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What We Need In A New Police Chief

One thing is certain about Albuquerque's ongoing mayoral election: come Dec. 1, or shortly thereafter, Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden and many of the department's command staff will be gone.

Both mayoral candidates, Tim Keller and Dan Lewis, have said they will fire Eden, and perhaps members of APD's command staff.

With that in mind, the group APD Forward, a collation of 18 community groups and family members of police shooting victims, has made a list of qualifications it believes the new police chief should have. APD Forward has sent its list to both Keller and Lewis.

“It’s a new day for Albuquerque, and it must be a new day for our police department,” APD Forward said in releasing its list of qualifications a new chief should have. “Although a new chief can’t reform the department singlehandedly, picking the right chief will put the department on track to embrace the kind of top-to-bottom culture change that it so desperately needs.”

Here is APD Forward's list of qualifications for a new chief:

1. Experience leading institutional reform efforts within a law enforcement agency, including specific instances in which the candidate played a critical role in disciplining officers for violations of use of force policies and procedures.

2. A history of addressing crime while adhering to 21st century policing best practices1 and Police Executive Research Forum policies, including de-escalation tactics and diversion programs.

3. A track record of demilitarizing a law enforcement agency by rejecting offers of military equipment through federal programs, and by implementing best practices in the use of specialized units such as SWAT.

4. A track record of embracing meaningful and vigorous civilian oversight of law enforcement, including the ability of a civilian oversight agency to develop police policy, independently investigate complaints against officers, and impose discipline following officer misconduct

5. Experience working with immigrant communities, including a demonstrated commitment to support U-Visa and VAWA applications, not honoring Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers, abstaining from the federal 287(g) program, and, in general, not using local police resources for federal immigration enforcement.

6. A track record of working collaboratively with diverse communities and holding officers accountable for searching, detaining, arresting, surveilling or taking any other law enforcement action because of a person’s perceived mental illness, disability, race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender expression, language, wealth, homelessness, or immigration status.

7. A history of advocating for smart justice initiatives that reduce incarceration, improve conditions of confinementand emphasize rehabilitation, thereby reducing recidivism.

8. A demonstrated commitment to transparency and protecting the public’s right to know, especially through expanded data collection and disclosure and reporting of use of force incidents, the use and deployment of surveillance technology, the use of body cameras, and confirmed incidents of police misconduct.

9. Demonstrated commitment to protecting the right of free speech and protest, including prohibiting officers under the candidate’s command from engaging in mass arrests and conducting surveillance on law-abiding protesters.

10. A track record of guaranteeing the rights to due process, legal counsel, and being secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, illustrated by issuing strong policies, developing law enforcement training, creating meaningful oversight, and holding officers accountable so they will not stop someone without reasonable suspicion or arrest someone without probable cause.

"It’s important that all candidates for police chief be asked to provide concrete examples of the above qualifications," APD Forward said. "Acceptable candidates may not possess all of the criteria listed above, but a solid candidate will be capable of providing descriptions of their direct experience with most of these items. In the case of those criteria with which they don’t have direct experience, a qualified candidate will be able to provide a thoughtful answer demonstrating a commitment to the implicit values associated with the specific criterion."

Here's a list of APD Forward members:

National Association of Social Workers – NM Chapter

Native American Voters Alliance

New Mexico Conference of Churches

New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association

Street Safe New Mexico

Strong Families New Mexico

Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico

Fabrizio Bertoletti, former Police Oversight Task Force member

Kenneth Ellis II – father of Kenneth Ellis III

Michael Gomez – father of Alan Gomez

Stephen Torres – father of Christopher Torres

Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless

American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico

Common Cause New Mexico

Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women

Disability Rights New Mexico

El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos

Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande

Equality New Mexico

La Mesa Presbyterian Church

League of Women Voters of Central New Mexico

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