APD Forward responds to decision overturning the termination of APD officer Jeremy Dear

Officer Jeremy DearALBUQUERQUE, NM--The following is the APD Forward response to yesterday's news that the Albuquerque Personnel Board voted to reinstate Jeremy Dear, the APD officer who was fired last year for failing to use his body-worn camera during the incident in which he shot and killed Mary Hawkes, a 19-year-old suspect in a car theft investigation:

"The members of APD Forward were dismayed to learn that the City of Albuquerque Personnel Board overturned a decision by APD Chief Gordon Eden to fire officer Jeremy Dear for failing to properly use his body-worn camera during the fatal shooting of Mary Hawkes in April 2014. APD Forward supports fair arbitration in personnel hearings for APD officers. But Dear ignored direct orders to use his camera after receiving several citizen complaints against him. Not only was Dear’s camera suspiciously unplugged, but the malfunction also occurred at the most critical of moments—during a serious use of force incident that ended with the loss of life.

If APD is to succeed in reforming its “culture of aggression”--which the Department of Justice so criticized in its April 2014 letter of findings--it must be able to hold officers accountable to policies that ensure the constitutional use of force. APD Forward believes the consistent use of body-worn cameras is one of the best ways to reduce police excessive use of force. It is important that t the department be  able to enforce this critical policy to ensure transparency in all use of force incidents. It will make APD safer for the community and for officers alike."

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APD Forward Throws Support Behind Police Oversight Board

Albuquerque police reform coalition backs better inclusion of Police Oversight Board and community in reform process

Today, the APD Forward coalition sent a letter to APD Chief of Police Gordon Eden and Mayor Richard Berry supporting a request by the chair of the Police Oversight Board’s (POB), Leonard Waites, that APD grant the board an opportunity to review and comment on any new APD policies related to the use of force before proposed changes are finalized. On Tuesday, September 8, Waites sent a letter to the Chief Eden and Mayor Berry outlining various reasons why the POB and the community should be afforded an opportunity for meaningful policy review.

 

“An independent, civilian police oversight board is important not just in holding police accountable, but also in restoring trust in the community,” said Nancy Koenigsberg, legal director for Disability Rights New Mexico and spokesperson for APD Forward. “By cutting the POB out of the policy review process, APD is missing an opportunity to build public confidence in the Civilian Police Oversight Agency and closing off a critical venue for community members to engage with the reform of their police department.”

 

In its letter, APD Forward notes that in bypassing the POB, the Albuquerque Police Department may be failing to fully comply with the consent decree between the City and the Department of Justice. Paragraph 288 of Section XII, subsection D of the agreement reads:

 

APD shall submit all changes to policy related to this Agreement (i.e. use of force, specialized units, crisis intervention, civilian complaints, supervision, discipline, and community engagement) to the [Civilian Police Oversight Agency] for review, and the agency shall report any concerns it may have to the Chief regarding policy changes.

 

“By moving ahead with policy changes without first providing opportunity for public input, APD may be running afoul of their court ordered reform agreement,” said Koenigsberg. “We believe that the POB and other community members have important things to say about the policing policies that directly affect Albuquerque residents, and should be given the opportunity to make their voices heard as outlined in the consent decree.”

 

Read a copy of APD Forward’s letter (PDF).

 

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Take the APD Interaction Survey

After another fatal shooting by APD, and a lot of news about our city's crime rate, APD Forward is proud to be working proactively on the police reform our city deserves. Part of our mission is centering community voices at the core of our reform work. APD Forward believes that affected communities can and should play a critical role in shaping Albuquerque Police Department reforms and holding the city leadership accountable throughout the process. We want to hear from you directly to learn more about how your interactions with APD have gone.

Fill out this survey to include your voice in police reform for ABQ.  

The experiences, opinions, and stories we gather will be used to inform the APD Forward campaign in reaching our long term goal of ensuring that Albuquerque has a professional, responsible police force.

Please fill out the survey now and share it with your friends by email and social media so that we can have a broad sampling from ABQ residents and reach people who want to join our efforts.  

