Albuquerque Police Department looks for ways to use 'less-lethal' force - Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Police Department looks for ways to use ‘less-lethal’ force

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

In the midst of a spike in shootings by its officers the Albuquerque Police Department is working to change policies so they can use “less-lethal” force earlier in an encounter – in the hope of preventing the need for deadly force.

Additionally, the department’s executive staff and city attorneys will review this year’s 18 shootings by officers to see if they can identify and address any trends. Among those incidents 10 people were killed and three were injured. In five cases no one was struck.

The number of shootings has alarmed advocates, and discussions of the increase dominated a recent federal court hearing on APD’s reform effort. Last year APD officers shot at 10 people, killing four, injuring five, and missing one.

But Chief Harold Medina said he’s been contemplating changes for a while and APD has already been working on them with the Department of Justice and the independent monitoring team overseeing the reforms.

“We had already been trying to change the policy,” he said in a phone interview. “But as we heard everybody’s concerns during the hearing, I really felt there was a way we could do this better. That’s when we got these ideas of we should meet to look at all the cases at once as a whole.”

Medina said he hopes to have policies approved in the next month.

“One of my big frustrations right now is our processes take so long – like we identified issues but by the time we get everything approved through everybody it takes months,” he said.

Totality of circumstances

Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina briefs the media following a fatal police shooting near Gibson and Messina SW on Friday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

On Feb. 20, 2021, drivers in the area of San Mateo and Copper NE called 911 to report a man walking in traffic lanes.

Two officers responded and found Claude Trivino – a 40-year-old Native American veteran from Hernandez, New Mexico, who was suffering from mental health issues.

Lapel camera video of the incident shows Trivino walking down the middle of San Mateo as officers ordered him to stop walking in traffic.

Then, the video shows, Trivino turned and ran toward the officers raising what later turned out to be a Leatherman multi-tool with the blade extended. As he threw the blade at one of the officers they both fired their guns at him.

Trivino was taken to the hospital, where he died.

Medina said this was one case where he would have liked for less-lethal options to have been authorized before deadly force was used.

As it stands right now officers cannot use force unless someone is actively resisting. Under the proposed changes Medina said he wants to broaden the definition of actively resisting and allow officers to take the totality of the circumstances into consideration.

“Let’s say Mr. Trivino was walking through an open field and there were 300 yards before he got anywhere and officers had the ability to create a little space … officers should look and evaluate and say ‘Look this guy really has nowhere he’s going to go,'” Medina said. “This one was interactive, walking down the street, cars going all around these individuals, two officers on scene – that’s where the totality is going to say, ‘Hey, yes, we would authorize using less-lethal force.”

Following the approval of the policy changes the academy will adjust its training on how and when officers should use force.

Looking for trends

As part of the settlement agreement the city entered into with the Department of Justice to address excessive use of force, APD created a Force Review Board to examine every shooting and other critical incidents. The board also is tasked with analyzing use of force data “to determine significant trends and to identify and correct deficiencies revealed by this analysis.”

Medina said he wants APD’s executive staff and city attorneys to meet and look for trends specifically among this year’s police shootings and see if any changes need to be made. He said the board has tended to focus more on individual cases.

“Right now they go through the individual cases and if somebody there can remember or they tie into something in the past, that’s a benefit and they could try to make it a trend,” Medina said. “We are now purposely putting all the cases in front of them … and they’re going to have little different data points that we could look at and the goal is to look at them all together at the same time and see if they can identify anything that’s of a concern.”

He said the group is going to start with this year’s shootings but in the future if another type of force skyrockets they could review trends there too.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Albuquerque Police Department looks for ways to use ‘less-lethal’ force

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
$14.3M grant could make Acoma Pueblo’s internet problems ‘a ...
ABQnews Seeker
The federal government on Thursday announced ... The federal government on Thursday announced the tribe has been awarded $14.3 million for a broadband project.
Amid climate change and wildfire recovery, New Mexico enacts ...
ABQnews Seeker
Senate Bill 9 establishes new legacy ... Senate Bill 9 establishes new legacy and permanent funds that supporters say will provide a sustainable stream of cash for projects ranging from watershed ...
NM-filmed 'Chupa' premieres on Netflix on April 7
ABQnews Seeker
Production on 'Chupa' began in Aug. ... Production on 'Chupa' began in Aug. 2021 in New Mexico. Crews filmed for months on location around the state — including Estancia, Zia Pueblo, ...
'Scared to go to school': Denver shooting stokes backlash
ABQnews Seeker
DENVER (AP) -- Outraged Denver students ... DENVER (AP) -- Outraged Denver students and parents demanded better school security and pushed for tighter firearm controls Thursday, a day after a 17-year-old ...
Cirque Italia brings its maritime-themed show to Albuquerque
ABQnews Seeker
Cirque Italia's latest adventure is called ... Cirque Italia's latest adventure is called "Water Circus" and will start a two week stand in Albuquerque beginning Thursday, March 30, at Cottonwood Mall.
Where did all those Chihuahuas come from? Test your ...
ABQnews Seeker
Take the Journal's weekly news quiz ... Take the Journal's weekly news quiz below for a chance at the warm, fuzzy feeling that only comes from knowing you're well-informed on your ...
Los Luceros Historic Site to host history talk on ...
ABQnews Seeker
The Los Luceros Historic Site will ... The Los Luceros Historic Site will be hosting a talk by ranger Joseph Tackes about genízaros at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 26.
Rainbow Ryders renews contract with Balloon Fiesta to remain ...
ABQnews Seeker
The new contract between Rainbow Ryders ... The new contract between Rainbow Ryders and Balloon Fiesta is for two years with two optional one-year extensions.
National Puppy Day: Here are the good boys and ...
ABQnews Seeker
Which of these 34 pups is ... Which of these 34 pups is the cutest?