On March 15, 2018, over 3 years ago, newly elected Mayor Tim Keller appeared before Federal Judge Robert Brack, the first judge assigned to oversee the City’s settlement agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). The status conference hearing was the first ever attended by any Mayor with Tim Keller appearing along with his newly appointed Senior Public Safety Officer James B. Lewis, new “interim” Chief Michael Geier and new City Attorney Esteban Aguilar, Jr. Also attending were Deputy Chiefs Harold Medina who retired from APD as commander after serving 20 years, Rogelio Banez who was the area commander in Southwest Albuquerque, and Eric Garcia who was a Deputy Chief under APD Chief Gordon Eden
The March 15, 2018 status conference was in very sharp contrast to the previous one held in November, 2017 where Federal Judge Brack eviscerated and admonished the former Administration and the former City Attorney for secretly recording the Federal Monitor in order to show biasness and have him removed as the monitor. The hearing lasted for five (5) hours, and all the mismanagement and all of the deceit of the prior APD top management made it clear why very little progress was made with the DOJ reform process. The March 15, 2018 hearing was deemed a “reset” of the reform process with the hearing ending on an optimistic note.
What was revealed for the first time during the hearing was that newly sworn in Mayor Tim Keller had reached out in December, 2017 after being sworn in as the new Mayor and he had meetings with the parties and the federal judge. Federal Judge Robert Brack said he was so impressed with the new Keller administration’s commitment to the reform process that he decided to keep the case when he went on Senior Status.
What Mayor Keller told Judge Brack in 2018 was clear and unambiguous. Keller said he had campaigned heavily on the police reform issue and that “he owned it.” Mayor Keller made it clear he understood that he would be judged by the progress APD made in implementing the reforms, or did not make, during his term in office. Keller said he knew the stakes were high, that it could end his career as Mayor, but he emphasized that he and his management team were “fully committed to the reforms” and expressed confidence he and his APD management team were up to the task and would get the job done. Mayor Keller appointed a Chief and 3 Deputy Chiefs who had been with APD for decades and eligible to retire whenever they wanted to retire. The problem is it would be later proven that the Chief and Deputy Chiefs appointed by Keller were part of the very culture within APD who helped create, did not stop or who contributed to the “culture of aggression” when it came to use of force and deadly force.
12th FEDERAL MONITOR’S IMR REPORT
Fast forward to October 6, 2020. Federal District Court Judge James Browning took over the case when Judge Brack went on Senior Status. Browning held a hearing on the 12th Federal Monitors Report. A transcript of the October 6 hearing reveals Federal Monitor Ginger told Judge 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.”
In the 12th Federal Monitors Report filed with the Court on November 2, 2020 and covering the period of February 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020, Independent Monitor James Ginger wrote a scathing condemnation of APD’s ability to police itself and hold officers accountable when they improperly used force. Ginger found:
“[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 emphasis added.
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. Editor’s emphasis added.
“[There] are 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.
Many of the instances of non-compliance seen in the field are a matter of “will not,” instead of “cannot”! The Monitor reports he see actions that transcend innocent errors and instead speak to issues of cultural norms yet to be addressed and changed by APD leadership.” Editor’s emphasis added.
Supervision, which includes Lieutenants and Sergeants in the union, “needs to leave behind its dark traits of myopia, passive resistance, and outright support for, and implementation of, counter-CASA processes.” Editor’s emphasis added.
Most importantly, line officers need to engage in actions as designed by policy, law, and best practice, not past customs. Editor’s emphasis added.
13TH FEDERAL MONITOR’S COMPLIANC REPORT
On May 3, 2021 the Federal Court Appointed Monitor James Ginger filed with the Federal Court his 13th compliance report of APD. The report covers the time frame of August 2020 through January 2021. It appears that things have only gotten worse for APD over the last 6 months.
SYNOPSIS OF FINDINGS CONTAINED IN THE 13TH IMR REPORT
The Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) mandates 271 police reforms that APD is still struggling to implement after 6 years and millions spent. The most recent 13th Federal Monitors report released finds that APD is deteriorating further in not achieving the mandatory compliance levels.
Under the terms and conditions of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA), once APD achieves a 95% compliance rate in the 3 identified compliance levels and maintains it for 2 consecutive years, the case can be dismissed.
