Federal Monitor Files 16th  Report On APD Compliance Levels Under The Court Approve Settlement Agreement

On   Federal Court Appointed Independent Monitor James Ginger filed his 16th 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 16th Federal Monitors report is here:

https://www.cabq.gov/police/documents/959-221109-imr-16.pdf

This blog article reports on the findings and is a summary of the 16th Federal Monitors Report. The article is not to be considered exhaustive but is an outline of  the major accomplishments of APD over the reporting period.

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.

16th  FEDERAL MONITOR’S REPORT COMPLIANCE LEVELS

The Federal Monitor reported that as of the end of the IMR-16 reporting period, APD’s compliance levels are as follows:

Primary Compliance: 100% (No change)
Secondary Compliance: 99% (No change)
Operational Compliance: 80%. (10% increase from 70%)

 15th FEDERAL MONITOR’S REPORT COMPLIANCE LEVELS

 On May 11, 2022, Federal Court Appointed Independent Monitor filed his 15th Report on the Compliance Levels.  The 15th Federal Monitors report 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

APD’s compliance levels in  the IMR-15 Federal Monitor’s report were as follows:

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

The 15th Federal Monitors report was  a dramatic reversal from the past 3 monitor reports that were highly critical of the Keller Administration and the Albuquerque Police Department.

14th FEDERAL MONITOR’S REPORT COMPLIANCE LEVELS

On November 12, 2021, the Federal Monitor reported in the Federal Monitors IMR-14 report filed  the 3 compliance levels  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)

FEDERAL MONITORS IMR-16 REPORT EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

During the IMR-16 reporting period, APD has held steady in its overall compliance ratings, with Primary compliance at 100% and Secondary compliance levels at 99%. This means that APD’s policy development and dissemination processes were found to be CASA-congruent, and that training development and execution were found to be CASA-congruent in almost all cases reviewed by the monitoring team.

… [T] he monitoring team … found it … not necessary to comment extensively on policy drafts submitted by APD for review during IMR-16. Policies submitted for review were generally well written, CASA-compliant, and industry-standard in terms of the actions required by APD personnel in the field.

Training processes continue to be a bright spot at APD. The new cadre of external hires continues to develop training plans, documentation, and delivery systems that comply with industry standards. Communications between Academy leadership and the monitoring team continues to be issue-oriented and focused on modalities to improve training product and achieve compliance with training-related paragraphs.

 During the 16th reporting period, it was  noted that APD’s recruiting unit and the Behavioral Science Section continued the high-quality work the monitor has noted in past monitor’s reports.

 The primary Force Review Board (FRB) reviewed 43% more cases during the IMR-16 reporting period than in the previous period. APD also implemented a secondary FRB during this period.  These changes bode well for APD’s efforts to hear all use of force cases in a timely manner.

 IAPS investigators thoroughly investigated and documented and reached appropriate findings in all cases this reporting period. The mentoring, coaching, and oversight provided to APD by External Force Investigation Team  continue to reflect industry-standard practices and produce industry-standard results in numerous APD force investigations and assessments.

 Our reviews of fourteen IAFD cases this reporting period show that these investigations were highly congruent with industry standards. Timeliness of internal investigations was also significantly improved during the 16th reporting period. This reflects improved oversight by IAFD command.

 The use of force cases assessed by the monitoring team this reporting period (all of which benefited from on-scene coaching and oversight by EFIT) continue to show improvement. Further, operational compliance—the degree to which operations in the field comply with the requirements of the CASA—is now at 80%  compliance. This is a 10%  point increase in operational compliance during the IMR-16 reporting period, the highest level of operational compliance yet achieved by APD.

 This progress is significant, but we remind APD that the compliance requirement is 95 percent or higher. The efforts we have noted during this reporting period need to be exhibited consistently if APD is to meet the 95%  compliance levels needed for full compliance with the requirements of the CASA.

 Further, we note that the work completed by IAFD and EFIT during this reporting period shows that it is possible to meet and exceed the 95%  compliance level for use of force investigations at APD. Doing so requires fully focused processes at the supervisory, command, review, documentation, and adjudication levels at APD.

 It was noted  that eventually EFIT will transfer oversight of force responsibilities to APD. This transfer will test APD’s ability to sustain the obvious progress that is being made with day-to-day external oversight.

The following [three] areas will need careful attention as APD works toward long-term sustainability of the CASA reforms achieved:

 1.Ensuring that quality investigations are not features that exist only while EFIT is present.

