The Albuquerque police department has been involved in 23 shootings since January 2010, with 18 of those leading to dead suspects. That fact, plus the recent discovery that the police department union has a policy of paying several hundred dollars to officers involved in shootings, is making activists around the U.S. very peeved. And a few of them are very keen on a Department of Justice investigation into whether the department has too many fatal incidences for a city of half a million people.
According to the AP:
There were six police shootings last year, all fatal. And there have been three fatal police shootings so far this year.
By contrast, New York City police fatally shot eight people and injured 16 in 2010. The population of New York is about 8 million.
A DOJ spokeswoman said Monday that her office is conducting a preliminary review of the Albuquerque shootings, but no decision has been made regarding a formal investigation.
Worse still is the 300-500 dollar "bounty" (an accusation coming from those who think it's a bad idea). And, you know, it's not quite enough money to make anyone go on a killing spree or something but it's not exactly a healthy disincentive, either. It looks like a reward for killing a suspect, even if it isn't one.
The AP also reported last week that the mayor of Albuquerque isn't happy with the payment system:
Mayor Richard Berry called Friday for an immediate halt to the practice, which was first reported in the Albuquerque Journal during a week in which Albuquerque police shot and killed two men….
"The administration has nothing to do with how the union conducts their business," Berry said in a statement, "but I was shocked yesterday when made aware of this practice. I cannot stand aside and condone this practice. It needs to end now."
The police union pleads that it's simply a way to let an officer relax after the stress of a shooting incident; So that officers can "find a place to have some privacy and time to decompress outside the Albuquerque area." And yes,it's doubtful that a few hundred bucks would mean the difference between an officer shooting and not shooting , but even aesthetically, it's incredibly distasteful and sends the wrong message to citizens.
Hat tip to commenter sloopyinca