On March 2, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) Compliance and Oversight Division filed its “13th Progress and Status Summary Report” in the case brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the city and the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) for excessive use of force and deadly force. It was in April, 2014 that a DOJ investigation found a culture of aggression within APD. APD and the City for over 6 years have been struggling to implement the Court Approved Settlement Agreement and the 217 mandated reforms.
The parties entered into a Court Approved Settlement (CASA) that mandates 271 reforms that the Federal Monitor audits for compliance. This blog article is a heavily edited version of the Executive Summary that provides the highlights of the 13th report. It should not be considered as all inclusive. The link to the full 146 page 13th progress report is here:
EDITED EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The 13th Progress report was prepared by the Albuquerque Police Department Compliance and Oversight Division to provide documentation and data to support the 12TH Independent Monitor’s Report, recommendations, APD’s actions in response to the auditor’s recommendations covering the time frame August 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021.
“ There are two hundred seventy-six (276) paragraphs in ten sections within the CASA with measurable requirements. Compliance is measured by three levels (primary, secondary, and operational). In this reporting period, key efforts to meet compliance requirements have been addressed by APD throughout all ten sections of the CASA including:
Use of Force; Specialized Units
Policies and Training
Misconduct Complaint Intake
Investigation and Adjudication
Staffing, Management and Supervision
Recruitment Selection and Promotion
Community Engagement and Oversight
EDITOR’S NOTE: There are 3 compliance levels that are audited for compliance:
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.
Under the terms and conditions of the CASA, once APD achieves a 95% compliance rate in all 3 of the compliance areas, and maintains compliance for 2 years, the case can be dismissed.
“[At] the end of the … [August 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021] reporting period, APD’s compliance levels were:
Primary Compliance: 100%
Secondary Compliance: 91% and
Operational Compliance: 64%.”
INTERNAL AFFAIRS PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS
In late 2020, APD began evaluating whether to restructure Internal Affairs Professional Standards Division and Internal Affairs Force Division into one division. The Monitor recommended that APD make necessary improvements to intake/adjudication and investigative processes first, then structure the divisions around the processes. To address intake/adjudication and investigative processes, APD requested technical assistance from the Monitor in two areas:
1. Internal affairs intake/adjudication
2. Force investigations processes.
SPECIAL OPERATIONS DIVISION
“In January 2021, the Interim APD Chief approved 25 detectives for the division to investigate levels 2 and 3 use of force cases. All the Special Operations Division were found to remain in Operational Compliance. A change in Special Operations Division command began on December 21, 2020. Standard operating procedures regarding Special Operations Division activities continue to be reviewed annually. The Special Operations Division continues to utilize Risk Assessment Matrices for pre-planned warrants, and After-Action Reports (AAR) are now After-Action case files containing more comprehensive information applicable to the tactical activation, and are used for review and documentation purposes.”
INDIVIDUALS IN MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS
“APD continues to develop, implement and support integrated, specialized responses to individuals in mental health crisis through collaborative partnerships with community stakeholders, specialized training, and improved communication and coordination with mental health professionals. APD has continued to meet remotely during the pandemic with the Mental Health Response Advisory Committee (MHRAC). Meetings were held every month during this monitoring period. Regular topics included the continued planning of the new Albuquerque Community Safety (ACS) Department and the gateway shelters.”
MENTAL HEALTH RESPONSE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
“Other topics included Albuquerque Fire and Rescue’s Wellness Check program, ongoing concerns with New Mexico’s on body camera law for law enforcement, the release of recorded footage, the impact of COVID on services, changes to the mobile crisis team program and a presentation of collected APD data on mental health interactions. The Mental Health Response Advisory Committee currently has two subcommittees, one focusing on information sharing and emerging resources for those living with behavioral health issues and a training subcommittee that evaluates and provides feedback on all APD behavioral health training.
