Albuquerque, NM – Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD) chief, Michael Geier, released a memo this week in regards to dealing with panhandlers. The memo is in response to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU over controversial ordinance targeting the panhandlers. The memo states that officers are not to order people to leave a public place. At least for the time being, officers are not to enforce the law while litigation is currently pending.
The ALbuquerque Police Officers Association president is against the new policy because of the language used. In his opinion the language of the chief’s memo is too broad and completely “handcuffs” officers.
“We see complaints constantly with individuals that are drinking in the park, kids can’t play safely and there’s needles all over the place,” said Shaun Willoughby. “When it comes to a misdemeanor crime or thes quality of life concerns we’re repeatedly seeing from neighborhood associations, they need to understand that your officers really can’t do much.”
Dated June 25, the memo stops officers from asking people to leave public places.
According to Willoughby the new directive puts fear in officers that they’ll do something wrong.
“Any public place? Like if you’re camping in a park. If you’re underneath the interstate in a tent, if you’re in an alley. This tells officers it’s just not worth it,” he said. “We want to do our job. If you’re not paying attention to little crime, you’re not paying attention to crime.”
Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Gilbert Gallegos released this statement in regards to the memo:
“The city previously agreed not to enforce the ordinance while a federal court determines whether it is constitutional. The agreement not to enforce the ordinance was adopted as an order of the court. Chief Geier updated officers about the Court order and reminded officers not to take any action to enforce the ordinance until there is a final judgement from the Court.”