"Was it a bad shoot? Or a good shoot?"
January 28, 2015 2:19 PM   Subscribe

Your Son Is Deceased The shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, looked almost routine to people in Albuquerque. The city has one of the highest rates in the country of fatal shootings by police, but no officer has been indicted. Of the sixty-three officers who joined the Albuquerque police force in 2007, ten eventually shot people.
posted by joedan (39 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would be willing to bet nine of those ten served in Afghanistan or Iraq or both.
posted by notreally at 2:27 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


The incompetence on display here would be hilarious if it weren't deadly. And I am very troubled by the fact that Brandenburg didn't prosecute until after she was personally bullied/threatened by the police (although perhaps just coincidence).

Those interested in working for change in the way we investigate and prosecute killings by the police should check out wetheprotesters.org, which is run by some of the people involved in the Ferguson movement. I believe eventually you will be able to sign up to volunteer on specific issues such as helping research and write policy papers and proposed legislation. (I am not officially affiliated with them - just a supporter and ally.)
posted by sallybrown at 2:27 PM on January 28, 2015 [3 favorites]




Kentucky State Trooper who raped a 16 year old girl during a traffic stop resigns. The KY state patrol recommended felony sexual assualt charges be broght, but the KY AG feels that is is better if he faces misdemeanor charges - if the attorney chooses to pursue them.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:48 PM on January 28, 2015


Ten so far. It's only been 7 years.
posted by PMdixon at 2:49 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


"When Mayor Richard Berry took office, in 2009, his transition team tried to draw his attention to a speech, delivered by an ethics scholar at an international conference for police chiefs, called “How Police Departments Become Corrupt.”[PDF] The speech described the four stages of dysfunction in a police force. The transition team said that the department appeared to have entered the third: employees abide by the “unwritten rules of internal politics”; leaders are promoted because of their relationships, not their work; and officers “rationalize doing unethical things during conversations with each other.” In its report on the department, the transition team wrote that the department showed at least one sign of having entered the fourth stage, exhibiting a commitment to “keep corruption out of the newspapers at any cost.”

"The report contained seven paragraphs about corruption; but, by the time it was submitted to the mayor’s office, in November, 2009, those paragraphs had been deleted. In their place was a discussion of the problem of “serial inebriates,” citizens who drained the department’s resources."
posted by Iridic at 2:53 PM on January 28, 2015 [23 favorites]


I would be willing to bet nine of those ten served in Afghanistan or Iraq or both.

I'd take that bet.

I certainly don't know why you'd think so. Generally speaking, soldiers are trained and held to a far higher standard than the police when it comes to conduct in the field and my understanding is that they are trained to favor deescalation, at least until real weapons are drawn or real bullets start flying.
posted by absalom at 3:03 PM on January 28, 2015 [17 favorites]


Before Ferguson, there was Albuquerque. Except without the racial tension, and more general abuse of power, especially when dealing with mentally ill individuals and people "in crisis."

The difference between examples of terrible police and the OP is that the Albuquerque force as a whole has a high rate of fatal shootings with none of the officers being indicted. Well, until January 2015, when District Attorney Kari Brandenburg filed murder charges against the two Albuquerque police officers who shot a mentally ill man in the Sandia Foothills in March 2014. The case has resulted in serious pushback against the DA for filing the charges, resulting in a state District Court to hear the charges of conflict of interest.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:10 PM on January 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


So heartbreaking and enraging.

It's shocking (although it shouldn't be) that the cops never interviewed the one eye-witness to Christopher's shooting. This isn't just wrong: it's gross incompetence.

And I am very troubled by the fact that Brandenburg didn't prosecute until after she was personally bullied/threatened by the police (although perhaps just coincidence).

My sense was that once the DOJ got involved, she began considering filing charges, and only then did the cops turn on her. But I'm a little impressed she won't back down now--possibly because all the damage has been done and she has little left to lose.
posted by suelac at 3:11 PM on January 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I would be willing to bet nine of those ten served in Afghanistan or Iraq or both.


I'd put the over/under at 6.5 and jump all over a bet on 9 or 10.
posted by paulcole at 3:15 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I cannot believe that APD allowed police to carry their own, personal weapons. Among everything else in the article, that fact stood out to me. Between personal weapons and weapons supplied by Homeland Security is some sort of mixed message and it's nothing good.

A friend in ABQ had a run-in with police last year that involved a SWAT team surrounding their home, I believe they are lucky to be alive even though there was no real threat to police or other citizens. It seems that no one is truly safe when police are able to shoot first and never ask questions.

Also, as detailed in the article, New Mexico is a very insular place to begin with - add to that the "brotherhood" of police and that's just ripe for many, many issues. The whole state is corrupt.
posted by backwords at 3:19 PM on January 28, 2015


The whole state is corrupt

I grew up in Grants. Every 2 years someone got fired from the DMV for selling fake IDs. Every 3 years someone got fired from the PD for dealing out of the evidence locker.
posted by PMdixon at 3:36 PM on January 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


.
posted by mumimor at 3:39 PM on January 28, 2015


I would be willing to bet nine of those ten served in Afghanistan or Iraq or both.

