Federal Monitor Files 15th Report On APD Reform Compliance; Dramatic Progress Made; Sergeant and Lieutenants Still “Weakest Link” On Holding Officers Accountable; No Superintendent Of Police Reform; Chief Medina Says Wants To Achieve 100% Compliance In Two Years

On May 11, Federal Court Appointed Independent Monitor James Ginger filed his 15th Report on the Compliance Levels of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and the City of Albuquerque with Requirements of the Court-Approved Settlement Agreement. The 15th Federal Monitors report is a 332 page report that covers the 6 month time frame of August, 2021 to January, 2022. The link to review the entire report is here:

https://www.cabq.gov/police/documents/910-220511-imr-15.pdf

This blog article reports on the findings and is a summary of the 15th Federal Monitors Report. The article also provides related news and Commentary and Analysis.

COMPLIANCE LEVELS

On November 14, 2014, the City of Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Police Department and the United State Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into a stipulated Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). The Court Approved Settlement Agreement mandates 271 police reforms, the appointment of a Federal Monitor and the filing of Independent Monitor’s reports (IMRs). There are 276 paragraphs in 10 sections within the CASA with measurable requirements that the monitor reports on.

The link to the 118-page CASA is here:

https://documents.cabq.gov/justice-department/settlement-agreement.pdf

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. Originally, APD was to have come into compliance within 4 years and the case was to be dismissed in 2020.

The 3 compliance levels can be explained as follows:

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.

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.

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.

15TH FEDERAL MONITOR’S REPORT ON APD REFORM COMPLIANCE

The Federal Monitor reported that as of the end of the IMR-15 reporting period, APD’s compliance levels are as follows:

Primary Compliance: 100%
Secondary Compliance: 99%
Operational Compliance: 70%.

These are the highest compliance level numbers since the Court Approved Settlement agreement was entered into in 2014. The 15th Federal Monitors report is also a dramatic reversal from the past 3 monitor reports that were highly critical of the Keller Administration and the Albuquerque Police Department.

In the Federal Monitors IMR-14 report filed on November 12, 2021, the Federal Monitor reported the 3 compliance levels were as follows:

Primary Compliance: 100 %; (No change from before)
Secondary Compliance: 82 %; (No change from before)
Operational Compliance: 62 % (An increase 3% points from before)

DRAMATIC INCREASE IN COMPLIANCE LEVELS

In a remarkable departure from his findings in the past 3 Federal Monitors reports, Independent Federal Monitor James Ginger found APD has attained the highest levels of compliance yet of the 276 CASA mandated reforms. This is a dramatic improvement over recent years when it was reported APD had declining compliance levels. Ginger wrote in his 15th Federal Monitor’s report that he saw “perhaps for the first time” a serious willingness to identify and correct behavior that is counter to the effort and the CASA mandated reforms.

Ginger wrote:

“Over the last 18 months, APD has made significant progress in its efforts to attain compliance with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). … APD has shown significant performance increases in training effectiveness, and performance in the field has improved somewhat. In the monitor’s experience, training nearly always leads the way in organizational development and planned change processes.”

According to the 15th federal monitor’s reported, APD has been at 100% Primary Compliance since the 10th report. APD is now at 99% Secondary Compliance, a 20.7% increase from the last report, which deals with the training of officers. This is the biggest jump in this reporting period and means all of the training to accompany the policies has been accomplished by APD.

Operational Compliance is now at 70%, a strong 12% increase over the previous report, which deals with officers following policies and being corrected when they don’t. Both IMR-14 and IMR-15, have shown increased compliance numbers over the previous reporting periods, indicating that APD has finally broken through the declining numbers shown for the IMR-11 through IMR-13 reporting periods.

Deputy Chief Cori Lowe said of the gains in Operational Compliance that after the monitor provided a draft report, APD provided feedback on paragraphs it thought should be considered in compliance according to the settlement agreement. Lowe said Federal Monitor took the information it into account and in turn gave more analysis in Operational Compliance.

APD Deputy Chief Cory Lowe had this to say about the Operational Compliance:

“The hardest compliance level is Operational Compliance. … That is putting that training and policy into operational on a day-to-day basis. That’s proving that we can do things on our own in accordance with policy and training.”

The links to quoted news sources are here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2498594/apd-sees-significant-gains-in-reform-effort.html

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/new-doj-report-shows-progress-for-apd/

SYNOPSIS OF FEDERAL MONITOR’S FINDINGS IN THE 15TH FEDERAL MONITORS REPORT

The following synopsis can be gleaned from portions of Federal Monitor’s 15th Report. The portions of the report quoted have been edited with topic headlines to assist with general public consumption.

