ALBUQUERQUE – Calling it “a new beginning” for a city marked by police shootings and angry protests, Albuquerque officials signed an agreement Monday with the U.S. Justice Department aimed at overhauling the city’s troubled police department.
Mayor Richard Berry and Police Chief Gorden Eden both gave their signatures to the blueprint during a signing ceremony, marking the city’s formal entry into a deal that calls for new training and protocols for investigating officer shootings. It also calls for the agency to dismantle some troubled units.
A federal monitor will be chosen to keep tabs on whether the department is following the agreement.
“This is an agreement that I think is good for our community and our police department,” Berry said. “It was built after a number of years ... decades for some.”
The signed blueprint now goes before a federal judge, who is expected to give final approval next month, Berry said.
The City Council voted unanimously last week to approve the broad-ranging blueprint.
“People may see this as the end,” Eden said. “In fact, this is a beginning. It’s new beginning for the Albuquerque Police Department.”
The agreement comes after months of negotiations between city representatives and the Justice Department following a harsh report over the use of force by Albuquerque police. The agency also had been under scrutiny for more than 40 police shootings since 2010, including the March police shooting of homeless camper James Boyd.
The Boyd shooting, caught by a helmet camera, generated angry protests around the city and forced authorities to use tear gas on demonstrators. A video, which bore the logo of the computer hacking collective Anonymous, warned of a cyberattack on city websites and called for a protest.
City officials reported a cyberattack on its websites shortly after the video threat.
“It’s been one of the more rigorous years for me as a mayor,” Berry said. “It made for a lot of extra midnights.”
The families of those fatally shot by Albuquerque police have so far given the city high marks for signing the agreement.
Still, some advocates said the agreement doesn’t go far enough at reforming the agency. They wanted tough sanctions.
Berry said he understood their concerns but he believed that officials “struck a balance” between listening to concerns of critics and caring for officers patrolling the streets.