On November 14, 2014, the City, APD and Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into a stipulated Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). The settlement was the result of an 18-month long investigation that found APD had engaged in an pattern of “excessive use of force” and “deadly force”, and found a “culture of aggression” existed within the APD. The settlement mandates 271 police reforms, the appointment of a Federal Monitor and the filing of Independent Audit reports (IMRs) on the reforms. Over 9 years, 17 audit reports have been filed with the Federal Court.
Under the terms of the CASA, once APD achieves a 95% compliance rate in 3 identified compliance levels and maintains it for 2 consecutive years, the case can be dismissed. APD was supposed to have come into compliance within 4 years and the case was to be dismissed in 2018, but because of delay tactics from APD management and the Police Union, the case has dragged on for 5 more years.
On May 10, 2023 the 17th audit report was filed and reported APD’s compliance levels were reported as follows:
- Primary Compliance 100%
- Secondary Compliance 100%
- Operational Compliance 92%
The 3 compliance levels are explained as follows:
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 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 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.
Operational Compliance is considered the most difficult to implement and achieve. The 15th and 16th reports released in 2022 saw significant gains in Operational Compliance but the 17th has brought APD the closest it has ever been to full compliance with 92% reported and with 95% needed to be achieved and sustained for 2 years in all 3 compliance levels.
JUNE 6 STATUS CONFERENCE
On June 6, United State Federal District Cour Judge James Browning, who is assigned the case, held a hearing on the 17th Federal Monitor’s Report. Federal Monitor James Ginger gave a report on the contents of his 17th Monitor’s report. The City, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), the Department of Justice and other stakeholders gave updates into what the progress APD made in implementing the reforms and what is left to do for APD to reach full compliance with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) mandated reforms.
During the June 6 hearing, Independent Monitor James Ginger noted that in his 17th quarterly report he found APD had reached 92% “operational compliance” which is 12% higher than his 16th report. This by far is the highest percentage reached by APD in the last 9 years. It was a mere 3 years ago that Ginger said APD was on the brink of “catastrophic failure”.
It was in 2020 and 2021 when APD had set backs and had a backslide in the 3 compliance levels. Things began to turn around only after APD leadership changed along with the creation of the External Force Investigation Team ( EFIT) which was brought in to clear a case backlog intentionally caused by APD’s failure to investigate 667 use of force cases and train IAFD investigators on how to conduct quality and timely investigations. The delay in the investigations was so bad that no disciplinary action could be taken for policy violations per the police union contract.
During the June 6 hearing, Ginger applauded APD’s progress with the reforms as “remarkable”. Ginger also cautioned against complacency. Ginger told Judge Browning this:
“The progress that we’ve seen of late is true progress. It’s not window dressing, it’s not I say ‘we’ll do it’ and it doesn’t happen. … Things are changing at APD and that’s reflected by those compliance findings.”
Ginger reported it was a “major milestone” that the Internal Affairs Force Division could soon be working without the oversight of the independent contractor.
Alexander Uballez, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico, said despite the department’s “apparent numerical proximity” to full compliance, its sustained efforts post-CASA will be critical. Uballez told the court this:
“Most of all, I know that no compliance percentage will convince us that this decade long journey has been a success if use of force is unabated. … I have cautious optimism [over] … significant drops in APD’s use of force over the past three years. … Now, this is not a ‘mission accomplished’ banner. But this is great evidence… that, despite the rocky road that we have traveled to get here, there is hard evidence that APD and the City of Albuquerque is back at the table willingly and with a full heart.”
During the June 6 hearing, Ginger’ monitoring team and DOJ attorneys gave reports on the progress made with the settlement reforms. All lauded the improvements APD made in investigating use of force cases, officer training and its ability to monitor itself in many areas, as well as to the city for diverting thousands of calls for service involving those in crisis to the Albuquerque Community Safety department. It was reported that some problems remain such as with the civilian oversight process, use of force cases still being misclassified and issues within the Force Review Board’s operations.
