Albuquerque Police Department Used a Noose as Elite Unit’s Icon

After 20 years, the man in charge of the unit says, ‘Oh, is that a noose?’
Crime • Views: 22,038

Read the whole thing here.

A hangman’s noose.

For two decades, that’s what the elite Albuquerque Police Department unit assigned to the city’s worst criminals has used as its symbol.

It will no more. After Journal inquiries, Police Chief Ray Schultz said in an email late Thursday that he is doing away with the noose image. He ordered one of his deputy chiefs to remove it from all documents and apologized “to anyone who may have been offended” by it.

When the Journal first asked another high-level APD officer about the symbol, which appeared on an internal APD wanted poster that came to light last week as part of a lawsuit in state District Court, the officer’s initial reaction was to question whether it was indeed a hangman’s noose.

APD Cmdr. Doug West, who oversees the Repeat Offender Project, known as the ROP team, said early Thursday he was “not a knot expert” when asked about the noose image. “The simple way I look at it is that it’s a rope, and it’s the ROP team. I don’t read into the hangman’s noose. I don’t know a whole lot about knots,” West said. “… It’s something that we need to look at and get rid of … because people would construe this as, like you, you’re looking at it as a hangman’s noose, and if that’s how people are perceiving this, it’s the wrong signal that we need to send. We need to not send that.”

[…]

Take a look for yourself:

Does that look like a noose?

I’d say Cmdr. West was playing dumb, but I don’t know whether he was playing. More from the article:

When asked about the image in a telephone interview, West said he was not familiar with it, had never seen it on any document and didn’t know whether it had anything to do with the ROP team.

After putting the reporter on hold for several minutes, West came back on the line and said it has been the ROP team’s ‘symbol’ for 20 years and that APD now plans to change it.

The noose image is frequently used on internal documents such as wanted posters and is even painted on the wall of the unit’s office, officials said.

[…]

APD has faced repeated criticism in recent years over a litany of incidents that critics say points to a culture of brutality and disrespect toward the community within the department. Officers have shot 24 people since 2010, 17 of them fatally. Several officers have been disciplined for posting inappropriate comments on social media websites. And revelations that the police union had been paying officers involved in shootings up to $500 rocked the department earlier this year.

The U.S. Department of Justice has been considering since August whether to launch a full-scale civil rights investigation into APD, and many have called for Chief Schultz to resign.

The department has implemented numerous policy changes the past year. Schultz maintains that APD does not have a cultural problem and says the changes in policies adequately address the public’s concerns.

Seventeen dead suspects in less than two years? And officers paid by their union for each one? A full-scale civil rights investigation is way overdue.

Do read the whole thing, even though you have to ‘answer a question’ to see it all if you’re not a subscriber. It’s less intrusive than the old ‘watch an ad’ process they used to have.

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