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The Sad Case of Police Brutality in New Mexico

Aug 27

Albuquerque, New Mexico has a population of over 500,000 people, and 1,087 police officers that swore to protect that city from crime. However, what happens when the police ends up being criminals themselves? That is the question at the heart of the debate over Albuquerque police brutality, which has been increasingly common within that city. According to the Cato Institute’s National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, New Mexico is the 6th in the nation in terms of police misconduct. In 2010 alone, there has been 16 reported cases of police brutality by the Albuquerque police.

Police officers can be charged with a variety of misconduct, but the most common offense is “excessive force”, followed closely by “sexual misconduct”, “fraud/theft”, and “false arrests”. These words however hide the very real damage that police brutality can do to many innocent people. Just a few days ago, on August 17th, Connor Rice was charged with battery after stunning one suspect with a taser and then beating up another suspect who have surrendered. Even if Connor Rice is sent to prison, the emotional and physical damage that he wrought will still remain.

Yet it is not even certain that Rice may go to prison. Only 19% of those charged with police misconduct in New Mexico are actually convicted, below the average conviction rate of 37%. The Cato Institute speculates that lowered conviction rates may be related to higher reported incidents of police misconduct. In addition, reported incidents of police brutality may not tell the whole story, as many incidents may very well be successfully covered up. The Cato Institute attempts to quantify this “under-reporting” to get a better understanding of police behavior, with mixed results.

Police officers serve a very valuable purpose in enforcing the law. But we must also make sure that our police officers follow the law as well. I call upon all lawyers to unite together under a single organization (let’s call it “Lawyers Albuquerque”) to help ensure accountability and justice for those who have suffered under police brutality. Only this will help reduce police brutality in the future.