As the New Mexico State Police and the Albuquerque Police Department have come under scrutiny in recent months for a rash of officer-involved shootings, the man who sets the tone for training police recruits in the state has instituted a curriculum that puts less restraint on officers in deciding when to use deadly force.

“Evil has come to the state of New Mexico, evil has come to the Southwest, evil has come to the United States,” said Jack Jones, director of the Law Enforcement Academy, when asked about the new approach.

The academy trains recruits for police departments across the state. Some agencies, such as the state police and the Albuquerque department, have their own training programs, but the basic training courses are established by Jones’ academy, according to the Department of Public Safety’s deputy secretary, Patrick Mooney.

In September, the state’s eight-member Law Enforcement Academy Board, which is appointed by the governor and chaired by the attorney general, voted unanimously to change the New Mexico Administrative Code to give complete control over the curriculum to Jones.

Greg Williams, an Albuquerque attorney and president-elect of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, said before the board voted on the change, it had a process that included public involvement.

“What they did was to change the process so that the public could not be involved,” he said.

But Jones, arguing for more control over academy training, said changing anything from fitness requirements to firearms training could take nine months.

“If there is something happening that is new technology that bad guys are using, that evil is using, we need to be able to make that change and be able to make those changes in our academy,” he told the board in June.

Since September, Jones has shortened the cadet training from 22 weeks to 16 weeks, instituted a physical-fitness entrance exam that is the same for men and women and applicants of all ages, and added more training exercises, including live-fire vehicle stops. These changes were necessary to prepare new police officers to work in a more dangerous world, he said.

The latest class got underway Jan. 20.

Some former police officials and criminologists question the wisdom of having one person in charge of the academy’s curriculum, as well as the soundness of some of the tactics Jones is teaching the cadets.

“It would be out of the ordinary for one person to write [the curriculum] without other people having input,” said Thomas J. Aveni, director of the Police Policy Studies Council, a New Hampshire-based group that studies use of force by law enforcement.

And Phillip Gallegos, a former academy instructor, called the rule change a “dangerous precedent.”

“Now you have one person that is making the selection, and who is to say that person knows what a curriculum is supposed to be like,” Gallegos said.

Gallegos said the academy fired him in July for insubordination after he refused to teach new cadets some of the firearms training Jones wanted to implement. The academy confirmed Gallegos was fired but declined to discuss the reasons.

According to Gallegos, “The statement that he made to us [instructors] in a [January 2013] meeting was, ‘No, I want you guys teaching these guys how to make a car stop with a bullet.” Gallegos said, “This is the thing — why are you shooting at a car? You should be shooting at the individual that is shooting at you.”

New Mexico made national headlines when a state police officer shot at a van full of children near Taos after the driver fled during a traffic stop in October. In November, a different state police officer shot and killed a Santa Fe woman after a high-speed chase, firing into her vehicle 16 times as she tried to flee. The second shooting was one of three fatal shootings involving state police in the course of a month.

The Albuquerque Police Department, meanwhile, is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice to determine if officers use unreasonable deadly force in encounters with suspects. Albuquerque officers fatally shot 22 people from 2010 through 2013, and wounded another 13.

Gallegos said more than 20 years ago, when he went through the academy, cadets were not taught to shoot at vehicles in order to stop them. Ballistics training was about the impact of using various firearms and ammunition.

Jones, a retired Army colonel, has more than 30 years of military experience and worked as a New Mexico State Police officer for 10 years. He joined the academy as deputy director in January 2013. Gallegos said he was told at that time that Jones would be in charge of training. The board promoted Jones to director in June.

Jones said he wouldn’t comment on the allegations made by Gallegos. But he said the purpose of some of the shooting techniques taught at the academy is to help cadets learn what happens when an officer shoots at a vehicle — not to stop cars.

“We want them to see that if there’s a threat that’s inside a vehicle and they need to shoot at it, what happens to that round,” he said. “They’re wearing a gun and a badge protecting you [the public] against the violence. Don’t you think they should be prepared for the most violent encounter that they can come up against?”

The New Mexican filed a request under the Inspection of Public Records Act for a copy the academy’s new curriculum, but Jones said he doesn’t plan to release it because criminals could use the tactics taught to cadets against them.

“I’ll burn them before you get them,” he told The New Mexican.

Williams said because of the number of officer-involved shootings, the public has the right to know how police are being trained. To be lawfully withheld, the documents have to be related to an ongoing criminal investigation or meet some other exception.

Phil Sisneros, a spokesman for Attorney General Gary King, suggested filing an Inspection of Public Records Act complaint with his office to determine if the documents related to academy training must be released under the law.

The academy schedule includes 640 hours of training. Among them: 52 hours for basic firearms training, including training in live-fire vehicle stops; 12 hours in use-of-force techniques; and eight hours of courses on deadly-force decisions.

Jeff G. Vick, a former state police officer and trainer who retired from the force in 2005, said having more live-fire training could be a good thing, if it’s taught properly.

