APD Forward Echoes Judge Brack’s Call to Hit “Reset Button” on Reform

Coalition Calls on New Mayor to Take Charge of the Reform Process 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2017

CONTACT: Micah McCoy, (505) 266-5915 x1003 or mmccoy@aclu-nm.org

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—APD Forward, a coalition of community organizations and individuals seeking to reform the Albuquerque Police Department, praised Judge Robert Brack for denying a frivolous motion filed by the City of Albuquerque designed to undermine the reform process. On the day before the Monitoring Team released its most recent audit of APD’s progress, the City of Albuquerque and APD filed a motion with the court accusing the Independent Monitor of bias against the police department and asking for an evidentiary hearing. The motion included an edited secret video made of the Monitor by Assistant Police Chief Robert Huntsman in 2016 using his department-issued lapel camera. 

Yesterday, the Court addressed the City’s motion and issued a strongly-worded Order denying the City’s request. In the process of criticizing City Attorney Jessica Hernandez and Assistant Chief Huntsman for filing the baseless motion, Judge Brack stated that he was “tired of the toxicity” and that it was time to “hit the reset button.” APD Forward firmly believes that this crisis in leadership – both inside the Albuquerque mayor’s office and at APD – has slowed down the reform process almost to a stand-still.

“We’re relieved that Judge Brack saw through the City’s thinly veiled attempts to undermine the Monitor in the wake of his highly critical assessment of their progress,” said APD Forward Spokesperson Nancy Koenigsberg, senior attorney at Disability Rights New Mexico.  “We agree with him that the City’s motion, filed just one day before the Monitor’s report was released, was nothing more than a transparent political ploy.”

During yesterday’s public hearing, APD Forward also unveiled a unique data project that weights the requirements of the Settlement Agreement based on their importance.  By using the Monitor’s compliance scores from the Sixth Report, APD Forward developed its own assessment of APD’s progress on the elements of reform that matter the most to the coalition.  The results are striking and confirm the Monitor’s findings that “the easy work is done” and “the most difficult work remains.” 

“Our own internal assessment of APD’s progress shows that the most important work of reform lies ahead,” said APD Forward Spokesperson Natalie Nicotine with the Native American Voters Alliance. “We are calling on Mayor-elect Tim Keller to take charge of the reform process and to show that he will own the police department reforms. We look forward to working with the new administration to make this a reality.”

More information about APD Forward’s data project can be found at www.apdforward.org in the “resources” section of the website.

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APD Forward Strongly Criticizes APD Website for Clouding the Facts Around Police Reform

APD Forward Strongly Criticizes APD Website for Clouding the Facts Around Police Reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 27, 2017

 

CONTACT: Micah McCoy, (505) 266-5915 x1003 or mmccoy@aclu-nm.org

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—APD Forward, a coalition of community organizations and individuals seeking to reform the Albuquerque Police Department, expresses deep disappointment that the Albuquerque Police Department has launched a new website designed to distort the department’s record on reform. The website was launched just one week before the federal team charged with monitoring APD’s reform efforts is set to release its sixth progress report. APD Forward has numerous concerns with the new website, www.apdreform.com, but chief among them is that the site provides new evidence that APD leadership is continuing its efforts to undermine the federal monitoring team’s authority to track and ensure reform.

“Back in April, right before the release of the Monitoring Team’s fifth report, APD did a series of presentations around the city aimed at praising itself for all the progress it had made,” said APD Forward spokesperson Adriann Barboa, Field Director for Strong Families New Mexico. “A few weeks later, the monitor’s report was released detailing the ways in which APD leadership was deliberately obstructing important aspects of the reform process. Now here we are, a week before the release of the monitor’s sixth report, and APD is pulling a variation on the same trick with this new website.”

APD Forward believes APD launched the new website to both confuse the public about the department’s reform efforts and to avoid tough questions from the media. To take just one example, a large banner on the website’s homepage praises the department for being in “93 percent primary compliance” with the settlement agreement. This is true, but by refusing to provide any context this assertion makes it seem as if APD is almost done with the reform process. As the five previous federal monitoring reports make starkly clear, this is very far from the truth. As the monitoring team has documented in their fifth report, APD is only in 47 percent operational compliance with the settlement agreement. This is the most relevant measure of compliance, and the most difficult work still lies ahead.

“The website claims to be ‘an outreach program designed to educate the public about changes taking place within the police department that may be overlooked by traditional media,’” said APD Forward spokesperson Natalie Nicotine with the Native American Voters Alliance. “In fact, www.apdreform.com is clearly a tool aimed at misleading the public while undermining the federal monitoring team’s efforts to press the department to implement these crucial reforms.”

