ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s state auditor is seeking an investigation into what he calls potential criminal activity around overtime abuse within Albuquerque police.
State Auditor Brian Colón said Wednesday he asked New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas to join him with a probe into the state’s largest police department amid accusations of abuse.
Without giving details, Colón also said he has designated the city of Albuquerque for a special audit to examine the allegations.
“Together, we intend to determine what is really happening at the Albuquerque Police Department,” Colón said. “We will collaborate, bringing our respective strengths and skills to this investigation, to ensure no stone is left unturned.”
Colón said the city hasn't acted swiftly and transparently, despite calls from its own Civilian Police Oversight Agency to take action. “The city of Albuquerque has continually failed to hold APD accountable,” Colón said.
Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesman for Albuquerque police, did not immediately return an email.
Matt Ross, a spokesman in Mayor Tom Keller’s office, said COVID-19 created a need for extra officer hours and exacerbated longstanding overtime problems with the department. “After a long history of poor department oversight and accounting practices, they capped overtime and cut costs last year by $1 million,” Ross said. “We appreciate the auditors for stepping up to help the internal affairs investigations and hope they can highlight needed process changes to continue fixing this broken system.”
Records show that some Albuquerque officers who collect overtime pay are among the highest-paid city employees. Critics have charged that these officers abuse the overtime system and take the hours from others.
The Albuquerque Police Department is under U.S. Justice Department ordered reforms to revamp itself after a string of police shootings.
This version corrects a previous story to say Brian Colón said the city hasn’t acted swiftly and transparently.
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