“If there’s a technique or a method that they should follow, then it sure wouldn’t hurt to teach your guys that,” Vick said. “As long as you make sure that they understand when, and when not, to do it.”

Jones said the shorter training period cuts redundancy. He also defended the new gender- and age-neutral fitness exam. He said it is fairer than the old exam, which set higher standards for younger males than for older females.

Aveni, a former police trainer, said he agreed with Jones’ physical fitness standards because real-life crime scenarios are not gender or age neutral.

Katherine Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, which has a program to increase the number of women in law enforcement, argued, however, that academies with gender-neutral physical admission requirements are subtly excluding woman.

“Whenever you’re focusing on upper-body strength, you’re usually dealing with a test that has an adverse impact on women applicants,” she said after reading over the new physical requirements to enter the academy in Santa Fe.

Among them, a candidate must be able to do 31 sit-ups and 29 push-ups in no more than a minute.

Spillar agreed that a good officer should be physically fit in order to do the job, but she said it’s also important to have good verbal communication skills in dealing with suspects. “The guys who are into all this weightlifting all too often resort to physical interaction with a suspect before they have exhausted the verbal interaction,” she said.

Jones’ new curriculum teaches recruits they have more leeway to use force when pursuing a suspect than previous training under an older model.

Jones said he is now basing his training in use-of-force techniques on a 1985 U.S. Supreme Court case titled Tennessee v. Garner. The ruling says a police officer can use deadly force to stop a fleeing suspect if the officer has probable cause to believe the suspect might do serious physical injury or kill an officer or another person.

The model Jones is dumping, called the Reactive Control Model, has been used by police agencies around the country. But Jones said it is too restrictive. For example, he said, the model says if an unarmed suspect attempts to attack an officer, the officer can use a baton in self-defense.

“When I went to high school, two people would have a fistfight, and it would be over,” Jones said. “Today in high school, two people have a fistfight and then somebody comes to the guy’s house the next day and shoots him. … You have to be prepared for the violence.”

Aveni said most law enforcement academies have dropped the Reactive Control Model, but he doesn’t believe the case law is a sufficient base for an entire use-of-force curriculum.

The Law Enforcement Academy Board, however, is backing Jones. At a meeting Monday, board Vice Chairman Nate Korn lauded his expertise and what he has done to train officers.

“We arguably have the best director in our academy’s history,” Korn said.

Contact Uriel J. Garcia at 986-3062 or Follow him on Twitter at @ujohnnyg.

(19) comments

Susan Lowe

Physical requirements for police applicants must match the requirements of the job. The two physical requirements mentioned in this article are arbitrary, unrelated to any specific police activity and clearly there to prevent women from becoming law enforcement officers in New Mexico. This is an outrageous abuse of power by Jones who is clearly unqualified for his position.

A lawsuit involving similar issues was filed and won in federal court involving the Columbus, OH Division of Police in the 1970's. I don't remember the name of the case but I believe that the decision came down in 1980. That police department now has a woman chief, a lower crime rate and fewer uses of force, fatal or otherwise as well as fewer lawsuits. I hope that an attorney who cares about the people in New Mexico files a suit on behalf of women police applicants who have been prevented from doing a job that they can do well because of arbitrary and discriminatory acts committed by public officials who gave up their responsibility to supervise Jones and the acts he committed once they set him loose on the people of New Mexico.

Paula Lozar

The thinking behind the new curriculum appears to be, "Assume that everyone who breaks a law, no matter how minor, is armed, and react accordingly." This has led to the State Police shooting at two unarmed women who were stopped for minor traffic infractions and (apparently) panicked and tried to get away, with fatal results for one of them.

This makes me nervous. Case in point: One evening about a year ago, I was stopped by a State trooper for a minor traffic infraction. I dutifully pulled over, opened the driver's side window, and waited with my hands on the wheel. However, the officer came around the other side of the car and rapped loudly on the passenger-side window. I jumped, then reached down for the switch and opened that window. We had a conversation, and he sent me on my way. But if he'd assumed that I was on drugs (because I jumped), and/or was reaching for a gun instead of the window switch, I'd probably be pushing up the daisies today.

I have the greatest respect for law enforcement, who put their lives on the line every day. And I agree that the academy should teach them to prepare for the worst-case scenario. However, teaching them to react as if every traffic stop was that worst-case scenario seems misguided to me.

George Chandler

Looks like evil has come to the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy. Where do they find these neanderthals? The NRA?

Mark Ortiz

So the public is now the hunted, and the Academy will train those hired to protect us, to hunt. Jones and his supporters are cause for great concern. These are dark day in New Mexico for it's citizens. More of the more racist, violent, and immoral POS will gravitate to becoming Law Enforcement and the good cops will be father and fewer between. Strange, I'd bet the overwhelming majority of Jones supporters are hard core right-wingers who accuse the Obama administration of trying to implement Nazi-like policies. I ask them then, what would they call Jones's teachings?
I'm not sure what the Democrats have coming down the pipeline but if Gary King is the best they have, Susanna is here to stay another term. In that time span, how many more innocent New Mexican's will die "justifiably" at the hands of another EVIL cop.

