Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Weak Link in Police Oversight

Letters to The Editor, Albuquerque Journal

HAVE YOU EVER wondered why police get abusive and unprofessional and why they mistreat those that they are paid to serve and protect? From my experience, it appears that the police chief encourages them by supporting them and defending them, no matter how wrong they are.
Two officers came on my property looking for someone else and I was kicked in the back. The officers refused to identify themselves, so we took their picture in order to document their identity. We requested a supervisor and the sergeant that came out did not even want to interview us. She only wanted to speak to the officers. ...
I filed a citizen's complaint and Internal Affairs (APD) tried to investigate. When I found out that their decision would be final, without my having a right to appeal, I demanded that the independent review officer handle the investigation.
Jay Rowland's office conducted a cursory investigation and found in favor of the police. Out of a total of 13 witnesses, plus an additional three police officers, Rowland's office interviewed only two of the officers and only three witnesses in order to reach a conclusion.
I appealed this decision to the Police Oversight Commission (POC), which, at Rowland's recommendation, voted not to hear my appeal. I appealed this decision to the chief administrative officer for the city and he decided that my appeal should be heard.
I presented my case and the POC found in my favor and overturned Rowland's findings. They found that the officers used excessive force, acted in an unprofessional manner and violated standard operating procedure by refusing to provide me with their names and badge numbers. I felt vindicated.
Now, I've found out that the police chief will not accept the POC's decision and instead continues to back his police officers. ... It's quite evident the chief does not respect the POC and will back his officers, even if their actions are wrong.
The City Council has made changes to the POC ordinance to strengthen it. May I suggest one more change, the police chief!