I'd bet the opposite; that they were rejected by our armed forces and took up a badge instead.

These aren't PTSD-type occurrences. This is a systematic pattern of abusive behavior by people who think they are above the law because they are the law.

They think they're Batman when they ought to ape Commissioner Gordon.
posted by Renoroc at 3:42 PM on January 28, 2015 [18 favorites]


Renoroc: “They think they're Batman when they ought to ape Commissioner Gordon.”

As a Burqueño, I have to say that the trouble is that they don't see themselves as Batman so much as they see themselves as "Human Waste Disposal."
posted by koeselitz at 3:48 PM on January 28, 2015 [8 favorites]


This recent post on the blue about Lois Duncan's daughter also has some interesting links about the Albuquerque PD.
posted by mogget at 3:53 PM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I cannot believe that APD allowed police to carry their own, personal weapons.

That's not that unusual. With the exception of big-city departments, it's pretty common for police officers to own their weapons in the US, once they are off probation. Typically there is an approved model list, and a contract that gets you a special price, and you buy your weapon along with your uniform and other nice-to-haves when you get your real badge. (Anecdotally, most of the people I know who are cops had already purchased an approved firearm previously, in order to practice with it and pass their quals without looking like a moron.) And nearly all departments—including the NYPD, probably the strictest department in the country—allow personal weapons for off-duty carry (the NYPD is unusual in that it actually has a whitelist of models for off-duty carry). Many others also allow personal guns while on duty as backup, e.g. in an ankle holster.

It would seem that there are deeper and far more troubling issues at play, given that there are a lot of departments with personally-owned weapons who don't seem to be shooting people with the horrifying regularity that appears to be the case in ABQ.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:54 PM on January 28, 2015 [8 favorites]


Maybe these guys should get jobs with the actual waste disposal department, as they appear to be short-staffed in this town.
posted by Enemy of Joy at 3:54 PM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hours and hours of crisis management training, community awareness training and psychological testing should be mandatory before any officer is issued a firearm. It's absolutely no excuse for any department, mayoral office or DA to say things like 2% of our officers make bad decisions when, in fact 100% of the officers are culpable when there is no accountability due to this "brothers in blue" attitude.
the city of albuquerque should be bombarded with copies of this article on their twitter page, city contact forms and any other social media that promote the city until they either publicly clean up their act or the place becomes a ghost town.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:10 PM on January 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


ABQ has always had some really bad cops. I spent a couple of years on the streets there before I got some treatment, and thankfully I managed to stay out of the cops' sights despite living in a camper most of the time (which is where i got my nick). I finally got treatment when I got out and moved to Oregon with the help of a friend, where they have health insurance. There wasn't any help available there back then that I could find in NM anywhere, and I could see things could easily have gotten bad. If my health had deteriorated much more I could have ended up like any of those guys they shot. Instead, thanks to health insurance and easily accessed treatment options I now work as a counselor helping (among other folks) homeless people. I will be speaking at a Crisis Intervention Training next month helping our cops do the right thing in a crisis like the one in the article. Go figure.

That place really needs an overhaul of its justice system and it's healthcare system. Sadly, the folks down there have allowed this to happen because the prevailing attitude amongst people there has been that you only have to worry about the police if you are doing something wrong. Anyone who had to deal with them could tell you different, but no one would listen. The cops have been a law onto themselves for a long time there, and now because someone respectable had something happen to them, people are noticing. Hopefully not too late, although for the people who got killed because they were existing in violation of some guy with a badge's feelings or just taking up the wrong space, it definitely is too late.
posted by cybrcamper at 5:03 PM on January 28, 2015 [12 favorites]


a speech, delivered by an ethics scholar at an international conference for police chiefs, called “How Police Departments Become Corrupt.”[PDF]

Wow. That's basically the plot of Training Day -- not to mention a standard subplot or character motivation in practically all cop films and latter-day TV shows. I really have to wonder about the role that Hollywood plays in reinforcing police department dysfunction.

Placing New Employees With Poor Role Models
When new workers spend time with senior employees who are cynical, apathetic, dishonest or degrade leaders [sic?] peer pressure usually prompts the “new hires” to acquire the same beliefs. Having an “on-the-job” training program comprised of trainers with negative attitudes creates an organizational culture that allows employees to rationalize their own misconduct through the belief that the management are their enemies.

posted by dhartung at 5:14 PM on January 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


Every 2 years someone got fired from the DMV for selling fake IDs

That's not just a NM thing; it happens all the time around here, because the DMV employees get paid peanuts and real IDs have serious value in this panopticon era.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:15 PM on January 28, 2015


part of the job of the police is to take the heat for the people they work for. those officers are just doing their jobs. the question is: what exactly is there job? and who do they work for?

How is it that the TV news portrayed Christopher as a bug-eyed lunatic?
How is it that the DA has never prosecuted any police shooting until now?
How is it that the judge dismissed the marijuana case that Brown was involved in when a lawyer got involved?