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APD Forward in the Mix: Meetings with Berry, Eden, & Ginger

BerryEdenGinger.jpgThe APD Forward campaign has had a busy couple of weeks. We recently held meetings with Mayor Richard Berry, Chief Gordon Eden and the federal monitor overseeing implementation of the consent decree, Dr. James Ginger. In those meetings, we learned that the first report from the monitoring team is expected this fall, and it will be voluminous – Dr. Ginger indicated that it will be hundreds of pages. When it is released, the APD Forward legal committee will be ready to assess its contents and provide a detailed analysis to APD Forward supporters and the general public about the state of APD’s progress toward achieving the mandatory reforms outlined in the consent decree.

We also learned that:

  1. APD has revised 88 of its policies and Dr. Ginger’s team has started reviewing the new policies to determine whether they comply with the consent decree (and Eden agreed to provide APD Forward with a list of the revised policies);
  2. Dr. Ginger’s team is launching a public website to disseminate information gleaned from the monitoring process; 
  3. Dr. Ginger’s team has created the compliance plan required by the consent decree, setting up quantitative and qualitative guidelines for each of the 297 provisions in the decree.

We will be following up with the Mayor, the Chief, and Dr. Ginger soon to track the status of these and other relevant items.

At the same time, APD Forward is working with youth organizers to gather stories from young people about their interactions with police officers. These organizers are planning a town hall meeting in the near future to give Albuquerque’s youth a platform for discussing the impact of policing on their lives and how the Albuquerque Police Department can improve its relations with young people. Stay tuned for details about this exciting project.

It’s an exciting time. When you have a moment, contact the Mayor and your City Councilor and let them know how important it is to you that they follow through on reforming our troubled police department.

Thank you for all that you do to make Albuquerque a better place to live.

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Moving Forward with the Federal Monitor

Ginger_2.jpgAs you have probably heard by now, there has been considerable controversy in recent weeks about the relationship between the Albuquerque City Council and Dr. James Ginger, the monitor overseeing the consent decree mandating reforms of the Albuquerque Police Department. We wanted to give you a quick update to catch you up on what we've been doing to ensure that this controversy doesn't derail the reform process.

At last Monday’s City Council meeting, Adriann Barboa of Strong Families New Mexico, spoke on behalf of APD Forward in addressing this issue. During her presentation, Adriann emphasized that the council plays an important role in the reform process, but in the final analysis Dr. Ginger answers to the federal court and to the court alone. Yet she added that in the interest of transparency and public education, APD Forward believes Dr. Ginger should keep the council and the community at large informed of the monitoring process. In particular, Ginger should appear periodically before the council to provide updates and answer questions about the progress of reform.

Although APD Forward understands the need for accountability over how tax dollars are spent, the money spent on Dr. Ginger’s contract is money that we have to invest in this city’s future. This court-mandated process is the best opportunity our city has ever had to reform this troubled police department. 

Councilors and audience members seemed to appreciate Adriann’s message. We need to overhaul this department. Success is far from certain, but failure will be certain if the reform process isn’t properly funded – and that includes costs associated with the federal monitor. 

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Support SWAT Transparency in New Mexico

Now is your chance to help reduce police militarization in New Mexico and increase law enforcement transparency. 

Senator Richard Martinez's SWAT transparency bill will be considered in the New Mexico Senate Public Affairs Committee on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 3Call and write your legislators today and let them know you support SB 567, the bill to increase transparency for SWAT teams in New Mexico.

Senate Public Affairs Committee Members:

Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino - (505) 986-4482
Sen. Bill O'Neill - (505) 986-4260
Sen. Jacob Candelaria - (505) 986-4391
Sen. Ron Griggs - (505) 986-4276
Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto - (505) 986-4270
Sen. Gay Kernan - (505) 986-4274
Sen. Mimi Stewart - (505) 986-4856
Sen. Craig Brandt - (505) 986-4267

In recent decades, SWAT teams have come to be increasingly overused for such activities as searching for drugs or serving low-risk warrants. In the process, innocent people are often killed and terrorized, and their property is damaged or destroyed. We know from the Department of Justice investigation of APD that the City of Albuquerque has a problem with misuse and overuse of SWAT teams. But this problem is not just confined to Albuquerque. 

That's why APD Forward is advocating for a statewide law that would require every law enforcement agency in New Mexico that has a SWAT team to file an annual report on how they utilize and deploy these heavily-armed, highly-militarized units.

We are always more safe when our law enforcement agencies operate with transparency, accountability, and professionalism. If you agree that we need to shed more light on how SWAT teams are used in New Mexico, please 
call and write the above senators today to ask them to VOTE FOR SB 567.