The 3 compliance levels can be explained as follows:
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 should be operational artifacts such as reports, disciplinary records, remands to retraining, follow-up, and even 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.
COMPLIANCE LEVELS DETERIORATE
In the IMR-13 report, the Federal Monitor made the following findings on the 3 compliance levels:
Primary Compliance: 100%;
Secondary Compliance: 82%;
Operational Compliance: 59%.
Since the last report, IMR-12, the following changes in compliance levels are noted:
Primary Compliance: No change at 100%
Secondary Compliance: A loss of 9.9%
Operational Compliance: A loss of 7.8%
All documents related to APD’s settlement agreement can be downloaded and reviewed at this city web site link:
HIGHLIGHTS OF 13TH IMR
The 13th Federal Monitor’s report contains a number of very disturbing findings given that over 6 years has elapsed and millions spent on the reforms. To quote the IMR-13:
“At the present time, APD’s most critical tasks are two-fold. The department needs to take steps to ensure that it has effectively responded to the requirements of the CASA.
First, it needs to control the uses of force effectuated by its personnel, ensuring that each use of force is carefully assessed for compliance to approved policy and that each use of force was the minimum necessary to accomplish a legitimate policing objective.
Secondly, APD needs to actually enforce the mandates of its established disciplinary system and ensure that improper uses of force in the field are addressed through fairly applied remedial measures, e.g., counseling, retraining, enhanced supervision, and discipline.”
(IMR 13, page 1)
APD FAILS TO CONTROL “USE OF FORCE”
“Every police department uses force. APD, however, based on the monitor’s knowledge and experience, over-uses force and at times uses excessive and improper force. This finding is not new. It was the outcome of the [April 19, 2014] United States Department of Justice’s careful review of APD’s use of force, and excessive use of force, that brought the CASA to life.
Over the years, the monitoring team has made hundreds of recommendations designed to assist APD in its efforts to reform its use-of-force practices, and, in truth, APD has implemented numerous reform processes. Despite that, however, we continue to see out-of-policy uses of force at APD.”
Editor’s Note: The link to the April 19, 2014 Department of Justice investigation report where the DOJ found a pattern of excessive use of force and deadly force and a “culture of aggression” is here:
“More importantly, it continues to be apparent that APD has not had and currently does not have an appetite for taking serious approaches to control excessive or unwarranted uses of force during its police operations in the field. Command and control practices regarding the use of force continue to be weak. APD continues to lack the ability to consistently “call the ball” on questionable uses of force, and at times is unable to “see” obvious violations of policy or procedure related to its officers’ use of force.” Editor’s emphasis added.
We have consistently noted these issues in our highly detailed bi-annual monitoring reports, and each paragraph found not in compliance contains specific recommendations that APD could implement to reduce unwarranted uses of force. Unfortunately, we find the need to continually make the same recommendations, often times over and over, as APD seems either unwilling or unable to effectively assess, identify, and remediate officers who over-use force. Again, this reporting period, we have made dozens of recommendations, many of them made multiple times in the past.
After six years, while progress has been made, i.e., new policies and new training have been implemented, and the Force Review Board is demonstrating that is willing to stand for heightened scrutiny of cases of officer-use of force, there remains much to do.” (IMR-13, pages 1, 2) Editor’s emphasis added.
APD’S FAILING DICIPLINARY PROCESS
“At this point, the disciplinary system at APD routinely fails to follow its own written policy, guiding disciplinary matrices, and virtually decimates its disciplinary requirements in favor of refusals to recognize substantial policy violations, and instead, often sustaining minor related violations and ignoring more serious violations. Editor’s emphasis added.