Topics covered by the information sharing/resource subcommittee included building a COVID specific version of the APD resource card, an introduction to the Policy and Procedures Section of APD, and discussion of a standalone Certificates for Evaluation policy. The Training subcommittee covered updates to the Crisis Negotiation Team training being developed by the SOD, Handbook updates for the Behavioral Sciences Section (BSS), changes to the Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team training and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion training delivered to all APD officers.”
“In September 2020, APD transitioned to temporary acting leadership at the Training Academy. In the past, the Department of Justice and Independent Monitoring Tram have been critical of APD’s curriculum standards and proposed bringing in an experienced educator to oversee curriculum development to work with both civilian and sworn personnel.
In December 2020, the City advertised for a Curriculum Development Manager position to focus on training curriculum development. First and second round interviews were conducted in January. APD intends to make the final hiring decision after a third and final round of interviews with City leadership.
Additionally, APD has reassigned an Assistant City Attorney with both an education and legal background, and a Compliance and Oversight Division (COD) Process Improvement Analyst (PIA) with specialized training development and training management experience to work with the Academy. APD also hopes to name a permanent Commander to the Training Academy this Spring.”
In December 2020, APD announced that the department was developing a Detective Academy, which current and future detectives will be required to attend. The course will include trainings such as Interview and Interrogation, Crime Scene Management, Courtroom Preparation and Procedures, Search and Arrest Warrants, Constitutional Policing, Felony Investigation and Case Preparation, Crimes Against Children Unit (CACU), Child Abuse Response Evaluators (CARE), and Electronic Devices, with a tentative training to be conducted in Summer 2021.”
“Internal Affairs continues to improve the quality and timeliness of investigations involving department personnel through increased oversight and accountability. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has established a more cohesive relationship with the Internal Affairs and meets biweekly to provide status updates on internal affairs investigations. The increased communication with DOJ demonstrates APD’s willingness to be transparent and accept feedback to strengthen the internal affairs process.”
AUTOMATED LINE INSPECTION PROCESS
“In an effort to improve department-wide inspections and audit processes, APD worked with the City’s Department of Technology and Innovation (DTI), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) team to implement a more user-friendly and automated line inspection process. The new line inspection form will auto populate data from source systems, reducing data entry error from manual entries and increasing efficiency in completing the inspection process.”
LIEUTENANT WEAPON INSPECTION
“APD continues to audit both the monthly line inspection forms and criminal complaint and juvenile statements of probable cause to ensure close and effective supervision of officers. Beginning January 1, 2021, a pilot phase for the Lieutenant Weapon Inspection process was initiated in the Valley Area Command and the SOD. The Lieutenant Weapon Inspection serves as a second level review verifying the randomly selected officer’s department issued weapons match his/her property card and the officer is carrying department authorized ammunition.”
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT APPLICATION
“A new community engagement application has been created and is currently in a test phase It is intended to increase oversight and accountability of officers’ efforts to address community concerns. Supervisors will be able to view reports relating to officers’ participation in community events and activities and ensure concerns are resolved.”
POLICE OFFICER RECRUITMENT
“In Fall 2020, APD initiated a new marketing campaign for recruiting officers. In the past, APD recruiting advertisements focused on specialized units such as SWAT or K-9 Units to draw in applicants. APD has changed recruitment focus and sees the value in including the community’s idea of the ideal officer and the attributes one must possess. Those attributes include but are not limited to, have patience, be respectful, recognize self-bias, as well as possess both a human side and a protective side and know the difference when to use each.”
BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES SECTION
“The Behavioral Sciences Section (BSS) provided training to all supervisors and acting supervisors in November and December 2020. The training focused on BSS’s role in providing mental health services to include minimizing the stigma, addressing confidentiality, common stressors, warning signs of officer distress, self-referral vs. mandated referrals and evaluations after critical incidents/officer involved shootings. BSS strives to promote the importance of mental health wellness and self-care to sustain viability both professionally and personally.”
