ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - It's a run of problems that's triggered calls for the department of justice to step in and investigate the Albuquerque Police Department.
Last year, in the wake of more than a dozen police shootings, APD hired a national law enforcement think-tank to see what the department could do better.
The group came up with 40 recommendations, chief among them, hire less aggressive officers and do away with the paramilitary culture at APD.
The chief hoped taking a proactive approach and adjusting dozens of policies would be enough to keep the feds from coming in and forcing his department to make sweeping, expensive changes.
"This is what PERF said we should do and we've taken the bull by the horns," said Chief Ray Schultz on Tuesday.
While the city says it's waiting on official word to see if there will be a formal DOJ investigation, earlier this week the chief told us he's already opened the door to the feds.
"You are more than welcome to come in at any time and look at any investigation we have and they have taken us up on that offer," said Schultz.
Something he says they have done several times over his 30 years with APD.
But, News 13 has now learned the feds have launched an in-depth investigation into almost two dozen specific cases from the past five years.
We've learned what some of those cases are, and they run the gamut from civil rights issues to possible criminal conduct by officers.
Like fired cop Levi Chavez, who's accused of murdering his wife Tera back in 2007 to keep her from talking to investigators. There are allegations that Chavez and his police buddies were stealing drugs on the job and selling them. Sources say those same buddies helped Chavez stage the theft of his truck for insurance money.
News 13 has learned the DOJ is also looking at some of the questionable police shootings since 2010. The feds want to know if bad hiring practices, training or other factors contributed to those shootings.
Sources tell us they are also focusing on cases of excessive force. Like an arrest caught by a security camera in a parking garage last year; the video cost two cops their jobs.
Also, the arrests captured by police lapel camera video this summer that News 13 uncovered. It showed cops storming an apartment without a warrant, repeatedly Tasing an on-looker, and then stepping on a suspect's head after he'd surrendered. Those videos led to criminal charges for one officer.
The feds also want to know about corruption too. Take Matt Kindle for example , he was fired last year after he was caught in an undercover sting bribing a prostitute for sex. APD investigators also say Kindle had a side job working for a pimp.
The DOJ is looking at every one of these cases to see if there is a pattern of civil rights violations or a lack of oversight in the department.
If there are criminal charges to be filed, the case would be handed over to U.S. Attorney's office.
Sources say the DOJ has noted APD's preemptive changes; like making officers wear lapel cameras. They want APD to have a system in place where cases of excessive force don't fall through the cracks or get swept under the rug.
Something that still didn't happen this summer when it took News 13 to alert the chief about the excessive force videos where officers kicked in the door and Tased the man.
The Mayor did not want to comment on this story saying he wanted to wait until the DOJ sends a formal letter of investigation.
If the DOJ steps in with a list of demands, it's not only a huge embarrassment for APD and the city, it can also cost millions to implement those change.
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