ALBUQUERQUE — The U.S. Department of Justice is set to hold an invite-only meeting with community activists over its pending investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department.
Federal authorities have scheduled the closed-door gathering Tuesday in Albuquerque following five shootings involving Albuquerque officers during the last three months of 2013.
Advocates said federal officials are expected to give an update on the yearlong investigation amid a string of high-profile abuse cases. It’s the first update by Justice Department officials since the probe was launched at the end of 2012.
“Up until now they haven’t given us a lot of information,” said Ralph Arellanes, state director for the League of United Latin American Citizens. “So hopefully we’ll get a better understanding on where they are [with the investigation].”
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico said Justice Department officials will meet with leaders and private citizens who have provided information to the DOJ investigative team and who have asked to be kept informed on the investigation.
“Because the meeting is in our office, only a few individuals were invited due to space limitations,” she said.
There have been nearly three dozen shootings by Albuquerque officers since 2010. Critics have blamed the shootings on a departmental culture that fosters brutality and the shootings have drawn protests and lawsuits by advocates.
The department made changes in oversight, training and hiring of officers in response to the shootings and several other high-profile abuse cases.
Police Chief Ray Schultz stepped down from his position last year after eight years on the job and the city is conducting a national search for his replacement.
Jewel Hall, president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center Board and a critic of the department, says she’s hoping federal authorities outline a plan for improving Albuquerque police. “I know there’s going to be a lot of bureaucracy but I’m hoping that something good comes out of all this,” she said. “We have a chance to really change things now.”
Hall says advocates want better sensitivity training for officers and for the new chief to better communicate with the community.