ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Albuquerque police union on Friday took strong exception to the APD administration’s handling of a criminal investigation into officers’ use of force during a May marijuana investigation and a new policy that gives deputy chiefs final say on all use-of-force cases.
Officer Connor Rice has been placed on paid leave and charged with misdemeanor counts of battery and aggravated battery for his use of an electronic stun gun on one man and his punching of another man on May 31.
Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association Vice President Shaun Willoughby said Friday the charges may have been premature, considering detectives from the APD Special Investigations Division haven’t yet interviewed all the witnesses.
“We are aware that there were some definitive concerns (raised) with this investigation,” Willoughby said in an interview. “However, the investigation is incomplete, … We understand that we make mistakes sometimes. But these men and women deserve to be treated fairly, and their rights should be maintained.”
He offered sharper criticism for a policy implemented this week in the wake of the May 31 incident that essentially removes sergeants, lieutenants and commanders from the decision-making process on use of force cases and gives that power solely to deputy chiefs.
“Any policy change that hints that there is a lack of trust between mid-level management and upper-level management is cause for serious concern,” Willoughby said. “The association believes in handling the problem itself — and not with what makes the administration look good. The association is not interested in protecting Mayor Berry’s reputation by tarnishing the reputations of police officers.”
— This article appeared on page A3 of the Albuquerque Journal