The monitoring team found that APD remains out of compliance in 23 paragraphs of the CASA and of those, 11 involve civilian oversight, 8 involve use of force investigations, 3 involve the early intervention system, which collects data on individual officers’ use of force, and 1 involves discipline.
Stephen Rickman, with the monitoring team, said compliance with civilian oversight has been marred by lack of leadership and low staffing at the Civilian Police Oversight Agency. This lack of leadership led to a trickle-down effect of large caseloads and untimely investigations of complaints. Rickman said a new ordinance passed by the Albuquerque city council in January should help gain compliance in the long run, fixing flaws in the initial ordinance and clearing up confusion on board members’ roles. Rickman said to gain compliance in those 11 paragraphs the Citizens Police Oversight Agency must be fully staffed, revise the training curriculum and put in place an audit process for the cases the board had investigated.
Jared Hager, and attorney with the Department of Justice told the court that APD’s remaining compliance in use of force relies on clearing the 667 case backlog of use of force cases, improvements in the Force Review Board’s operations and the Internal Affairs Department (IAFD) operating without the oversight of the External Force Investigation Team (EFIT). Hager said IAFD is closer to operating on its own with 8 investigators having graduated from EFIT’s supervision, although 2 of those have since left IAFD. He said 5 more are on the verge of graduating. Once all investigators are graduated, EFIT can devote those supervisors to clearing the case backlog.
Phil Coyne, with the monitor’s team, said the Force Review Board still showed some deficiencies with engagement, sparse documentation of meetings and misclassifying use of force in the last monitoring period. Notwithstanding, Coyne said there have been a lot of improvement in the Force Review Board (FRB), but he cautioned against “complacency.” He said the FRB sets the tone of reforms and “has a cascading effect of intent through”.
Taylor S. Rahn, and attorney with the law firm of Robles, Rael and Anaya, PC that has been contracted by the city, said APD had achieved compliance with 30 new paragraphs in the most recent quarter. She reported that recent amendments made to the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) accounted for only 2% of the 12% compliance gained. Rahn said a third of the CASA, or 80 paragraphs, is now being self-monitored by APD and the department is tracking its own compliance in those areas. She said another 50 paragraphs are eligible for self-assessment, which has to be signed off on by the DOJ.
Paul Killebrew, the Deputy Chief over the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said the department had reached compliance in 215 of the 238 paragraphs of the CASA. Killebrew told the court:
“That is a significant achievement and the city and APD are to be commended for their hard work on this. … It is possible, if all current efforts remain on track, that Albuquerque will reach full compliance with the consent decree during this calendar year.”
Killibrew said APD’s early intervention system, which he called a “frustrating, massive” technology project, is finally operational. He said to gain compliance the department will need to prove that supervisors are using the database “appropriately in their day-to-day supervision.” Killibrew said the monitor’s team also identified 3 cases of a sampling where discipline was not handed out in a timely manner, keeping APD out of compliance in one paragraph. He noted, “Those timeliness issues we expect to be resolved going forward, because the operations of internal affairs are vastly improved.”
Killebrew said the DOJ is in talks with the city to terminate those paragraphs of the CASA that have been in sustained compliance and self-monitoring for 2 years. He said APD would have to sustain full compliance in all paragraphs for two years before the consent decree would be fulfilled. Killebrew estimated that could happen as early as 2026.
Towards the end of the June 6 hearing, the overall positive reports presented by the Federal Monitor and the DOJ Attorneys were marred by reports of last year’s record high of 18 APD police officer shootings of civilians. Private civil rights attorney Peter Cubra, an attorney representing the McClendon subclass, recalled for the court the killings by APD of Jesus Crosby and Keshawn Thomas. Cubra questioned how the Crosby killing was a “justifiable” shooting, alleging that APD made another controversial police shooting “look clean.” He called the Keshawn Thomas killing a “calculated killing.”
In Crosby’s case, an Internal Affairs detective, his supervisor, the CPOA’s director and EFIT contractors all disagreed that the shooting was in policy. APD’s chain of command heard those concerns but ultimately ruled it in policy. A review by APD leadership identified several shortcomings in the officers’ actions leading up to both shootings.
