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Albuquerque City Council invites DOJ to investigate controversy-ridden police department
The conviction and sentencing of officer Brad Ahrensfield for tampering with a federal investigation put the spotlight back on Albuquerque’s law enforcement agency as the city council battles with the mayor in permitting the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the city’s police department for its high rate of shootings.
While the two incidents were unrelated, Ahrensfield’s crimes and APD’s ongoing struggles with its officers brandishing guns compound the frustrations city officials and residents have with the police force.
Last night, the city council voted unanimously to invite the Justice Department to look into 20 police-involved shooting incidents in 20 months, a symbolic gesture that nonetheless gave elected officials a platform to express that not enough is being done to reform ADP and preclude Mayor Richard J. Berry from vetoing the council’s second attempt to move the resolution forward.
From KOB TV 4:
“We need change. We need the council to come forth and do what’s right for the people. We the people are talking to you, listen,” pleaded Mike Gomez, the father of Alan Gomez who was shot and killed by APD.
Still though, the vote is purely symbolic.
“We don’t really have the ability to ask the Department of Justice, come in, this is what you need to do. That is a decision the Department of Justice makes on its own,” said Councilman Rey Garduño.
The bill they passed back in August essentially pushed for the DOJ to investigate. That bill narrowly passed, but was vetoed by Mayor Berry. Not all councilors agreed with it.
“I just don’t support the DOJ coming in. I think the administration is taking care of all the issues and I think it’ll happen sooner than later,” said Councilman Brad Winter.
The new resolution basically says if the DOJ decides to investigate APD, council and the mayor will support it.
So is it a waste of time to debate something council has no power to enforce? Councilors on both sides say no.
“That’s what government is about. It’s to have public comment, listen to people voice their concerns, so it’s never a waste of time for that,” said Winter.
“There’s never a time where we can’t listen to the community. I think the community has asked for this, they’ve pleaded for this. If anything, we’ve wasted their time by not acting a little sooner,” said Garduño.
Meanwhile, Ahrensfield was ordered to serve six months in jail, and one day in federal prison, for tipping off a friend who owned a car dealership that federal investigators were monitoring his business for possible contraband and drug activity. Ahrensfield faced a possible sentence of 20 years, though the judge looked favorably at his clean record and military service.