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Proposed changes to police oversight law deferred

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Consideration of proposed changes to Albuquerque’s police oversight ordinance was deferred by the City Council’s Finance and Government Operations Committee on Monday.

Brad Winter

Sponsored by Councilors Isaac Benton and Brad Winter, and published on the city’s website prior to Monday’s meeting, one of the proposed amendments in the ordinance would establish subpoena powers for the nine-member Civilian Police Oversight Board.

Those additional powers would include issuing subpoenas to witnesses, administering oaths and requiring production of relevant records. In the case of a refusal to obey a subpoena issued to any person, the board could make application to any state District Court to order the witness to appear before the board.

Other proposals include adding additional staffing and increasing the budget for the Civilian Police Oversight Agency, an independent agency of city government that is not part of either the city administration or City Council.

The committee’s 60-day deferral gives bill sponsors additional time to revise and adjust amendments before the committee takes up the measure again.

“I think it’s important that all the stakeholders involved be able to read this bill and make comments and suggestions, and also to the councilors to make suggestions on this ordinance,” Winter said in requesting the deferral.

Steve Allen, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, told committee members the organization is eager to see proposed amendments to the ordinance considered.

Isaac Benton

“There’s a lot of important things in this resolution,” Allen said. “It’s definitely a priority for us.”

The Police Oversight Board, whose members are appointed by the City Council for three-year staggered terms, is part of the CPOA, which was established in 2014 when the council overhauled the civilian police oversight system after a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the police department.

The CPOA investigates civilian complaints against officers, police shootings and other serious use-of-force cases, and the board makes recommendations about discipline and policy changes.