Cubra asked Judge Browning to reject recent amendments made to the CASA, some of which concerned police interactions with those in crisis. Cubra said the CASA cannot solve police “making mistakes in a panic” but that it was “flat wrong” for APD to determine the shootings as in policy.
Attorney Cubra said the sheer number of APD shootings of civilians, several which involved those suffering from mental health crisis, showed “we haven’t made a dent in the culture of aggression that was identified in 2014.” Cubra told the court:
“Everybody here is singing Kumbaya and saying ‘we’re going to have a declaration that we’re good enough in a year and then we’ll leave the police department to oversee itself. … So when these people are gone, when the Justice Department is gone, and when the monitor and his team, they’re all gone, who’s going to protect people like Jesus [Crosby]? … There’s nobody here but me, who’s saying, ‘you know, we are really far from compliance with the law and compliance with this consent decree … I just have to say, I think it’s time for me to stop coming because I can’t take this anymore.”
Those who responded to Cubra’s criticisms or separately addressed the rash of shootings. The court was told 2 of the shootings were found out of policy and led to an officer being fired, noted that APD’s use of force, in general, had dropped significantly and the department had updated training, policies and processes after a review of the shootings.
Attorney Taylor Rahn who represents the city said this:
“The city is by no means throwing in the towel or doing a victory lap. … We know that there is work that is left to be done and we remain committed to reform both inside and outside the scope of the court approved settlement agreement.”
COURT’S TURNS ATTENTION TO DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
After Cubra’s remarks and responses made, Judge Browning asked Paul Killebrew, the Deputy Chief over the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division:
“Do you ever in your job, either here in Albuquerque or elsewhere, feel like all the boxes are being checked but the result is not much change in the community or the police department?”
Killebrew said he had felt that way in the past with APD, where compliance was “begrudging.” Killebrew said he believed the decrease in use of force incident and APD’s increasing compliance with the CASA indicated that things were changing. Kilebrew told Judge Browning this:
“When we see incidents like the ones that Mr. Cubra discussed, we ask ourselves, have we seen a change to those systems? Have we eliminated the pattern or practice? Right now, we’re not moving to terminate this consent decree, so I don’t have an answer to that question. … But that is the overarching goal… It’s a difficult picture. I’m not saying this is an easy decision for any of us to make. And I’m grateful to Mr. Cubra for reminding us the moral force of this litigation, which is to stop having police officers violate people’s rights. That’s what we’re here for.”
The link to the quoted news source is here:
PUBLISHED REPORT ON 18 APD SHOOTINGS
It was on December 23, 2022, the Albuquerque Journal published on its front page, above the fold, a remarkable story entitled “APD looks to curtail police shootings” with the sub headline “Officers have shot 18 people so far this year, resulting in 10 deaths”. The news story reads in part as follows:
“In the midst of a spike in shootings by its officers the Albuquerque Police Department is working to change policies so they can use “less-lethal” force earlier in an encounter – in the hope of preventing the need for deadly force.
Additionally, the department’s executive staff and city attorneys will review this year’s 18 shootings by officers to see if they can identify and address any trends. Among those incidents 10 people were killed and three were injured. In five cases no one was struck.
The number of shootings has alarmed advocates, and discussions of the increase dominated a recent federal court hearing on APD’s reform effort. Last year APD officers shot at 10 people, killing four, injuring five, and missing one.
But Chief Harold Medina said he’s been contemplating changes for a while and APD has already been working on them with the Department of Justice and the independent monitoring team overseeing the reforms.”
Medina said he wants APD’s executive staff and city attorneys to meet and look for trends among this year’s 18 police shootings and identify changes to be made. Medina said this:
“We had already been trying to change the policy. … But as we heard everybody’s concerns during the [December 6 federal Court] hearing, I really felt there was a way we could do this better. That’s when we got these ideas of we should meet to look at all the cases at once as a whole. … One of my big frustrations right now is our processes take so long – like we identified issues but by the time we get everything approved through everybody it takes months.”
