Most people would be inclined to believe that the training regimen for police officers would be the subject of great oversight. Perhaps a rigorous course of study developed by the best minds so that the public will receive the best service. At the very least, it would be more than one guy’s idea of how a bunch of other guys with guns should behave.
Not in Albuquerque, which might answer the concern of former cop turned prof at John Jay College of coppery and shoe repair, Peter Moskos, asked after viewing the videos of the execution of James Boyd.
I think this was a bad shooting.
But what really worries me is that perhaps the officers performed exactly as trained. If so, we need to change police training (and not make scapegoats of the officers).
While Moskos holds cops in such low esteem that any bit of murderous stupidity can be sloughed off elsewhere, his point about training raises a very real question. Who decides what cops in New Mexico are taught?
Meet Jack Jones.
“Evil has come to the state of New Mexico, evil has come to the Southwest, evil has come to the United States,” said Jack Jones, director of the Law Enforcement Academy, when asked about the new approach.
No, not Jim Jones, despite the similarity in rhetoric. Jack Jones is the one-man band who decides what is taught to New Mexico police trainees.
The academy trains recruits for police departments across the state. Some agencies, such as the state police and the Albuquerque department, have their own training programs, but the basic training courses are established by Jones’ academy, according to the Department of Public Safety’s deputy secretary, Patrick Mooney.
In September, the state’s eight-member Law Enforcement Academy Board, which is appointed by the governor and chaired by the attorney general, voted unanimously to change the New Mexico Administrative Code to give complete control over the curriculum to Jones.
After all, leave it all up to one man who talks about “evil” coming to New Mexico, and what could possibly go wrong?
“If there is something happening that is new technology that bad guys are using, that evil is using, we need to be able to make that change and be able to make those changes in our academy,” he told the board in June.
As much as this emits the odor of delusion, it’s the same the strawman argument that the bad guys are super villains with super weapons doing super crimes, thus demanding an ever-increasing militarization in weaponry and tactics. Jones just makes it sound crazy when he says it aloud.
Since September, Jones has shortened the cadet training from 22 weeks to 16 weeks, instituted a physical-fitness entrance exam that is the same for men and women and applicants of all ages, and added more training exercises, including live-fire vehicle stops. These changes were necessary to prepare new police officers to work in a more dangerous world, he said.
And so, perhaps Moskos’ concern about the training being given Albuquerque cops is not only real, but shared by others who aren’t inclined to embrace the notion that best practice is to close one’s eyes, pull the trigger and let the bullets do the work.
Some former police officials and criminologists question the wisdom of having one person in charge of the academy’s curriculum, as well as the soundness of some of the tactics Jones is teaching the cadets.
“It would be out of the ordinary for one person to write [the curriculum] without other people having input,” said Thomas J. Aveni, director of the Police Policy Studies Council, a New Hampshire-based group that studies use of force by law enforcement.
It’s unclear what Aveni means by “out of the ordinary.” For example, it could mean that the majority of other states vet policing training through a group composed of individuals who question each other’s respective vision of best practices. Or, it could mean that putting it all in one man’s hands is batshit crazy.
And Phillip Gallegos, a former academy instructor, called the rule change a “dangerous precedent.”
“Now you have one person that is making the selection, and who is to say that person knows what a curriculum is supposed to be like,” Gallegos said.
Gallegos may be motivated by the fact that he was fired for “insubordination after he refused to teach new cadets some of the firearms training Jones wanted to implement.” On the other hand, he may have been willing to be fired rather than adopt Jones’ idea that shooting at cars full of people on the highway wasn’t a really bad, really dangerous, idea, which could explain recent experiences in New Mexico:
New Mexico made national headlines when a state police officer shot at a van full of children near Taos after the driver fled during a traffic stop in October. In November, a different state police officer shot and killed a Santa Fe woman after a high-speed chase, firing into her vehicle 16 times as she tried to flee. The second shooting was one of three fatal shootings involving state police in the course of a month.
But what is the curriculum Jack Jones has single-handedly developed to train cops in New Mexico? Well, that’s hard to say.
The New Mexican filed a request under the Inspection of Public Records Act for a copy the academy’s new curriculum, but Jones said he doesn’t plan to release it because criminals could use the tactics taught to cadets against them.
“I’ll burn them before you get them,” he told The New Mexican.
Despite the fact that the Albuquerque Police Department is under federal investigation because “Albuquerque officers fatally shot 22 people from 2010 through 2013, and wounded another 13,” it appears that the Law Enforcement Academy Board is thrilled with its putting all decision-making into the hands of Jack Jones.
The Law Enforcement Academy Board, however, is backing Jones. At a meeting Monday, board Vice Chairman Nate Korn lauded his expertise and what he has done to train officers.
“We arguably have the best director in our academy’s history,” Korn said.
James Boyd was asked his opinion about the efficacy of the training of the Albuquerque cops who handled his matter, but he was unavailable for comment. Because they executed him.
H/T Mike Paar