In other cases, APD simply defies its own written guidance regarding discipline, for example implementing “discipline” well below that required by its own disciplinary matrix. Examples of these Counter-CASA processes include:
• Replacing a matrix-required 8–32-hour suspension with a written reprimand;
• Refusal to recognize repeat offenses which by policy require enhanced penalties;
• Failure to consider “aggravating circumstances” in determining appropriate discipline, but nearly always considering “mitigating circumstances”;
• A virtual shutdown of investigations in Internal Affairs Force Division, possibly delaying disciplinary action for use of force violations until discipline is “time-barred” by the union contract; an
• Charging lessor included policy violations, instead of the often more fitting more serious of the policy violations. … “
(IMR-13, page 2)
MACHINATIONS TO AVOID DISCIPLINING OFFICERS
“… APD is willing to go through almost any machination to avoid disciplining officers who violate policy or supervisors who fail to note policy violations or fail to act on them in a timely manner. We do note, however, that during the 13th reporting period, APD [Internal Affairs] had no cases in which discipline was not implemented due to the delayed investigation resulting from a near congenital inability to complete investigations in a timely manner. This, in and of itself, is a major accomplishment. Editor’s emphasis added.
However, no … cases initiated after September 8, 2020, were completed by the end of this reporting period. We also note that no Level 3 cases initiated after August 14, 2020, were completed by the end of this reporting period. We cannot project the impact untimely case completions will have on discipline moving forward. “
(IMR-13, page 3)
“We do note, however, that in Independent Monitors Report 12 (IMR-12) we made twelve recommendations for improvements to the IA functions at APD. Those twelve recommendations remain in IMR-13. This is a recurring problem with APD. The monitor includes dozens of recommendations in each monitor report. Unfortunately, in some areas of compliance, we are required to make the same recommendations over and over because APD simply fails to address these recommendations in any way and refuses to implement processes of their own designed to achieve a reduction in unwarranted use of force. … .”
CLEAR AND DELIBERATE INDIFFERENCE AND IGNORING MONITOR’S RECOMMENDATIONS
“Interestingly, we note this aversion to discipline does not seem to apply to civilian personnel, who are often subjected to maximum penalties for relatively minor violations. To the monitor, this constitutes clear evidence of deliberate indifference to the requirements of the CASA [as applied to APD sworn police personnel]. Again, during this reporting period, we provided APD with highly detailed step-by-step recommendations regarding the use of force investigations and supervision at all levels of the department, among other critical issues. Despite this advice, APD has actually lost ground in its compliance efforts as it relates to training related to and operational implementation of the requirements of the CASA.” Editor’s emphasis added.
(IMR-13, page 3)
CATASTROPHIC FAILURE IN TRAINING OVERSIGHT
“This monitor’s report can be synopsized in a single sentence. Due to a catastrophic failure in training oversight this reporting period and similar failures at the supervisory and command levels of APD, the agency suffered a 9.9%-point loss in compliance elements related to the training and supervisory functions at APD and a 7.8% loss in overall compliance …. Overall, there is an argument to be made that operational compliance rates have held relatively steady, at slightly less than 60 percent, since IMR-8, two and one-half years ago.” Editor’s emphasis added.
(IMR-13, page 4. )
The most critical issues confronted by APD in its compliance efforts this reporting period are in training, supervision, and command oversight. As frequent readers of the monitor’s reports will note, supervision and oversight are two of the most important keys to full compliance.
OVERALL STATUS ASSESSMENT
“… As of the end of the 13th reporting period, APD has experienced a drop in compliance levels in both secondary (training) and operational (actions in the field) compliance. APD achieved primary compliance in 100% of the applicable paragraphs of the CASA. Primary compliance relates mostly to development and implementation of acceptable policies (conforming to national best practices).
APD is in 82% Secondary Compliance as of this reporting period, which means that effective follow-up mechanisms have been taken to ensure that APD personnel understand the requirements of promulgated policies, e.g., training, supervising, coaching, and implementing disciplinary processes to ensure APD personnel understand the policies as promulgated and are implementing them in the field.
This Secondary Compliance figure represents a 9.9% reduction in Secondary Compliance from IMR-12 to IMR-13. Operational Compliance with the requirements of the CASA for the 13th reporting period has also fallen from 64% in IMR-12 to 59% in IMR-13. This 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.
These declines in compliance levels come despite intensive and extensive and intensive “hands-on” guidance and advice from the monitoring team. The bottom line is somewhat shocking. Editor’s emphasis added.
Operational compliance levels for the 13th reporting period are lower than the compliance figures for the 9th reporting period. Obviously, operational compliance is the most important of the three compliance levels.”
