The Albuquerque Police Department is standing by its decision to hire a law enforcement veteran once accused of racial profiling and excessive force in a nearly 20-year-old lawsuit. But a police spokesman said Friday evening that the department will reach out to New Jersey State Police – Leonard Nerbetski’s former employer – to get more information about his background.
Earlier this week, Nerbetski was named as the civilian manager of Albuquerque police’s Real-Time Crime Center. In 1999, an Associated Press report named Nerbetski as one of two New Jersey State Police troopers accused of roughing up two law students, both minorities. The state later settled the case in an agreement in which it admitted no wrongdoing.
Mayor Tim Keller, at a news conference Friday, said Nerbetski previously ran a Real-Time Crime Center in New Jersey and was selected for his expertise.
He also said that Nerbetski was recommended to Albuquerque by the Department of Justice.
Albuquerque is currently underway with a yearslong reform effort brought on by an investigation by the DOJ, which found police had a pattern of excessive force.
“We’re under a DOJ consent decree and the fact that he came to us through (the DOJ) says a lot,” Keller said.
Gilbert Gallegos, a police spokesman, said Nerbetski has a top-secret FBI clearance and had an otherwise unblemished career. But he said the police department will still look into the old allegations.
Nerbetski will manage civilian crime analysts who work in the Real-Time Crime Center. He is expected to start Oct. 29.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.