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Albuquerque, Justice Department reach deal over police brutality

By Shelby Lin Erdman, CNN
updated 6:48 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.S. Department of Justice and city of Albuquerque agree on police reforms
  • The city agrees to allow independent monitor and court to oversee reforms
  • Agreement follows Justice report on deadly practices and brutality by Albuquerque Police

(CNN) -- The Department of Justice announced on Thursday it has reached an agreement with the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, to address a "pattern or practice of excessive force" by the problem-plagued Albuquerque Police Department.

The DOJ said the city has agreed to allow an independent monitor and the courts to oversee reforms at the police department, along with community input and involvement.

According to a joint statement, the department and the city plan to implement reform in eight areas of concern: "use of force policies, interactions with individuals with mental illness and other disabilities, tactical units, training, internal investigations and civilian complaints, management and supervision, recruitment and selection of officers, and community engagement and oversight."

"This agreement marks an important step forward in addressing the unreasonable use of deadly force uncovered in our investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department," Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday.

The Justice Department concluded in a report released in April that Albuquerque Police had a history of brutality and unnecessary deadly force. "The pattern and practice is the result of serious systemic deficiencies in policy, training, supervision and accountability. The police department's failure to ensure that officers respect the Constitution undermines public trust," the DOJ said in the report.

"I am confident that the Albuquerque Police Department will be able to correct troubling practices, restore public trust, and better protect its citizens against all threats and dangers -- while providing the model of professionalism and fairness that all Americans deserve," Holder said.

The reforms will include input from the community and the police department. "We have asked for and received valuable ideas and insights from officers, members of the community, representatives of many organizations, and others who have a stake in the future of our community," said Damon Martinez, U.S. attorney for the District of New Mexico.

Police brutality in Albuquerque, New Mexico's most populous city reached a boiling point in March when protesters clashed with police for more than 12 hours over the fatal shooting of James Boyd, 38, a homeless man.

Video shows Albuquerque police killing homeless man

Report: Albuquerque police have 'pattern' of excessive, deadly force

CNN's Pamela Brown, Amanda Watts, and Chelsea Carter contributed to this report.

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