On June 20, the New Mexico Sun published the following guest column provided by www.PeteDinelli.com:
HEADLINE: “APD two step on DOJ reforms justify need to remove sergeants and lieutenants from police union”
By Pete Dinelli
Jun 20, 2022
“APD is struggling mightily with implementation of 271 mandated reforms to eliminate APD’s “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice in 2014. APD has now taken 2 major steps forward and 2 major steps backwards in its continuing 7-year saga to come into compliance with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).
On May 11, the Federal Monitor filed his 15th report. It was a dramatic reversal from the past 3 monitor’s reports. At the end of the reporting period, APD’s compliance levels are:
100% Primary Compliance
99% Secondary Compliance
70% Operational Compliance
When APD achieves a 95% compliance rate in the 3 identified compliance levels and maintains compliance for 2 consecutive years, the case can be dismissed.
The Federal Monitor tempered his findings when he wrote:
“The weak points of APD’s compliance efforts remain the same as they were in [the previous reports]: 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.”
When the Federal Monitor released his 15th report, APD Police Chief Medina was quick to take credit for the latest improvements. Medina also set the goal for the department to be in full compliance with the settlement agreement in 2 years. Medina’s goal to attain full compliance within two years means the case will not be dismissed for at least 4 years with 2 years to achieve compliance and 2 more years of sustaining compliance.
On May 16, the External Force Investigation Team (EFIT) filed with the Federal Court its third Quarterly Report. EFIT found 102 out of the 229 , or 44.54%, of the APD Use of Force investigations closed by APD were out of compliance. EFIT also reported that as of April 22, 2022, EFIT and the Internal Affairs Force Division responded and opened investigations on 3,674 Use of Force incidents.
The EFIT report states:
“EFIT has serious concerns with the manner in which Internal Affairs Force Division first line supervisors [who are sergeants, lieutenants] are handling daily supervision of the Detectives in the Division. EFIT believes that this is clearly a first line supervisory issue that, if left uncorrected, will continue to render investigations out of compliance with the Process Narrative.”
The Federal Monitor, and now the EFIT, have found that APD sergeants and lieutenants are failing in the use of force investigations or who are resisting the reforms. In the 15th report, the Federal Monitor said:
“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.”
Police sergeants and lieutenants cannot serve two masters of APD management and union that are in conflict when it comes to the reforms. To achieve compliance, sergeants and lieutenants need to be removed from the police union and made at will employees. The removal will allow APD management to take appropriate measures to ensure the reforms are accomplished and hold those who resist the reforms accountable.”
Pete Dinelli is a native of Albuquerque. He is a licensed New Mexico attorney with 27 years of municipal and state government service including as an assistant attorney general, assistant district attorney prosecuting violent crimes, city of Albuquerque deputy city attorney and chief public safety officer, Albuquerque city councilor, and several years in private practice. Dinelli publishes a blog covering politics in New Mexico: www.PeteDinelli.com.
ABOUT THE NEW MEXICO SUN
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