Just a few short months ago, APD Forward met with leadership from APD and the City of Albuquerque to express concerns about the police department’s misuse of social media. It was APD Forward’s position then, and it is APD Forward’s position now, that APD is intentionally using the online media platforms that it controls to avoid tough questions, and, ultimately, to avoid accountability for failing to make adequate progress on reform.

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APD Forward Questions Motivation and Timing of Audit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 25, 2017

CONTACT: Micah McCoy, (505) 266-5915 x1003 or mmccoy@aclu-nm.org

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Earlier this week, three Albuquerque City Councilors called on the city auditor to review the performance of Dr. James Ginger and his company Public Management Resources. The process and the timing of the councilors’ request raises concerns for APD Forward (www.apdforward.org), a coalition whose purpose is to advocate for reforms of the Albuquerque Police Department.

“APD Forward has reviewed the Monitor’s contract and the court order approving the contract and we are concerned that the allegations from the City Councilors seem to be questionable at best,” said APD Forward spokesperson Nancy Koenigsberg, senior attorney at Disability Rights New Mexico. “Further, the court order delineates the process the city is required to follow if they believe there is an issue with how the monitor is carrying out his obligations. That is the proper way to raise these questions. Coming just weeks before a new administration takes office, it appears that this is an attempt by the City to smear the monitor’s reputation. We believe it would be far more productive if the City Council, along with the new administration, work collaboratively with the monitor to embrace the reform process agreed to three years ago.”

Dr. Ginger is the court-appointed Independent Monitor in the police reform agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the City of Albuquerque.   The DOJ entered into the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) after a DOJ investigation found a pattern and practice of excessive use of deadly force, as well as a “culture of aggression” within the Albuquerque Police Department.

In his capacity as Independent Monitor, Dr. Ginger and his team answer solely to the federal court, although his contract is paid for by the City of Albuquerque as part of the CASA. Any challenge to the Monitor’s performance should be addressed by the federal court overseeing the process. APD Forward believes the reforms outlined in the CASA are critical to the well-being of Albuquerque and APD, and the independence of the monitor is paramount to the police reform process.

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APD Forward Reacts to Decision to Not Pursue Federal Charges in the Death of James Boyd

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 18, 2017

 

CONTACT: Micah McCoy, (505) 266-5915 x1003 or mmccoy@aclu-nm.org  

 

ALBUQUERQUE, NM--Today the APD Forward coalition expressed disappointment but not surprise at the announcement of the U.S. Department of Justice that it would not pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against Albuquerque Police Department (APD) officers involved in the fatal shooting of James Boyd. The coalition vowed to redouble its efforts to transform what the Department of Justice has called a “culture of aggression” within APD that makes this kind unjustified shooting more likely to occur.

 

“This reflects the limitations of legal action and the fragmentation of a criminal justice system that tilts routinely toward punitive responses to people without homes, those struggling with mental illness and people of color,” said APD Forward spokeperson Jenny Metzler, Executive Director of Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless. “At the same time, law enforcement officers commit questionable acts of violence without real fear of being held accountable.”

 

Although APD Forward understands the legal reasoning behind the Department of Justice’s decision to not pursue charges, it is concerned that existing legal frameworks at the federal, state and local level make it nearly impossible to hold police officers accountable for excessive use of force. The coalition would like to see systems in place within APD to prevent unnecessary deaths at the hands of police from occurring in the first place.

 

“It's disappointing that there is still no justice for James Boyd, nonetheless our communities in Albuquerque must continue driving APD toward reform,” said APD Forward spokesperson, Natalie Nicotine with the Native American Voters Alliance. “Existing laws and policies clearly are not structured in a way that protects and serves our city’s most vulnerable populations. We need to demand more meaningful systems of accountability in our police department so there won't be any more senseless tragedies like this in the future.”

 

For more information about APD Forward, go to www.apdforward.org.



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APD Forward calls for fundamental course correction at APD, releases new analysis

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Today APD Forward called for the Albuquerque Police Department to dramatically change its approach and attitude toward the settlement agreement reform process. The campaign also released a new analysis of the monitoring team's fifth report, outlining the highest profile deficiencies in the Department's effort to implement systemic changes aimed at addressing its history of using excessive force against residents of Albuquerque.

“While progress has been made, the Monitoring Team has documented deep ongoing problems with supervisory and oversight systems at APD,' said APD Forward spokesperson Jenny Metzler, executive director at the Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless. “The report indicates that 87 percent of the time supervisory oversight systems at APD for use of force incidents are failing. This absolutely has to change.”