(IMR -13 , Page 6)
“The monitoring team views these drops in compliance to be serious and concerning, as they reflect substantial and serious lapses in APD’s command and oversight practices designed to ensure implementation of the CASA. These data indicate that, for the second time since the inception of the CASA implementation process, APD has dropped in period-over-period compliance. Editor’s emphasis added.
The first reporting period in which APD dropped in period-over-period compliance was from IMR-11 to IMR-12. The second time APD dropped in period-over-period compliance was in IMR-12 to IMR-13. This represents a serious decline in APD’s compliance success and equals an 11.8 percent decline from IMR-11’s secondary compliance rate, and an overall decline of 10.6 percent in operational compliance in 12 months.
It is clear to the monitor that as of IMR-13, APD is in serious trouble with its ability to generate compliance with the CASA. This should sound alarms at all levels of the Albuquerque City government. It bears repeating that operational compliance rates are lower today than in the IMR-9 reporting period, two years ago.” Editor’s emphasis added.
(IMR-13, page 7)
REMEMBERING WHO WAS IN CHARGE OF APD
In order to fully understand the very significant and troubling findings contained in the 12th and the 13th Federal Monitor’s Reports, one needs to fully understand who was actually in charge of APD during the reporting periods and who needs to be held accountable for APD’s poor performance.
APD Chief Harold Medina was in charge of APD essentially the entire year as Deputy Chief and then First Assistant Chief in charge of Field Services, then as Interim Chief. It was on September 25, 2020, former APD Chief Michael Geier was terminated by Mayor Tim Keller and Keller immediately appointed First Deputy Chief Harold Medina as APD Interim Chief of APD.
On Monday, March 8, Mayor Keller appointed Harold Medina as the “new” permanent APD Chief of Police after supposedly a national search was conducted. Along with his appointment of Harold Medina as APD Chief, Mayor Keller also appointed Sylvester Stanley as “Interim Superintendent of Police Reform” in addition to the position of Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO). Stanley reports directly to the City’s Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair. Ostensibly, APD Chief Harold Medina will not be reporting to Stanley nor Stanley to Medina.
FEDERAL MONITOR DISCLOSES TO COURT APD NEEDS AN OUTSIDER
On April 15, Judge Browning, the Judge assigned the to the DOJ case, convened a Status Conference hearing to get a progress report on the implementation of the External Force Investigation Team (EFIT). It was during this hearing that Judge Browning asked about the appointment of both a Chief of Police and a Superintendent of Police Reform. Surprisingly, the Federal Monitor disclosed to the court that he recommended to Mayor Tim Keller and his Administration that what is needed is an “outsider” as APD Chief.
Following is the exchange reflected in the court transcript:
All right. A while back, before the 12th Independent Monitor’s Report was issued you gave me a preview. And then it came true as to what your report said, and I think that’s the reason for the EFIT [External Force Investigation Team]. Do you care to give me any preview of what the 13th Independent Monitor’s Report is going to say?
FEDERAL MONITOR DR. GINGER:
It will show basically no improvement since 12 [Independent Monitor’s Report] . And we have some other serious areas of concern, most of which we’ve already addressed here. The ability of APD to police itself related to use of force is questionable at this point. There is a lot of work that remains to be done in terms of staffing, in terms of training, in terms of supervision and oversight in order to get APD to the point that it can reliably respond to those issues, find solutions for officers who are routinely out of policy on uses of force, and implement remedial mechanisms.
In terms of the implementation and enforcement of this consent decree, did you have thoughts about the City’s decision to split its leadership between two people rather than having one person responsible for the implementation of the decree?
FEDERAL MONITOR DR. GINGER:
I did, Your Honor. But I’m a firm believer that the City needs to run its own police department. It’s not for me to run it for them. We had in-depth meetings with senior members of city administration as part of the IMR 12 process, and explained to them in no uncertain terms that in the monitoring team’s opinion they needed an external chief. Editor’s emphasis added.
Part of the issue that we’re dealing with at APD is a cultural issue. Officers are simply doing things that they’ve always done. And as everybody in this room knows, one of the toughest things to do in an organization is to change the culture. And that’s why I recommended to senior members of the City that they bring in an external chief. Editor’s emphasis added.
