Police Marksman
Steve Rodirguez
Albuquerque Police Marksman Steve Rodirguez peered through the scope of his high-powered rifle targeting Mexican national, Miguel Antonio Dominguez-Flores, who was trying to make an escape from a foiled bank robbery.
On November 7, 1993, Dominguez-Flores, 45, the director of a Mexican technical school, held up the United New Mexico Bank branch at Montgomery Boulevard and Pennsylvania Street in Northeast Albuquerque.
He held a handgun to the head of a bank teller he took hostage just outside the front doors, as he tried to negotiate for a vehicle after police officers rushed a side entrance forcing him into the parking lot. (APD Records, 1993)
Dominguez-Flores told Deputy Chief Nick Alarid that he also had dynamite wrapped around his body.
He did not have a bomb.
Officer Rodirguez fired.
Dominguez-Flores pulled his head up looking for where the sound came.
Rodirguez was surprised that he missed and fired again.
Dominguez-Flores looked around but did not harm his hostage.
A former special weapons and tactics team member, Patrolman Bobby Vasquez who responded to the call noticed that the barrel of Rodirguez' rifle was aimed at a wall about 15 feet in front of him while the scope mounted several inches higher allowed the sniper to see his target clearly.
The first two shots had struck the wall.
Vasquez radioed Rodirguez telling him to straighten up and try again.
Rodirguez fired again and Dominguez-Flores fell instantly dead from a shot to his head.
Eight years later on November 19, 2001, another Mexican national, Carlos Jovel-Pinto robbed a Wells Fargo Bank branch using what he claimed to be a belt of dynamite.
While escaping police officers chased him.
He rammed several police cars and injured officers before he was shot and killed. (Garcia, 2002)
Between these two police events Albuquerque police officers shot and killed 24 people and another died while in their custody.
Criminal justice professor Sam Walker, from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, reviewed killings by the Albuquerque police in a study advocating a change in the city's oversight procedures. (Walker/Luna, 1997) Walker said he was stunned. (Egan, 1999)
While advocating for a citizen review board in Prince George's County, MD., Walker told the Washington Post, that the effectiveness of such boards is dependant on the active support of local lawmakers.
Walker said about 100 police Departments nation-wide have some form of citizen police oversight.
"One of the things that has gone wrong in other communities is there's a crisis, there's a task force, there's a report, some ordinance is passed and then everybody goes home," he said. "Police reform is not some self-implementing process."
Prince George's County police, the Post reported, has shot and killed more people, per officer, than any other large department in the country over the past decade, 122.
All the shootings were found justified by the department. (The Washington Post, 2001)
For the same time Albuquerque shot and killed 31 people, all found justified. (APD Statistics)
Albuquerque responded to Walker's comment.
The City Council created a Police Oversight Commission four years ago.
Former Chief Jerry Galvin did away with the SWAT team. "We have SWAT capability, because I think it is a necessary function of any police department. But there is no longer a full-time unit in place," Chief Galvin said in an interview to The New York Times. (Egan, 1999)
A Crisis Intervention Team was developed to deal with situations where citizens are in crisis, often times suffering from mental illness or psychological stress, influenced by drugs and or alcohol and routinely had been handled by SWAT.
The use of CIT's immediately reduced SWAT responses by 58 percent.
Between 1994 and 1996 police killed six individuals who were in crisis.
In the next two years four were killed.
APD also added several less-than-lethal weapons, beanbags and electronic stun weapons to their arsenal to resolve life-threatening crises. (Bower/Pettit, 2001)
Albuquerque police face other problems involving immigrants. In November 2001 the City Council declared Albuquerque an immigrant-friendly City providing services, including police protection, regardless of immigration status. (City of Albuquerque Code of Ordinances, 2002)
On May 14, 2002, President George W. Bush, signed the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act into law. (The Associated Press, 2002)
The federal government wants local police to help identify immigrants who have entered the country illegally or overstayed their visa's limits. (The White House, News release 2002)
Nashville police spokesman Don Aron said in USA Today, ''this police department is not interested in having our officers become quasi-INS agents.'' (Parker, May 6, 2002)
Albuquerque Police follow the immigrant-friendly policy and have found that immigrants are willing to file complaints against officers, according to Lt. Steve Tate, commander of the department's Internal Affairs unit.
"Since the City has come out with this policy I have not seen one complaint," Tate said. "I can remember illegal aliens coming in, with a lot to lose, … because they thought they were wronged. No doubt they're reluctant to come, but they do."
Albuquerque Police Department Records, November 7, 1993, #93-115339
Garcia, Michell, Detective, Albuquerque Police Department, Acting Public Information Officer, from press release about November 19, 2001, Wells Fargo Bank Robbery, police injuries and shooting.

Egan, Timothy, March 1, 1999, Soldiers of the Drug War Remain on Duty, The New York Times, Monday, March 1, 1999, Late Edition - Final / Section A; Page 1; Column 1; National Desk

at http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A1343-2001Sep9&notFound=true
Walker, Sam and Luna, Eileen, February 28, 1997, A Report of the Oversight Mechanisms of the Albuquerque Police Department.
Albuquerque Police Department Records Statistics 1992-2002
The White House, President George W. Bush, News releases for May 14, 2002, Office of the Press Secretary at
The Associated Press, Tue May 14, 2002, 3:51 PM ET, Bush Signs Border Security Law, at
Bower, Deborah L.; Pettit, W. Gene The Albuquerque Police Department's Crisis Intervention Team: A Report Card, February, 2001, FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Feb. 2001, Vol. 70 Issue 2, p1, 6p, 1bw at
City of Albuquerque Code of Ordinances, 2002
Parker, Laura, May 6, 2002, Police departments balk at idea of becoming 'quasi-INS agents' USA Today, Monday, May 6, 2002, Page 8A
Tate, Steve, Lieutenant, Commander, Albuquerque Police Department Internal Affairs Unit, 768-2880.