You may have heard about the APD’s sting scheme: plant a daypack by the ATM at 4th and Gold, wait for someone to take it, then follow and arrest the person for theft. The APD has nabbed at least five people with the plot, including one person who has spent 14 days in jail. Presumably those individuals are facing 3rd degree felony charges–and the possibility of a permanent criminal record–because the APD reportedly filled the daypack with $2,500 worth of valuables, including a laptop.
Yesterday, Public Safety Director Darren White notified the ACLU that he and APD Chief Ray Schultz had decided to shut down the operation.
Stopping the sting scheme was the right thing to do, but troubling questions remain. Didn’t the officers worry about false arrests? They couldn’t know that a person’s motives for taking the daypack were criminal. What if they arrested someone who thought the daypack was abandoned, or someone who intended to turn it over to the police?
Doesn’t APD have enough crime to investigate without manufacturing new crimes? And baiting otherwise innocent people into turning criminal?
KOAT-TV reported that APD devised the scheme “after several reports of backpacks and purses being stolen in the University area.” But the University area is miles away from the sting location and lies on the opposite side of the freeway. Did officers truly think a sting in downtown Albuquerque was going to dampen crime in the University area? Or was that just a feeble cover for a misguided operation?
The ACLU has learned of a similar entrapment scheme where APD officers set out an expensive bicycle in public and wait for someone to steal it. Did Mr. White and Chief Schultz shut down this program as well?
The community deserves answers to these questions—some reassurance that APD officers aren’t abusing their authority. The ACLU has contacted both Darren White’s office and that of the Police Chief to request a meeting and await their response.
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