 2. Staffing IAFD and sustaining the core competencies of investigators will be a challenge for APD. Growing detective and investigator competencies requires the support of commanders and time to acclimate personnel experiences dealing with officers and the complexity some cases bring. Stabilizing turnover in IAFD’s supervisory ranks and investigative staff in the long term will be a key factor for success.

 3.  APD should consider utilizing the process narrative, which was put into place to establish standards and a system by which all use of force investigations will be assessed for quality, in the future. APD significantly reduced failure rates among investigations submitted through the chain of command during this monitoring period.

 4. Since failure rates are directly related to the quality of supervision in IAFD, they can be reasonably viewed as a predictor of IAFD’s ability (or inability) to achieve CASA compliance after EFIT is no longer internally monitoring IAFD’s quality of work. The assignment of a new commander at IAFD during this monitoring period had a significant positive impact on failure rates.

 FEDERAL MONITORS IMR-16 REPORT OF SUMMARY OF SUCCESSES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS

“Successes for IMR-16 reporting period are both substantial and consequential.”

SUCCESSES REPORTED

During the reporting period, [the following successes were found]:

 1. APD implemented policy, training, and practice changes that resulted in a 10% point increase in operational compliance, from 70% in IMR 15 to 80% in IMR 16.

 2. Recruiting and BSS continued their positive arc of change, and solidified new policy and practice that has aided compliance efforts;

 3.  IAPS has continued to improve the quality and scope of its investigations;

 4.  APD has increased substantially the number of ECIT certified officers responding to mental health-related calls for police service;

 5. SOD and SID continue to perform their day-to-day tasks in a manner that is highly congruent with the requirements of the CASA;

 6. Albuquerque’s Citizen Policing Councils have matured to the point that they are among the best in the nation; and

 7. Community outreach efforts at APD have taken on a new level of engagement. The monitoring team is acutely aware of the effort APD undertook to generate these positive findings.

 We also detect a substantial shift in mind-set and vision at the executive and command levels at APD related to the oversight of use of force and infield delivery of policing services.

 APD remained consistent with its [Primary Complianc at 100% and Secondary Compliance 99%.] respectively.

 During this reporting period, APD’s Operational compliance increased by 9%.

REMAINING CHALLENGES

APD’s Operational compliance is now at 80%. Current Challenges  remain to be addressed if APD is to reach full compliance with the requirements of the CASA. These [challenges]  include:

 1. Transitioning EFIT oversight responsibilities regarding use of force investigations back to APD, which will test APD’s ability to sustain the obvious progress that is being made with the day-to-day external oversight provided by EFIT;

2. Ensuring investigative quality are not features that exist only while EFIT is present;

 3. Expanding IAFD detectives’ and investigators’ competencies requires the support of commanders and allowing time to accumulate personal experiences dealing with officers and the complexity some cases bring. Stabilizing turnover in IAFD’s supervisory ranks and investigative staff in the long term will be a key factor for success;

 4. The process narrative was put into place to establish standards and a system by which all use of force investigations will be assessed for adequacy. During this monitoring period, APD significantly reduced failure rates among investigations that were submitted through the chain of command.

 Since reductions in failure rates are attributable to the quality of training and supervision in IAFD, they can be reasonably viewed as a predictor of IAFD’s ability (or inability) to maintain CASA compliance after EFIT is no longer monitoring IAFD’s quality of work. The assignment of a new commander at IAFD during this monitoring period had a significant positive impact of reducing failure rates. Still, APD must ensure that the improvements are not dependent on the ability of a single commander and are instead a culturally ingrained standard of excellence;

 5. Adequately staffing IAFD and sustaining the core competencies of investigators will be a challenge for APD. Growing detective and investigator competencies require the support of informed commanders and supervisors, as well as accumulating personal experiences dealing with officers and the complexity of some IAFD cases;

 6. Stabilizing turnover in IAFD’s supervisory ranks and investigative staff in the long term will be a key factor for continued success.

 7. Building “bridging” systems to ensure that lessons learned during EFIT processes are internalized, monitored, and protected from deterioration is critical to overall success.

8. Carefully monitoring and assessing IAFD staffing viz a viz workload and timeline requirements will be critical as APD begins to assume responsibilities currently being met by EFIT, to provide careful, consistent, and persistent assessment of uses of force by the monitoring team;

 9. Developing processes to monitor timeliness and thoroughness of investigations will be critical as IAFD steps into the monitor’s role of independently assessing compliance with the requirements of the CASA and the current expected standards of nationally accepted processes for force investigations.

 10. Improving detective and investigator competencies requires the support of commanders and time to accumulate personal experiences dealing with officers and the complexity that some cases bring. Stabilizing turnover in IAFD’s supervisory ranks and investigative staff in the long term will be a key factor for success.