Among the most alarming findings in the Monitoring Team's report is that APD leadership, in some instances, is deliberately obstructing the reform process by overtly refusing to comply with explicit requirements in the settlement agreement. One disturbing example is APD's refusal to ban neck holds except when a situation allows for lethal use of force by officers. This practice is specifically banned by the agreement.

“The neck hold issue is just one of many examples outlined in the report indicating that APD leadership is actively resisting some key requirements of the settlement agreement,” said APD Forward spokesperson Cathy Ansheles, executive director at the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. “We talk a lot about the need for culture change at APD. That change has to start at the top.”

You can read APD Forward’s analysis of the Independent Monitor’s 5th report here.

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APD Forward Condemns Albuquerque Police Department for “Deliberate Non-compliance” with Settlement Agreement

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—In his fifth report, Independent Federal Monitor Dr. James Ginger indicates that the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) is not just failing to comply with the settlement agreement, but in many respects is deliberately failing to do so. Today, APD Forward again expressed deep disappointment in APD leadership’s resistance to reforming the troubled department.

“More than a year ago, the monitor noted in his second report that APD’s approach to the agreement is to ‘do little, delay and deflect,’” said APD Forward spokesperson Laurie Weahkee, Executive Director of Native American Voters Alliance. “Little has changed since then. In some ways, it’s gotten worse. If Chief Eden and his senior staff won’t take responsibility for advancing these critical changes to the way APD officers use force, Mayor Berry should find police professionals who will.”

Among the serious ongoing issues highlighted in the Monitor’s fifth report are:

1)      Failure of supervisory and review systems within APD to adequately catch and correct improper use of force incidents by APD officers 

2)      An inability or unwillingness by supervisors to identify when use of force incidents occur

3)      APD’s continued insistence that ‘neck holds’ are allowable by APD officers, even though this practice is specifically prohibited by the settlement agreement except where lethal force is authorized

4)      Use of force against handcuffed prisoners by some APD officers

5)      Failure of some APD officers to use verbal warnings and other de-escalation techniques before resorting to force, even when it’s safe to do so

6)      An overall and ongoing resistance on the part of APD to addressing operational and systemic problems identified by the Monitor

“It’s no surprise that accountability is a critical problem with APD when Chief Eden is publicly blaming judges and the press for problems within his Department,” said APD Forward spokesperson Steven Robert Allen, Director of Public Policy at the ACLU of New Mexico. “This unwillingness of Chief Eden and his command staff to embrace reform or to demand accountability from the Department is preventing APD from moving towards true and lasting culture change.”

APD Forward will soon release a full analysis of the Monitor’s fifth report, along with an analysis of APD’s compliance efforts covering all five reports.

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APD Forward Releases Analysis of Fourth Indpendent Federal Monitor Report

APD Forward Releases Analysis of Fourth Independent Federal Monitor Report

Major shortfalls continue for the Albuquerque Police Department

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2016

CONTACT: Micah McCoy, (505) 266-5915 x1003 or mmccoy@aclu-nm.org

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Today, the APD Forward coalition released its analysis of the Fourth Report filed by Independent Federal Monitor Dr. James Ginger earlier this month. The report reveals that the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) continues to fall critically short of meeting requirements set out in the settlement agreement between APD and the U.S. Department of Justice.

“After two years and four reporting periods, APD is far behind where it needs to be,” said APD Forward spokesperson Peter Simonson, executive director for the ACLU of New Mexico. “While there has been some progress, we’re still not seeing a clear commitment to the reform process, and I think we see that reflected in these results. APD needs to demonstrate to the people of Albuquerque that they are approaching this reform process with the seriousness and rigor it deserves.”

APD Forward’s analysis of the Fourth Report highlights some of the major areas in which APD is failing to meet expectations, including:

  • Poor responsiveness to monitor’s reports
  • Lack of accountability within the department
  • Obstructing the reform process with document dumps
  • Insufficient community engagement

“It’s not good enough for APD to check a few boxes and call it reform,” said APD Forward spokesperson Adriann Barboa, field director for Strong Families New Mexico. “Systemic, enduring, and meaningful change is what our community requires of its police department. Unfortunately, we are a long way from achieving that crucial goal.”

