On February 4, 2021 Channel 7 did a “Target 7” investigation report highlighting the court approved Federal Monitor Dr. James Ginger and his company Public Management Resources. The report was fixated on what the city has paid over the last 6 years for the auditing of APD’s progress with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) reforms. The Target 7 investigation reported the city has extended the original 4-year contract and the Federal monitor has been paid $7.5 million for 6 years of work by the monitoring team.
The link to the entire Target 7 report is here:
The Target 7 Report said the city has incurred “other costs associated with the agreement totaling $20 million.” The city provided Target 7 documents showing the cost of reforming APD thus far is $20-million. The Target7 report did not make it clear that the $20 million did not go directly to the federal monitor but was used by APD to add more staff, and more equipment. The $20 million was spent by APD on APD police training in constitutional policing practices, mandatory crisis intervention techniques and de-escalation tactics and re writing of new use of force and deadly force policies and APD personnel required to oversee the reform process and Internal Affairs functions.
Quoting the Channel 7 Report:
“Target 7 went to the city’s online checkbook and found during the original 4-year contract Ginger’s company made about $4.5 million. Over the past two years, he had made about $3 million. The city attorney says Ginger wanted more money because more work needed to be done.”
City Attorney Estaban Aguilar had this to say:
“We went back and negotiated as best as we can but ultimately at the end of the day all of those expenses are ordered by the court,”.
Under Ginger’s contract, the city can challenge his fees, but the City has never done that, not even once. …
[T]he city is now paying Ginger’s company $1.5 dollars a year, according to the city’s online records. One requirement of his job is to write quarterly reports after reviewing instances of use of force within the department and grades the progress.”
Target 7 did not report that Ginger has prepared 12 Federal Monitors Reports over the last 6 years and that are well over 300 pages long. The reports contain case studies and goes paragraph by paragraph of the 107-page court approved settlement agreement and provides data on each of the 271 reforms and the progress made.
TARGET 7 INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER SEEKS MONITOR’S POSITION
Target 7 boldly dispatched its Investigative Reporter T.J. Wilham to track down Dr. Ginger and to interview him in the traditional “no advance warning” style such as Target 7 reporters are known for. T.J. Wilham worked as a reporter for a number of years for the Albuquerque Journal, then quite to go to work for Republican Mayor RJ Berry as a spokesperson and then was appointed as Director of the APD Real Time Crime Center. Within one year after Mayor Keller was elected, Wilham left the city with confidential sources saying he was asked to leave and he then went to work for Channel 7 as its “Investigative Producer.”
Quoting the Channel 7 report:
“Target 7 wanted to know why APD wasn’t making progress. Producers and reporters have gone to the address for Ginger’s company listed on his website dedicated to the settlement agreement. The office is actually located inside a city-owned senior center. There are no signs on the door.
When someone answered a Target 7 producer was told “I don’t know what that is.” Workers at the office complex said they were aware of employees who worked there for the independent monitor, but they weren’t there. A person answering a follow-up phone call said the office is only open to the public by appointment only.
Ginger did call Target 7 the Next day. He didn’t say much but pointed producers to a line in the agreement with the city that prohibits him from speaking with reporters.
“Any press or public statement made by the Monitor regarding its employment or monitoring activities under this Agreement shall first be approved by DOJ and the city,” the agreement says.”
COMMENTARY: Target 7 Sending a reporter and producer to the Monitor’s office without making an appointment or contacting him before to interview him and get on camera interview is a classic and worn out ambush tactic used by local investigative reporters such as Target 7. Target 7 did not have to interview the monitor to get his opinion or comment. Target 7 could have read any one of the Monitor’s 12 reports to get his thoughts and opinions for the delay in implementing the reforms. Target 7 failed to quote a single Monitor’s Report on his findings which are clearly the Monitor’s comments in writing and submitted to the Federal Court and made a part of the court docket on the case.
AUDITING THE MONITOR
According to the Target 7, it claims its investigation revealed 3 city councilors a few years ago wanted to know who was monitoring the monitor as if it was a major revelation. Those who have been following the federal case and CASA reforms were fully aware of the city councilors request.
To quote the Target 7 report:
“That audit never happened, even though $25,000 was earmarked for the project. Target 7 asked the two city councilors who called for the audit why it was not performed and they said the federal judge delivered them a message through their attorney. Former city Councilor Brad Winter had this to say:
“[The judge] said ‘I can’t stop you from doing the audit but there could be consequences … So at that point, everyone advised us it would be better not to do the audit.” Target 7 pulled up transcripts from a court hearing in which the judge said he was not pleased with the city’s plans for an audit. He told the monitor in court quote “I don’t want to have too much of your time and energy spent looking sideways when we have so much ground to cover going forward.”