MONITOR IDENTIFIES ORGANIZATIONAL SUCCESSES

“APD has shown strong performance with its compliance factors this reporting period, with continuing strong performances relating to effective policy development and a substantial increase in training effectiveness. Performance in the field continues to lag behind these two “policy and training” processes. APD’s improved performance this reporting period is attributable … to an influx of external management talent, particularly at the Training Academy.

Secondary compliance, which measures training effectiveness, showed a substantial increase this reporting period, with APD raising that measure of compliance to the highest level we have seen since the advent of the CASA reporting process.

Fully 99% of the CASA’s training requirements have been successfully met during the 15h Independent Monitor Reporting period. This indicates truly exceptional compliance levels for APD training functions during this reporting period. We have long encouraged APD to focus on its training functions, and the training processes are a true standout among APD’s compliance factors during the 15h Independent Monitor Reporting (IMR-15) period.

Further, operational compliance levels, the rate at which in-field performance is executed in a manner that complies with CASA requirements, have also shown improvement over the nadir seen in the IMR-13 reporting period. Operational compliance reached an all-time high during the IMR-15 reporting period, at 70% compliance.”

MONITOR IDENTIFIES DEFICIENCIES IN SUPERVSION AND DISCIPLINE

“While policy processes and training processes at APD were at the highest levels we have seen to date, operational compliance figures continue to lag the compliance levels for policy and training. APD currently stands at 70% compliance with the CASA requirements for actions in the field. In the monitor’s experience, operational compliance factors routinely lag behind primary and secondary compliance factors.

Once policy and training compliance have been achieved, effective and consistent supervision is needed to achieve full compliance. Supervision continues to be a significant problem with APD’s compliance efforts. Further APD’s disciplinary practices continue to show artifacts of disparate treatment, indicating that personnel at times receive dissimilar discipline instead of based on offense and prior history, which should be the touchstone of effective discipline.

… APD’s major issues at this point in the monitoring process are supervision and command oversight, including such processes as supervisory efficiency in noting behaviors in the field that are non-compliant with policy and training. Changing non-compliance with CASA requirements in the field with notice and corrective behavior will be the next critical element of compliance that APD will need to assess, modify, and assert as an operational priority.

Finally, we suggest that APD develop a complete assessment of the current disciplinary system to ensure that similar infractions and past histories of various members of APD result in similar penalties. We see this as a key part of moving to a professional disciplinary system that is offense- and history-based.”

CURRENT COMPLIANCE ASSESSMENTS

During the IMR-15 reporting period, APD has shown significant performance increases in training effectiveness, and performance in the field has improved somewhat. In the monitor’s experience, training nearly always leads the way in organizational development and planned change processes. This has held true for APD’s reform efforts as well.

APD has made significant and meaningful progress in its secondary compliance efforts, which have substantially increased their levels of compliance, from 82% in IMR-13 to 99 % in IMR-15.

Training practices at APD have shown exceptional improvement, and compliance in the field has been on an 18-month upward trajectory. Operational compliance with the CASA has also seen improvement during the 15th reporting period, increasing to 70%.

The next significant hurdle for APD is to persistently self-monitor in-field operations to ensure that compliance in the field reflects the policy development and training that has been delivered and continues to be reflected in in-field actions. During the last three reporting periods, APD has seen steady, but gradual, increases in the delivery of CASA-compliant policing services.

Data indicate that APD has gradually improved in-field service delivery from 59% compliance in IMR-13, to 62% in IMR-14, and to 70% in IMR-15.”

MONITOR’S OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF COMPLIANCE LEVELS

“As part of the monitoring team’s normal course of business, it established a baseline assessment of all paragraphs of the CASA for the Independent Monitor’s first report (IMR-1) . This was an attempt to provide the Parties with a snapshot of existing compliance levels and, more importantly, to provide the Parties with identification of issues confronting compliance as APD continues to work toward full compliance.

As such, the baseline analysis was considered critical to future performance in APD’s reform effort, as it gives a clear depiction of the issues standing between the APD and full compliance. This report … provides a similar assessment and establishes a picture of progress on APD goals and objectives since the last monitor’s report.

As of the end of the 15th reporting period, APD has achieved substantial increases in secondary compliance and has improved operational compliance by 8% … .

