Background

Farmington, New Mexico (population 45,426), like many cities in the Southwest, has had a history of troubled relations with the Native American community, and similarly uneasy relationships between the Police Department and the Native American, Hispanic, and African-American segments of the community. These police-community tensions increased as a result of high-profile events in the summer of 2006, including the fatal shooting of a Navajo by a Farmington police officer.

Scope of Work

The City of Farmington retained PARC to evaluate the structure, procedures, and practices of its Citizen Police Advisory Committee ("CPAC"). PARC was also asked to review the Farmington Police Department’s ("FPD") files on the investigations of citizen complaints and its reports on uses of force. 

Among numerous other areas, PARC was tasked with examining:

  • How the existing civilian oversight committee functioned;

  • Use of force and officer-involved shootings;

  • The Department's Early Intervention System;

  • Internal affairs investigations; and

  • Community perceptions of the Department.

Approach

Concrete, Practical Recommendations. PARC sought to make concrete, practical recommendations to improve and strengthen the Commission.

Best Practices. In conducting the review, PARC examined best practices in comparable jurisdictions to guide recommendations for improving the Commission’s work – situating action items in terms of the real-world experiences of other jurisdictions and oversight commissions. 

Collaboration. PARC worked closely with then-current and past members of CPAC, the Mayor, the City Manager, the City Council, the City Attorney, the District Attorney, command staff and rank and file of the FPD, and community stakeholders – including numerous Navajo and Native American organizations – to determine their views on the effectiveness of CPAC’s structure and processes, their perceptions of the accountability fostered by the process, areas of accomplishment, areas that need improvement, and recommendations for changes.

Results

Roadmap for Reform. PARC made 49 specific recommendations to improve the effectiveness of CPAC’s review of FPD citizen complaint investigations, to enhance its role in recommending changes in police policy and procedure, and to broaden its outreach to the community. PARC also provided recommendations to improve the FPD’s investigation of citizen complaints and other Internal Affairs investigations and to make its accountability and risk management processes more consistent.

 

PROJECT OBJECTIVE

Review citizen complaint investigations and use of force reports and make recommendations for strengthening the city's civilian police oversight committee.

KEY ISSUES ADDRESSED

Models of Police Oversight
Use of Force
Officer-Involved Shootings
Community Engagement
Community Policing
Early Intervention Systems
Internal Investigations

KEY RESOURCES

Promoting Police Accountability and Community Relations in Farmington: Strengthening the Citizen Police Advisory Committee (June 2007)