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Department Of Justice To Release Albuquerque Police Findings

As hundreds of people packed Albuquerque City Hall to voice their concerns, the U.S. Department of Justice says it's ready to release its findings from a civil investigation into the city's embattled police department. The agency has been investigating Albuquerque police for more than a year, looking into complaints of civil rights violations and allegations of excessive use of force. The findings will be released Thursday.

On Monday night, the City Council cleared the agenda to hear from the public. Some drew cheers when they said the protests over police force would grow louder until changes are made. Others said Albuquerque has become an embarrassment.

Demonstrators have flooded the streets in recent weeks in protest of the police department's use of force, including the shooting of homeless camper James Boyd in the Albuquerque foothills following a long standoff with officers.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Hundreds of people are expected to pack Albuquerque City Hall on Monday evening, prompting the council to clear its agenda to allow for public comment on the city's embattled police department.

Demonstrators have flooded the streets in recent weeks in protest of the police department's use of force, including the shooting of homeless camper James Boyd in the Albuquerque foothills following a long standoff with officers.

City Council President Ken Sanchez said more police officers will be assigned to Monday's meeting to prepare for the crowds. If any safety issues arise, Sanchez said he will adjourn the meeting early.

Sanchez and other council members are weighing future legislation to address police oversight and whether the council should have authority over hiring the police chief or creating a commission that would oversee daily operations within the department.

"We need to make some dramatic changes," Sanchez told the Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/1e5Fg3W). "We're confronting a crisis situation at this time."

Councilman Brad Winter said he wants to hear from the public.

"I think a lot of the councilors are frustrated, and I think every one of them is really looking at what they can do to fix the problem," he said.

The recent unrest follows a string of 37 police shootings since 2010, 23 of them fatal, including the March 16 shooting of Boyd. During an hourslong standoff, Boyd claimed he was a government agent and had threatened to kill officers. An officer's helmet camera video showed Boyd gathering his belongings from a campsite before officers shot him. He later died at a hospital.

The FBI has opened a criminal investigation into that shooting. The U.S. Justice Department also has been investigating Albuquerque police for more than a year, looking into complaints of civil rights violations and allegations of excessive use of force.

At the Monday meeting, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico said it will call for a federal monitor to be appointed to the department who would have the power to enforce reforms.

Winter and fellow Councilor Rey Garduno are drafting legislation that would overhaul the city's system of civilian oversight of the police department. Expected to be introduced later this month, the proposal would address the recommendations of an 11-member task force that spent months examining the Police Oversight Commission.

The task force recommended creating a new oversight agency with more authority and its own source of funding and staff.

Sanchez acknowledged the council has limited authority over police matters due to the City Charter, and proposals to change the charter may come forward. Any amendments would have to be approved by voters.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.