Critics say a militarized police culture has continued to push New Mexico police agencies to the forefront of U.S. fatal police shootings, despite reform efforts. The city of Albuquerque and the Department of Justice are partnering in reform measures, including an outside team to assist with investigations of use-of-force incidents by officers with the Albuquerque Police Department, but critics note there are still few signs of an improvement in accountability, reports The Guardian. Since 2015, police in the Albuquerque metro area have shot 44 people, 42 of whom have died from their injuries and the state has had the second-highest rate of fatal police shootings in the U.S., just behind Alaska.
In recent years Albuquerque has also been subject to heavy state and federal police presence in the form of police surges, aimed at combatting high levels of homicide and crime. In July 2020, the Donald Trump administration initiated Operation Legend, sending 35 federal agents to Albuquerque. The Bernalillo County sheriff’s office has also made national news for their years-long opposition to wearing lapel cameras until the governor intervened last year. In 2017, the office paid $3.3m in settlements stemming from excessive force lawsuits and fatal police shootings. The city and state are seen as a textbook example of the increased militarization of policing.