With two major law enforcement agencies under criticism for their uses of force – including the Albuquerque Police Department under DOJ investigation – the state board responsible for police training has hired a new “paramilitary” director who dumped responsible use of force training in favor of more “shoot first” scenarios.
A New Mexico State Police officer made national news in October when he opened fire on a van full of children after the mother drove away from a rural traffic stop.
Governor Martinez supported the firing of the officer saying:
‘Noting that her husband was a police officer for more than 30 years, the governor said, “You don’t use deadly force against someone who is not threatening you with deadly force..” ’
But that’s not the message our cops are getting.
Just two months after that incredible shooting – while the Albuquerque Police Department is under DOJ scrutiny for the shooting of 22 residents, 13 fatal, in just two years – the Santa Fe New Mexican and Albuquerque Journal report that the state’s law enforcement academy board hired a “paramilitary” director, eliminated public oversight or comment on training and cut police training on community policing and reducing fear, changed physical standards to limit the ability of women to quality and now implemented a “Shoot First” training program so bad at least one instructor refused to teach it.
In September, the state’s eight-member Law Enforcement Academy Board, which is appointed by the governor and chaired by the attorney general, voted unanimously to change the New Mexico Administrative Code to give complete control over the curriculum to Jones.
Greg Williams, an Albuquerque attorney and president-elect of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, said before the board voted on the change, it had a process that included public involvement.
“What they did was to change the process so that the public could not be involved,” he said…
Phillip Gallegos, a former academy instructor, called the rule change a “dangerous precedent.”
“Now you have one person that is making the selection, and who is to say that person knows what a curriculum is supposed to be like,” Gallegos said.
Gallegos said the academy fired him in July for insubordination after he refused to teach new cadets some of the firearms training Jones wanted to implement. – Santa Fe New Mexican, Feb. 16, 2014
Governor Martinez appoints all six public members of the law enforcement board overseeing police training and they should have never let that happen. The New Mexican reports that they changed the rules to prevent public input on police training, then stood by when the new director implemented this “Shoot First” program.
The Law Enforcement Academy Board, however, is backing Jones. At a meeting Monday, board Vice Chairman Nate Korn lauded his expertise and what he has done to train officers. – Santa Fe New Mexican, Feb. 16, 2014
The largest cuts in the old curriculum come from a block called “Patrol Procedures and Operations,” from which almost 60 hours were eliminated, including classes called “Role of Patrol in Community Policing,” “Patrol Activities and Incidents,” “Crimes in Progress” and “Crime Prevention and Fear Reduction.” – Albuquerque Journal, March 5, 2014
Tell Governor Martinez, her appointees on the board and their new academy director to stop teaching “Shoot First” tactics and return to responsible use-of-force training for our law enforcement officers.
-The ProgressNowNM Team
FYI… After we contacted Attorney General Gary King about this issue, he promised to take a critical look at oversight of this new training. But he can’t do it alone. Governor Martinez controls the other six members of the board and they are going to have to speak out to make change happen.