Federal Court Monitor Agrees To 31% Pay Cut As Police Reach Reform Compliance; APD Union President Calls Police Reforms A “Joke” Saying APD Use Of Force Was Never A Problem; Union President Should Apologize

On April 17, 2023 City CAO Lawrence Rael wrote Dr. James Ginger,  the Federal Court appointed monitor in the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA), proposing a 40% cut in pay.  It was proposed that the monitor’s  pay would go from just under $1.6 million annually to $960,000 a year. The monitoring team has been paid more than $9 million since its work began in Albuquerque in 2015.

It was in late 2014 that Ginger and his monitoring team were appointed by a federal judge to oversee the police reform efforts after the city signed a consent decree with the Department of Justice (DOJ).  The Settlement followed an 18-month investigation by the DOJ that found  that APD officers engaged in a pattern of excessive use of  force and deadly force and found a culture of aggression within APD.  Over the last 8 years Ginger and his team of 14 experts has filed 17 Independent Monitors Reports on APD’s progress and has been paid over $1 Million a year.

In his  letter sent to Ginger, CAO Rael said the pay cut was appropriate with APD making “significant strides” in its Court Approved Settlement Agreement.  Rael noted APD is also now self-monitoring  on upwards of 20% of  requirements of the CASA which Rael argued reduced Ginger’s workload as  Federal Monitor.  Rael wrote:

“If the [Independent Monitor] feels that a different amount is appropriate, we ask that you provide documentation to justify the requested amount.  [Please respond] whether these terms are agreeable … .”


After a monthslong negotiation, the Federal Monitor agreed to a significant pay cut.  On July 21, the city agreed to pay the federal monitor $1,096,225 between July 1, 2023  and June 20, 2024, which is  a $500,000 pay cut or 31% pay cut.

CAO Rael said this in a statement:

“After making the initial offer, the City engaged with negotiations with Dr. Ginger and reached agreement on a reasonable amount based on the expected workload for the team of monitors. … This amount will be subject to renegotiation in the future as APD assumes more responsibility and the monitoring team’s workload is reduced.”

The City Attorney, in a follow up  email to Ginger wrote “the City intends to request a mid-year meeting to review budget issues, and to initiate negotiations regarding the rate for fiscal year 2025 as the end of fiscal year 2024 approaches.”

APD Chief Harold Medina said the department has gone above and beyond to exceed standards for their settlement agreement with the DOJ and  believes a pay cut is necessary. Medina said this:.

“The truth is these processes go above in beyond what our settlement agreement calls for.”

On June 6, during a hearing on the 17th Federal Monitor’s Report,  Ginger addressed the proposed cut and said his team had come back to the city with its own proposed cut of $444,000 a year. Ginger said this during the hearing:

“[The proposed cut]  is significant. Especially when you consider that we still have to make the same number of trips, we still have to pay the same number of man hours per site visit. A lot of our costs are fixed. But we are negotiating a reduction.”

City officials have said it hopes that the reforms under the CASA will be completed by the end of the year and then  after two years of compliance as required by the terms  of the settlement the case can be dismissed in 2026.


Shaun Willoughby, president of the police union had this to say about the Federal Monitor’s pay cut:

“[It’s] incredibly competent and courageous [for the city seeking to reduce the monitor’s pay].  My hat’s off to the City. … I think [Ginger] is way overpaid to begin with. …

[The monitoring process] has completely destroyed this community  … From my perspective and from an officer’s perspective, this whole entire situation with the DOJ and monitoring team is a joke.  …

I think we could do just the same work without the DOJ and without the monitoring process. We have become accustomed to the reform effort. We’re making progress right now. …  I am pleased that we are making that progress, but the truth is I’m pleased that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

After pointing  out that less than 1% of police calls result in force being used Willoughby said this:

[APD officers’  use of force]  has been blown out of proportion … I don’t think that use of force in this community is that big of a problem. I don’t think it ever was.”

Willoughby said the reform process is “directly tied” to the record-high 18 police shootings of 2022 due to DOJ-reviewed policies that resulted in gunfire instead of less-lethal force. He said recent changes to APD policies made by leadership have allowed more use of less-lethal force and, in his opinion, could have prevented 9 of last year’s shootings.

