Albuquerque police reforms ordered

The U.S. Justice Department and New Mexico's largest city have reached an agreement to overhaul Albuquerque's police department amid several accusations of excessive force, agreeing to reforms that include new training and protocols for investigating officer shootings.

The deal announced Friday also orders the force to be independently monitored and calls for the changes to be in place within four years.

City and federal officials have discussed overhaul plans after a DOJ report in April said officers showed a pattern of using excessive force.

The police department serving a city of about 560,000 people has faced scrutiny for 41 police shootings -- 27 of them fatal -- since 2010. The fatal shooting of a homeless man in March sparked protests around the city after video footage appeared to show the man surrendering during a standoff.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the agreement will transform the culture and practices of the Albuquerque Police Department, "And I am confident that, with the cooperation of city leaders and brave law enforcement officials, we will take significant steps to restore trust with local citizens and build for Albuquerque's residents the stronger, safer, and more secure communities that all Americans deserve."

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry is scheduled to discuss the agreement at a news conference this afternoon.

The independent monitoring team will oversee how the changes are adopted, provide technical assistance and publicly report on the city's compliance, according to the Justice Department.

It also will have access to all documents, personnel, facilities and information related to the settlement agreement and will engage with officers and community members on an ongoing basis, federal officials said.

The Albuquerque City Council is scheduled to vote on the agreement next week. Later in November, the city of Albuquerque and Justice Department officers will file the settlement agreement in federal court for approval and entry as an order.

In the last five years, the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division has opened more 20 investigations into police departments. Officials said the department had entered into 15 agreements with law enforcement agencies, including nine consent decrees similar to the one crafted with Albuquerque police.

The department has entered into consent decrees, for example, with New Orleans Police Department, Puerto Rico Police Department and the Seattle Police Department.