“Right now they go through the individual cases and if somebody there can remember or they tie into something in the past, that’s a benefit and they could try to make it a trend. … We are now purposely putting all the cases in front of them … and they’re going to have little different data points that we could look at and the goal is to look at them all together at the same time and see if they can identify anything that’s of a concern.”
The link to them full Journal article is here:
REFORMS ACHIEVED UNDER THE CASA
On November 16 , 2023, it will be a full 9 years that has expired since the city entered into the CASA with the DOJ. It was originally agreed that implementation of all the settlement terms would be completed within 4 years, but because of previous delay and obstruction tactics found by the Federal Monitor by APD management and the police officers’ union as well as APD backsliding in implementing the reforms, it has taken another 5 years to get the job done. Now after almost 9 full years, the federal oversight and the CASA have produced results.
Reforms achieved under the CASA can be identified and are as follows:
- New “use of force” and “use of deadly force” policies have been written, implemented and all APD sworn have received training on the policies.
- All sworn police officers have received crisis management intervention training.
- APD has created a “Use of Force Review Board” that oversees all internal affairs investigations of use of force and deadly force.
- The Internal Affairs Unit has been divided into two sections, one dealing with general complaints and the other dealing with use of force incidents.
- Sweeping changes ranging from APD’s SWAT team protocols, to banning choke-holds, to auditing the use of every Taser carried by officers and re-writing and implementation of new use of force and deadly force policies have been completed.
- “Constitutional policing” practices and methods, and mandatory crisis intervention techniques an de-escalation tactics with the mentally ill have been implemented at the APD police academy with all sworn police also receiving the training.
- APD has adopted a new system to hold officers and supervisors accountable for all use of force incidents with personnel procedures implemented detailing how use of force cases are investigated.
- APD has revised and updated its policies on the mandatory use of lapel cameras by all sworn police officers.
- The Repeat Offenders Project, known as ROP, has been abolished.
- Civilian Police Oversight Agency has been created, funded, fully staffed and a director was hired.
- The Community Policing Counsels (CPCs) have been created in all area commands.
- The Mental Health Advisory Committee has been implemented.
- The External Force Investigation Team (EFIT) was created and is training the Internal Affairs Force Division on how to investigate use-of-force cases, making sure they meet deadlines and follow procedures.
- Millions have been spent each year on new programs and training of new cadets and police officers on constitutional policing practices.
- APD officers are routinely found using less force than they were before and well documented use of force investigations are now being produced in a timely manner.
- APD has assumed the self-monitoring of at least 25% of the CASA reforms and is likely capable of assuming more.
- The APD Compliance Bureau has been fully operational and staffed with many positions created dealing directly with all the reform efforts and all the duties and responsibilities that come with self-assessment.
- APD has attained a 100% Primary Compliance rate, a 100% Secondary Compliance rate and a 92% Operational Compliance rate.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
During the June 6 hearing, Federal Monitor James Ginger made it clear that APD continues to make impressive gains in the compliance levels over the past year. This is a complete reversal of the downward trend found and reported in 3 previous monitor’s reports.
Although it was reported during court hearing that APD is making gains in in implementing the reforms, it was also clear that there have been more APD police officer shootings in 2022 than during any other year before. In 2022, there were 18 APD Police Officer involved shootings,10 of which were fatal. In 2021 there were 10, four of which were fatal.
A review of shootings by APD police officers between 2018 and 2022 identified three common circumstances:
- When officers are attempting to apprehend violent suspects;
- When individuals are experiencing some kind of mental health episode;
- When people with little criminal history are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and make bad decisions.
Albuquerque Police Department has released data before that shows there have been 56 police shootings dating back to 2018. Of the cases reviewed, 85% involved people who were armed with a gun or a weapon that appeared to be a firearm. About 55% of the cases involved people under the influence of drugs or alcohol, while only 2 cases in which intoxication did not play a role. Without toxicology tests, it was unknown whether drugs or alcohol played a role in the remainder of the cases. Statewide, authorities said the number of shootings in which officers opened fire stands at 50 for the year 2022.
