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Albuquerque Chief Vows to Reform Department After Protests, Shootings

April 01, 2014  | 

A day after a protest over Albuquerque police shootings devolved into violence, the city's new police chief on Monday commended officers for showing restraint and said he is about to unveil reforms that include changes to the embattled department's recruiting process, the Associated Press reports.

Chief Gorden Eden spoke to reporters after more than 300 people took to the streets Sunday, calling for him and other city officials to resign. The protest turned violent that evening, when people began hunting down officers, throwing rocks and bottles, and spitting on officers, he said.

The chief says officials decided to disperse the crowd with tear gas after a man pulled out an AK-47, others blocked traffic by lying down on Interstate 25 and unruly crowds trapped people and officers in cars. Protesters also started attacking each other, impeded emergency crews and blocked the entrance to a hospital.

Eden, who has been on the job for a month, says he is working on reforming the department's recruiting process. He says a "new recruiting philosophy" will be announced by early next week. An independent review of the department's shootings nearly two years ago cited issues with officers being unable to de-escalate situations. It called for better screening to find candidates with problem-solving skills.


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