2022 APD Annual Use of Force Report: Decline In Overall Use of Force, Record High Number of Police Shootings; Expect More Police Shootings As City Becomes More Violent

The Albuquerque Police Department has released its Annual Use of Force Report for the year 2022.  The annual Use of Force report is required under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) with the U.S. Department of Justice.

It was on November 14, 2014, the City of Albuquerque and the United State Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into the CASA after an 18-month long investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) that found that the Albuquerque Police Department engaged in an pattern of “excessive use of force” and “deadly force”, especially when dealing with the mentally ill. The DOJ investigation also found a “culture of aggression” existed within the APD.

This blog article is a summary and analysis of the 2022 APD Annual Use of Force Report. It discusses the reason why the city will likely see more police officer invoklved shootings as a violent city becomes the norm.


A review of the classifications of Use of Force levels by APD  policy is in order before review of the statistics.

Level 1 force is defined as  force that is likely to cause only transitory pain, disorientation, or discomfort during its application as a means of gaining compliance. This includes techniques which are not reasonably expected to cause injury, do not result in actual injury, and are not likely to result in a complaint of injury (i.e., pain compliance techniques and resisted handcuffing). Pointing a firearm, beanbag shotgun, or 40-millimeter launcher at a subject, or using an Electronic Control Weapon (ECW)  to “paint” a subject with the laser sight, as a show of force are reportable as Level 1 force. Level 1 force does not include interaction meant to guide, assist, or control a subject who is offering minimal resistance.

Level 2 force is defined as  force that causes injury, could reasonably be expected to cause injury, or results in a complaint of injury. Level 2 force includes: use of an Electronic Control Weapon (ECW), including where an ECW is fired at a subject but misses; use of a beanbag shotgun or 40 millimeter launcher, including where it is fired at a subject but misses; OC Spray application; empty hand techniques (i.e., strikes, kicks, takedowns, distraction techniques, or leg sweeps); and strikes with weapons, except strikes to the head, neck, or throat, which would be considered a Level 3 use of force.

Level 3 force is defined as force that results in, or could reasonably result in, serious physical injury, hospitalization, or death. Level 3 force includes: all lethal force; critical firearms discharges; all head, neck, and throat strikes with an object; neck holds; canine bites; three or more uses of an ECW on an individual during a single interaction regardless of mode or duration or an ECW application for longer than 15 seconds, whether continuous or consecutive; four or more strikes with a baton; any Level 2 use of force, strike, blow, kick, ECW application, or similar use of force against a handcuffed subject; and uses of force resulting in a loss of consciousness.


The 2022 Use of Force Report provides the following key findings:

  • In 2022, APD used force in 590 force incidents. A force case can include multiple people who are involved in a single incident or offense report.
  • In these 590 incidents, there were 626 force interactions where a single person had force used with them in response to resistance. A force interaction is limited to one involved person at one point in time.
  • Compared to 2021, there was an 18% decline in the number of force interactions from 764 to 626.
  • Compared to 2020, there was a 35% decline in force interactions from 960 to 626.
  • 358  or 57%  force interactions were classified as Level 2 force.
  • 587 people were involved in force interactions. 5% of people were involved in more than one force interaction; 26 people were involved in 2 incidents and 6 were involved in 3 interactions. No individual was involved in more than 3 use of force interactions during this year.
  • The median age of people involved in force was 32 meaning that half of involved individuals were 32 or under and half were 32 or over.
  • 25 out of 590 cases were deemed out of policy (4%). Four percent (26 out of 626) of force interactions were out of policy.
  • In every 1,000 calls for service, force was used 1.64 times, down 16.7% from 2021.
  • Force was used in 4.4 out of 100 custodial arrests, down 20% from 2021.


In 2022, there was a record-high number of 18 police officer involved shootings. The breakdown of the 18 shooting is as follows:

14 of the people were armed or trying to arm themselves,

8 fired a gun

2  had an edged weapon, including a set of nail clippers in one case.