The link to the quoted news source article is here:
THE CITY HAS BECOME A MORE VIOLENT CITY OVER 9 YEARS
There is no doubt that the community should be absolutely alarmed over the fact that there has been a spike in police officer involved shootings given the fact such shootings, and accompanying litigation and judgements against the city, is what brought the Department of Justice to the City in 2013 in the first place. When it comes to APD Police Officer Involved shootings, history is repeating itself despite millions spent and implementation of the settlement reforms over the last 9 years.
It’s because of the city’s dramatic increase in overall crime rates that there have been more police officer involved shootings as police officers are finding themselves in more predicaments where they feel the need to protect themselves and not attempt to deescalate a situation and use force or deadly force. The reality is that the city can expect the trend of police officer involve shootings to continue even if APD achieves 100% compliance of all 271 mandated police reforms under the settlement.
Albuquerque has changed and APD has changed over the 9 years since the CASA was negotiated. The city has become more violent and APD has been trained in constitutional policing practices.
Albuquerque is at the forefront of New Mexico’s high violent crime rate. According to legislative data released, the city had about half of the state’s violent crime in 2022 but has just 25% or so of its total population. The Albuquerque Police Department reported that in November, 2022 gun law violations spiked 85%.
The last 2 years have also been two very violent years for Albuquerque. The number of homicides in the city have broken all-time records. In 2021, there were 117 homicides, with 3 declared self-defense reducing homicide number to 114. In 2022, there were 120 homicides, a historical high.
On Thursday, March 16, 2023 the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released the 2022 crime statistics along with crime statistics for 2022 for a comparison. During his March 16 press conference announcing the City’s 2022 crime statistics, APD Chief Harold Medina embellished that a 3% drop in overall total of crime and a 4% decrease in Crimes Against Persons and the 2% decrease in Crimes Against Property was positive movement.
The slight 3% decrease in overall crime was over shadowed by the 24% spike in CRIMES AGAINST SOCIETY which are largely made up of drug and gun offenses and a 71% increase in murders over the last 6 years. Chief Medina presented a vertical bar graph that revealed that over the last 6 years, Albuquerque has had a dramatic 71% spike in homicides. The number of homicides reported over the last 6 years is as follows:
- 2017: 70 homicides
- 2018: 69 homicides
- 2019: 80 homicides
- 2020: 78 homicides
- 2021: 110 homicides
- 2022: 120 homicides
On March 16, in addition to reporting that there has been a 71% spike in homicides, APD officials reported that over the past 6 years there has been a 28% increase in Aggravated Assaults which by definition includes the use of a firearms. Following are the Aggravated Assaults numbers:
- 2017: 4,213
- 2018: 5,156
- 2019: 5,337
- 2020: 5,592
- 2021: 5,669
- 2022: 5,399
Crime rates in Albuquerque are high across the board. According to the Albuquerque Police’s annual report on crime, there were 46,391 property crimes and 15,765 violent crimes recorded in 2021. These numbers place Albuquerque among America’s most dangerous cities.
All residents are at increased risk of experiencing aggravated robbery, auto theft, and petty theft. The chances of becoming a victim of property crime in Albuquerque are 1 in 20, an alarmingly high statistic. Simple assault, aggravated assault, auto theft, and larceny are just some of the most common criminal offenses in Albuquerque. Burglary and sex offense rates In Albuquerque are also higher than the national average.
ALBUQUERQUE IS RANKED 17TH AMONG 70 OF THE LARGEST CITIES
On April 26, 2023 the Major Cities Chiefs Association released its Violent Crime Survey and national totals for the crimes of homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults. According to the report, Albuquerque is ranked 17th among 70 of the largest cities in the nation looking at trends in the 4 categories.
The Major Cities Chiefs Association report shows in 2022, there was a 5% drop in homicides nationwide. According to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, Albuquerque had one of the worst homicide rates in the nation and is one of 27 cities across the nation that saw an increase in homicides.
