Four years ago, on October 31, 2014 the City of Albuquerque entered into a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice after the Department of Justice (DOJ) found the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) displayed a “pattern and practice” in the use of excessive use of force and deadly force.
After the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) was signed, law enforcement consultant Dr. James Ginger, along with his team of consultants, was appointed by the Federal Court to monitor and audit the reform efforts of APD over a 4-year period at a cost of $4.5 million paid by the city.
The Federal Court Monitor contract will be up in the 2019 fiscal year.
Under the CASA, the federal monitor only has authority to audit APD’s progress and report to the federal court.
The Federal Monitor has absolutely no management nor command control over APD under the CASA.
Under the CASA, the Federal Monitor does not have the authority to write “use of force” and “deadly force” policy nor write policy reforms.
The CASA mandates that the parties to the lawsuit must write use of force and deadly force policy and implement the process for reporting, reviewing and investigating use of force and deadly force policy.
NO PROGRESS WRITING USE OF FORCE POLICY
On September 10, 2018, a status telephone conference call was held with the United States District Court Judge Robert Brack who is presiding over the reforms underway at APD under the CASA.
Ginger reported that the statistics he uses to audit, monitor and track progress show that APD has achieved 99.6 percent compliance with primary tasks, 75.4 secondary compliance and 59.5 percent operational compliance.
According to Ginger, it’s the first time APD has achieved above 50 percent operational compliance.
To complete the CASA and have the case dismissed, APD must reach and maintain 95% compliance in all three categories.
Ginger said those statistics will be in his next monitoring report, which will be released in November.
During the September 10, 2018 status conference, Federal Monitor James Ginger reported there remains a problem with the “use of force policy” when he said:
“I hate to be the one to rain on the parade, but I just simply have to report the facts.I received the latest use-of-force document, 2-52, from the parties last week.I found it lacking in multiple key aspects. It was missing key components. Issues that needed to be dealt with in a Use-of-Force Policy were not dealt with. I had questions about enforceability. So I’m working on writing the resolution document … I found it necessary to basically rewrite the policy. There were, at last count, 50-plus changes that I saw as needing to be made. So, it’s been a fairly complex process. Those have been made. They’re in draft form. As soon as I finish proofing that draft, it will go out to the parties immediately.”
COSTLY PUBLIC SAFETY EXPERTS
Including Federal Monitor James Ginger, there are now four civilians employed by the city writing and implementing APD “use of force” and “deadly force policies”, the DOJ reforms, and other APD policies at a minimum cost of $4,730,000 to taxpayers and counting.
The 3 additional public safety experts and policy writers are:
JUDGE LORENZO F. GARCIA
Judge Garcia is a retired federal magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico. Former Judge Garcia was hired by APD early in 2016 by the former Berry Administration to help write police policy even though he had no prior experience writing police policy. Judge Garcia was hired to help draft APD standard operating procedures after the city attorney acknowledge that the so called “inhouse experts” at APD consisting of high-ranking command staff were having difficulty and unable to write the policy. Judge Garcia has been paid $230,000 and word has it the Keller Administration renewed his contract, but his billings and work product have never been disclosed to the public.
JAMES B. LEWIS
On February 26, 2018, former New Mexico State Treasurer James Lewis was appointed by the Keller Administration as “Senior Public Safety Advisor” to oversee police reform and help implement community policing. Mr. Lewis is paid on contract $75,000 a year. Mr. Lewis is assigned to work for APD in the Albuquerque Police Department Compliance Bureau which deals with policy and his duties include helping with “the implementation and oversight of the Department of Justice mandated reforms” and working with the APD command staff.
On October 18, 2018, the Keller Administration announced that former U.S. Attorney for New Mexico Damon Martinez was hired full time to write police policy and is paid $118,000 a year. As US Attorney, Mr. Martinez was instrumental in leading the DOJ efforts to get the Albuquerque Police Department to agree to a reform effort and settlement agreement. Mr. Martinez recently ran for congress in the Democratic primary. Mr. Martinez will also serve as the department’s primary civilian liaison with the 2nd Judicial District Attorney, 2nd Judicial District Court, the District Court for the District of New Mexico, tasks that are normally a function of the City Attorney. Mr. Martinez is tasked with overseeing the development of strategic policies designed to improve APD’s ability to fight crime and ensure the successful prosecution of criminals.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
No rational has been reported on why Judge Lorenzo’s Garcia’s contract to write policy has been renewed nor any report given on what policy he has written over the last two years.
