Albuquerque Police Still Falling Short in Policy Development and Community Engagement

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Today, in the wake of the second status conference between independent federal monitor Dr. James Ginger and the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), APD Forward expressed concern that the city is still falling short in creating the new policies mandated by the reform agreement and engaging the community in a meaningful way in the process. At the last status conference in December 2015, the public learned that APD’s process for developing new policies wasn’t working. Today, we learned that the process still is not working like it needs to.

“Finalizing APD’s new use of force policy was an important first step in creating adequate training, improved supervision, and effective discipline of APD officers,” said Steven Robert Allen, Director of Public Policy at the ACLU of New Mexico. “However, APD’s process for getting this first step done was laborious, lengthy, and appeared lacking in collaborative spirit. APD Forward finds it extremely concerning that the City Attorney flatly refused Dr. Ginger’s offer to provide a ‘primer’ on the policy development process. The City can’t continue to point fingers when it has purposefully ignored opportunities to be successful. This problem needs to be fixed; otherwise there is a real danger that the settlement agreement will be derailed.”

 

The status conference also revealed a concerning lack of genuine community engagement in the reform process, which is stipulated under the settlement agreement. The settlement agreement requires that APD create formal and informal mechanisms that facilitate ongoing and constructive communications between APD and Albuquerque communities. One of those mechanisms is the Community Policing Councils that have been created in each of the six area commands.

“This department can’t be successfully reformed without the involvement and buy-in of the community it serves,” said Jenny Metzler, Executive Director at Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless. “As we noted at the first status conference, we have attended several meetings of Community Policing Councils throughout the city, and to our eyes they don’t seem to be fulfilling their purpose as outlined in the settlement agreement. Unfortunately, this still seems to be the case, and we urge the court to address this issue so that we can avoid alienating Albuquerque communities.”

APD Forward will release a full analysis of the federal monitor’s second report within two weeks. It will be available on the campaign’s website at www.apdforward.org.

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  • commented 2016-06-18 08:15:21 -0600
    With Federal Monitor Dr. James Ginger recently saying that the Federal Court has approved 36 of 37 policies on how officers do their jobs, the really hard part of the reform process now begins. All too often what appears on paper is totally different than what is realistic and can actually be trained. The “use of force” policy no doubt looks good on paper, otherwise it would not have been approved by the Federal Court judge, but it is very complicated and the question that remains is, can it be “taught”? Can the approved “use of force policy” be understood fully in the context with how a cop reacts under pressure and in a crisis making life and death decisions of when to use lethal force or if less deadly force can be used? What overshadows the implementation of the reforms is the brewing crisis at the APD academy where the Director is under scrutiny for impropriety. Further, the law enforcement academy was reported as short staff with full time trainers in crisis intervention to the point that the Alexander Weiss staffing report recommended outside contractors to get the training done. There was also the question raised that the CIT training was inadequate and not in compliance with the DOJ reforms. APD staffing is still in crisis and in a melt down with only 850 sworn police officers, but what seems to be always never reported is that only 404 to 430 officers are actually taking and responding to 69,000, priority one calls for service a year. APD simply does not have enough cops patrolling our streets and responding to the most serious calls and until the staffing levels are meet, the reforms may be an exercise in futility but look good on paper
  • commented 2016-03-04 09:58:54 -0700
    It is not surprising that James Ginger has accused City Attorney Jessica Hernandez of what he called, “delay, do little and deflect” tactics saying his relationship with her was “a little rougher than most” compared with top attorneys in other cities and states where he has overseen seen police reform. Ginger reporting that Albuquerque police have achieved “operational compliance” with just eight of 277 reforms outlined in a settlement agreement should also surprise no one. For six years, Mayor Berry has refused to show any real leadership with managing APD preferring to delegate it to others even after the DO finding a “culture of aggression” Mayor Berry is content with the “snail’s pace” of implementing the DOJ reforms as if he is running the clock on his second term to leave the mess he created to be cleaned up by his successor. The Federal Court appointed Monitor has absolutely no management authority over APD and is prohibited by the consent decree from “replacing or assuming the role and duties of APD, including the Chief or any other City official” which impedes aggressive reform implementation and prohibits personnel and policy changes by the Monitor. More must be done to aggressively implement the DOJ reforms, solve the staffing shortages and address APD’s leadership crisis. The City Council by ordinance can create a Department of Public Safety with an appointed civilian Public Safety Commissioner for direct civilian oversight, management and control of APD. The Commissioner would assume primary responsibility for implementation of all the DOJ mandated reforms and only be removed for cause. The Commissioner would completely over haul and restructure APD, appoint new Chiefs, Commanders, Lieutenants, Academy Director and 911 Manager and each would report directly to the Commissioner.
  • commented 2016-03-03 19:13:28 -0700
    slap slap the hands … keep prolonging it …. no price to pay…