The third semi-annual audit report of the Las Cruces Police Department, prepared by the OIR Group, was presented to the Las Cruces City Council at its Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, work session in Council Chambers at City Hall, 700 N. Main St.
The presentation included a review of 16 LCPD Internal Affairs Division cases and one civil litigation case that were closed between June 1, 2022, and Nov. 30, 2022. The OIR Group has been contracted by the City since March 4, 2021, to independently audit LCPD.
The review determined if cases were complete, objective, and thorough. The audit also found that actions taken by LCPD in response to the 16 cases and one civil litigation were appropriate.
Of the 16 cases, reviewed by OIR Group, 11 were formal complaints from citizens and five were internal investigation cases referred by LCPD administration. The OIR Group examined 39 allegations in the 16 cases and found 16 of the allegations were exonerated, 11 were sustained, nine were deemed to be unfounded, and three were not sustained.
For allegations that were sustained, discipline by LCPD ranged from verbal or written reprimands to a 20-hour suspension in one instance. LCPD supervisors also provided training and counseling as necessary. The OIR Group also suggested process improvements and policy and training recommendations for LCPD.
The audit also determined actions taken by LCPD in response to the investigations were appropriate with a commitment to accountability.
It was announced at Monday’s work session that the Council could consider an extension to the City’s contract with OIR Group. A possible contract extension could include an expanded scope of OIR’s potential future audits.
The OIR Group, of Playas Del Rey, Calif., has been working in the field of independent oversight of law enforcement agencies for more than 17 years. OIR Group specializes in evaluating and seeking to strengthen law enforcement policies, practices, and accountability measures.
Additionally, at Monday’s work session, LCPD updated City Council on crime statistics during 2022 and year-to-date results. Included in the presentation were personnel updates, crime strategies, training, community engagement projects, and LCPD initiatives.
A few major points police administration shared with the Council included a zero percent increase in violent crimes in Las Cruces from 2021 to 2022 but a 27 percent increase in property crimes during the same time.
Of preliminary crime statistics for the first two months of 2023, burglaries have increased 41 percent and auto burglaries are up 37 percent.