New Mexico attorney general to review police training goals

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state attorney general said Tuesday he will review the curriculum of the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy and seek ways to ensure officer discipline is handled appropriately.

In his announcement, Hector Balderas, who chairs the board that oversees the academy, said he will also examine whether the facility is following state transparency laws months after facing criticism for changes to curriculum.

Those changes came as the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into Albuquerque police amid more than 40 police shootings since 2010.

The city saw a string of protests following the March 2014 fatal shooting of a homeless camper in the Sandia foothills that was caught on camera.

Chris Mechels, a retired Tesuque resident and critic of the Law Enforcement Academy Board, said the proposals by Balderas sounded like a great opportunity for reforms.

"Now he just has to convince the board," Mechels said.

The eight-member New Mexico board came under scrutiny in September 2013 following a vote to give complete control over curriculum to director Jack Jones.

Jones shortened classes to 16 weeks from 22 and changed use of deadly force training, saying it would reduce police shootings in the state.

Jack LeVick, executive director of the New Mexico Sheriffs' Association, said members s are in full support of Jones and the curriculum changes and welcome a review by Balderas.

"It's nice to see an active member," LeVick said. "We don't have any stones to throw."

Former Attorney General Gary King faced criticism from police chiefs for failing to oversee changes so the Law Enforcement Academy Board could discipline troubled officers. In addition, King was attacked for not being aggressive enough and for being disorganized.

Balderas said the review is needed amid protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore over the killing of suspects by police.

"I intend to be a thoughtful and active chair and expect that this will be among the most aggressive and active boards in the country," Balderas said.

The board is set to meet June 9 and 10 in Espanola.


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