“In November 2020, along with the City of Albuquerque’s Office of Equity and Inclusion, APD began developing the Community Ambassador Program. This program is comprised of APD officers who serve as ambassadors or liaisons, connecting diverse communities and the police department. APD wants to reach our diverse community groups throughout the City in an effort to bridge the gap and help build partnerships, better communication, and understanding amid these communities and the police department. It is through such efforts that APD can enhance APD’s community policing philosophy. Twelve (12) ambassador applicant officers along with six (6) additional volunteer officers attended the City’s cultural sensitivity training in mid-January 2021 with additional anti-racism training scheduled for the end of January 2021
APD continues to reach out to diverse community groups throughout the City in an effort to bridge the gap, build partnerships, facilitate better communication, and understanding with the police department. As a result, many community engagement endeavors took place during this reporting period. APD developed and tested a new community engagement software application, expanded a School Resource Officer (SRO) and youth project called IMPRINT, hired clergymen who will work with members of the community to determine how APD can improve efforts to increase public trust and include the community in transformation efforts, and created a community ambassador program.
APD continues to be an active participant in the development of the ACS Department, and actively pursues partnerships with amici and other groups such as the Black New Mexico Movement (BNMM), Burque Against Racism, and Commission of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.”
KEY STEPS TAKEN BY APD AND CITY ADMINISTRATION
The 13th report provides a detailed chronology of key steps taken by APD and programs developed by APD and the City Administration. The Department of Justice and Independent Monitoring Team have been very critical in the past of APD’s ability to produce curricula and proposed bringing in an experienced educator into an oversight position to work with both sworn and civilian personnel.
A very detailed chronology of key steps taken and programs initiated by APD and City Administration can be found on pages 8, 10 and 11 of the report:
USE OF FORCE PRICIPLES OUTLINED
The 13th Progress and Status Summary Report prepared by the APD Compliance and Oversight Division outlines the mandatory Use of Force Principals for APD sworn police. After the use of force principals are outlined, data is provided on the 3 levels of compliance. The use of force principals merit review and are as follows:
“Use of force by APD officers, regardless of the type of force, tactics, or weapon used, shall abide by the following requirements:
a) officers shall use advisements, warnings, and verbal persuasion, when possible, before resorting to force;
b) force shall be de-escalated immediately as resistance decreases;
c) officers shall allow individuals time to submit to arrest before force is used whenever possible;
d) APD shall explicitly prohibit neck holds, except where lethal force is authorized;
e) APD shall explicitly prohibit using leg sweeps, arm-bar takedowns, or prone restraints, except as objectively reasonable to prevent imminent bodily harm to the officer or another person or persons; to overcome active resistance; or as objectively reasonable where physical removal is necessary to overcome passive resistance and handcuff the subject;
f) APD shall explicitly prohibit using force against persons in handcuffs, except as objectively reasonable to prevent imminent bodily harm to the officer or another person or persons; to overcome active resistance; or as objectively reasonable where physical removal is necessary to overcome passive resistance;
g) officers shall not use force to attempt to effect compliance with a command that is unlawful;
h) pointing a firearm at a person shall be reported as a Level 1 use of force, and shall be done only as objectively reasonable to accomplish a lawful police objective; and
i) immediately following a use of force, officers, and, upon arrival, a supervisor, shall inspect and observe subjects of force for injury or complaints of pain resulting from the use of force and immediately obtain any necessary medical care. This may require an officer to provide emergency first aid until professional medical care providers arrive on scene.” (page 12.)
PRIMARY, SECONDARY AND OPERATIONAL COMPLIANCE LEVELS REPORTED
Immediately after the listing of the Use of Force principals, the 13th Progress and Status Summary report delves into the individual paragraphs of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) and provides compliance levels at pages 12-74. Pages 75 to 146 of the report consists an Appendix that provides detailed “score cards” and data collected by the Monitoring Team.
The 13th Progress and Status Summary Report prepared by the APD Compliance and Oversight Division concludes with a single short paragraph:
APD remains committed to implementing and sustaining the requirements of the CASA. The progress made during this reporting period highlights the Department’s ability to work collaboratively with stakeholders to implement positive change. Through guidance and feedback from the IMT and DOJ, APD will continue to work towards full operational compliance in all CASA paragraphs.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The APD Compliance and Oversight Division failed to report and highlight just how bad APD has become when it comes to compliance with the CASA. It was on Friday, October 6, 2020, that Court appointed Federal Monitor Ginger told Federal District Court James Browning:
“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.”
EXTERNAL FORCE INVESTIGATION TEAM
On Friday, February 5, the City of Albuquerque and the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a “Joint Motion For Entry of Stipulated Order Establishing An External Force Investigation Team” (EFIT) in the 2014 case filed by the DOJ against the City and the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) for civil rights violations and excessive use of force and deadly force.
According to the Motion and Order, the EFIT team will train APD Internal Affairs investigators on how to properly investigate uses of force instances by APD police officers. According to the approved order, the City will ensure that APD maintains at least 25 force investigators assigned to the APD Internal Affairs unit unless and until APD can demonstrate by an internal staffing analysis that fewer investigators are necessary to timely investigate uses of force by APD Officers.
A link to the Motion and the Stipulated Order is here:
On Friday, February 26, U.S. District Judge James Browning held a hearing and approved the Stipulated Order between the city of Albuquerque and the DOJ. Both the City and the DOJ insisted that time was of the essence to allow the City to issue Request For Proposals (RFP) to hire EFIT members by contract. Judge Browning signed the Stipulated Order but said he intends to issue a written opinion on the matter in April giving his findings based upon what was brought out during the hearing. Under the approved order, the city will hire an administrator who will then hire a number of investigators for EFIT.
Assistant United States Attorney Paul Killebrew had this to say about EFIT :
“…[W]hat we have is a city that has failed to comply with that court order over and over and over again. It’s not an option right now to do nothing. If we sit back and wait, using all the tools that we have already been using, I don’t know why we would expect things to change on their own.
The sense of the United States when we received the monitor’s report was that additional interventions were required. … When we read [the Independent Monitor’s 12th report], we believed that there were likely grounds for contempt, and that we could probably make a good case for a receivership, at least as it regards serious force investigations.”
When we read [the Independent Monitor’s 12th report], we believed that there were likely grounds for contempt, and that we could probably make a good case for a receivership, at least as it regards serious force investigations.
According to the approved order, the city will seek to hire an administrator by early May and then start hiring the team. According to the approved order, the city will attempt to return full responsibility to the internal investigators within 9 months but that time frame could be extended, if needed. The order requires the outside investigators to accompany internal affairs detectives to all scenes where an APD officer uses force on a person that causes injury, hospitalization or death. The external investigator will be privy to all evidence, documents and investigative notes and will evaluate the quality of the internal investigator’s work and notify APD and attorneys if there are any deficiencies.
It is not at all difficult to understand why the Albuquerque Police Department Compliance and Oversight Division would even report:
“APD remains committed to implementing and sustaining the requirements of the CASA. The progress made during this reporting period highlights the Department’s ability to work collaboratively with stakeholders to implement positive change.” .
As has been the case with the Keller Administration, public relations reigns supreme over reporting bad news and there is no doubt the report prepared by the APD Compliance and Oversight Division was to make APD look better than it really is when it comes to the reforms. This sure the hell does not sound at all like APD is “… on the brink of a catastrophic failure at APD” that the Federal Monitor has reported. The Federal Monitor has repeatedly found APD has resisted the reforms to the point that the DOJ and the City were forced to enter into an agreed order for outside investigations and training on use of force cases.
The request for the External Force Investigation Team overshadows to the point of discrediting the 13th Progress and Status Summary Report prepared by the Albuquerque Police Department Compliance and Oversight Division. The 13th report offers very little more than what is in the Federal Monitor’s 12th report other than a series of appendix documents.
For these reasons, the benefit of 13th Progress and Status Summary Report prepared by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) Compliance and Oversight Division appears to have had the only benefit of trying to down play just how bad APD has failed to implement the reforms for the past 6 years with millions spent and with millions more about to be spent.