Albuquerque police tweets slammed by some as intimidation

From the Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Albuquerque Police Department is making no apologies for official tweets that have been criticized by some, including city officials, as inappropriate.

The department’s Twitter account has been questioned over biting responses such as “Calling out your b.s. is public service” and “You only complain and never offer solutions,” KOAT-TV reported Thursday.

Most of the tweets were in response to Doug Peterson, whose company is considered the largest landlord in the city. He recently took to Twitter to complain about crime and homelessness in downtown.

Police Chief Harold Medina said the department will “push back” on social media when it comes to people spreading misinformation and cyberbullying.

He told the broadcaster that although some of the tweets might not be in line with the city’s policy, others “bluntly point out differences.”

“And I’m okay with that,” he said.

Two city councilors who also are former police officers want the tweets toned down.

“The department thinks that harassing and intimidating people is community policing; they’re on the wrong path,” City Councilor Louie Sanchez said.

Peterson, the landlord, says he wasn’t trying to attack the police, just the policies of the mayor and police chief.

“I have supported APD, and I still support APD very much,” he said.

One tweet that generated controversy came in July after the death of a 15-year-old boy caught in a SWAT standoff in a home that later caught fire. Some used Twitter to blame the police for the boy’s “murder.” In response, the department account tweeted: “didn’t know a fire could murder someone.”

In that case, Medina said he told department spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos to take a different tone. But Medina continues to stand behind tweets that respond to seeming inaccuracies.

Mayor Tim Keller also echoed that sentiment.

“APD has its own social media policy,” his office said in a statement. “We support their efforts to pushback on misinformation on social media.”

The embattled department is in the middle of revamping its use-of-force policies under approval of the U.S. Department of Justice. Officers will begin training on the new policies over the next quarter, according to authorities.

The goal of city leaders is to see a decrease in officer-involved shootings. There were 18 shootings by Albuquerque police officers last year and 10 of them were fatal. That number caused Department of Justice attorneys and community stakeholders to raise concerns at a federal court hearing in December.