The report shows in 2021, there were 106 homicides. In 2022, there were 115, an 8% increase. Other nearby cities like Phoenix saw a 13% increase in homicides. Meanwhile, to the north, the Denver Police Department reported an 8% decrease in homicides. Just four hours south, the city of El Paso saw a 28% decrease in homicides, one of the highest drops in the report.
DRAMATIC TURN AROUND
One of the biggest complaints of all the 18 DOJ consent decrees that exist in the country to deal with police misconduct and excessive use of force cases is that they 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 or by 2018. Instead, the case has been dragging on for 9 years after a period of time when the Federal Monitor found that APD repeatedly did a “backslide” in implementing the reforms and coming into compliance.
It was in November 12, 2020 that the 12th Compliance Report was filed and when Federal Court Appointed Monitor James Ginger declared that APD was on “on the brink of catastrophic failure” in implementing the reforms. The 12TH Audit Report was for the period that ended on July 31, 2020. The Federal Monitor found the following compliance levels:
- PRIMARY COMPLIANCE: 100% with no change from 11th report.
- SECONDARY COMPLIANCE: 91%, with a loss of -2.2% from the 11th report.
- OPERATIONAL COMPLIANCE: 64%, with a loss of -3.0%.
It took APD a full 2 years and 6 months from July 31, 2020, the end of the 12th reporting period, to January 31, 2023, the end of the 17th reporting period for APD to turn things around and it was not at all easy. Along the way APD and the city were forced to agree to a court order after the Federal Monitor found that APD intentionally did not investigate 667 of use of force cases and was forced to agree to the creation of the External Force Investigation Team EFIT. On February 26, 2021, the City of Albuquerque 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).
APD HAS FULFILLED THE SPIRIT AND INTENT OF THE SETTLEMENT
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 compliance levels within 4 years or by 2018.
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 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, with the other two compliance levels already at 100% and they must also be sustained for 2 years before the case can be dismissed.
After 9 years of implementing the mandating DOJ reforms, and millions spent on training, APD is finally on the verge of implementing the 271 mandated reforms under the CASA. APD is commended for attaining a 100% Primary Compliance rate, a 100% Secondary Compliance rate and achieving a 92% Operational Compliance rate. The 2 consecutive years for compliance in all 3 compliance levels should be waived or reduced dramatically given the fact that a 95% compliance rate or better has been achieved in Primary Compliance for a total of 24 months or two full years and a 95% compliance rate or better in Secondary Compliance for a total of 17 months.
APD has fulfilled the spirit and intent of the settlement. The city can argue “full and effective compliance” with all material requirements of the CASA and with its continuing improvement in constitutional policing as demonstrated by the agreement’s outcome measures reported in the 17th Federal Monitor’s Report. The two years of 95% compliance should be deemed as accomplished give the fact that the settlement has now gone on for over 5 years than what was originally agreed to.
CITY NEEDS TO MOVE TO DISMISS CASE
On July 27, 2022, the Albuquerque Police Department and the U.S. Department of Justice announce they had agreed to suspend several paragraphs of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA.) According to APD, the agreement “essentially removes about a quarter of oversight requirements.” The city reached an agreement with the DOJ to suspend the monitoring of upwards of 25% of the paragraphs in the CASA. Those paragraphs have all been in operational compliance for more than 5 years. Under the stipulated agreement between the City and the DOJ, the city is now self-monitor 62 paragraphs of the CASA.
Given the extent of the compliance levels, the work of the Federal Monitor can be declared a success and he should be winding down his work seeking to close out the case within the next 6 months and prepare his very last Independent Monitor’s report by the end of the year. With that in mind, the federal monitors contract should be renegotiated to include a reduction in pay and termination of the monitoring services.
The city should seek to negotiate a stipulated dismissal of the case with the Department of Justice (DOJ) by the end of the year. Should the DOJ refuse, the City Attorney should move to immediately to dismiss the case under the termination and suspension provisions of the CASA by filing a Motion to Dismiss the case and force the issue with an evidentiary hearing and let the assigned federal judge decide it.