In 3 of the shootings, the “perceived weapons were ultimately determined not to be lethal” and included a key fob, a phone and landscaping rocks.


The annual use of force report shows that APD used force fewer times  in 2022 than in preceding years. According to the report, Albuquerque police officers used force on residents 626 times in 2022. This is the lowest total number since APD began tracking use of force data in 2018. The number also represents an 18% decrease from 2021 and a 35% decrease since 2020, when APD officers used force 960 times.

Of the hundreds of force cases investigated in 2022, a total of 26, or 4%, were found to have violated policy.  The decline in the overall number of use of force incidents is in sharp contrast to APD recording a record-high number of police shootings in 2022.

APD officers used force 0.2% of the time during calls for service and 4.4% of the time when arresting someone.  This was a decrease of 16% and 20% respectively from the 2021 use of force incidents. Level 1 use of force incidents accounted for 164 incidents, or 26%, of cases last year.  57% of  use of force incidents by APD officers were  classified as Level 2.   104 use of force instances, or 17%,  fell into the Level 3 category, which includes police shootings.


The raw data in  2022 Annual Use of Force Report is as follows:

The types of force used most often by APD officers to subdue a suspect were as follows:

25% hand-to-hand combat.

20% resisted handcuffing.

14% involved resisting physical restraint.

Officers used force once on more than 550 people, twice on 26 people and three times on six people. Nobody had officers use force on them more than 3 times last year.

Of the people that force was used on in 2022, 17% were armed and 69% were unarmed.

16% were homeless

36% were experiencing a crisis or had a mental illness.

Last year 460 officers used force against a person. Of those, 268 officers used force once or twice and 16 did so 9 or more times.  APD reported that 75% of those officers are assigned to specialized units where force is more likely. One officer used force 17 times in 2022.

Officers used force once on more than 550 people, twice on 26 people and three times on six people. Nobody had officers use force on them more than 3 times last year.

The SWAT team was utilized 69 times, 15 times for a domestic dispute, 14 for a pre-planned warrant arrest and 10 times for a wanted person.

Police dogs were used by officers 269 times, helped detain someone 89 times and, of those, bit someone 16 times.

282 people were injured by an officer. The most common injuries were scrapes, complaints and cuts.  The least common injuries were broken bones, a bloody nose and pepper spray.

Officers used force once on more than 550 people, twice on 26 people and three times on six people. Nobody had officers use force on them more than three times last year.

According to the report, police dogs were used by officers 269 times.  Canines helped detain someone 89 times and, of those, the animal bit someone 16 times.

The SWAT team was utilized 69 times, 15 times for a domestic dispute, 14 for a pre-planned warrant arrest and 10 times for a wanted person

Officers used force once on more than 550 people, twice on 26 people and three times on six people. Nobody had officers use force on them more than 3 times last year.


According to the report, officers used force most in the Southeast Area Command 32% of the time and in Northeast Area Command 20% of the time.  Force was used the least in the Southwest Area Command with 11%  and in the Northwest Area Command with  9%.

APD’s report found that force was used most on Hispanic at 49%, non-Hispanic white people at 21%  and Black people at 11%. Black people make up 3% of the city’s population, according to census data, while Hispanics make up 49% of the population  and non-Hispanic white people make  37% of  the population.

The average age of person that officers used force on last year was 28. In all, 27 people were under the age of 18 and two were over 65.

The link to review the entire 42 page 2022 APD Annual Use of Force Report is here:



Albuquerque Police Department (APD) spokesman Gilbert Gallegos  shared  more recent data that showed officers used force less in the first half of 2023 compared with last year, mostly due to half as many Level 1 cases. He also said, going forward, APD officials expect Level 1 use of force to go up and Level 2 to go down due to take-downs now being considered a Level 1, unless the takedown leads to injury or likelihood of injury.