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT THE SWAT TRANSPARENCY BILL DOES >>

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APD Forward Lauds Choice for Independent Federal Monitor

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Today, the APD Forward coalition applauded the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the City of Albuquerque’s choice of Public Management Resources (PMR) for independent federal monitor, the position that will oversee the settlement agreement governing reforms of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). The following quote may be attributed to ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson on behalf of APD Forward:

“APD Forward felt Dr. Ginger’s firm, Public Management Resources, was one of two highly qualified candidates for this critical role. Not only does his team bring extensive experience from monitoring the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and the New Jersey State Police, but in his submissions to the City, Dr. Ginger outlined a sophisticated plan for monitoring which included a formal process for community engagement.”

On January 13, APD Forward released its top three picks for the role of federal monitor and the criteria used for analyzing the top picks. That information is available at the APD Forward website.

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APD Forward Files Amicus in Response to APD/DOJ Settlement Agreement

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Today, the APD Forward coalition filed an amicus brief with the court in response to the settlement agreement between the City of Albuquerque and the Department of Justice (DOJ) that lays out reforms to the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).

 

“While we see many positive changes outlined in the current settlement agreement between the City of Albuquerque and the Department of Justice, we can still make it stronger in certain areas,” said Alexandra Freedman Smith, ACLU-NM Legal Director and APD Forward legal team member. “In APD Forward’s amicus brief, we have flagged for the court places where we feel the reforms could go further towards reducing excessive use of force and ensuring police accountability.”

The APD Forward amicus brief addresses the following issues:

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Our Top Picks for APD Monitor

Oversight2_1_.jpgALBUQUERQUE, NM—Today, the APD Forward coalition released its top three picks from the pool of seventeen candidates currently under consideration for the role of independent federal monitor, the position that will oversee the implementation of the settlement agreement governing reforms in the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). APD Forward acquired the applications of all parties under consideration via a public records request and analyzed the candidates based on criteria which APD Forward regards as crucial to the function of the independent monitor. On Wednesday, January 14th, the City of Albuquerque and the U.S. Department of Justice plan to notify the court of their choices for the monitor role.

 

“From our study of the police reform process in other cities, we know that the independent monitor is key to the success of a court-enforced agreement to address a pattern and practice of constitutional violations in any police department,” said Peter Simonson, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Mexico.  “It will be the monitor’s job to hold APD accountable to the terms of the settlement agreement between the DOJ and the City. One of APD Forward’s primary goals is to advocate for a capable and qualified team of experts to oversee the implementation of the reforms that our police department so urgently needs.”

 

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APD Forward Analysis of APD/DOJ Settlement Agreement

The following is the initial APD Forward Legal Team analysis of the DOJ/APD settlement agreement. This analysis may be modified as we continue to examine the document.

Areas of Strength

 

1)    The way APD reports use of force internally and to the public is greatly improved.

  • Requires detailed reporting of all uses of force
  • Requires supervisors to review all uses of force and go to the scene where force was used
  • Requires collection of demographic data in use of force incidents (race, gender
  • Supervisors have to do a report on all uses of force
  • APD must release an annual report detailing use of force by officers during the year

Bottom line: Better enforced and new reporting requirements will require APD to pay attention to use of force and allow the community to see whether there is improvement.

 

2)    The settlement agreement does a good job of reconnecting officers to the community they serve and protect.

  • Agreement places an emphasis on community policing
  • Calls for establishing a community policing council for each area command
  • Requires that APD hold public meetings in each area command, with every officer required to attend at least two meetings per year.

 

Bottom line: More interaction with the community will lead to APD more invested in the community and the community more invested in APD. Increased community engagement will decrease the “us versus them” mentality on both sides.

 

3)    The agreement goes a long way to reforming how APD will interact with the people living with mental illness.

  • Establishes a citizen Mental Health Response Advisory committee to improve how officers respond to calls involving people living with mental illness.
  • Places more emphasis on crisis intervention and de-escalation when dealing with a person in crisis
  • Puts in place a sensible, tiered approach for crisis intervention responders.
  • Requires more behavior health training for officers
  • Requires new protocols for dealing with suicidal individuals who are not threatening harm to anyone but themselves

 

Bottom line: These changes will make both officers and people living with mental illness safer.

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