This is not about bad police at all, they are doing exactly what they are paid to do.
Brandenburg, a chatty woman whose office is decorated with animal knickknacks, told the lawyers that she disagreed. She remarked that when she goes to the grocery store or the dentist’s office people approach her and say, “I think the police are doing a good job, and they ought to shoot more criminals.” Brandenburg told me that she still hears this sentiment. The people who make these comments are “not evil people,” she said. “But they lack understanding. They talk as if it doesn’t matter if somebody were to die.”
posted by ennui.bz at 6:03 PM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Having the police investigate the police is something that cannot stand. One way to do it is a non-police body that has a mandate to investigate when police officers are involved in incidents where someone has been seriously injured, dies or alleges sexual assault.

That said, justice isn't always done or seen to be done. But sometimes, especially if there's good video evidence, charges are laid.

I fully accept that police from time to time can and have to use deadly force. However, as citizens, we should have the right to police how we're policed.

It's that simple. And if people can't get their heads around that, I tend to think they exist somewhere on the continuum of fascism.

When even the most basic elements of due process elude the police, it's time for a complete overhaul of the system, no?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:13 PM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


FTA: The department accepted officers from other police forces, even if they had been disciplined or fired, and it sometimes waived the psychological exam.

Like the cop who shot Tamir Rice. Nobody gave a damn that the guy shouldn't have been a cop.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:18 PM on January 28, 2015




I had to stop reading this when the scene in the backyard was described. One presumes that the Ripley Doctrine should be applied to the Albuquerque police department. Unfortunately, there's little chance that the entire police force can be replaced with people with more wisdom so that things like this don't happen.

In the meantime, I'd just like to see more of these cases go to trial. Let a jury decide whether or not it was justifiable homicide. That's our system. If it's good enough for the "bad guys," why are the "good guys" so afraid to face it? One wonders.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:37 PM on January 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was once a witness to an assault, where a guy was beating the shit out of a woman on the street. I won't give details about when or where, since I later found out this guy is seriously dangerous. In any case, I called this in to 911. The cops peeled up and pelted out of the car. I was expecting some kind of massively violent takedown. Instead, it was almost...balletic. The two cops cornered the guy, separated him from the woman he was beating, and just got him cuffed really fast. Not so much as a punch thrown, even though the guy was not going easy.

Based on what I saw happen before they arrived, I would have almost cheered if they started beating the shit out of him. And maybe I would have cheered. But - they were remarkably clinical and efficient in how they handled the arrest and did exactly what they're paid to do. Protect people when someone else picked up the phone and said someone was being hurt. And apply the level of force that's appropriate to the situation.

And as it turns out, he went to jail for a long time. But that's how it should work.

Too much to ask? No. It's YOUR JOB.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:38 PM on January 28, 2015 [15 favorites]


I should add: that report I cited above was authored by a retired Supreme Court of Canada judge who was born in 1937. Can you imagine a SCOTUS justice saying shit like "failure of a system?"
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:04 PM on January 28, 2015


New Mexico is either the #1 or #2 state for accumulation of military equipment in the entire country. Yes - New Mexico - Albuquerque.

Here in Spokane we had a real delight of a police officer whose name is Brad Thoma. He was fired after a history of stupid behavior over an incident of a DUI while on duty, I think it was. Anyway, he sued the city a couple of times - one of the lawsuits claimed that he was an alcoholic and the Chief of Police should have treated his illness of alcoholism as a medical issue; he wanted his job back and all the back pay. Police Chief said nay, City Council said nay, there was another suit or two and he lost all of them. No biggie, really - he got a new job as Chief of Police in some town in Minnesota. Just another example of how bad cops just move from place to place.

Our own current Police Chief came from Indianapolis where as Public Safety Director he was under investigation for a nice bunch of corruption involving, among other things, shredding very important documents relating to a real estate scam he was involved in. He'd only been in Indianapolis for two years and they were hot on his heels - so he quickly resigned and got hired here as our Chief of Police - another escape from right under the wire. Oh - and he's a "Dr." so he's always referred to as "Dr. Frank Straub." NYPD farmed him out to White Plains NY and he was "forced out of his job" there and went on to IN. Now we have him.
posted by aryma at 9:34 PM on January 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Our own current Police Chief came from Indianapolis where as Public Safety Director he was under investigation for a nice bunch of corruption

Wow, I remember that guy. He was also faulted for the botched investigation of an off-duty Indianapolis police officer who was involved in a fatal traffic accident and accused of driving drunk.
posted by Gelatin at 6:58 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


It sounds like bad cops can just skate from department to department. Is that because having worn a uniform before allows them to skip over the more rigorous phases of the screening process? Or is it because a significant number of American PDs actively hire for bad cops?
posted by Iridic at 7:31 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would be willing to bet nine of those ten served in Afghanistan or Iraq or both.

As others have said above, I'd bet the exact opposite. The military clearly isn't without issues and cover-ups but I have a lot more confidence in the UCMJ and the amount of training soldiers get than I do what the police get and the oversight placed on them.
posted by phearlez at 1:58 PM on January 29, 2015




We've had a bad rep in Albuquerque ever since "COPS". Here's another article from Rolling Stone which covers some of the same ground: When Cops Break Bad: Inside a Police Force Gone Wild
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posted by olopua at 1:05 PM on January 30, 2015










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