Activists Would Like the Feds to Pay a Call to the Albuquerque Police, Please


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. 

Reason on police, including the controversy-dogged NYPD and Seattle PD

Hat tip to commenter sloopyinca


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  1. Lucy why do you always bury your posts?

    1. Technical difficulties this time, I swear! I accidentally posted it two three days ago at first.

  2. Ban All unions in law enforcement…
    Unions protect their job to much ,therefore allowing police to stray and become more prone to use less discretion, knowing they are supported by the union…

    1. How does being protected lead to less discretion? I would be more willing to make an “outside the box” decision if I knew I was protected and not going to get thrown under the bus.

      1. Me, too. Like, if I knew I would not face the same scrutiny as a civilian if I shot and killed somebody because my union got me immunity, my department refused to use my report as evidence and my friends and fellow officers were the ones investigating claims against me.

        Hell, you want to talk about a sweet-ass gig. Being Judge Dredd a cop is it.

        1. Want to know one even sweeter? FEDERAL law enforcement. At least, that’s what I’M aiming for.

        2. Yeah, sweet ass gig. If you don’t mind being abused constantly, insulted, attacked, spit on, and generally despised. Allt he while expected to take it and never respond the way you really want to, and knowing if you do slip up some idiot will post it on YouTube and peopel like you will be calling you a fascist even though I daresay you haven’t got 1% of the self-control of your average cop.
          There’s a reason I don’t wear a badge anymore. I like the idea that if someone assaults me I can legally beat them senseless without having some dick ask me if my use of force was “reasonable and neccesary.”
          All I have to do is say the magic words; “I was in fear for my life, I want my lawyer.”

  3. Are you asking the Feds because they are so much more honest and reliable? I’d like to see Albuquerque come up with a real solution on their own and let the feds know they aren’t needed. How about dismissing the whole force and going non-union (so you can fire individuals), private with short term contracts (so they have to care about their relations with the community) via voter referendum or something? Not my favorite idea, but it puts the people who have to live with the consequences more in the driver’s seat I think.

    1. A “real solution” would be revolutionaries setting up a guillotine.

  4. Are you thinking what we’re thinking?

  5. Hey, how about letting officers who shoot suspects “have some privacy and time to decompress” afterward in a federal prison while the shooting is investigated?

    1. How dare you talk about your betters that way!

  6. This is lax reporting. What, exactly, is the nature of the payment that is called a bounty by its opponents? When is it paid?

    Whenever there’s a fatality?
    Whenever the officer discharges his/her weapon?
    What form does the “bounty” take (cash, paid leave, vouchers for b&b’s)?

    Also, you cite NY’s population, but not ABQ’s, so it’s hard to know exactly how much worse it is than NYC.

    It’s easy to see why this is a public relations nightmare for the ABQ PD, but this article is no help for a rational person trying to make sense of the situation. It does make sense, however, to bring in the Feds when the local PD has lost the trust of the people it’s supposed to protect & serve.

    1. NY State: 25,776 Officers serving 10,299,927 people
      NM: 4,123 Officers serving 1,910,563 people.

      In NY your chance of being assaulted as an officer is about 1 in 25 whereas in NM your chance of being assaulted as an officer is 1 in 5 (2010 stats from FBI UCR).

  7. So in addition to paid vacation and a medal, Albuquerque police officers also get a cash prize for killing people?

  8. … sends the wrong message to civilians.

    Civilians, Lucy? Really?

    1. Maybe that’s how her computer autocorrects “proles.”

  9. 942 officers were assaulted in New York (state) in 2010. 10 of those were from firearms and 7 were from knives. In that same year 773 officers were assaulted in New Mexico. 36 of those assaults were from firearms and 37 were from knives. Is it really surprising that officers working in an area where they are more than three times as likely to be shot or stabbed are shooting more?

    In the last 10 years more police officers have been killed in Washington State than in New York State. That’s because police officers don’t control these trends…criminals do.

    1. Tell that to the criminals, I’m sure they’d like to know that they can just ASK the cops not to shoot them.

      1. And that’s assuming EVERYONE SHOT is a criminal.

  10. Keep your shirts on, I’m confident Commissioner Goodell will get this straightened out.

  11. “the recent discovery that the police department has a policy of paying several hundred dollars to officers involved in shootings, is making activists around the U.S. very peeved”

    This is factually incorrect. It is the officer’s union making the payments, not the police department.

  12. ” Hat tip to commenter sloopyinca.” …. You know who else got a hat tip?

  13. “The Albuquerque police department has been involved in 23 shootings since January 2010, with 18 of those leading to dead suspects”

    ok, without knowing how many bullets they are using, i hesitate to say this but.. damn good shooting!

  14. christ, another steigerwald article and another blatant misrepresentation/lie.

    does anybody edit this shit? does she have any pride in the quality/accuracy of this stuff?

    for fuck’s sake. balko was very rarely factually inaccurate. with steigerwalk it’s par for the course.

    i quote: “That fact, plus the recent discovery that the police department has a policy of paying several hundred dollars to officers involved in shootings”

    the union pays it. the union is NOT NOT NOT the police dept. as i repeatedly point out, the union is often diametrically opposed to what the “police dept.” wants

    unions represent (in most agencies) labor.

  15. with police departments, it is management (or management acting as proxies for their bosses in govt) who says X (like “fire officer johnson”, “suspend officer johnson”, ) and the UNION that represents ofc. johnson (usually. sometimes they decide not to represent an officer if they are wrong, e.g. paul schene etc.)

    for fuck’s sake, the link she links to RIGHT NEXT TO HER FALSE statement even says that it is the union that offers the “bounty”.

    seriously. maybe balko could offer lucy a course in basic journalism

    spouting the metanarrative the anti-coppers want to hear isn’t enough. getting your facts right matters.

    i may think alterman et al are full of shit, but at least when i read the nation, etc. i know that they are going to usually be REASONABLY accurate.

    1. i’m sure i’m going to get the usual contentless attacks for pointing this out, or some pithy comment from lucy , but it’s just fucking embarassing, because it keeps happening.

      it would be funny if it wasn’t so sad, because unions and dept’s are often so diametrically opposed that attributing what one does to the other is kind of funny.

      1. OK, it’s not the department. So then it’s all good that the Union gives out a bounty to piggys that smoke the proles? Is that what you are saying? Gotcha, one again you are a fuckstick and please die in a fire with your progeny.

  16. lol, OK that just makes no sense at all dude.


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