Last year saw the highest number of Albuquerque police shootings in the department’s history with officers shooting 18 people in a single year, injuring 3 and killing 10.  The report called the record-breaking total “a concern for APD” and said “The department is working to ensure policy and training encourage alternatives to deadly force whenever feasible.”

Barron Jones of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico said APD’s decreasing use of force “should serve as a lesson for other police departments throughout the state.”   Jones said this:

“APD still has a great deal of work to do.  … We remain concerned that APD still has a big problem in using deadly force against unarmed community members, particularly those experiencing mental health crises.”

The link to quoted news source material is here:



It was on December 23, 2022, the Albuquerque Journal published on its front page, above the fold, a remarkable story entitled “APD looks to curtail police shootings” with the sub headline “Officers have shot 18 people so far this year, resulting in 10 deaths”.  The news story reads in pertinent  part as follows:

“In the midst of a spike in shootings by its officers the Albuquerque Police Department is working to change policies so they can use “less-lethal” force earlier in an encounter – in the hope of preventing the need for deadly force.

Additionally, the department’s executive staff and city attorneys will review this year’s 18 shootings by officers to see if they can identify and address any trends. Among those incidents 10 people were killed and three were injured. In five cases no one was struck.

The number of shootings has alarmed advocates, and discussions of the increase dominated a recent federal court hearing on APD’s reform effort. Last year APD officers shot at 10 people, killing four, injuring five, and missing one.

But Chief Harold Medina said he’s been contemplating changes for a while and APD has already been working on them with the Department of Justice and the independent monitoring team overseeing the reforms.”

Medina said he wants APD’s executive staff and city attorneys to meet and look for trends among this year’s 18 police shootings and identify changes to be made.  Medina said this:

“We had already been trying to change the policy. …  But as we heard everybody’s concerns during the [December 6 federal Court] hearing, I really felt there was a way we could do this better. That’s when we got these ideas of we should meet to look at all the cases at once as a whole. …  One of my big frustrations right now is our processes take so long – like we identified issues but by the time we get everything approved through everybody it takes months.”

“Right now they go through the individual cases and if somebody there can remember or they tie into something in the past, that’s a benefit and they could try to make it a trend. … We are now purposely putting all the cases in front of them … and they’re going to have little different data points that we could look at and the goal is to look at them all together at the same time and see if they can identify anything that’s of a concern.”

The link to them full Journal article is here:



Albuquerque is at the forefront of New Mexico’s high violent crime rate.  According to legislative data released, the city had about half of the state’s violent crime in 2022 but has just 25% or so of its total population.  The Albuquerque Police Department reported that in November, 2022 gun law violations spiked 85%.

The last 2 years have also been two very violent years for Albuquerque.  The number of homicides in the city have broken all-time records.  In 2021, there were 117 homicides, with 3 declared self-defense reducing homicide number to 114.  In 2022, there were 120 homicides, a historical high.

It was on  March 16, 2023 the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released the 2022 crime statistics along with crime statistics for 2021 for a comparison. During his March 16 press conference announcing the City’s 2022 crime statistics, APD Chief Harold Medina embellished that a  3% drop in  overall total of crime and a 4% decrease in Crimes Against Persons and the 2% decrease in Crimes Against Property was positive movement.

The slight 3% decrease in overall crime was over shadowed by the 24% spike in CRIMES AGAINST SOCIETY which are largely made up of drug and gun offenses and a 71% increase in murders over the last 6 years.  Chief Medina presented a vertical bar graph that revealed that over the last 6 years, Albuquerque has had a dramatic 71% spike in homicides.  The number of homicides reported over the last 6 years is as follows:

2017: 70 homicides

2018: 69 homicides

2019: 80 homicides

2020: 78 homicides

2021:  110 homicides

2022:  120 homicides

On March 16, in addition to reporting that there has been a 71% spike in homicides, APD officials reported that over the past 6 years there has been a 28% increase in Aggravated Assaults which by definition includes the use of a firearms. Following are the Aggravated Assaults numbers:

2017: 4,213

2018: 5,156

2019: 5,337

2020: 5,592

2021: 5,669

2022: 5,399

Crime rates in Albuquerque are high across the board. According to the Albuquerque Police’s annual report on crime, there were 46,391 property crimes and 15,765 violent crimes recorded in 2021.  These numbers place Albuquerque among America’s most dangerous cities.