Both James B. Lewis and Damon Martinez are highly respected within the community, they are highly talented and possess managerial skills far superior to many of the appointments made by Mayor Tim Keller.
Both James Lewis and Damon Martinez have been relegated to positions far below their pay grades, talents and abilities with little authority given to them to have an impact other than for providing public relations.
Under the terms of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement, the federal court appointed monitor can only audit and report to the federal court on the reform process and cannot write any new policy, even though he has the expertise.
The rewriting of the “use of force” and “deadly force” and implementation and training is where the “rubber hits” the road and is the most critical purpose of the CASA.
Repeatedly over the last three years since his appointment, Federal Monitor James Ginger has said it is not his job to write the “use of force” and “deadly force policy” even though he has said privately he could do so very easily in short order and without difficulty.
The parties to the CASA have taken well over a year to negotiate the “use of force” and “deadly force” policy and the negotiations contributed to the significant delay in the implementation of the reforms.
Amazingly, Ginger reported to the Court on September 10, 2018 that he “received the latest use-of-force document, 2-52, from the parties last week. I found it lacking in multiple key aspects. It was missing key components. Issues that needed to be dealt with in a Use-of-Force Policy were not dealt with. I had questions about enforceability. So I’m working on writing the resolution document … I found it necessary to basically rewrite the policy.”
Ginger is now rewriting use of force and deadly force policy when the City and APD have hired high paid public safety experts and policy writers such as Judge Garcia, James Lewis and Damon Martinez, not to mention the highly cumbersome and elaborate process for writing and approving APD policy
The CASA is clear and unambiguous that the Federal Monitor does not have any management nor control over APD staff nor command staff.
Under the CASA, Ginger’s only court authority is gathering information from APD and auditing and reporting to the court.
With the cumbersome policy process outlined in the below postscript, it is a wonder that anything really gets done in writing new policy, yet the city taxpayer continues to be on the hook paying an enormous amount of money to people to write and implement policy for APD.
When Dr. Ginger’s next status report is released in November, perhaps the public will get a better idea how much longer the Federal Monitor will be around.
The next Federal monitors report should give an indication of how much longer we have to pay people outlandish salaries to write policy for APD and the command staff and to implement the DOJ reforms.
Given that fact that Ginger’s contract will soon be up for renewal, taxpayers can anticipate he will say APD needs more time and he will need more time and no doubt will want another $4.5 million and 4 more years to help write policy and to audit.
Given the City’s record for hiring people to write policy or implement the DOJ reforms, do not be surprised if another $4.7 million will be paid out over the next 3 years in contracts with even more “public safety experts” hired to convince the public something is being done to reform APD.
POSTSCRIPT ON USE OF FORCE POLICY DRAFTING
The Department of Justice Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) mandates a very elaborate and cumbersome process used to draft and approve new or revised APD standard operating procedure policy.
The process for developing APD policy, practices and procedure is essentially by committee and committee referrals.
The mandatory steps followed to draft APD policy under the Department of Justice Consent decree are as follows:
1. Existing standard operating procedure (SOP) goes to the Office of Policy Analysis (OPA) where all the stakeholders give input.
2. The Office of Policy Analysis (OPA) drafts new or revised SOP.
3. The new SOP goes to the “SOP Review Committee” and input is given by “subject matter” experts and a final draft of SOP is prepared and APD proposals are also considered.
4. The new SOP goes to the “Policy and Procedures Review Board” (PPRB) for review and they send it to
5. Office of Policy Analysis (OPA) for final review to ensure appropriateness and consistency with other APD Policy and then it is sent for
6. Review and approval by Chief of Police and City Attorney to see if it relates to the settlement agreement
7. If Chief and City Attorney do not approve, it goes back to step one, and the process starts all over again.
If the SOP is approved by Chief and City Attorney, it then must be reviewed and approved by all the parties to the lawsuit and consent decree.
8. The revised or new SOP goes to the federal monitor who must approve it and then it is sent to the federal judge for final approval.