APD Forward’s full analysis of the monitor’s Fourth Report is available here

 

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APD Forward Reacts to Hung Jury in Boyd Trial

 
 
 

 

FOR IMMEIDATE RELEASE:

October 11, 2016

CONTACT: Micah McCoy, (505) 266-5915 x1003 or mmccoy@aclu-nm.org

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Today, the APD Forward coalition responded to the hung jury in the James Boyd murder trial, where two former Albuquerque Police Department (APD) officers were tried for the 2014 killing of homeless camper James Boyd. The following statement may be attributed to APD Forward spokesperson Adriann Barboa, Field Director for Strong Families New Mexico:

“Two and a half years ago James Matthew Boyd was gunned down by two APD officers. This historic trial marks the first time in memory that APD officers have been held criminally accountable after killing a citizen in the line of duty. The Boyd trial has sent an important message to APD and the community it serves: no one is above the law. This moment also underscores the vital importance of Mayor Berry and Chief Eden’s leadership to ensure the efforts to reform APD’s use of force policies and the mechanisms used to hold officers accountable are in place and being executed to full compliance. In the memory of James Boyd, we must continue the hard work to ensure Albuquerque has a well-trained police force with a healthy respect for the lives of those they serve.”

This trial underscores the need for accountability in the Albuquerque Police Department and police departments across the country. The killing of James Boyd was clearly unjustified. Even if officers weren’t convicted of criminal charges, their actions escalated a situation that could have ended peacefully. It bears remembering that Mr. Boyd’s only crime was illegal camping in an open space, and for that he died.

APD Forward calls upon Mayor Berry and APD Chief Eden to renew their efforts towards achieving full compliance with the reforms mandated by the Department of Justice consent decree. In light of the independent federal monitor’s recent special report, it is clear that APD still has a long way to go before it has the proper use of force policies and systems of accountability. Until then, our community remains at risk of losing more James Boyds to preventable police violence.

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APD Forward Releases Analysis of Independent Monitor’s Special Report

Report shows alarming signs that APD’s use of force investigations remain seriously deficient

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 30, 2016

CONTACT: Micah McCoy, (505) 266-5915 x1003 or mmccoy@aclu-nm.org

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Today, the police reform advocacy group APD Forward released its analysis of the Independent Federal Monitor Dr. James Ginger’s Special Report, which was released earlier this month on September 16th. The report, which covers the period of December 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016, details a number of use of force incidents that reveal serious shortcomings in APD use of force investigations.

 “Simply put, this is unacceptable,” said APD Forward Spokesperson Steven Allen, policy director for the ACLU of New Mexico. “This special report is an alarming portrait of a police department experiencing systemic failure in its use of force investigations. APD needs to hold up their end of the bargain and implement an effective system for recognizing, investigating, evaluating, and resolving incidents involving the use of force.”

 

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APD Forward Condemns City's Attempt to Undermine the Independent Monitor

APD Forward Condemns City’s Attempt to Undermine the Independent Monitor

Judge Brack blocks City of Albuquerque and APD Police Union’s attempt to force alterations in monitor’s special report

 

 

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

September 16, 2016

 

CONTACT: Micah McCoy, (505) 266-5915 x1003 or mmccoy@aclu-nm.org

 

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—An order filed yesterday by Judge Brack, the judge overseeing the police reform agreement between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Albuquerque Police Department (APD)/City of Albuquerque, denied a request by the City of Albuquerque and the APD police union to censor information contained in a special report released today by independent federal monitor Dr. James Ginger. The community advocacy group APD Forward condemns this attempt by the city and the police union to block the federal monitor from releasing information about use of force incidents to the public.

 

“The City and the police officers' union need to stop trying to prevent the monitoring team from doing its job,” said APD Forward spokesperson Cathy Ansheles, executive director of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Association. “APD has a long history of blocking scrutiny and transparency over its internal processes. Hopefully, this is a wake-up call. If the reform process is going to be successful, APD needs to cultivate a culture of openness and transparency.”

 

Earlier this month, the City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association attempted to force alterations in the independent monitor’s special report. The report, which was released in its full unadulterated form today, investigates multiple incidents of use of force by Albuquerque Police Department officers in 2015.

 

As Judge Brack notes in the order filed on September 15, the settlement agreement between the City and the Department of Justice was created to “promote more effective law enforcement and … strengthen public confidence in APD” by “increasing transparency and accountability on use of force.” Brack concludes by saying that “To allow the City to red-line the Monitor’s reports, pre-publication, would undermine the Monitor’s independence and introduce a precedent the Court is unwilling to set.”

 

As with every report from the Independent Monitor, APD Forward will release a summary and analysis of the special report following a thorough review.

 

DOCUMENTS:

Special Report from the Indpendent Federal Monitor

Judge Brack's Order Regarding Monitor's Special Report


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