Channel 7’s report was misleading. It failed to report that the transcripts of the court hearing it reviewed was a hearing conducted by Federal District Court Judge Brack to whom the case was originally assigned to and who is now retired. The case has for the past few years has been assigned to Federal District Court Judge James Browning. Target 7 failed to ascertain Judge Browning’s position on a city audit of the Monitor.
CITY RESPONDS TO TARGET 7
Target 7 interviewed City Attorney Estaban Aguilar and asked him about the monitors latest report that says APD “failed miserably in its ability to police itself.” Aguilar had this to say:
“I disagree with the adjectives use with the court but there is no disagreement with the data.”
According to the Target 7 Report, the city attorney says his contract will be extended because a monitor has to oversee the reform until compliance is reached–so what will he be paid?
“We haven’t started having those discussions yet,” Aguilar said.
Republican City Council Don Harris piled on and told Target 7:
“I am trying to sound the alarm here that we are in year 6 of a 4 year contract. … In the self-interest he has is to find fault to keep the city’s checkbook open.”
COMMENTARY: Target 7 never asked Harris why he is questioning the Monitors billings now. Don Harris was on the City Council 6 years ago when the Department of Justice found a culture of aggression within APD that resulted in the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). Don Harris did absolutely nothing when it comes to the APD reforms and never challenged the APD command staff in any meaningful way demanding compliance with the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree reforms.
Each of the 12 times the Federal Monitor presented his critical reports of APD to the City Council, Harris was nowhere to be found and has been silent and has declined to demand accountability from Mayors Berry and Keller. Harris failed to hold the APD command staff responsible for dragging their feet on the reforms. Harris has not attended any of the federal court hearings on the consent decree. It’s doubtful Harris has even bothered to read even one of the 12 Federal Monitors reports given his reputation being lazy and lack of attention and involvement in the process.
POLICE UNION RESPONDS TO TARGET 7
To quote the Target 7 report:
“Target 7 contacted APOA president Shaun Willoughby, the union that represents police officers for comment. Willoughby worried about the time and money spent on one man’s company and told Target 7:
“I think that’s an incredible amount of money that is that is on the shoulders of our taxpayers. … According to my opinion working here … I think we are another six years away from accomplishing this goal.”
The court order governs what happens and someone, whether Ginger and his company or someone new, someone will continue to get paid until the Albuquerque Police Department lives up to the changes agreed to in the settlement with the department of justice.”
UNION PRESIDENT RELIABLE TARGET 7 “ON CAMERA” SOURCE
Willoughby’s comments should come as no surprise to anyone especially Target 7. Its common knowledge that certain Channel 7 reporters have an extreme bias in favor of police and the union with Willoughby being their “go to guy” to speak negatively about the Keller Administration and the federal court consent decree. Willoughby in the past has gone as far as to blame the increase in the City’s violent crime and murder rates on the Department of Justice reforms.
It was on January 28, 2021, KOAT TV asked APD Union President Shaun Willoughby to react to the number of homicides in January. Not at all surprising, Willoughby blamed the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree for the city’s violent crime and murder rates and told Channel 7:
“This should be no surprise to anybody in this community. We had a staggering number of homicides last year we had record-breaking number of homicides the year before. … Violent crime increases at an alarming rate in this community. We have for the last six years and I’ll be the first to tell you it’s not getting better and anybody that says it is not telling you the truth. … the department has become more reactive to crime, than proactive. … We’re focused on the DOJ consent decree instead of fighting crime.”
ACLU REPONDS TO TARGET 7
APD Forward includes 19 organizations who have affiliated with each other in an effort to reform APD and implement the DOJ consent reforms. Members of APD Forward include Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless, American Civil Liberties, Bernalillo County Community Health Council, Common Cause New Mexico, Disability Rights New Mexico, Equality New Mexico, League of Women Voters of Central New, Mexico New Mexico Conference of Churches, New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU is considered the main member to speak for the organization.
When target 7 asked Peter Simonson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, about Ginger’s hiring by the city he had this to say:
“He was by far and away the best applicant for this role that the city received.”
As for who should be blamed for the delay in the reforms, Simonson said:
“All of the blame for the lack of progress land squarely with the city there’s no evidence none whatsoever to suggest that Doctor Ginger has moved the goalposts in any way. ”
Simonson was not asked about the role of the APD union and their delay and obstruction tactics. More than one of the 19 organizations that make up APD Forward have been critical of the union.
Simonson went on to tell Target 7 that it’s a worthy investment saying the price of the monitor is saving taxpayers money because the city will ultimately save money on settlement costs from people and families shot by police.
Simonson put it this way:
“We should invest millions of dollars in getting that done this department has you know a long history and many cycles of violence within the community and we still haven’t corrected it yet this is the opportunity to finally get the department that Albuquerque deserves.”
