Last Thursday, Chief Gordon Eden of the Albuquerque Police Department briefed the Chamber's board on the progress APD has made in fulfilling the requirements of the Department of Justice's Court Administered Settlement Agreement (CASA), commonly referred to as the consent decree. Chief Eden said that there were 37 major policies that had to be rewritten as part of the CASA in the areas of use of force, on-body recording devices, response to First Amendment assemblies, hostage, suicidal and barricaded subjects, tactical and personnel code of conduct. APD has not only had all policies approved but has completed all CASA-related trainings.
Now that the policies are approved, Chief Eden said that the Office of Policy Analysis (OPA) will be responsible for ensuring continued adherence to these policies. The OPA will gather information on national standards, best practices and community commentary and will integrate their findings into existing APD policy while providing a “big picture” view and deep analysis of APD policies. The OPA will also review collected information on lawsuits, officer injuries and trend data that may indicate the need for policy change. APD has asked Federal Magistrate Judge Lorenzo Garcia to review CASA policies to ensure that they meet constitutional policing standards. Chief Eden said this approach "will hold the future administration accountable and set a precedent for many to follow."
Chief Eden also discussed APD's recruitment efforts and explained APD's reform of the application process. The APD application process has had a facelift in recent years; with high demand for police officers, APD wants to ensure that they are receiving the best and brightest cadets to go through the program. To apply, every potential cadet must go through the online application process. This helps to remove any potential bias. A few basic requirements for future cadets include: must be 21 years of age; no felony crimes committed, must have high school diploma or GED and be a United States citizen.
Chief Eden said there is a high level of interest in the police academy, but candidates have difficulty making it past the first steps in the process because of low test scores. Sixty-percent of candidates fail the entrance exam, which is written at an eighth grade level. Out of 700 applicants, only 36 cadets were accepted to the current class.
While difficult to build the ranks with such a high failure rate, this selective process ensures the public that only the highest-qualified candidates make it through the process resulting in a force that is able to make quality decisions for the community and public safety. “The goal is to make Albuquerque a safer place to live,” says Chief Eden.