APD assesses their Officer Involved Shootings for past Six Months
By: ABQRAW staff
Posted: 10/04/2023 @ 6:30PM
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Albuquerque – APD held a press conference today to show transparency in the way they have handled the first six months where officers have shot violent offenders. Chief Harold Medina announced the results of a high-level review of officer-involved shootings during the first six months of 2023.
The review provided to media covered seven officer-involved shootings. Three of the incidents were fatal and four were not fatal.
“We continue to go above and beyond what is required by the settlement agreement by providing this extra layer of review and accountability,” APD Chief Harold Medina said. “We also added an expert to our working group who has provided valuable insight and recommendations. We are putting the recommendations from the working group into action so our officers in the field will benefit.”
The review, which can be found on APD’s web site, was conducted by a working group of APD deputy chiefs, one APD major, one legal advisor, and one external contractor who specializes in uses of force. Chief Medina started the 6-month reviews in 2022 to look at OIS incidents collectively and at a high level to identify patterns. The working group gave special consideration to whether de-escalation was used and where using a less-lethal tool earlier in the encounter might have avoided the need for deadly force.
The review found the following:
· 100% (7/7) of OIS incidents involved an individual armed with a gun or knife/edged weapon. Five of those were armed with a gun.
· 29% (2/7) of OIS incidents involved individuals who were shooting at officers at the time of the OIS.
· Less-lethal force was attempted prior to using deadly force in two of the OIS incidents.
· The working group determined two OIS incidents involved situations where the use of less-lethal force earlier in the encounter might have resolved the situation and thus, avoided the need for deadly force. In making this assessment, it is important to note that the working group cannot predict how the individual would have responded to the use of less-lethal force. It is entirely possible the situation would have still resulted in the use of deadly force.
· De-escalation (defined by APD policy) was used in two OIS incidents. The working group determined de-escalation was not feasible in four incidents based on the facts of each case. The working group determined de-escalation may have been used in one of the OIS incidents after the initial shots had been fired, but before the second.
· None of the individuals had a history with APD’s Crisis Intervention Team. One individual is believed to have had a history of mental illness, according to a family member. It is not known whether any other individuals suffered from mental illness.
· Drug and/or alcohol use is not known at this time. Toxicology reports for deceased individuals are not yet complete.
The working group recommended the following action items:
· APD will prioritize in upcoming firearms training that officers will be trained on environmental and situational awareness, decision-making, and threat identification during lethal incidents.
o There were four incidents where bystanders were in the vicinity of the offender during an OIS incident, including one incident where two bystanders were shot and injured. APD will provide training in several areas including, but not limited to, firearms safety rules when pointing or shooting their firearm, identifying threats and non-threats with moving targets, and overall awareness of the environments in which they may need to use deadly force.
· Evaluate the assignments of less-lethal tools, specifically 40 millimeter launchers
o While each officer cannot be assigned every less-lethal tool available, APD will evaluate the current assignments of the 40 millimeter launchers to ensure the officers most likely to become involved in a critical incident, the Field Services Bureau, are more likely to have them assigned to squads.
· Prioritize command and control training and scenarios for upcoming supervisory training
o APD is in the process of developing supervisory training that includes supervisory responsibilities during critical events. The Training Academy will include command and control training that includes decision-making and explicit assignment of officer roles (i.e. communications, lethal, and less-lethal).
· Evaluate policy for potential revision for lethal weapons deployment
o The working group collaborated with the use of force expert contractor during this review period. One recommendation was for APD to evaluate its policy with deployment of lethal weapons, specifically rifles. The department will consider reducing the initial deployment of rifles based on the information at the time with the supervisory capability to evaluate the need for certain weapon types to properly address the involved individual(s).
· Evaluate policy for potential revision for increased roles of supervisors and Emergency Communications Center (APD Dispatch)
Another recommendation provided by the use of force expert was for APD to determine if there are improved ways for supervisors and dispatchers to actively work together during calls for service with the goal of improving outcomes of calls for service, including but not limited to helping supervisors identify a call involving a mental health component, reminding officers to deescalate, providing a reminder to turn on their on-body recording devices, or to assist supervisors for additional resources.