Nancy Udell

As much as I appreciate the difficult and important job police do, I was deeply troubled bu this piece and the attitude of jones who sounded like a cross between jack nicholson's character in a few good men. "You want me on this wall..." And al haig "I'm in charge here" The Jeanette Anaya shooting was chilling and incomprehensible. Now we learn that this guy is shortening the training and emphasizing bullets. And he seems to be eliminating women (29 push ups in a minute ladies). Scary.

Alfred Padilla

Shoot to kill as long as they are Hispanic Black or Native American, Anglos get a free ride!

Steve Salazar

27% of those killed by APD were white, no free pass there.

Alfred Padilla

Evil wears a badge!

Bunch of fanatics!

Gregorio Ambrosini

The good thing about this article is the Tea Part, and Libertarians will see it and vote against Ol Suzanna. Let's hope she'll be voted out, before she does too much damage.

Gregorio Ambrosini

They want a war in the u.s. They have been working on computer generated scenarios for years. They don't care how many cops die, they don't care how many civilians die . As long as they get there war. That's the way they plan of destroying America. It's a shame, but it won't take much to light the fuse. I think it's already lit, it's just a matter of time. They may have been studying us , but we've been studying them. We studied their ways far to often for our liking.

Gregorio Ambrosini

You guys are going to have real problems when the people start shooting back. We're taking note of your murders. Don't forget there's more of us than you. You can make your bed; yet you will get your comeuppance as you lay down in it.

Steve Salazar

So the cops kill the lawbreakers, why would that bother me? Why would we shoot back, let them take out the scum of the earth.

Francisco Carbajal

I guess the best thing that can happen for any one interesting on what NM Law Enforcement Officer's do on a daily basis is to ride along with them and see for themselves. They can also attend a police citizen academy and learn the basic training program they receive prior to graduating from the police academy, etc. Of course, the police instructor's at the NM LEA do not have all the answers, yet, they are competent and professional enough to teach each recruit on how to survive out in the violent streets we all live in. NM is not the only state that has violent crimes happening against police officer's on-duty. The "evil" one does exists and we do have police officer's dying each day somewhere in the nation regardless of what political correctness and/or interpretation of when to use deadly force or not sits at this time.

Pat Shackleford

"Evil has come to the United States", but first it came to New Mexico, apparently.
I hope this cartoon-clown will apply a rating system to the "evil" that officers encounter, to better help them decide when to shoot-to-kill. For example, it was recently declared "justified" for an officer to empty his gun into a vehicle and its occupants that was driving AWAY from him and kill the driver, Jeanette Anaya. The probable cause was shaky and made-up after-the-fact (rolling through a GREEN light) to justify the attempted stop in the first place. Otherwise, she was not fleeing a crime-scene or known to be a criminal. It was later found she had a misdemeanor warrant, which typically does not call-for summary judgement or the death penalty. Where would her situation rate on a 1>10 "evil" scale, where 10 is a situation where deadly force is clearly appropriate? Lord help us; our legislators, attorney generals and prosecutors aren't doing much to protect the public from hot-headed gunslingers with anger management issues.

Joseph Hempfling


Joe Montoya

There has to be common ground between the use of deadly force and the safety of the citizens. What I believe is that this training provided is leading some officers to shoot first and ask questions later. Sure law-enforcement is not as easy as some people perceive it to be, but being trigger happy in some instances is out of the question and not in the best interests of law-enforcement. No wonder the Justice Department is investigating some law-enforcement agencies using fire-power when it is not merited or deserved!

Julian Grace

Jones and Carbajal have decided that women and children are the evil enemy. When innocents start to get hurt is that when we as a society will finally stand and force change to nonviolent law enforcement? Sick. I wonder if the recruitment manual is also being changed to attract and hire candidates prone to violence?

Francisco Carbajal

Here we go again with the media portraying the law enforcement community has being deceitful and attempting to be hiding something from the public. Of course, we are going to have the bleeding hearts from out of state claiming that a "one-man" show cannot be in control of use of force training modules and curriculum programs for teaching police recruits on how to handle violent encounters with the "evil ones" while performing their lawful duties. I think Mr. Jack Jones is on the right track and the people who are complaining about his training methods relating to keeping up with the trend of how to protect and defend our police officer's from getting killed in the line of duty is exemplary and outstanding. In the time being, if the NM Attorney General's Office wants to inspect the NM LEA training program to see if it will stand constitutional muster in the courts, then, he and his staff should attend the next recruit training program and see for themselves on what the hell is going on at the police academy. Lastly, I do not agree the public needs to know every detail on what every police recruit receives on the training curriculum at the academy. As you know, the evil doer's wants to learn the same tactics being taught to a cop so he/she can have the upper lever in the end. BTW, John Wilson, you just don't get it or have a clue on what "evil" is.[yawn][sneaky][thumbdown]

John Wilson

"Evil has come"! Does he think he is in a Zane Gray novel or a comic book?

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