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.”

 

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APD Forward Releases Analysis of the Federal Monitor's First Compliance Report

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Today, APD Forward released its in-depth analysis of the 203 page compliance report compiled by Independent Federal Monitor Dr. James Ginger late last year, which covers the first reporting period from February 1, 2015 through May 13, 2015. APD Forward also looked at the Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD) self-report, and compared it to what the Independent Federal Monitor found. After independently examining both reports, APD Forward analysis shows APD is behind schedule in complying with reform requirements, especially where training and policy implementation are concerned.

“We are concerned that APD is approaching this reform as something it needs to dispose of as quickly as possible rather than as an opportunity to become the exceptional police department that Albuquerque deserves,” said APD Forward spokesperson Adriann Barboa, Field Director for Strong Families NM. “We hope that this first progress report serves as a wakeup call, and that APD will engage in the continuing reform effort with a renewed seriousness and commitment to excellence. With the safety of Albuquerque citizens on the line, APD simply cannot afford to approach it any other way.”

 

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Independent Monitor's First Report

APD Forward Expresses Concern that APD is Delaying Reform Process

 

ALBQUERQUE, NM—Today, federal monitor Dr. James Ginger’s released the first status report on the Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD) progress towards implementing the reforms required by the consent decree between the Department of Justice and APD. In comments in federal court today, Ginger revealed that to date APD has failed to submit adequate use of force policies to the monitor, slowing down compliance with the entire consent decree. Indeed, Dr. Ginger reported that the policy has gone through "two cycles" of review, without gaining approval. In the wake of this announcement, the APD Forward coalition calls upon the Albuquerque Police Department to cooperate in the creation of adequate use of force polices and submit them in as soon as possible.

 

“This reform process is not going to work if APD keeps falling short in the foundational task of creating acceptable use of force policies,” said APD Forward spokesperson Peter Simonson, Executive Director for the ACLU of New Mexico. “These policies are the first step in creating adequate training, improved supervision, and effective discipline. Without them, we cannot build the community friendly, responsible police force our city deserves. APD needs to demonstrate to the community that it is serious about this process by developing these policies and fully cooperating with the Department of Justice.”

 

Over the coming days, APD Forward will review the monitor’s full report, as well as APD's self-report, to analyze where the reform effort is progressing as expected, and where APD is falling short of its reform commitments. 

READ THE REPORT:

First Independent Monitor Report (Part I)

First Independent Monitor Report (Part II)

First Independent Monitor Report (Appendix)

 

 

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Mobile Justice New Mexico App

The wait is over! On November 13, the ACLU Mobile Justice New Mexico app officially launched. You can download the free app for your IOS or Android device in either English or Spanish by visiting the Apple Store or Android Marketplace.

Download now for iPhone.

Download now for Android.

Not familiar with the Mobile Justice App? It’s an innovative new tool that helps New Mexicans use their smart phones to record police encounters and file reports of law enforcement misconduct directly to the ACLU. We know firsthand how important video evidence is for holding police accountable. Now, any person with a smartphone can report abuse or misconduct in real time.

Learn more and get the app for your smartphone or tablet now.

With the Mobile Justice New Mexico app you can:

  • Record an incident: After you finish recording, it is automatically saved to your phone and a copy is saved directly to a secure ACLU server. Even if a police officer grabs your phone and deletes the footage, your recording is safe with the ACLU.
  • File a report: If you witness police misconduct, you can use the app to file a report directly with the ACLU.
  • Witness an incident: With the location services turned on, other app users will be informed when an incident is being filmed nearby. Two sets of eyes are better than one, and the app helps connect civic-minded people to hold police accountable in real time.

Check out the Mobile Justice NM website to get a video tour of Mobile Justice NM's features and download the app to turn your smartphone into a powerful tool for law enforcement accountability and community safety.

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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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