On September 2, 2021, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) Compliance and Oversight Division filed its “14th Progress and Status Summary Report” in the case brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the city and APD for excessive use of force and deadly force. The 14th Progress report was prepared by the Albuquerque Police Department Compliance and Oversight Division.
The report is APD’s version on the progress made in the 3 compliance levels of the settlement and to document the 13th Independent Monitor’s Report (IMR), the Independent Monitoring Team’s (IMT) recommendations, APD’s actions in response to the IMT recommendations, individual paragraph compliance status, and other efforts. The 14th Progress report covers the period February 1 to July 31, 2021.
This blog article is a summary of the major highlights of the 14th report. It should not be considered as all inclusive. The link to the full 208-page 14th progress report can be found here:
Compliance with the Court Approve Settlement is measured on 3 levels: primary, secondary, and operational. The 3 compliance levels audited for compliance are:
1. PRIMARY COMPLIANCE: Primary compliance is the “policy” part of compliance. To attain primary compliance, APD must have in place operational policies and procedures designed to guide officers, supervisors and managers in the performance of the tasks outlined in the CASA. As a matter of course, the policies must be reflective of the requirements of the CASA; must comply with national standards for effective policing policy; and must demonstrate trainable and evaluable policy components.
2. SECONDARY COMPLIANCE: Secondary compliance is attained by implementing supervisory, managerial and executive practices designed to and be effective in implementing the policy as written, e.g., sergeants routinely enforce the policies among field personnel and are held accountable by managerial and executive levels of the department for doing so. By definition, there must be operational reports, disciplinary records, remands to retraining, follow-up, and revisions to policies if necessary, indicating that the policies developed in the first stage of compliance are known to, followed by, and important to supervisory and managerial levels of the department.
3. OPERATIONAL COMPLIANCE: Operational compliance is attained at the point that the adherence to policies is apparent in the day-to-day operation of the agency e.g., line personnel are routinely held accountable for compliance, not by the monitoring staff, but by their sergeants, and sergeants are routinely held accountable for compliance by their lieutenants and command staff. In other words, the APD “owns” and enforces its policies.
At the end of the February 1, 2021 to July 31, 2021 reporting period, APD’s compliance levels were:
Primary Compliance: 100% with no changed from the 12th monitors report
Secondary Compliance: 82%, a loss of 9.9% from the 91% reported 12th monitors report
Operational Compliance: 59%, a loss of 7.8% from the 64% reported 12th monitors report
Primary Compliance relates mostly to development and implementation of acceptable policies and conforming to national practices and APD is now in 100% primary compliance. APD is now in 82% Secondary Compliance down from 91%, which means that effective follow-up mechanisms are beginning to be taken to ensure that APD personnel understand the requirements of promulgated policies in the areas of training, supervising, coaching, and disciplinary processes to ensure APD personnel understand the policies as promulgated and are capable of implementing them in the field. APD is in 59% operational compliance down from 64%, which means that 59% of the time, field personnel either perform tasks as required by the CASA, or that, when they fail, supervisory personnel note and correct in-field behavior that is not compliant with the requirements of the CASA.
EXTERNAL FORCE INVESTIGATION TEAM
In February 2021, a joint motion was filed with the Federal Court establishing a temporary External Force Investigation Team (EFIT) to assist APD in conducting quality and timely investigations of Level 2 and Level 3 uses of force by APD officers. In April 2021, the city advertised a Request for Letters of Interest outlining requirements for potential vendors, worked closely with the Department of Justice in the selection process, and selected a vendor. EFIT is designed to assist, evaluate and provide guidance to the Internal Affairs Force Division personnel. EFIT’s work will be evaluated in the same manner as APD by the Independent Monitoring Team (IMT) and DOJ for the duration of the contract term. The EFIT became fully operational on July 16, 2021, and will continue at least through April, 2022.
MAYOR APPOINTS CHIEF OF POLICE AND THE SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE REFORM/DEPUTY CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER APPPOINTED
In March 2021, Mayor Tim Keller appointed two executive positions to oversee the Albuquerque Police Department. Acting APD Chief Harold Medina was made permanent and Sylvester Stanley was appointed the Chief of Police and the Superintendent of Police Reform/Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (Superintendent). APD Chief Harold Medina retired as a commander from APD in 2014, became Chief of Police in the Pueblo of Laguna and returned back to APD in 2017 as the Deputy Chief of Police over the Field Services Bureau and then appointed First Deputy Chief. Superintendent Sylvester Stanley is a four-time police chief who is responsible for key pieces of the CASA reform effort. The Superintendent oversees the following at APD:
Training Academy Division
The Internal Affairs Professional Standards Division
Internal Affairs Force Division
Crisis Intervention Division and Behavioral Health Section
APD TRAINING ACADEMY AND COMPREHENSIVE TRAINING UNIT
Training is a necessary component and training equals secondary compliance for measurable paragraphs throughout the CASA.