11. It is critical that APD establish the ability to assess and adapt EFIT’s Process Narrative, which was put into place to establish standards and a system by which all use of force investigations are assessed. During this monitoring period, APD significantly reduced failure rates among investigations that were submitted through the chain of command.

 Since the drop of those failure rates are directly attributable to the quality of supervision in IAFD, they can be reasonably viewed as a predictor of IAFD’s ability (or inability) to achieve CASA compliance after EFIT is no longer internally monitoring IAFD’s quality of work.

 The assignment of a new commander within IAFD during this monitoring period had a significant positive impact on reduced failure rates. Nonetheless, APD must ensure that the improvements are not dependent on the ability of a single commander and are instead a culturally ingrained standard of excellence, supported by good policy, well-trained personnel, and strong supervisory and management oversight.

 12 .  Establishing an internal assessment and problem-solving practice to identify, assess, and remediate systems issues leading to failures to comply with the process narrative for internal investigations should be a high-priority goal of APD leadership.

 13. Revising APD’s annual use of force reporting processes should be implemented to reflect correct information once EFIT-2 has completed the investigation of APD’s backlogged use of force cases. IAPS should more closely train and supervise area command investigations to ensure completeness and accuracy.

 14. IAPS should more closely train and supervise area command investigations to ensure completeness and accuracy.

 15.  Assessing critical “practice points” that involve CPOA’s contribution to compliance practices and building reliable bridges to interlink CPOA findings into APD policy, training, supervision, command oversight, and leadership processes will be critical moving forward. The careful reader will note that most of the challenges outlined above fall under the rubric of practice-based leadership.

 While “technicians” at APD may be partially responsible for the successes noted above, it will be incumbent on leadership to conceptualize and foster the vision and will to modify, plan, and operationalize responses to the remaining challenges noted above.

 Further, for processes that are deemed effective, APD should ensure their long-term use in the department’s pursuit of compliance with the CASA. APD’s “to do” list, at this point in time is substantial, but the monitoring team notes that the successes outlined above should facilitate understanding and experience that in turn should stimulate effective management of the remaining tasks to be completed.

In the final analysis it will be the role of APD senior executives to ensure that the progress achieved during the 16th reporting period is made part of the department’s continuing efforts.

 EFIT USE OF FORCE INVESTIGATIONS 

 On February 26, 2021, the  External Force Investigation Team (EFIT) was created by stipulated order. The EFIT commenced operations on July 16, 2021.   The EFIT was created when the Federal Monitor found that APD intentionally did not investigate 667 of use of force cases. The EFIT is an outside team of experts that investigates APD officer involved “Use of Force” cases and that is tasked with dealing with the backlog of 667 use of force cases.

EFIT is on call 24/7 and must respond to all call outs within one hour of notification. All Use of Force (“UOF”) investigations must be completed within 60 days with an additional 30-day supervisory review period for a total of 90 days from start to finish.  EFIT must conduct joint investigations with APD Internal Affairs Force Division (“IAFD”) of all Level 2 and Level 3 Use of Force incidents.   The joint investigations include all Tactical Deployments where Use of Force is utilized. EFIT must also assist APD with training concerning the use of force.

The Federal Monitor’s 16th Independent Monitor’s report reported  on the work and progress made by the EFIT as follows:

 “CASA requirements stipulate that the use and investigation of force shall comply with applicable laws and comport to best practices. Central to these investigations shall be a determination of each involved officer’s conduct to determine if the conduct was legally justified and compliant with APD policy. Field supervisors make initial assessments and classifications to determine the appropriate type of response to instances where officers use force. Level 1 uses of force are handled by supervisors in the Field Services Bureau or other applicable units. The Internal Affairs Force Division (IAFD) responds for investigatory responsibilities associated with all Levels 2 and 3 uses of force.”

 RESULTS REPORTED

 “During IMR-16 [involving] data current through August 2022, APD recorded a combined 212 Level 2 and Level 3 use of force cases: the same number of cases as in IMR-15. This continues to reflect a significant reduction in the more serious levels of use of force observed in previous monitoring periods.