I’m just a monitor. I just recommend and analyze problems. So it’s certainly up to the Mayor and senior members of City Council, et cetera, et cetera, to decide who the chief of police is going to be. I’m not questioning that decision. Our advice was to bring somebody in with a very good understanding nationally of how a department should be run related to uses of force, issues of mental health, those sorts of things. That was our recommendation. They chose not to implement it. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. And we’ll continue to monitor and see if this bifurcated command system works. Editor’s emphasis added.
(Page 42, 43)
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The 12th Federal Monitors Report filed with the Court on November 2, 2020 covers the period of February 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020 when Chief Michael Geier was in charge and Deputy Chief Harold Medina was in charge of APD Field Services. The 13th Federal Monitors report covers the time frame of August 1, 2020 through January 31, 2020 a time frame that Harold Media was initially First Deputy Chief and then Interim Chief.
A STUNNING ADMISSION OF IGNORANCE
On January 3rd, 2021, the Albuquerque Journal published a front-page story entitled “A Tumultuous Year At APD Comes To An End”. In an interview with the Albuquerque Journal editors Mayor Keller said he wishes he’d known earlier about the serious problems the Albuquerque Police Department was having with its reform effort and said:
“I think what we have learned is how deeply challenged some of these areas are, including self-monitoring. For us at a senior level, we were led to believe that things were much improved, and it turns out they weren’t as much.”
The link to the Journal story on APD’s progress is here:
Keller’s comment that he “was led to believe that things were much improved” is a stunning admission of Keller’s ignorance. The statement also reveals betrayal of him by the very APD Command staff, including the Chiefs, that he personally selected. It reveals that Keller had no idea what was and what is going on in his police department after his 3 years in office.
The blunt truth is that candidate for Mayor Keller never showed any real curiosity about how bad things were with APD when he ran for Mayor, something he has carried on now for over 3 full years. Keller did not bother to attend a single court hearing when he was running for Mayor where the Federal Monitor gave the Court an update on his reports and the consent decree. Keller pretended at forums that he was “deeply concerned” and knew what was happening and he was committed to the reform process when he really knew nothing.
What was misleading is that Keller said he knew what needed to be done with APD and the reforms and he said he was “uniquely qualified” to be Mayor. He committed to do a national search, not once, but twice, misleading the voters by giving the impression he would bring in “outsiders” to run APD and voters bought into his false campaign propaganda.
MAYOR KELLER IGNORES FEDERAL MONITOR’S RECOMMENDATION TO HIRE “OUTSIDER” AS APD CHIEF
The Federal Monitor’s comments that he recommended to the Keller Administration that APD needed an “outsider” as Chief is truly astounding because it was ostensibly totally ignored by Mayor Tim Keller and his Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair. APD Chief Harold Medina has been in charge of APD since September 10, 2020, first as the Interim APD Chief for six months while a national search was conducted. It was on March 8, 2021, Keller announce that he appointed Harold Medina as the new APD Chief of Police, so by the time of the April 15, 2021 status conference, Medina had been in charge of APD over 7 months.
Medina no doubt has interacted with the Federal Monitor during the seven-month time, yet the Federal Monitor had absolutely nothing to say about Medina’s job performance. The Court did not ask the Federal Monitor how he felt Chief Medina had been doing for the 7 months he has been charge of APD. The monitor did not volunteer his thoughts on Medina’s job performance nor the progress Medina had made with implementing the reforms. No doubt because no progress has been made under Medina’s leadership of APD and things have only gotten worse.
The Monitor’s recommendation that an outsider be appointed Chief cannot and should not be down played in the least given the fact that Mayor Keller proclaimed twice that he conducted a national search only to settle on Chiefs Geier and Medina. Both Chiefs had been with APD before for decades, retired and came back to be appointed Chief. Many APD reform advocates felt the national searches Keller order were a sham where Keller first appointed who he wanted to be permanent Chief as Interim Chief, announced a national search, interviewed applicants to placate the public and then announced as Chief who he wanted to appoint in the first place.
