Doug Peterson is the President Peterson Properties. Established in 1971, Peterson Properties has developed 5 million square feet of commercial real estate and owns a portfolio of 36 properties totaling over 1.2 million square feet. The company is the largest commercial real estate company in Albuquerque. The company owns 100% of its properties and manages each property in house, so it can maintain strong relationships with its tenants from the beginning.
On April 9, the Albuquerque Journal published the below guest column written by Doug Peterson.
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this guest column written by Doug Peterson are those of Mr. Peterson and do not necessarily reflect those of the www.petedinelli.com blog. Mr. Peterson has not been paid any compensation to publish his guest column and he has given his consent to publish on www.PeteDinelli.com
HEADLINE: “With crime and cost, it’s well past time for Department of Justice to leave”
BY DOUGLAS PETERSON / ALBUQUERQUE RESIDENT
SUNDAY, APRIL 9TH, 2023
For nine years, the city of Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has been under the thumb of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) via a settlement agreement. Citizens of our city have paid an extraordinary price both in terms of the millions of dollars spent on federally mandated monitoring and overwhelming “reforms” to every aspect of how APD operates as well as the more tragic price of skyrocketing crime in the Duke City.
The DOJ settlement agreement micromanages APD: the word “shall” appears in it 630 times and applies in nearly every instance to APD. Moreover, the settlement agreement mandates bureaucracy, allocating responsibility to 11 different committees, boards or task forces. The agreement has resulted in such poor morale at APD that, despite a record budget and compensation, recruitment is so hard Mayor Tim Keller recently admitted the city will not hit its target number of police officers despite his promises during two campaigns. Meanwhile, homicides have hit record levels year after year, culminating in a high mark of 120 in 2022.
As DOJ dominance over APD continues to exacerbate the crisis of lawlessness in Albuquerque, citizens wonder in desperation whether our DOJ overlords will ever leave and let our community have its police department back. Sadly, a look at similar DOJ oversight of other law enforcement organizations around the United States suggests the end may never come.
Over the past three decades, the DOJ has conducted more than 70 investigations of local police departments, and many of those investigations have resulted in agreements like that in place in Albuquerque. Oakland, California, leads the pack with DOJ oversight that has been in place for 20 years. Seattle is at 11 years – check out the YouTube documentary “Seattle is Dying.” New Orleans is at 10 years.
Each of the long-suffering communities under DOJ supervision has something in common: Their government leaders have perpetually sought to appease the DOJ through continual concessions regarding their police operations. Albuquerque itself has amended its settlement agreement with DOJ nine times. But these cities, including Albuquerque, never challenged the DOJ investigation results in court. Albuquerque did not even make the DOJ file a lawsuit; the city just threw up its hands and abdicated control of APD.
Meanwhile, Maricopa County, Arizona, pushed back against the DOJ and ended up with a settlement agreement that never yielded control.
It is time for Albuquerque to push back, too. A mechanism exists in the current agreement: Section 343 lets the city motion the court when it determines it is in “full and effective” compliance with the agreement. Absent the DOJ’s concurrence with that motion, perhaps the court will agree with the city. Or maybe an appellate court, all the way through the United States Supreme Court, will agree.
Our leaders owe it to our citizens to try. Beyond those measures, the city could simply ignore the agreement and let DOJ take over our police department. The city and our county could then simply terminate our funding of APD and turn over all law enforcement responsibility and APD’s former budget to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department, which is not subject to a federal overlord but instead, rightly, is governed by the people it serves.
The link to the Albuquerque Journal column is here:
TERMINATION AND SUSPENSION PROVSIONS OF SETTLEMENT
The terms and condition of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) that allow for suspension and termination of the settlement identified by Doug Peterson in his opinion column merit review. They are as follows:
“Termination of the Agreement
342. The City will endeavor to reach full and effective compliance with this Agreement within four years of its Effective Date. The Parties agree to jointly ask the Court to terminate this Agreement after this date, provided that the City has been in full and effective compliance with this Agreement for two years. “Full and Effective Compliance” shall be defined to require sustained compliance with all material requirements of this Agreement or sustained and continuing improvement in constitutional policing, as demonstrated pursuant to the Agreement’s outcome measures.
343. If after six years from the Effective Date the Parties disagree whether the City has been in full and effective compliance for two years, either Party may seek to terminate this Agreement. In the case of termination sought by the City, prior to filing a motion to terminate, the City agrees to notify DOJ in writing when the City has determined that it is in full and effective compliance with this Agreement and that such compliance has been maintained for no less than two years.”
The CASA does have a provision that allows suspension of the monitoring. Specifically, Paragraph 302 of the CASA provides:
“302. Where the Parties agree, the Monitor shall refrain from conducting a compliance review of a requirement previously found by the Monitor to be in sustained compliance for at least two years pursuant to audits or reviews, or where outcome assessments or other information indicate that the outcome intended by the requirement has been achieved.”
The link to the 118-page CASA is here:
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. APD was to have come into full compliance in the 3 categories within 4 years and the case was to be dismissed in 2020. Instead, Court Approved Federal Monitor James Ginger has found APD failed to come into compliance. As Doug Peterson noted, the case has now been pending 9 years, more than double the time originally agreed to by the city and the Department of Justice.
On November 19, 2022, Federal Court Appointed Independent Monitor James Ginger filed his 16th Independent Monitors Report (IMR) on the 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%
Secondary Compliance: 99%
Operational Compliance: 80%. (10% increase from 70%)
The link to review the entire 16th Federal Monitors report is here:
On April 14, KOAT TV, Target 7 reported the city continues to pay the court appointed Federal Independent Monitor James Ginger and his team of 14 experts the same salary it has paid since 2019, four years after the court-mandated reforms with the DOJ were established. Albuquerque originally was paying Ginger $120,000 a month for his services as an independent monitor. Since 2019, Ginger is being paid another $13,000 more or a total of $133,000 a month or $1,596,000 a year to continue with the monitoring.
The link to the Channel 7 report is here:
It’s clear that based on the compliance levels that the spirit and intent of the settlement have been achieve and the city should move immediately to dismiss the case as argued by Doug Peterson in his Albuquerque Journal opinion column.
The links to a related Dinelli blog articles published on the DOJ consent decree can be found here:
“Dinelli Blog Articles On The DOJ Reforms, Federal Monitor’s Reports, APD And The Police Union”