FEDERAL COURT APPOINTED MONITOR HAS NO AUTHORITY OVER APD
The entire Target 7 Investigation report leads the impression that the Federal Court Appointed Monitor has a degree of management, control and authority over the APD. The Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) is clear that the Federal Monitor’s authority is limited to preparing reports and does not assume the role and duties of APD.
Paragraphs 294 and 295 of the CASA are worth noting:
A. Independent Monitor
294. The Parties will jointly select an Independent Monitor (“Monitor”) who will assess and report whether the requirements of this Agreement have been implemented, and whether this implementation is resulting in high-level, quality service; officer safety and accountability; effective, constitutional policing; and increased community trust of APD.
295. The Monitor shall only have the duties, responsibilities, and authority conferred by this Agreement. The Monitor shall not, and is not intended to, replace or assume the role and duties of APD, including the Chief or any other City official. The Monitor shall be subject to the supervision and orders of the Court, consistent with this Agreement and applicable law.
The Federal Monitor’s lack of authority over APD has contributed substantially to the problem of systematic failure of the CASA, especially having no authority to write policy and no authority to remove and appoint personnel and issue appropriate orders and commands to sworn personnel.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The Target 7 Report failed miserably in its investigation report to determine and report the truth as to the cause of the delay in implementing all the reforms. After 6 years under the consent decree, this is the first so called “investigative report” Target 7 has ever done on the consent decree and the reforms. It cannot be recalled if Channel 7 Reporter Nancy Laflin or Target 7 Investigative Report Producer T.J. Wilham has ever attended any of the day long court hearings on the CASA and it is unknown if they have even read any of the monitor’s 12 reports.
Its laughable when Target 7 reports:
“Producers and reporters have gone to the address for Ginger’s company listed on his website dedicated to the settlement agreement. … When someone answered a Target 7 producer was told “I don’t know what that is. … Ginger did call Target 7 the Next day. He didn’t say much but pointed producers to a line in the agreement with the city that prohibits him from speaking with reporters.”
The truth is that Target 7 did not have to interview Ginger. The Target 7 report reflected a level of laziness typical of local news reporting. The answer to Target 7 questions as to why APD has not made progress with all the reforms and the reason for the delay are contained in Court hearing transcripts and in the 10th and 12th Monitors reports. At a minimum, Target 7 should have quoted the transcripts or the monitor’s reports and there was no need of an on camera interview with Monitor James Ginger.
For that reason, past comments made by Ginger and his reports are worth repeating.
APD ON BRINK OF A CATASTROPHIC FAILURE
On Friday, October 6, 2020 Federal Monitor Ginger told the Federal District Court Judge James Browning overseeing the DOJ reform effort:
“We are on the brink of a catastrophic failure at APD. … [The department] has failed miserably in its ability to police itself. … If this were simply a question of leadership, I would be less concerned. But it’s not. It’s a question of leadership. It’s a question of command. It’s a question of supervision. And it’s a question of performance on the street. So as a monitor with significant amount of experience – I’ve been doing this since the ’90s – I would have to be candid with the Court and say we’re in more trouble here right now today than I’ve ever seen.”
12th FEDERAL MONITOR’S REPORT
On November 2, 2020, the Federal Court Appointed Monitor filed with the Federal Court his 12th Compliance Audit Report of APD. The report covers the twelfth-monitoring period of February 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020. The 12th Federal Monitors’ report contains a summary that highlights major deficiencies that have set back compliance levels resulting in the delay of the reforms.
For at least the 4th time, the monitor reported that the “Counter Casa” effect was interfering with APD accomplishing the implementing the CASA reforms. According to the 12th report:
“[The federal monitor] identified strong under currents of Counter-CASA effects in some critical units on APD’s critical path related to CASA compliance. These include supervision at the field level; mid-level command in both operational and administrative functions, [including] patrol operations, internal affairs practices, disciplinary practices, training, and force review). Supervision, [the] sergeants and lieutenants, and mid-level command, [the commanders] remain one of the most critical weak links in APD’s compliance efforts.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: It was on September 10, 2018, during a status telephone conference call with the US District Court Judge that Federal Monitor Dr. James Ginger first told the federal court that a group of “high-ranking APD officers” within APD were thwarting the reform efforts. The Federal Monitor revealed that the group of “high-ranking APD officers” were APD sergeants and lieutenants who are management but yet allowed to join the union.
In his 10th report Federal Monitor Ginger states:
“Sergeants and lieutenants, at times, go to extreme lengths to excuse officer behaviors that clearly violate established and trained APD policy, using excuses, deflective verbiage, de minimis comments and unsupported assertions to avoid calling out subordinates’ failures to adhere to established policies and expected practice. Supervisors (sergeants) and mid-level managers (lieutenants) routinely ignore serious violations, fail to note minor infractions, and instead, consider a given case “complete” … “Some members of APD continue to resist actively APD’s reform efforts, including using deliberate counter-CASA processes. For example … Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) disciplinary timelines, appear at times to be manipulated by supervisory, management and command levels at the area commands, letting known violations lie dormant until timelines for discipline cannot be met.”
