment that explanation immediately aroused suspicion.

As one of our readers put it: "Releasing only a portion of the Redwine video is like only releasing the portion of the Boyd shooting video that shows the dog attacking him."

At first, Eden said Redwine had fired on officers and was greeted with return fire. But at the late afternoon news conference that had changed. Now Redwine had fired his gun, but at whom or what remains unknown.


TV news tried to interview an ABQ mayor who has become increasingly camera shy as the APD crisis escalates. Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry told KOAT-TV Mayor Berry was unable to do an interview because of a "minor medical procedure."


Several of the Dem Guv candidates are reacting to the fatal shooting deaths by APD. Attorney General Gary King says his office will investigate both the Boyd and Redwine shootings.

I know it is a bit unusual, but in this case it seems warranted to let the public know that the Attorney General's Office is as concerned as they are about the situation and I intend to do everything within my jurisdiction to see that a just result is reached in these cases. . .

Alan Weber commented on the Boyd death:

A homeless man needed help—he needed a place to be safe and he needed mental health services. He should not have been killed. There are real problems with the excessive use of force by APD—and that needs immediate attention and community-wide discussion.

But this death also speaks to what happens when people don't have the social services they need. We know that since Governor Martinez’s attack on our state’s behavioral health services, we’ve seen a 23% reduction in client use. When you take away availability of services, people have nowhere to turn for help. And then tragedy strikes. What should be handled as a mental health case turns into a police issue—and a needless, tragic death.

Linda Lopez said:

The lack of resources and programs to help those who are struggling with mental-health issues is quite evident in incidents like these. We can only expect more preventable tragedies like these senseless police killings, especially after the governor’s total destruction of our behavioral health care system last year. This troubling incident is only going to deepen the gap between the police and the public, which becomes more and more fearful of the actions of those who are supposed to protect them. We all need to reflect and learn from what is happening right before our eyes. People suffering from mental illness in our communities need treatment and our compassion, not the barbaric militaristic justice more common to battlefields and the callous dismantling of treatment programs that could help them.

Lawrence Rael said:

Police-involved shootings are occurring in Albuquerque at a per-capita rate 4 times greater than any other city in the nation--an indisputable fact. During my 12 years as the Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Albuquerque I was in a position to provide solutions to tragedies just like this--and that’s just what I did, in collaboration with the Albuquerque Police Department. In Albuquerque we came together to change how APD officers are trained in the police academy. As a result, new officers received invaluable instruction in recognizing individuals with mental health challenges. Police learned techniques in de-escalating potentially violent situations. . .


Reader Mark Oldknow writes from Santa Fe:

Under the circumstances, it's all the more ironic that the 2014 National Police Shooting Championship is scheduled to be held in Albuquerque...


A reader writes:

Joe, Wednesday's official referral of the Boyd killing by the DOJ  to it's Criminal Division is an indictment of not only new APD Chief Eden, his boss--Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry, but it ultimately is a rejection of Albuquerque Mayor Berry's leadership. Both Eden and Perry need to go and an effort to recall Mayor Berry for incompetence needs to proceed posthaste.


Former ABQ radio newsman John Geddie writes:

Joe, It is ironic that City officials were worried about the TV show COPS giving Albuquerque a black eye by filming here. Forget them. It is the Police Department itself that has created that image for the city.

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