 During this monitoring period, APD and the External Force Investigation Team (EFIT) have maintained their reversal of the previous problematic long-term trend in completing Level 2 and 3 use of force cases. Internal Affairs Force Division (IAFD), working alongside EFIT, completed 151 Level 2 cases, with 148 of the cases being completed within 90 days of the use of force. The three cases not completed within 90 days were misclassified initially by Field Service Bureau personnel, which contributed to the cases not being completed within 90 days of the use of force.  …

 As noted later in this monitor’s report, evidence reveals that problematic productivity levels at the Internal Affairs Force Divisi ( IAFD) from earlier monitoring periods have reversed and are headed in the right direction.  …  [T]his reversal was achieved with external assistance provided by EFIT. Nonetheless, the progress made and initially reported during IMR-15 has been maintained during this monitoring period.

 We urge APD to consider this issue, to “think ahead” to the processes that need to be internalized, and to identify the training and oversight necessary to facilitate those processes in preparation for the day when the EFIT engagement is terminated, and the full burden of processing force investigation cases falls once again on APD. This is a critical issue for APD, requiring careful consideration, decision-making, and documentation, and more likely than not new policy guidance, training, supervision, and executive oversight.”

 2% OF 660 BACKLOG CASES CLOSED

 In the IMR-14 reporting period, the monitoring team noted the growth of backlogged Level 2 and Level 35 cases and the lack of progress in completing those cases. During this monitoring period, the Stipulated Order approved by the Court in 2021 was amended to authorize a secondary EFIT team (EFIT-2) to address these backlogged Level 2 and Level 3 cases6. At the close of the monitoring period, approximately 2%  of the backlogged cases had been closed. No new cases were added to the list of backlogged cases during the IMR16 reporting period.

 …  [As]  of the close of this reporting period, EFIT-2 had been operating for less than two months. Since APD changed how it records requests for misconduct investigations associated with use of force reviews and investigations, more details are available for internal analysis. … [S]ince potential policy violations observed during use of  force investigations are being reported to IAPS at a higher rate, this aggregate data provides a rich resource for APD to analyze in order to determine alleged misconduct trends.

  Any training conducted by the Academy or other entity within APD should, as contextually appropriate for the course being designed, examine these data as part of its needs assessment phase of curriculum development. Also, the early identification and reporting of misconduct during force investigations reduces the compounded administrative burden that can fall on APD as those cases move through the chain of command.

 [The] City [has]  made a significant investment in the EFIT. The result has demonstrated that the terms of the CASA can be achieved with investigative effort and close oversight by supervisors and commanders. The additional benefit is that the Force Review Board (FRB) has better confidence in cases it is reviewing, and the findings investigators make. Consequently, FRB members can move more quickly during their case reviews, and meetings are more streamlined.

 In this reporting period, evidence reveals that APD continued to struggle with completing supervisory force reviews within 72 hours. Additionally, APD supervisory and command personnel still struggle to complete their reviews of Level 1 use of force reviews within the allotted 30-day time period. However, APD had better success during this monitoring period.  

 In IMR-16, the amount of time it took APD to complete the 83 Level 1 use of force cases APD opened for supervisory review ranged between 13 and 87 days. Ten of the cases completed exceeded 30 days, with four of these cases exceeding 80 days. Seventy of the 83 cases were completed within 30 days, although four of these 70 cases were at the 30-day mark.

 The monitoring team conducted a review of Level 1 uses of force drawn from samples taken throughout the reporting period. We document our reviews of those cases and statistical findings regarding Level 1 uses of force in greater detail in Paragraphs 41-59.

 The monitoring team continues to provide extensive technical assistance and feedback to APD concerning the problems associated with their IA processes. This technical assistance, continuously provided since the onset of monitoring, increased in January 2020 and has continued throughout the writing of this report. This feedback provided by the monitoring team encompassed briefings on best practices in internal affairs operations. It provided recommendations for improving existing internal processes to improve the lack of timeliness of APD’s use of force investigations and to address the disparity in discipline that exists by deferring.

 Pages 7, 8, 9 of IMR-16

 COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

After 8 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 under the CASA. APD is commended for attaining a 100% Primary Compliance rate,  a 99% Secondary Compliance rate and increasing Operational Compliance to 80%, a 10% increase. Notwithstanding, APD is still struggling mightily with Operational 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. Operational Compliance still has to be achieved at a 95% level, as do the other two, and sustained for 2 years before the case can be dismissed.

One of the biggest complaints of all DOJ cases in the country to deal with police misconduct excessive use of force cases is that they tend to go “on and on and on”  for years with no end on sight. When the CASA was first agreed to in 2014, it was agreed that all the reforms under the CASA would be fully implemented within 4 years. Simply put, the city is going on a full 8 years with millions spent. Once the city achieves the 95% compliance rate in all 3 categories, the city should move to negotiate the dismissal of  the case and argue that  the spirit and intent of the CASA has been achieved.

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About

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.