The 12th Federal Monitors’ report states:
“During this reporting period, the monitoring team often found in its reviews of management and oversight practices, a near myopathy at APD when it comes to assessing actions in the field against the requirements of APD policy and the CASA. Supervisors and command level personnel have a deleterious tendency to ignore the requirements of policy and training, and at times to even support processes to hide or circumvent internal systems designed to ensure compliance to established policy.
Even more importantly, Tier 4 training and required annual training processes are at or near atrophy at APD. When a major police organization can “forget” to plan for annual training processes and no one notices except the monitoring team, there are serious, meaningful, and near terminal problems with leadership at the training command level, and at the executive oversight and control level.
When a major … CASA-critical command such as Internal Affairs can allow union representatives to hijack internal investigations and can allow officers to respond to salient , and reasonable, fact-finding questions by simply reading a … statement … into the record, as opposed to answering questions posed, there are serious and near terminal problems with process, policy enforcement, and outcome factors. “
“[The monitoring team] have no doubt that many of the instances of non-compliance we see currently in the field are a matter of “will not,” instead of “cannot”! The monitoring team expected there would be a period of time during which mistakes were made while applying the new policies and training, but issues we continue to see transcend innocent errors and instead speak to issues of cultural norms yet to be addressed and changed by APD leadership.”
During the reporting period we encountered system-wide failures related to the oversight of force used by APD officers and supervisory and command review of those uses of force. The monitoring team has been critical of the Force Review Board (FRB), citing its past ineffectiveness and its failing to provide meaningful oversight for APD’s use of force system. The consequences are that APD’s FRB, and by extension APD itself, endorses questionable, and sometimes unlawful, conduct by its officers.
Still evident are systemic failures that allow questionable uses of force and misconduct to survive without being addressed in any meaningful way”.
“APD’s compliance efforts have exhibited serious shortfalls during the … reporting period. These range from critical shortfalls in management and oversight of the APD Training Academy, significant and deleterious failures relating to oversight and discipline; and executive-level failures regarding oversight, command and control, discipline, supervision, and training.
“During the reporting period [of] February through July 2020, virtually all of these failures can be traced back to leadership failures at the top of the organization. During the past two reporting periods, the monitor has provided more direct technical assistance, advice, high-level problem identification, mid-level problem-solving processes, and executive-level consultation than was provided in any of the monitor’s previous monitoring experiences. Each of our reports is accompanied by an exhaustive list of recommendations for improvement in any CASA compliance area that was not found in compliance. Those lists of recommendations detail hundreds of process improvement designs. The vast majority of these recommendations appear to have been filed away, rather than actualized.” (Page 3.)
Since the inception of this monitoring process in 2015, we have been as open and honest as possible with APD executive leadership and have never noted a problem at APD without following up with suggestions regarding how APD might best address that problem. At this stage of the process most of those discussions at the executive level have fallen on deaf ears. After six years of suggestions, recommendations, and problem-solving meetings, … as of the end of the … reporting period, much remains to be done.
To be perfectly clear, based on the monitor’s experience with these projects, [which] dates back to the 1990s, APD is on a path that reflects deliberate indifference to the requirements of the CASA. We highly recommend that the City take direct steps to put APD on an alternate trajectory regarding compliance efforts. … .
The Target 7 report boldly proclaimed it wanted to know why APD wasn’t making progress with all the reforms and the reason for the delay. Simply put, the Target 7 report was a miserable failure in it’s announced intended goals. The Target 7 report on the Federal Monitor was nothing more than a typical “hit job” in search of a scandal. Target 7 found no scandal it wanted to report on and no doubt to its chagrin. The real scandal is that blame for the delay in implementing the reforms rests on the shoulders of APD leadership and the APD police union. To lay blame on the Federal Monitor and the Federal Court is irresponsible news reporting at its worst.
Elected and government officials, readers and viewers cannot demand, instruct nor tell the press or any reporter what to write, how to write it, when to write it, what tone it should take, nor what sources are used. Those are all rights that are protected by this First Amendment to the United States Constitution. A free press is essential to all our other freedoms.
Notwithstanding, elected and government officials, readers and viewers must demand truth, accuracy and completeness in news reports. The Target 7 February 4, 2021 did a major disservice to its viewers and the federal court with inaccurate and incomplete reporting.
Channel 7 is now running another Target 7 teaser saying it will be reporting on Thursday, February 11, if the Department of Justice Reforms are responsible for the City’s spike in violent crime and the murder rates.
Channel 7 should change its slogan from “News You Can Count On” to “News You Can’t Trust”.
A link to a related blog article is here: