Home Local News What’s next for Albuquerque police after DOJ ‘loosens grip’ on oversight?

What’s next for Albuquerque police after DOJ ‘loosens grip’ on oversight?

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A federal court recently allowed the Albuquerque Police Department to get out from some expensive, independent oversight. To be clear, an independent monitor will continue to assess some aspects of APD’s progress. But many aspects will now be under APD’s own oversight, essentially loosening the grip the U.S. Department of Justice has had on APD for more than seven years.

So what are the implications, and what’s next for APD? A new 51 page plan from the department lays out that self-monitoring roadmap.

How APD got here

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigated the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and concluded there was “reasonable cause to believe that APD engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.” Since October of 2014, APD has been under monitoring as part of a court-approved settlement agreement, sometimes called the “CASA.”

For years, that oversight has been led by James Ginger, the director of Public Management Resources, a private company with experience overseeing other DOJ-based police reform efforts. Ginger’s team continues to file regular reports examining APD’s reform progress.

The reform process itself consists of 276 paragraphs, each detailing different areas APD has agreed to change or improve. In order for monitoring to end, APD needs to reach “operation compliance,” or prove that it “consistently applies” its new policies and training for two straight years.

Since 2014, the independent monitoring process has cost the city more than $8.5 million. But a July 2022 court hearing has now resulted in APD transitioning away from some of that expensive, independent oversight. For dozens of specific measures of progress, APD will start self-monitoring.

APD lays out monitoring plan

The Albuquerque Police Department recently submitted a self-reporting plan, detailing how they will keep track of continued compliance. For each performance measure, the plan details what data the department will use to assess progress.

In all, APD is being allowed to self-report on the multi-agency task force used to investigate police shootings; specialized units like the SWAT team; behavioral health training; the department’s field training evaluation program; public information on civilian complaints; recruiting, hiring and promotions; officer mental health assistance; and a required staffing study. The self-reporting covers 61 of the 277 total paragraphs in the CASA.

Some of the measures are quantitative in nature. That is, they can be clearly measured in numbers. Other measures of compliance are qualitative. For example, to ensure APD recruits have a way to provide feedback during field training, the department must rely on recruit critiques to assess progress.

Another example involves APD’s coordination with a Mental Health Response Advisory Committee to develop crisis intervention training. To assess that, APD will look at the current training plans for crisis intervention procedures and report meeting minutes with the Mental Health Response Advisory Committee.

DOJ oversight not over

While the partial implementation of self monitoring shows progress towards reform, both the Department of Justice and the independent monitor will continue to be involved in police reform for the foreseeable future. There is no specific “end date” on the reform effort.

The independent monitor will continue to have access to all city and APD documents they need to continue reviewing progress on measures not turned over to self monitoring. For example, the independent monitor will continue to review APD’s use of force incidents to ensure that officers use verbal warnings and allow individuals to submit to arrest before resorting to using force.

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