APD Chief Harold Medina represents the total opposite of what the city needs in a police chief. It is very critical to have a police chief with experience with reducing use of force, not one who has used deadly force. A chief who has knowledge of crisis management, not one who causes a crisis. A Chief who understands the importance of protecting civil rights, not one who has violated civil rights, and a Chief able to tackle the issue of a police department interacting with the mentally ill, not one who has been involved with the killing of two mentally ill people. The two fatal shootings of people with mental illness Medina was involved with show he possesses none of the desired traits.
Truth is, Medina is part of the problem with APD that brought the DOJ here in the first place. Medina had no business being interim Chief let alone being made permanent. Medina helped create, did not stop and he participated the “culture of aggression” and the use of deadly force that resulted in a DOJ investigation.
INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE REFORM WILL MAKE NO DIFFERENCE IN IMPLEMENTING REORMS
Along with his appointment of Harold Medina as permanent APD Chief, Mayor Keller also appointed Sylvester Stanley as “Interim Superintendent of Police Reform” in addition to the position of Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO). In 1982, Sylvester Stanley began his career with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department (BCSO) where he began his career as a patrolman. Over the years, he advanced through the ranks serving as a Detective, Sergeant, and Lieutenant retiring, in 2002, with the rank of Captain. Sylvester Stanley served as Police Chief for the Isleta Police Department from 2018 to 2021.
Stanley’s extensive law enforcement background and experience, although impressive as it is, is void of any work or dealing with federal consent decrees and void of any background in constitutional policing practices which are the center piece of the DOJ reforms. The Federal Monitors comments are worth repeating:
“Our advice was to bring somebody in with a very good understanding nationally of how a department should be run related to uses of force, issues of mental health, those sorts of things. That was our recommendation. They chose not to implement it. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. And we’ll continue to monitor and see if this bifurcated command system works.” The proof in the pudding will be the success of Sylvester Stanley.
Two major shortcomings to the Stanly appointment is that he is “interim” meaning temporary and his background and experience is as traditional law enforcement as it gets. Lacking of experience with implementation of Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreements dealing with excessive use of force and deadly force cases and police interaction with mental health issues is a cause of concern. Superintendent Stanley has also been given authority over disciplining police officers for violations of the DOJ reforms. The police union has objected to Stanley having any authority to discipline asserting that the union contract gives that authority exclusively to the Chief.
An Interim Superintendent of Police Reform with little or no background in police reforms is not likely going to make any difference and will not change the APD culture of resisting the reforms. The proof in the pudding is that Superintendent Stanley will be looked upon by the police union and rank and file as the “heavy-hand enforcer” of the reforms giving Chief Medina and Mayor Keller plausible deniability. Ultimately, it’s a position that Keller and Medina will blame for the reform failures and if Interim Superintendent will be terminated sooner rather than later.
As has been the case so many times over the past 7 years with two Mayors (Berry and Keller), 3 APD Chiefs (Eden, Geier and Medina), 3 United States Attorneys for New Mexico (Martinez, Anderson and Interim Federici) and 2 Federal Judges ( Judges Brack and Browning), APD is in no better position than it was 7 years ago. The case is no where close to being dismissed after millions spent on the reforms. The only thing that has not changed in 7 years is a Federal Court Appointed Monitor D. James Ginger making damaging findings and the City, the DOJ, APD and the Union never taken to task by the Federal Court in any meaningful way.
It is painfully obvious that Mayor Tim Keller does not know what he is doing when it comes to APD. Keller does not understand how bad APD really has became under the APD leadership he handpicked. Mayor Tim Keller should be held 100% responsible for the “catastrophic failure” to implement the DOJ mandated reforms, but his progressive base will just ignore it come voting time because there is no viable alternative to his candidacy.
Progressive Democrat Tim Keller will likely get reelected in large part because his main opponent is a conservative Democrat and Trump supporter who is currently the Bernalillo County Sheriff. Sheriff Manny Gonzales has shown total disregard and contempt for constitutional policing practices within his own department and he has been just as hapless in running the Bernalillo County Sheriff’ Department as Keller has been running APD. Voters will have the choice to vote between the lesser of two evils or just not voting at all.
After over 3 years in office, Mayor Tim Keller under his leadership still has a police department that is failing miserably to police itself and is in catastrophic failure. Keller has only himself to blame given the fact he personally selected those that have been in charge of APD and he went back on his campaign promise to hire a new Chief from outside the agency.