All residents are at increased risk of experiencing aggravated robbery, auto theft, and petty theft.  The chances of becoming a victim of property crime in Albuquerque are 1 in 20, an alarmingly high statistic. Simple assault, aggravated assault, auto theft, and larceny are just some of the most common criminal offenses in Albuquerque. Burglary and sex offense rates In Albuquerque are also higher than the national average.


On May 10, 2023  Federal Court Appointed Independent Monitor James Ginger filed his 17th Report on the Compliance Levels of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and the City of Albuquerque with Requirements of the Court-Approved Settlement Agreement. The Federal Monitor IMR-17 report which covers August 1, 2022, through January 31, 2023, reported APD’s compliance levels were as follows:

Primary Compliance 100%

Secondary Compliance 100%

Operational Compliance 92% (95% needed to be achieved and sustained for 2 years)

Once APD reaches 95% compliance in all 3 compliance levels and maintains it for 2 consecutive years, the case can be dismissed.

On June 6, during a hearing on the 17th Federal Monitor’s Report, Federal Monitor James Ginger made it clear that APD continues to make impressive gains in the compliance levels over the past year.   Although APD is making gains in in implementing the reforms, it was also clear that there have been more APD police officer shootings in 2022 than during any other year before.  In 2022, there were 18 APD Police Officer involved shootings,10 of which were fatal.  In 2021 there were 10, four of which were fatal.

A review of shootings by APD police officers between 2018 and 2022 identified three common circumstances:

  1. When officers are attempting to apprehend violent suspects;
  2. When individuals are experiencing some kind of mental health episode;
  3. When people with little criminal history are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and make bad decisions.

Albuquerque Police Department has released data before that shows  there have been 56  police shootings dating back to 2018. Of the cases reviewed, 85% involved people who were armed with a gun or a weapon that appeared to be a firearm.  About 55% of the cases involved people under the influence of drugs or alcohol, while only 2 cases in which intoxication did not play a role. Without toxicology tests, it was unknown whether drugs or alcohol played a role in the remainder of the cases.  Statewide, authorities said the number of shootings in which officers opened fire stands at 50 for the year 2022.

The link to the quoted news source article is here:



Albuquerque residents can take some comfort that the 2022 Annual Use of Force Report shows that APD used force less in 2022 than in preceding years. According to the report, Albuquerque police officers used force on residents 626 times in 2022. This  is the lowest total number since APD began tracking use of force data in 2018. The number also represents an 18% decrease from 2021 and a 35% decrease since 2020, when APD officers used force 960 times

There is no doubt that the city residents  should also be absolutely alarmed over the fact that there has been a spike in police officer involved shootings given the fact such shootings, and accompanying litigation and judgements against the city, is what brought the Department of Justice to the City in 2013 in the first place. When it comes to APD Police Officer Involved shootings, history is repeating itself despite millions spent and implementation of the settlement reforms over the last 9 years.


Albuquerque has changed and APD has changed over the 9 years since the CASA was negotiated. The city has become more violent and APD has been trained in constitutional policing practices.  It’s because of the city’s dramatic increase in overall crime rates that there have been more police officer involved shootings as police officers are finding themselves in more predicaments where they feel the need to protect themselves and not attempt to deescalate a situation and use force or deadly force.

The  tragic reality is the city will likely see more  police officer involved shootings  even if APD achieves 100% compliance in the 3 settlement compliance levels and as all 271 mandated police reforms under the settlement are implemented and as the DOJ prepares to leave.  A violent city  has become our new norm.  

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.