Primary compliance relates mostly to the development and implementation of acceptable policies [and] conforming to national best practices. APD has shown a substantial increase in secondary compliance this reporting period, up from 82% percent compliance in IMR-14 to 99% compliance in IMR-15, which means that effective follow-up mechanisms have been taken to ensure that APD personnel understand the requirements of promulgated policies. [Examples are] training, supervising, coaching, and implementing disciplinary processes to ensure APD personnel understand and follow the policies as promulgated and are implementing them in the field.

Operational compliance with the requirements of the CASA for the 15th reporting period are higher than they were for the 14th reporting period, from 62% in IMR-14 to 70% in IMR-15. This means that 70% of the time, field personnel either perform tasks as required by the CASA or that when they fail, management personnel note and correct in-field behavior that is not compliant with the requirements of the CASA.

These compliance numbers are significant. They indicate a 20.7% increase in secondary compliance and a 12.9% increase in APD’s supervisory and operational compliance over the previous reporting period, and indicate, perhaps for the first time, a serious management willingness at APD to identify and correct behavior that is not in compliance with the requirements of the CASA.”

WEAK LINK IDENTIFIED

“A significant number of CASA paragraphs were addressed by new training at APD during this reporting period. The training tempo has increased significantly, and the quality of training also increased markedly.

The weak points of APD’s compliance efforts remain the same as they were in IMR-14: supervisors and mid-level command personnel continue to be the weak link when it comes to holding officers accountable for their in-field behavior. Until that issue is resolved, further increases in APD’s compliance levels will be difficult to attain.”

MONITOR’S REPORT SUMMARY

“APD made steady progress during the 15th reporting period. Policy development at APD has become less reliant on monitoring oversight and input and has gradually grown in its ability to move adequate policy product through its internal systems and to submit to the monitoring team policy that requires only minor modifications to be CASA congruent.

Training has become an organizational strong point during this reporting period, and the academy has shown the benefit of a strong infusion of well-qualified executives who have had proven performance in well-respected law enforcement training programs. This should make attaining full secondary compliance with the CASA easier moving forward.”

FOCUS NEEDED ON APD SERGEANTS, LIEUTENANTS, AND COMMANDERS

“Since the inception of the monitor’s work with APD, we have advised the agency repeatedly that supervision of in-field activities is critical to APD’s compliance success. This remains … the last remaining objective to address on the path to full compliance.

What remains to be done is to focus on APD’s sergeants, lieutenants, and commanders to ensure that APD’s major compliance systems are CASA-congruent and reflect department-established oversight of uses of force, oversight of day-to-day delivery of CASA-compliant services to the communities APD serves, and oversight of the compliance functions with respect to uses of force and day-to-day interactions with the public.

In short, what needs attention at this time is vigilant supervisory and managerial oversight to ensure APD’s personnel perform in a manner that is CASA-compliant at least 95% of the time. This is a high standard, no doubt, but other agencies have been successful in meeting this standard, and there is no reason APD cannot do the same.

At the current time, APD is 100% in compliance with the CASA’s policy development processes. The monitor’s comments on policies proffered during this reporting period are, for the most part, minor, and tend to be focused on the finer points of policy work, not on tangible CASA requirements.

Training, a process at APD frequently noted as deficient and not in compliance with national standards, has come into its own during the last two monitor’s reports. APD now fields training that is “industry standard.” Supervision processes at APD need a final product improvement push, and mid-level management personnel, and at times command-level personnel, need to be reminded of the critical nature of vigilant oversight of in-field operations.

The capacities to take the final steps to full operational compliance are present within APD. What remains to be done is to focus on the outstanding needs and processes noted in IMR-15, and to work diligently to build internal systems to replace E-FIT and monitoring oversight with internal systems designed to monitor and ensure continued performance on the street and performance at the supervisory levels.

Further, APD will need to focus directly on its disciplinary system, ensuring that the process meets modern standards of progressive discipline. As with other critical tasks with which APD has been confronted, the monitoring team will continue to coach and structure APD’s efforts toward full operational compliance with the requirements of the CASA.”

EFIT WORKING

On February 26, 2021, the City and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into a Stipulated Agreement filed with the United States District Court to stay a contempt of court proceeding against the city for willful violations of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). The Stipulated Order established the External Force Investigation Team (EFIT). The Internal Affairs Force Division (IAFD) had allowed and did not investigate 667 cases of police “use of force cases” to the point that even if investigators found officers hadn’t followed policies, they could not be disciplined because the deadlines had passed.

