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Union survey: many N.M. officers want federal probe

The Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE – More than 40 percent of officers supported a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department, according to results of a survey done just a month before the department announced on Nov. 27 it would investigate the department’s use of force policies and training.

The survey results obtained Wednesday by The Albuquerque Journal also show more than 60 percent of responding officers said they had not received significant training in use of force policies or new technologies such as lapel cameras. And 72 percent said the average officer does not have “proper tools (equipment, training or manpower support) to effectively serve and protect the people of Albuquerque.”

The union released some survey results last month. Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association vice president Shaun Willoughby said Wednesday the questions about training and the federal investigation were withheld over worries they would distract from the union’s message about sagging morale.

Police Chief Ray Schultz and Mayor Richard Berry, however, were provided the entire survey in November, he said.

“The chief and the mayor don’t seem to be taking this seriously,” Willoughby said. “They have a really big problem on their hands in terms of the way they communicate with their department and the way they train their department.”

Schultz did not respond to questions from the Journal about the survey results.

The union hired a private company to send the survey to each of the union’s approximately 900 members. More than 450 officers responded between Sept. 25 and Oct. 25, a high response compared to typical turnouts for Albuquerque police union votes.

Other results of survey questions include that almost 44 percent of respondents, 193 officers, said they are considering early retirement and almost a third said they were looking for a job with another department. Nearly two-thirds also said they didn’t think the promotion process was either fair or balanced.

November’s announcement by the Justice Department came after the police department in New Mexico’s biggest city was the target of protests, lawsuits and demands for wide-scale agency overhaul from civil-rights advocates. The city has seen 27 officer-involved shootings – 17 of them fatal – since 2010. The department also has been plagued in recent months by a number of high-profile cases alleging excessive force by officers, including some cases caught on video.

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