According to the report. APD has made significant progress by transforming leadership at the Training Academy. After restructuring the Department to put the Training Academy under the Superintendent of Police Reform in March 2021, APD hired two key personnel into the Training Academy. Those positions are:
1. The Training Academy commander and
2. The Training Academy curriculum development manager.
In May 2021, an experienced, civilian educator was hired to manage the Comprehensive Training Unit (CTU) which is responsible for all APD curricula. The curriculum development manager earned a Ph.D. in political science and has over 11 years of experience in education as a trainer and in the development and design of training.
In July 2021, APD hired the commander of the Training Academy Division. The Training Academy commander retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and served as both the deputy director and assistant director of the FBI Academy the last 3 years.
USE OF FORCE TRAINING AND USE OF FORCE INVESTIGATIONS
According to APD, it has made significant progress in Tier 4 Use of Force training.
“APD did not complete Tier 4 Use of Force training in 2020, resulting in a decrease in compliance rates for numerous, interrelated paragraphs. Tier 4 is comprised of two days of training. The first day of Tier 4, Use of Force training was approved by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Independent Monitoring Team (IMT) in February, 2021. Training began in March 2021 and completed in May 2021 with a compliance rate of 98%. The second day of Tier 4 training was approved by the DOJ and IMT in July 2021, which is currently being delivered to all sworn officers and expected to be completed by December 2021, meeting the annual use of force training requirement.”
A major problem area identified by the monitor in his 13 monitor’s report was failed progress in Use of Force Investigation. According to APD, it has made significant progress with Use of Force investigations. APD reported that In April 2021, it continued to improve the process of tracking policy violations relating to use of force investigations. To ensure use of force reviews are consistently factored into supervisor’s performance evaluations, APD included an additional evaluation process. Based on available data, the process includes the verification of employee performance documents reviews by commanders to confirm any violations related to Use of Force standard operating procedures.
Review and investigation by department personnel are documented within officer performance evaluations. This is needed to ensure the quality of supervisory work is evaluated and documented. APD expressed to the Court and the Independent Monitoring Team the need to clarify the use of progressive discipline and abeyance. Because of that concern, APD took major steps clarify the use of progressive discipline during the 14th monitoring period.
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE DISCIPLINE SYSTEM REVISED
SOP 3-46 is a CASA-related policy that APD recognizes as having a significant impact on personnel, establishing requirements for progressive discipline and the use of abeyance as recommended. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 3-46 Discipline System was revised and published in July 2021. On multiple occasions, APD worked with both the Independent Monitoring Team and DOJ in this policy’s revision, accepting feedback and making the necessary changes to develop a stronger policy.
According to APD’s report, it has worked diligently on an early intervention system since 2018 and believes the department has come a long way in the development of an in-house system while APD continues with an outside vendor to tailor an early intervention system to meet the department’s needs and requirements. The “Pareto Principle Method”, or 80/20 Rule, which means that 80% of successes or failures are caused by the actions of 20% of employees.
In February 2021 the method was approved by the monitoring team as the statistical application that will be used to measure both acceptable and unacceptable behaviors from officers as outlined in the CASA. The Performance Evaluation and Management System (PEMS) training plan was approved by the Independent Monitoring Team and the DOJ. Training began in August 2021, and is scheduled to be completed in December 2021.
ETHICAL POLICING IS COURAGEOUS PROGRAM (EPIC)
APD has continued with the Ethical Policing is Courageous (EPIC) program, which was brought to APD by the New Orleans Police Department in 2019. During this reporting period, APD experienced numerous known examples of EPIC through APD employee interventions. EPIC has evolved into the Active Bystander for Law Enforcement (ABLE) project, which trains officers to support peer intervention. ABLE aims to create a police culture in which officers routinely intervene to prevent misconduct, avoid police mistakes, and promote officer health and wellness.
In July 2021, APD was accepted as a member of the ABLE project. Members of the APD executive staff attend an ABLE conference in August 2021. Additionally, , APD participated in ABLE’s train-the-trainer session by sending five officers to become ABLE instructors in order to train APD employees.
SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER AWARDS
In July, 2021, APD was awarded two national School Resource Officer (SRO) awards. An APD SRO is a department officer assigned to a local high school working in a community-oriented policing capacity. They work with students, teachers, school administrators, and typically are assigned to one or more schools. APD earned the “Model SRO Program of the Year Award”, which annually recognizes SRO programs that made specific and significant contributions to their local communities and school districts. In addition, an APD officer earned the “SRO of the Year Award”. The officer was nominated by the principal for Manzano High School for the officer’s years of engagement and carrying out duties that kept the youth and staff alike safe.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT EFFORTS
Community engagement efforts continued through numerous collaborations with a cross section of community members and organizations. APD instituted an Ambassador Unit, which is designed to facilitate clear, consistent lines of communication between the department and different groups within the community who have not previously had a voice with law enforcement. The program represents a commitment to find solutions that work for the Albuquerque community to focus on the dual challenges of crime and meaningful reform.
The City’s Office of Equity and Inclusion provided two intensive trainings to officers assigned as Ambassadors and introduced them to community organizations that serve specific populations to help build relationships. The Ambassadors work with Native American, African American, Hispanic, Asian, Refugee, LGBTQI, Faith, Senior Citizen, Veteran, and Americans with Disabilities communities.
WELLNESS PROGRAM FOR POLICE
APD Behavioral Sciences Section teamed up with the APD Training Academy Wellness Program, the City of Albuquerque Wellness Program, APD Peer Support, and APD Chaplains to build a comprehensive wellness program. APD’s goal is to have a wide range of easily accessible mental, emotional, and physical health and wellness resources. Mindfulness and resilience training is a component dedicated to the wellness of police officers and their families. This comprehensive wellness program aims to encourage officers to seek professional help when dealing with the complexity of the profession.
APD contracted with Benchmark Analytics in January of 2020 to design and tailor a management system across eight areas of focus:
1. Personnel Management
2. Use of Force, Internal Affairs
3. Early Intervention System
4. Supervision and Performance Evaluations
5. Community Engagement & Outreach, and
APD continues to work with the City of Albuquerque Department of Technology and Innovation and Benchmark Analytics to move this project forward. Testing for the Personnel Management and Internal Affairs modules is scheduled for the third quarter of 2021. Further data mapping and module development continues for Use of Force, Early Intervention, Supervision and Performance Evaluations.
The Training module is scheduled to begin development in September 2021, followed by the Community Engagement and Outreach module. APD remains dedicated to improving the department’s overall operations and meeting the requirements outlined in the CASA. The City will continue to work with the IMT and the DOJ, taking key steps towards operational compliance.
USE OF FORCE TRAINING
At the end of the last reporting period, APD presented the IMT with a plan to address the use of force training requirements. The Tier 4 training for all sworn officers was approved by the monitoring team and the DOJ. The first day of Tier 4 training was completed in May 2021 and the second day of Tier 4 training is scheduled to be completed in December 2021. The Academy was granted four temporary instructor positions to ensure adequate staffing for Tier 4 Use of Force training delivery.
CIVILIAN CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
In May 2021, APD Academy hired an experienced civilian curriculum development manager. Since her start, she has led new strategies to meet curriculum design, development timelines, and tracking requirements. She has also created a new method for tracking courses in development which delivers daily status of lesson plans for the monitoring team, APD personnel, and the DOJ. APD also hired a new curriculum training manager in June 2021, to oversee the curriculum specialists who collaborate with Department personnel who carry significant training responsibilities on the 7-Step curriculum development process. Courses continue to be developed and delivered to Academy personnel.
SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE REFORM
In March 2021, the Mayor appointed a Superintendent of Police Reform/Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, and assigned the 2nd Deputy Chief for the Police Reform Bureau under that command. This command structure includes Internal Affairs Professional Standards Division (IAPS), Internal Affairs Force Division (IAFD), Behavioral Health Section, Training Academy Division, and the Crisis Intervention Division. The APD Training Academy developed and published an online training calendar which delivers real time updates to the academy schedule, the associated CASA paragraphs, and what aspects of training are impacted. The monitoring team and DOJ have access to the training calendar.
SPECIAL OPERATIONS DIVISION K9 HOME KENNEL INSPECTIONS
The Special Operations Division (SOD) K9 home kennel inspections were instituted to document the condition of the home environment to ensure the safety and security of the canine animal. Home visits will be conducted by a supervisor, bi-annually for every handler. The Special Investigations Division (SID) continues to utilize written operational plans, Risk Assessment Matrix (RAMs), and After Action Reviews (AARs) to examine the need to involve the SOD Tactical Units, to communicate any risks, hazards, or high-risk situations and threats.
SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS DIVISION AND THE SPECIAL OPERATIONS DIVISION
The Special Investigations Division and the Special Operations Division continue to work well together to improve overall operations between the two divisions. SOP 3-46, Discipline System, was revised and published in July 2021. APD worked well with both the monitoring team and DOJ in this policy’s revision, accepting feedback and making the necessary changes to develop a stronger policy. SOP 3-46 is a CASA-related policy the department recognizes as having a significant impact on personnel, establishing requirements for progressive discipline and the use of abeyance as recommended.