The links to quoted news source material are here:




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.

On May 10, 2023 the 17th audit report was filed. APD’s compliance levels were reported as follows:

Primary Compliance 100%

Secondary Compliance 100% 

Operational Compliance 92% 

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:

  1. New “use of force” and “use of deadly force” policies have been written, implemented and all APD sworn have received training on the policies.
  2. All sworn police officers have received crisis management intervention training.
  3. APD has created a “Use of Force Review Board” that oversees all internal affairs investigations of use of force and deadly force.
  4. The Internal Affairs Unit has been divided into two sections, one dealing with general complaints and the other dealing with use of force incidents.
  5. 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.
  6. “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.
  7. 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.
  8. APD has revised and updated its policies on the mandatory use of lapel cameras by all sworn police officers.
  9. The Repeat Offenders Project, known as ROP, has been abolished.
  10. Civilian Police Oversight Agency has been created, funded, fully staffed and a director was hired.
  11. The Community Policing Counsels (CPCs) have been created in all area commands.
  12. The Mental Health Advisory Committee has been implemented.
  13. 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.
  14. Millions have been spent each year on new programs and training of new cadets and police officers on constitutional policing practices.
  15. 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.
  16. APD has assumed the self-monitoring of at least 25% of the CASA reforms and is likely capable of assuming more.
  17. 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.
  18. APD has attained a 100% Primary Compliance rate, a 100% Secondary Compliance rate and a 92% Operational Compliance rate.


The fact that the federal monitor has agreed to a significant pay cut is yet another indication in that APD is on the verge of compliance with the federal court approved settlement despite efforts of the police union. The other major indicators include:

  1. APD has now achieved a 100% compliance in the Primary and Secondary Compliance Levels and a 92% compliance in Operational Compliance.
  2.  APD is self-monitoring in 20% of the reforms.
  3. 18 specific major reforms have been achieved and can be identified.


It is downright repulsive that APOA Union President  Shaun Willoughby said this:

[The monitoring process] has completely destroyed this community  … From my perspective and from an officer’s perspective, this whole entire situation with the DOJ and monitoring team is a joke.  …

[APD officers’  use of force]  has been blown out of proportion … I don’t think that use of force in this community is that big of a problem. I don’t think it ever was.”

It’s obscene that APOA Union President Shaun Willoughby does not believe APD use of force and deadly force was ever a problem.  Willoughby’s comments were totally irresponsible and need to be condemned in no uncertain terms.  Willoughby pointing out that less than 1% of police calls involve use of  force degrades and downplays the seriousness of taking a life by violating a person’s constitutional rights with the use of deadly force.

The oversight of APD and the reform process has never been about the efforts to combat and reducing crime but everything to do with constitutional policing practices and violations of constitutional rights by the Albuquerque Police Department.

Willoughby’s remarks are nothing more than a reflection of just how low Willoughby is willing to go to mislead the public.  He pretends ignorance of why the APD was investigated by the Department of Justice in the first place and why APD was in need of reform.


APOA Union President Willoughby owes the court, the federal monitor and the citizens of Albuquerque an apology for his careless and irresponsible remarks regarding the DOJ and the reform process, but that will never happen. Willoughby has never apologized once for the  conduct of his union members because he has never believed his union members have  ever done anything wrong when it comes to “excessive use of force” and “deadly force” despite undisputed proof of police misconduct and the use of force and deadly force.

No apologies were made by Willoughby after 2 of the most egregious shootings in APD’s history and use of deadly force.  Those shooting were the killing of homeless camper James Boyd and the killing of army veteran Ken Ellis, Jr., both who were suffering from mental illness.  The Boyd shooting resulted in a $10 million dollar jury verdict against the city and the Ellis shooting resulted in a $5 million dollar settlement for civil wrongful death action

Least anyone has forgotten, Willoughby became irate back on December 7, 2017 when newly sworn in  Mayor Tim Keller stood alongside his new command staff and talked about the task ahead of them to reform the Albuquerque Police Department. Before he could get to the plan, the mayor announced he had a few apologies to make. One for a “historical tone at the top of the department and a culture of excessive force.” It was an apology that was long overdue to the citizens of Albuquerque from any Mayor. Mayor Keller said this:

“I also want to tell the victims of families who have been hurt by unnecessary use of force that I am sorry.”

