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DOJ: Serious problems found in Albuquerque police

Thu., April 10, 2014, 9:24 a.m.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The U.S. Justice Department says the embattled Albuquerque Police Department engaged in “patterns of excessive force” and believes the force violated the U.S. Constitution.

The federal agency said Thursday that Albuquerque officers too frequently used deadly force on people “who posed a minimal threat” and used a higher level of force too often on those with mental illness.

Acting U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez says investigators found “serious constitutional problems,” but yet the findings will help the city determine “the next generation” of policing.

The announcement followed an investigation into allegations of civil rights violations and excessive use of force that spanned more than a year. The police department has faced intense criticism over 37 shootings by officers since 2010.

The Department is conducting a similar investigation into the use of force by Spokane Police, after a mutual agreement between the city and federal authorities was reached in February 2013. Seattle’s police force was also reviewed by DOJ officials.

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