APD continued to improve the process of tracking policy violations relating to the use of force investigations. To ensure use of force reviews are consistently factored into supervisor’s performance evaluations, an evaluation process is occurring. Based on available data, the process will verify employee performance documents are reviewed by commanders to confirm any violations related to SOP 2-57 Use of Force – Review and Investigation by Department Personnel, are documented within the evaluation.
The evaluation process includes a determination as to whether a policy violation was documented within the evaluation, and if not, that an internal affairs request was submitted and that the supervisor identified how the policy violation was addressed. A pre-determined percentage of documents are reviewed each month and the parameters for repeat violations and progressive discipline will be included in the overall process.
The Pareto Principle was approved by the Independent Monitoring Team in February 2021 as the statistical application that will be used to measure both acceptable and unacceptable behaviors from officers as defined in the settlement agreement. The Performance Evaluation and Management System (PEMS) training plan was approved by the Independent Monitoring Team and DOJ. Training will begin in August 2021, scheduled to be completed in December 2021.
APD collects a massive amount of data and is working with the DOJ to operationalize the data in a meaningful way. An organization-wide data gap analysis report and assessment conducted by AH Datalytics on behalf of the DOJ was approved and conducted; the finding were reported in the Albuquerque Police Department Gap Analysis report in January 2021 (See Appendix 1). Recommendations from the report included: to apply data and analytics to identify problems and develop solutions, use data to inform how resources are allocated, and create a change management process to guide APD through the transition. APD continues to work regularly with AH Datalytics and the DOJ to address the recommendations outlined in the gap analysis.
FORCE CLASSIFICATION PROCEDURES
APD agrees to develop and implement force classification procedures that include at least three categories of types of force that will determine the force review or investigation required. The categories or types of force shall be based on the level of force used and the risk of injury or actual injury from the use of force. The goal is to promote greater efficiency and reduce burdens on first-line supervisors, while optimizing critical investigative resources on higher-risk uses of force.
The levels of force are defined as follow:
A. LEVEL 1 is force that is likely to cause only transitory pain, disorientation, or discomfort during its application as a means of gaining compliance. This includes techniques which are not reasonably expected to cause injury, do not result in actual injury, and are not likely to result in a complaint of injury (i.e., pain compliance techniques and resisted handcuffing). Pointing a firearm, beanbag shotgun, or 40 millimeter launcher at a subject, or using an ECW to “paint” a subject with the laser sight, as a show of force are reportable as Level 1 force. Level 1 force does not include interaction meant to guide, assist, or control a subject who is offering minimal resistance.
B. LEVEL 2 is force that causes injury, could reasonably be expected to cause injury, or results in a complaint of injury. Level 2 force includes use of an ECW, including where an ECW is fired at a subject but misses; use of a beanbag shotgun or 40 millimeter launcher, including where it is fired at a subject but misses; OC Spray application; empty hand techniques (i.e., strikes, kicks, takedowns, distraction techniques, or leg sweeps); and strikes with impact weapons, except strikes to the head, neck, or throat, which would be considered a Level 3 use of force.
C. LEVEL 3 is force that results in, or could reasonably result in, serious physical injury, hospitalization, or death. Level 3 force includes all lethal force; critical firearms discharges; all head, neck, and throat strikes with an object; neck holds; canine bites; three or more uses of an ECW on an individual during a single interaction regardless of mode or duration or an ECW application for longer than 15 seconds, whether continuous or consecutive; four or more strikes with a baton; any strike, blow, kick, ECW application, or similar use of force against a handcuffed subject; and uses of force resulting in a loss of consciousness.
MULTI-AGENCY TASK FORCE
APD shall continue to participate in the Multi-Agency Task Force, pursuant to its Memorandum of Understanding, in order to conduct criminal investigations of at least the following types of force or incidents:
1. Officer-involved shootings;
2. Serious uses of force as defined by the Memorandum of Understanding;
3. In-custody deaths; and iv. other incidents resulting in death at the discretion of the Chief.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The Federal Monitor’s 14th Independent Federal Monitor’s report is due to be filed in November, 2021. When it is filed it will mark a 7 full years that the City and APD have been operating under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement and have been struggling to implement the 271 reforms. As has been the case with all what the Keller Administration does, public relations reigns supreme over reporting bad news. Only until the 14th Federal monitors’ report is filed will the court and public actually know for sure if the “14th Progress and Status Summary Report” prepared by the APD Compliance and Oversight Division was written more to make APD look better than it really is when it comes to the reforms.
The link to a related blog article is here:
US Attorney General Garland Announces New Rules For Federal Monitoring Of Consent Decrees; City And APD React; Police Union President Shoots Off Big Mouth