Accountable Law Enforcement (The Albuquerque Effect)

3 years ago

Albuquerque is making headlines again.  NOt for the balloon fiesta, red and green chile or it's wonderful weather, but for yet another killing involving local law enforcement.  Since 2012, New Mexico's law enforcement has been under federal investigation for the seeingly senseless killings of several individuals and the blatent misuse of force and weapons.  Most recently, the killing of an unarmed man who had been trespassing and camping in the foothills of the Sandia mountains.  Albuquerque police officers are required to now wear lapel cameras to record interactions with civillians, should anything get out fo hand or confrontational.  THe recent case of the man illegally camping is all over the media, as police asked him to stand down (he was confirmed to be menatlly ill) he turned his back and was holding gun, was shot, and on the ground, non responsive.  Pause.  I completely understand that a mentally unstable man with a gun is a necessary situation in which to defend yourselves by the means you have availabe, in this case, the police officer's weapons.  However, it didn't stop there.  The man was unresponsive and then, the officers fired off 5 rounds of bean bags on to his motionless body. You can view the actaul lapel camera footage of this, but be warned it is graphic, Via Huffington Post article on the web at:…)  

He was pronounced dead several hours later.  This is not the first time NM has dealt with the gross misconduct of officers.  The line between justifiabe actions and over use and abuse of power is getting a little more grey as we see incidents like this go from routine to out of control very quickly.  What does this teach us about our law enforcement?  Who do they answer to?  I believe the solution is in better training, de-escalation tactics, crisis intervention, suicidology, and higher standards at the police academy for putting an armed officer in the line of duty. When our kids see stuff like this, they do not understand the difference anymore between the "good guys" and the "bad guys" because actions such as these blur those lines further.  Bottom line:  Our law enforcement needs more regualtions and it needs more accountability.  As people protest tonight, in downtown Albuquerque, as Annonymous hacks into the Albuquerque Police Dept. website, as people are on the news for lying down in the middle of I-25 and climbing on traffic signals to gain national attention for this issue (Check out @RussellContreras on twitter for coverage of protests) its time we redefine the lines and laws of power, authority and abuse.  If you can't trust the police, who can? 


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