- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Half of the members of Albuquerque’s Police Oversight Commission have resigned, citing a lack of independence and inability to provide any real citizen oversight of the troubled department.

The resignations Tuesday by three members of the civilian review board come less than a week after the U.S. Justice Department issued a scathing report on what it called excessive force and a culture of abuse and aggression at the Police Department. Albuquerque officers have shot at 37 men since 2010, killing 23.

The report also criticized the city’s oversight system and limited powers in investigating cases of questionable police conduct.

Oversight commission members Jennifer Barela, Jonathan Siegel and Richard Shine sent their letters of resignation to Mayor Richard Berry, leaving just three members on the nine-member panel, which had three vacancies. Each city council member has the ability to appoint a member to the commission.

In his letter, Siegel said a series of decisions by the city attorney’s office gives the board little power to do more than ratify the recommendations of an independent review officer, who Siegel says is “fully aligned with the chief of police.”

“I cannot continue to pretend or deceive the members of our community into believing that our city has any real civilian oversight,” he wrote.

Albuquerque’s chief administrative officer, Rob Perry, thanked the commission members for their service and said, “We are hopeful that the City Council, which created this board and nominates its members, will work in consultation with the DOJ in continued efforts to reform and implement needed changes.”

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