The External Force Investigation Team (EFIT) was established to train APD’s force investigators and ensure cases were being investigated within 90 days. Since EFIT started its work, no new cases have been added to the backlog. Federal Judge James Browning who is assigned to oversee the settlement has signed off on a plan to allow the EFIT to continue its work and also to review the backlog cases.
The EFIT is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is required to respond to all police use of force call outs within 1 hour of notification.

All Use of Force (“UOF”) investigations undertaken by the EFIT must be completed within 60 days with an additional 30-day supervisory review period for a total of 90 days from start to finish. Pursuant to the Federal Court Order, EFIT must conduct joint investigations with APD Internal Affairs Force Division (“IAFD”) of all Level 2 and Level 3 Use Of Incidents . This includes all Tactical Deployments where there is APD police Use of Force is utilized. EFIT must also assist APD with training concerning the its Use of Force policies.

The Federal Monitor Ginger said that the quality of writing and accuracy of investigations of police use of force cases has improved greatly since the creation of the External Force Investigation Team which has streamlined reviews of use of force and investigations by upper-level staff.

The Federal Monitor said this in his 15th report:

“… optimism should be tempered by recognition of administrative and cultural obstacles that persist. … Eventually, EFIT will pass oversight responsibilities back to APD, which will test APD’s ability to sustain the obvious progress made with day-to-day external oversight.”

The link to quoted news source material is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2498594/apd-sees-significant-gains-in-reform-effort.html

FEDERAL MONITOR’S CAUTIONARY STATEMENTS ABOUT COUNTER CASA EFFECT

While the tone of the latest report was a clear departure from past monitor’s reports that were highly critical of APD, Federal Monitor Ginger still cautioned that critical issues still remain when it comes to sergeants and lieutenants and what is known as the “Counter CASA” effect that he himself identified and defined.

It was in the Federal Monitors 10th audit report that the “Counter CASA” effect was fully explained. According to the Federal Monitor’s 10th report:

“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 … the 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.”

What the Federal Monitor said about sergeants and lieutenants in the 15th Monitor’s Report is essentially the Counter CASA effect and for that reason alone what he said makes it worth repeating:

“The weak points of APD’s compliance efforts remain the same as they were in IMR-14: supervisors and mid-level command personnel continue to be the weak link when it comes to holding officers accountable for their in-field behavior. Until that issue is resolved, further increases in APD’s compliance levels will be difficult to attain.”
… .

“What remains to be done is to focus on APD’s sergeants, lieutenants, and commanders to ensure that APD’s major compliance systems are CASA-congruent and reflect department-established oversight of uses of force, oversight of day-to-day delivery of CASA-compliant services to the communities APD serves, and oversight of the compliance functions with respect to uses of force and day-to-day interactions with the public.”
… .

“Supervision continues to be a significant problem with APD’s compliance efforts. … Further, APD’s disciplinary practices continue to show artifacts of disparate treatment, indicating that personnel at times receive dissimilar discipline instead of based on offense and prior history, which should be the touchstone of effective discipline.”

APD CHIEF HAROLD MEDINA’S REACTION TO 15TH REPORT

APD Police Chief Medina was quick to react and say it was “great news” and to take credit for the latest improvements in APD’s compliance levels as mandated by the Court Approved Settlement Agreement. Medina attributed the progress in compliance in the reporting period to new leadership at the training academy and in other high-level positions.

Chief Harold Medina said APD’s goal is for the department to be in full compliance with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement in 2 years. Medina said this about the 2 year goal:

“We may not meet that goal, and we could get criticized later that we didn’t meet our goal. But we’re going to set the goal … . We’re going to believe in ourselves and we’re going to try our best. If, 2 years from now, we recognize we need one more period, well, you know what, it’s a whole lot better than anybody else has done.”

Regarding the entire report, Medina had this to say:

“I think that it goes to show that, you know, sometimes you’ve got to give a team a little bit of time to transition and to change. … One of the things that always hurt us is the lack of resources, and you run out of time in the day. … The way this has been developed by the administration is giving specific tasks and not overloading people so that they’re able to accomplish more. …

Sometimes people may criticize and say APD is top heavy. APD’s never been under a settlement agreement and now APD has never moved a settlement agreement forward this quickly and it’s because we have resources at the top.

