July 25 First News: Albuquerque And Justice Department Agree On APD Reforms (Listen)

Jul 25, 2014

The city of Albuquerque has agreed to submit to independent oversight of federally mandated reforms to its troubled police department. Under an agreement announced Thursday by the Department of Justice, the city signed off on a framework for addressing eight problem areas Justice Officials identified in a scathing report on police practices earlier this year. Among the findings: officers too frequently used deadly force on people who posed a minimal threat and used a higher level of force too often on those with mental illness. Albuquerque police have shot 41 people since 2010, 27 of them fatally. The agreement calls for the final reform plan to be submitted to a court for enforcement. The city has also agreed to have an independent monitor brought in to oversee the reforms.

State officials say the overwhelming majority of New Mexico's public schools improved or maintained their performance grade this year, and nearly two-fifths of schools received an A or B. There were 332 schools with grades of A or B. That exceeds the 323 receiving a D or F.

The number of schools receiving a D or F increased by nearly seven percent from last year while those getting A or B grew by about eight percent.  Schools getting a C dropped by 18 percent.

The Public Education Department said Thursday that 71 percent of schools improved or maintained their letter grades from last year. The grades are based heavily on results of standards-based tests taken last spring by students and reflect other factors such as a survey of students.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry says he has directed police to thoroughly investigate last weekend's brutal slaying of two homeless Navajo men as a possible hate crime. Berry met with Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and other tribal leaders Thursday. He says data the city has collected as part of its efforts to fight homelessness shows Native Americans are on the streets longer than other populations and are more likely to be victimized. He says he and Shelly have agreed to work together to figure out why, and find solutions. Three teenagers are being held on murder charges in the attack. One of the suspects told police the trio had been targeting homeless people around Albuquerque for a year. Prosecutors and police haves said they haven't found any evidence the men were targeted because of their race.

Meanwhile, A bill that would add homeless people to those protected by hate crimes will be re-introduced during next year’s legislative session. That word from Democratic State Senator Bill O’Neill. .*****072514-O’Neill-2 :19***** O’Neill sponsored similar legislation during this  year’s legislative session that had strong bi-partisan support, but time ran out before the State House could act on it.

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation have announced that U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will visit Carlsbad next month to discuss the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. WIPP has been indefinitely shuttered in the wake of a February fire and reaction that sent radioactive particles into the air above the repository and contaminated 22 workers with low levels of radiation. The release is still under investigation. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Representative Steve Pearce last month invited Moniz to visit the facility. They want to talk with him about recovery funding, how the money would be spent and why it's needed. The facility is the nation's only permanent repository for plutonium-contaminated gloves, tools and clothing from the federal government's nuclear facilities.

Santa Fe Weather: Mostly sunny today with a 20-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms this afternoon. Tonight: Partly cloudy with a low down to 62. Tomorrow: Mostly sunny with a chance for showers and thunderstorms and a high of 90.