Foolish Action Ignores Federal Court Order

An Albuquerque City Council committee has approved a bill aimed at “reforming” the Albuquerque Police Department by banning any APD involvement whatsoever in the investigation of officer involved shooting cases. (See Albuquerque Journal “Change to shooting probes endorsed; APD would be kept out of investigations”, Metro & NM section, page C-1)

Three years after the Department of Justice found a “culture of aggression” and after millions spent negotiating and implementing a federal consent decree, the City Council is now attempting to take the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) out of the equation when it comes to investigating its own deadly police shootings.

The Albuquerque City Council just ignores the fact that APD is operating under a Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

The Federal Court and the Federal Court Monitor have exclusive jurisdiction over APD.

You need to wonder if the City Councilors have even bothered to read the settlement agreement or know what is required of APD under it.

The City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Department no longer have the exclusive authority to change APD policy and they must seek approval of the federal monitor and the federal court.

The changes being proposed by the City Council in all likelihood will result in placing the City in violation of the Department of Justice Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

The settlement agreement covers precisely how APD is to report and investigate “use of force” and “lethal force that cause serious bodily injury or death” cases.

The CASA defines “lethal force” and “serious use of force” and mandates that APD develop a constitutional “use of force policy” and then implement that policy.

There are at least four levels of review of use of force and lethal use of force cases under the settlement agreement:
1. A supervisory investigation
2. A use of force investigation by APD Internal Affairs
3. An investigation by the Use of Force Review Board set up under CASA
4. An investigation by the Multi Jurisdictional Task Force

Included in the settlement agreement is the exact process and the requirements of how APD is to conduct the Supervisory Investigation, the Internal Affairs Investigation, and the requirements of the Use of Force Review Board.

The settlement goes even further and is very specific and mandates and requires that APD participate, cooperate and be involved with the Multi Agency Task Force that is called in after a police officer involved shooting resulting in death.

The Multi Agency Task Force has personnel from at least four law enforcement agencies involved with the final investigation that is eventually turned over to a prosecuting agency.

There is no doubt that the changes proposed by Councilor Davis will in all likely result in placing the City in violation of the Department of Justice Court Approved settlement agreement.

Maybe the City Councilors will learn and understand the meaning of Federal Court Order and get the message when the City and APD are found in contempt of a Federal Court Order.

This entry was posted in Opinions by . Bookmark the permalink.


Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.