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Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

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2020 was an extremely busy year for Albuquerque’s Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA), an independent agency responsible for police oversight and community involvement. The CPOA sends recommendations to APD for overall policy changes. The latest data hows that the number of completed investigations fell short from years past. A combination of the strains of the pandemic and a volatile year is at blame for that.

According to CPOA Executive Director Edward Harness, 2020 was an especially busy year for the agency due to the series of protests that erupted during the summer. There were also few investigations completed on the complaints. He says the limited number of completed investigations is be attributed to the sheer volume of videos that the agency received and the limited number of staff to review submissions.

The number of complaints that the agency received increased by 35 percent from 2019 to 2020, now up to 329 complaints.

The increase in complaints, although concerning, is a positive sign for the agency. However, in the second half of 2020, the agency looked at only 13 percent of submitted complaints towards APD.

Recent funding allocations have allowed CPOA to expand its efforts in reviewing submitted complaints. The agency is also hoping to fill three new positions in the upcoming months. The agency was created in 2016 for “advancing Constitutional Policing and Accountability for APD and the Albuquerque Community.”

The 2020 report from the agency will be presented to City Council on Wednesday, Sept. 8.

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