Albuquerque's city council is turning to PR firm Garrity Group for help as the city and its police force draw national scrutiny amid a scathing report by the US Department of Justice.
The DOJ, following an investigation, in April ripped the Albuquerque Police Dept. for "engag[ing] in a pattern or practice of excessive force that violates the Constitution and federal law." The report has sparked protests and calls for reform in the city as police officials meet with federal law enforcement officials to resolve the concerns raised in the report.
Tom Garrity, former VP of communications for the Albuquerque Convention Visitors Bureau and chief of staff for the city's public schools, told O'Dwyer's the city interviewed five firms, adding that his shop is currently in negotiations for the work. He said he pitched research and a media relations assessment, media training and a new communications approach for city councilors, among other elements.
City council president Ken Sanchez told KOAT-TV on June 18 that a $25K PR pact is more cost effective than the city hiring a full-time public information officer. The APD last month tapped reporter-turned-PR consultant Janet Blair for its own $95K-per-year PR post.
The DOJ, among other findings, said Albuquerque officers too frequently use deadly force against people who pose a minimal or threat or in situations where officers' conduct heightens the danger and contributes to the need of such force. Acting U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez said the report was a milestone in addressing problems "that have plagued our community and the [APD] for years."
Garrity's firm is part of the Worldcom network of PR firms.