ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Officers from around the country are about to put their shooting skills to the test in Albuquerque.
A series of police shooting contests starts today and continues for the next three months in the city.
Last month, family members of several people who have been shot and killed by Albuquerque Police Department officers protested the city for hosting the contest, calling it insensitive because officers have shot 37 people since 2010. Groups are planning another demonstration this weekend and a march against the contest Sunday near Jack and Jill Park.
“We don’t need or want this contest in our community. We need accountable, community-driven policing that keeps us all safe,” Mike Gomez, whose son Alan was fatally shot by an Albuquerque officer, said in an online petition calling on the mayor to cancel the contests.
Breanna Anderson, spokeswoman for Mayor Richard Berry, has said the city welcomes the shooting contests. They will be held at the city’s Shooting Range Park, 16001 Shooting Range Access NW.
The New Mexico Police Pistol Combat Association and APD are listed as hosts, and APD Maj. Tim Gonterman is the point of contact.
The National Rife Association is running a Tactical Police Competition on Saturday and Sunday at which officers will respond to various scenarios, such as drunken men with knifes charging officers outside of a nightclub. The organization is also holding the National Police Shooting Championships in Albuquerque from Monday through Sept. 18.
Officers will shoot targets during that contest.
The police combat association is listed as the host for shooting contests in October and November in Albuquerque, and former APD Deputy Chief Mike Castro is listed as the point of contact, according to the NRA’s website.
APD spokeswoman Janet Blair said APD hosts regional police shooting contests as part of a contract that allows the national police shooting contest to be held in Albuquerque.
She said the events have been held here for the past eight years. Lars Dalseide, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, said he expects more than 500 officers to compete in the NRA-run shooting contests.
Dalseide said the public is welcome, although people will not be allowed to get close to the shooters for safety reasons.