Albuquerque’s top cop issued a directive on Tuesday that all officers are to stop arresting individuals for non-violent misdemeanor offenses.
APD Chief Gorden Eden letter to all sworn personnel instructs officers issue citations instead of conducting arrests, with some of the crimes including criminal trespass, criminal damage to property under $1,000, shoplifting under $500, shoplifting under $250, prostitution, and receiving or possessing stolen property under $100.
The order states that “officers shall issue citations when appropriate in lieu of arrest on non-violent misdemeanor offenses when there are no circumstances necessitating an arrest.”
The issuance reportedly stems from a 20-plus year lawsuit concerning the conditions within the county jail, though some speculate the move may have quiet roots in immigration and detainment issues.
Albuquerque Police Officer’s Association President Shaun Willoughby said he isn’t too happy with the letter.
“The word ‘shall’ scares me a lot,” Willoughby said. “In the past we could use our discretion when dealing with misdemeanor offenses. Now, if someone breaks a business owner’s window and we have the suspect in custody-I have to go ask the business owner how much the window is instead of taking that suspect to jail. Jail is a deterrent for crime…what about now?”
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office says deputies still have discretion on misdemeanor crimes that occur in their presence.
Meanwhile, APD officers who decide to make arrests, must write a statement justifying their actions.
According to KOAT, the policy does not include DWIs, which are still arrestable offenses.
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