The New Mexico State Police (and more specifically, the Albuquerque Police Department) have come under scrutiny in recent years for blatant, unjustified use of excessive force and for the high number of police-involved shootings.
It’s happened so often in New Mexico, the Department of Justice launched an investigation in 2012, and it’s still ongoing.
Yet, the guy who designed these training programs doesn’t see a problem with any of that. In fact, he’s instituted a curriculum that puts less restraint on officers when they decide to use deadly force or not.
According to The New Mexican, Jack Jones (the director of the Law Enforcement Academy) has been granted full control over the design of their basic training program.
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.
“It would be out of the ordinary for one person to write [the curriculum] without other people having input,” said Thomas J. Aveni, director of the Police Policy Studies Council, a New Hampshire-based group that studies use of force by law enforcement.
And 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.
“The statement that he made to us [instructors] in a [January 2013] meeting was, ‘No, I want you guys teaching these guys how to make a car stop with a bullet.” Gallegos said, “This is the thing — why are you shooting at a car? You should be shooting at the individual that is shooting at you.”
Jones tried to justify that part of the training by saying:
We want them to see that if there’s a threat that’s inside a vehicle and they need to shoot at it, what happens to that round. They’re wearing a gun and a badge protecting you [the public] against the violence. Don’t you think they should be prepared for the most violent encounter that they can come up against?
Jones seems to be evading the question.
According to Williams, because the number of police shootings are so high, the public needs to know how these officers are being trained. Also, training documents can’t be withheld lawfully unless there’s an ongoing criminal investigation or some other reasonable exception.
The New Mexican filed an Inspection of Public Records request to get a copy of the new curriculum. Jones wouldn’t let him have it, and gave the excuse that “criminals could use the tactics…against them”. That sounds oddly similar to the response to FOIA requests from the U.S. national security apparatus for information on 9/11.
“I’ll burn them before you get them,” he told The New Mexican.
According to Jones, officers “need to be prepared for violence”, and he justifies training officers to use more force by insisting that there are so many bad guys out there:
Evil has come to the state of New Mexico, evil has come to the Southwest, evil has come to the United States.
Both myself and the writers at Activist Post agree with Jones that evil definitely has come to the area, but we disagree with Jones on where that evil’s coming from.
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