Asking For Trouble: Albuquerque Police Repeatedly Accused of Excessive Force Buying Hundreds of Assault Rifles To Solve Problem
Albuquerque police, sometimes dubbed the worst in the country among many over-militarized police departments for its long record of well-armed abuses, have come up with an innovative response to a DOJ investigation finding officers using their own personal assault rifles as “status symbols” have contributed to a “pattern and practice” of excessive force: Now, the police will buy them their assault rifles. The APD – which has paid $24 million in legal settlements to shooting victims’ families (but never prosecuted a cop), long indulged in the practice of shooting at moving vehicles to slow them down, and recently faced widespread protests and a “people’s trial” of their police chief after the killing of a homeless man – says it is buying 350 AR-15 assault rifles, the civilian version of the military-grade M16 used to kill that same homeless man, for $350,000 in order to replace on the taxpayers’ dime the officers’ own weapons they were consistenly abusing, because “that training shouldn’t go to waste.” So now, all good. Walter White, come home.
“We found that police overwhelmingly use SWAT raids not for extreme emergencies like hostage situations but to carry out such basic police work as serving warrants or searching for a small amount of drugs,” said Kara Dansky, Senior Counsel with the ACLU’s Center for Justice. “Carried out by ten or more officers armed with assault rifles, flashbang grenades, and battering rams, these paramilitary raids disproportionately impacted people of color, sending the clear message that the families being raided are the enemy. This unnecessary violence causes property damage, injury, and death.”
· 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; and
· 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.