We will continue to stand up for our department where we think it’s necessary and, you know, to explain ourselves. … We don’t want to be confrontational about it … but it is imperative that we explain ourselves and they take into account our explanations … I want a sustainable process that will outlast DOJ and I mean that. … I want to create a process that is going to be here beyond them.

My goal is that we go into compliance with policies and procedures that stay the same. … That we modify very little because it is creating the department that we want. Hopefully we could build off this momentum and we could continue to move in the right direction and hopefully we can get out of this in the near future.”

The links to quoted news sources are here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2498594/apd-sees-significant-gains-in-reform-effort.html

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/new-doj-report-shows-progress-for-apd/

CREATING WHOLE NEW LEVEL OF APD BUREAUCRACY

When Medina says “Sometimes people may criticize and say APD is top heavy” he no doubt is referring the whole new level of bureaucracy the Keller Administration has created at APD within the last year.

The APD high command that works directly out of the Chief’s Office has gone from 3 to 10 full time sworn staff. Those positions are Chief, Superintendent Of Police Reform, Deputy Superintendent Of Police Reform, 6 Deputy Chiefs, 1 Chief of Staff. Within the last year, Chief Medina has appointed 3 new Deputy Chiefs for a total of 6 Deputies. This is the largest number of Deputies in the history of the department.

The Keller Administration has also created the new position of “Deputy Commanders” which there are 16. The 16 “Deputy Commander” positions created a whole new level of bureaucracy and management between Commanders and Lieutenants.

A link to a related blog article is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2022/01/03/top-heavy-apd-high-command-staff-goes-from-3-to-6-deputies-with-5-apd-insiders-new-level-of-apd-bureaucracy-created-with-16-deputy-commander-positions-outsiders-needed-to/

APD FORWARD COALITION REACTION

APD Forward is one of the main stakeholders who appear during the federal court hearings on the CASA. 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, and the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico.

ACLU frequently speaks on behalf of APD Forward. Barron Jones, senior policy strategist with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, pointed out that APD was able to improve so much because it had outside help. Jones had this to say:

“While we really appreciate and applaud the progress made during this reporting period, we do want to highlight that this progress came after a huge amount of additional resources had to be put into APD so they could bring up the use-of-force investigations.”

The links to quoted source material are here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2498594/apd-sees-significant-gains-in-reform-effort.html

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/new-doj-report-shows-progress-for-apd/

https://www.cabq.gov/police/documents-related-to-apds-settlement-agreement

https://www.cabq.gov/police/documents/apds-15th-progress-report.pdf

NO SUPERINDENDANT OF POLICE REFORM

On Monday, April 25, 2022, Mayor Tim Keller announced in a press release that he had nominated La Tesha Watson, Ph.D., as the new Superintendent of Police Reform to be confirmed by the Albuquerque City Council. The position had remained open since Interim Superintendent of Police Reform Sylvester Stanley announced his departure on December 1, 2021 after a mere 8 months on the job.

On May 3, one week after the Dr. LaTesha Watson appointment was announced, the City issued a press release announcing it was not moving forward with her nomination of for the position of Superintendent of Police Reform and that the hiring process will continue. The press release announcing the withdrawal is as follows:

“City Not Moving Forward With Nominee for Superintendent of Police Reform
Hiring for Position Continues

ALBUQUERQUE – After the final round of in-person discussions with Dr. LaTesha Watson, the [Keller] administration has chosen to not to proceed with her nomination to the position of Superintendent of Reform for the Albuquerque Police Department. Watson recently concluded a site visit and a series of meetings with City and Department Executive Staff as part of her nomination for confirmation.

Watson brought alternative ideas and views about the path forward on reform, but the candidate and the administration identified key differences in our approach to the role and for continued progress in Albuquerque.

During the visit to Albuquerque, Watson put forward a proposal for restructuring the role in a manner that ultimately did not align with the position that the city is hiring for, as outlined in the job description created last year to meet the specific needs of APD. The administration determined that her alternative approach could in fact hold back recent progress made in the Department of Justice consent decree.

The city is encouraged by the significant recent reform progress outlined in the upcoming independent monitor report which is set to be released in two weeks. This is a critical moment in Albuquerque’s reform process, with the position of Superintendent playing a key role in overseeing this forward momentum.

The administration will continue the hiring process for the Superintendent of Reform. Although ultimately visions for the role differed, we appreciate her candidacy, and her impressive work on aspects of policing and accountability throughout her career.

