First poll: Few believe shooting was justified
Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal
A little more than a third of registered voters in a Journal flash poll conducted last week said they had confidence in the Albuquerque Police Department, compared with about half who said they approved of APD’s performance six months ago, according to a Journal poll at the time.
“That’s not a strong mandate for the Albuquerque Police Department,” said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., which conducted the survey.
“APD needs to gain the confidence of more than half of Albuquerque’s citizens so that they can be more effective in keeping the community safe,” Sanderoff said. “They need the support and cooperation of the community to get their job done.”
The Police Department’s shooting of a homeless camper this month – an incident that has sparked outrage in Albuquerque and across the country – is almost certainly a factor in the results, he said. But the numbers aren’t entirely bad, Sanderoff said.
Mayor Richard Berry said he understands why people are concerned. But the department’s officers do great work, too, he said.
“I’m fully aware that when there’s video like this (of the camper incident) out there, that that would bring questions into some people’s minds,” Berry said. “… But I want to assure our community that regardless of the outcome of the foothills investigation, they have good men and women out there every day protecting them and their families.”
The city’s police force is also the subject of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, which is examining whether APD has a pattern or practice of violating people’s civil rights through the use of force.
Albuquerque police officers have shot and killed 23 men since the beginning of 2010.
The shooting of the homeless camper, James Boyd, is under investigation by the FBI. The city-released video of the incident earlier this month shows Boyd, who was armed with knives, turning away from officers as shots ring out.
Stephanie Lopez, president of the Albuquerque police union, said it’s understandable for people to be concerned.
But she urged the public “not to get blinded” by the negative things they see in the news media.
“Every officer is here for the right reasons, and that is to protect and serve the community,” Lopez said.
Sanderoff said allegations of excessive force “have been simmering in Albuquerque for three years. The recent police shooting in the foothills has brought this issue to the boiling point among mainstream Albuquerque residents.
“APD still has an opportunity to regain the confidence of area registered voters, in that 42 percent have mixed feelings or no opinion. However, the recent police shooting in the foothills moved APD in the wrong direction for improving voter confidence.”
The Journal telephone survey, conducted Wednesday, comes after a similar poll about six months ago. That survey, also conducted by Research & Polling, asked voters likely to participate in the October mayoral election whether they approved of the job performance of APD.
Forty-nine percent of those surveyed said they approved of APD’s performance and 26 percent disapproved. Another 25 percent said they either had mixed feelings about how the department is performing, didn’t know or wouldn’t say.
That survey was conducted in early September.
Since then, “APD has had a tough six months,” Sanderoff said.
The most recent survey is based on a random sample of 455 registered voters in the Albuquerque metro area.
All interviews were conducted on March 26. Seventy-three percent of the interviews were conducted via land-line based telephones, using a recorded interactive voice response system. Twenty—seven percent of the surveys were conducted via cellphone interviews, using professional telephone interviewers.
The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.