“My son was shot and killed in our backyard,” said Stephen Torres, father of Christopher Torres. “It’s a pain that never goes away. … That’s why I’m here.”
He is part of a coalition that includes the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless, La Mesa Presbyterian Church and others. They’re calling the campaign “APD Forward.”
Much of the focus will be on the city’s talks with the U.S. Department of Justice, which earlier this spring found APD had a pattern or practice of violating people’s civil rights through the use of force.
The city and DOJ are expected to craft a binding agreement – called a consent decree – outlining a series of reforms for the police department.
The campaign announced Monday will focus on ensuring the agreement is not only sound, but also that the city actually carries out the reforms in future years.
“This consent decree is a tremendous opportunity to reverse 40 years of police violence in our community and restore accountability to the APD,” said Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico.
The coalition plans to hold community forums. It will also have attorneys who monitor the city’s compliance with whatever agreement the city reaches with the Department of Justice.
The Rev. Trey Hammond, pastor of La Mesa Presbyterian Church, near Copper and Louisiana, said there’s a woman in his congregation who’s now afraid to call Albuquerque police when she needs help with her two mentally ill sons.
“I hate to see that loss of trust,” Hammond said.
The coalition’s goals include ensuring the city and DOJ reach a court-enforced agreement, that an independent monitoring team is appointed to oversee compliance, that the city dedicates enough resources to carry out reforms and that the city demonstrates concrete steps to address problems uncovered through the federal investigation.