Albuquerque is the largest city in the state of New Mexico, with a population right around half a million. Locals will tell you that Albuquerque has changed a lot in recent years and according to the Census Bureau, Albuquerque is currently one of the fastest growing cities in the country, ranking sixth for growth among cities its size.
One of the things that’s changed as Albuquerque has grown is the Albuquerque Police Department, and not always for the better. Albuquerque police have long faced challenges unusual for a city this size, such as significant gang-related activity. With political pressure mounting to increase the size of the police force, city officials a decade ago relaxed their hiring standards in an effort to qualify more recruits. Some citizens think requiring less training was a mistake and it looks like the city agrees; they recently announced a return to the tougher hiring standards that had been abandoned in 1999.
Meanwhile, ten years of lower standards seem to have created a group of police officers who shoot citizens more frequently than police in other cities. And although shootings and other concerns have plagued APD for years, official response is always the same: “Nothing to see here. Move along. Move along.”
That’s why we’ve chosen Albuquerque as our charter city for PoliceComplaints.info. Events unfolding right now in Albuquerque make the city an ideal testing grounds that will help us refine and develop our mission of empowering direct, local police oversight in communities all over America.
We believe that police oversight must be done at the community level, by the actual citizens who have hired the police to protect them. Our hope is to grow PoliceComplaints.info and make it accessible to anyone in any city who wants to promote police accountability in their own hometowns. We invite you to start this process with us in Albuquerque and make Albuquerque a model for the rest of the country of what local activism can do when local citizens take a stand.