The Superintendent of Reform was created last year by the City to bring individual accountability and leadership to reform, create differential use of force and discipline processes from APD chain of command, and add overall governance to the reform process. The position is also designed to enable the Chief of Police to better focus on crime fighting. The position was held by Sylvester Stanley until his retirement in January.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

After over 7 years of implementing the mandating DOJ reforms, and millions spent on training, APD appears to have finally turned the corner on implementing the 271 mandated reforms. APD is commended for attaining a 100% Primary Compliance rate and a 99% Secondary Compliance.

Notwithstanding, APD is still struggling mightily with Operational Compliance at 70% compliance. Operational compliance is the single most important compliance level of all 3 and it is where the rubber hits the road with respect to the reforms.

Operational compliance is the hardest to attain. Operational compliance is attained at the point that the adherence to policies is apparent in the day-to-day operation of the agency. It is achieved when line personnel are routinely held accountable for compliance 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.

The problem is that the Federal Monitor has repeatedly found that APD sergeants and lieutenants are resisting the reforms.

REMOVE SERGEANTS AND LIEUTENANTS FROM POLICE UNION

The Federal Monitor has found repeatedly it is APD sergeants and lieutenants who are resisting management’s implementation of the DOJ reforms. Sergeants and lieutenants are where the rubber hits the road when it comes implementation of the 271 reforms.

It is difficult to understand why Federal Court Appointed Monitor James Ginger essentially down played and did not come out and say that the Counter CASA effect is still alive and well within APD. What is also difficult to understand is Ginger’s reluctance to tell the court that APD’s sergeants and lieutenants need to be removed from the police union.

Sergeants and lieutenants need to be made at will employees and removed from the collective bargaining unit in order to get a real buy in to management’s goals of police reform and the CASA. APD Police sergeants and lieutenants cannot serve two masters of Administration Management and Union priorities that are in conflict when it comes to the CASA reforms. Sergeants and lieutenants are management and need to be removed from the union in order to allow APD management to take appropriate measures to ensure the reforms are accomplished or hold those sergeants and lieutenants who continue to resist the reforms accountable.

SUPERINDENDANT OF POLICE REFORM

The nomination of and then withdrawal of LaTesha Watson, Ph.D. by Mayor Tim Keller for the position of Superintendent of Police Reform was sloppy and disappointing. It is “Human Resourses 101” in the appointment of high profile positions that under no circumstances should an appointment be announced until the vetting process and interview process of a selected candidate is completed and all questions are resolved to the satisfaction of both sides. That is especially true when it comes to high profile law enforcement appointments such as Chief of Police and Superintendent of Police Reform, given the fact that public safety is at issue.

Ever since the creation of the position of Superintendent of Police Reform was created, including the release of the job description, the APD Union has voiced objections that the Superintendent of Police Reform will have the final say on police disciplinary matters. The union has said that it violates the union contract and that only the APD Chief can impose discipline. It is highly likely that police union and others voiced strong objections to the Watson appointment once the circumstances of her termination by the Henderson Police Department were reported.

Although Mayor Tim Keller announced that a national search would be conducted to fill the position Superintendent of Police Reform, such as when he appointed Harold Medina as APD Chief, the process was never made public. There were 3 finalists for APD Chief and all 3 were interviewed on line for the public to witness, including Medina’s interview. That has not happened with the Superintendent of Police Reform.

The Keller Administration never released to the public the names of all the applicants nor the application process itself, including who was on the interviewing committee. It was never disclosed to the public if the city conferred with the Department of Justice or Federal Court Appointed Monitor Dr. James Ginger to get his take or input over the applicants.

MEDINA’S TWO YEAR GOAL

APD Chief Medina’s goal for the department to be in full compliance with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement in 2 years is commendable. However, based on 8 years of obstructionist tactics by the APD Police Union and APD’s Sergeants and Lieutenants who are union members, it’s likely going from 70% to 100% in Operational Compliance is easier said than done given how long APD was stuck at mediocre compliance levels for 8 years.

Medina needs to remember what Ginger has now said:

“… supervisors and mid-level command personnel continue to be the weak link when it comes to holding officers accountable for their in-field behavior. Until that issue is resolved, further increases in APD’s compliance levels will be difficult to attain.”

What complicates matters is that for almost a full 4 months, Mayor Tim Keller has not appointed a Superintendent of Police Reform raising questions if the potion is needed or ever was needed.

Links to all related blog articles can be found here:

Dinelli Blog Articles On The DOJ Reforms, Federal Monitor’s Reports, APD And The Police Union

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