Willoughby was quick to fire back and condemn Mayor Keller for making the apology and said Keller’s apologies were “an insult to the men and women in blue.”  Willoughby said this.

“That’s kind of a global apology. Every single circumstance, in every instance, is dynamic and there’s two sides to every one of those stories. … It’s important to understand that the APOA is not a political organization. I’m actually employed by the cops that we serve. … I don’t think that the APOA having discontent is wrong or reminding anybody that we felt that, that was dishonorable [for Keller] to apologize for a group of police officers.”


It was downright laughable and two faced when Willoughby said APOA is not a political organization and said he was employed by the cops.  It was Willoughby and the police union who politized themselves when they endorsed Mayor Keller a few months earlier when he ran for Mayor the first time.


The police union leadership have said in open court that the mandated reforms under the consent decree are interfering with rank-and-file officer’s ability to perform their job duties. According to Willoughby, police officers are afraid to do their jobs for fear of being investigated, fired or disciplined.

The police union has never articulated in open court and in clear terms exactly what it is about the reforms that are keeping rank and file from “doing their” jobs. What the union no doubt feels is interfering with police from doing their jobs is the mandatory use of lapel cameras, police can no longer shoot at fleeing cars, police can no longer use choke holds, police need to use less lethal force and not rely on the SWAT unit, police must use de-escalating tactics and be trained in crisis intervention, and management must hold police accountable for violation of standard operating procedures.


If anything has destroyed this community, as well as destroying one of the finest police departments in the country at the time, it was the actions of more than a few Albuquerque Police Officers and its management who created, who were involved with or who did not stop a culture of aggression and the use of excessive use of force and deadly force.

The only joke here is Willoughby’s attempt to rewrite history by ignoring what happened within APD and ignoring what has been accomplished under the settlement and the reforms implemented. Then there is the matter of Willoughby doing whatever he could over the years  with the help of his union membership of sergeants and lieutenants  to stop and interfere with implementation of the reforms.

The postscript below provides a review of the DOJ investigation and the CASA.  It serves as a reminder of what brought the DOJ here in  the first place and  what the police union and its leadership have done to interfere with implementation of the reforms.




It was  April 10, 2014 the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) released its investigation of APD that found a “culture of aggression” within the department. The investigation concentrated in part on reviewing APD’s use of the force against persons with mental illness and in crisis and APD’s specific responses to suspects that were having mental illness episodes. What differentiates the DOJ’s investigation of APD from the other federal investigations and consent decrees of police departments in the country is that the other consent decrees involve in one form or another the finding of “racial profiling” and use of excessive force or deadly force against minorities. In APD’s case, it was the use of excessive force and deadly force against the mentally ill.

The 2014 DOJ investigation found APD’s policies, training, and supervision were insufficient to ensure that officers encountering people with mental illness or in distress do so in a manner that respects their rights and is safe for all involved. There have been at least 32 police officer involved shootings and the city has paid out $61 million dollars in settlements to families’ who have sued APD for wrongful death. A significant number of those lawsuits involved the mentally ill.

One of the most memorable shootings occurred in 2014 and the killing of homeless camper and mentally ill James Boyd in the Sandia foothills where both SWAT and the K-9 units were dispatched. Two SWAT officers were eventually charged with murder but after a trial on the merits, the jury could not reach a verdict and District Attorney Raul Torres decided not to retry the case. The City settled with the Boyd family for $5 million.

Another memorable case involved the killing of Ken Ellis, Jr. who was an Iraq War Veteran suffering from service-connected mental illness. Ellis was stop by APD at a convenience store on Lomas believing Ellis was driving a stolen car which turned out to be false. Ells pulled a gun and held it to his head while he was on his cell phone talking to relative and APD shot and killed him. A jury and judge found that Ellis was more of a danger to himself and not the police and awarded the Ellis family $10 Million.


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 settlement was the result of an 18-month long investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) that found that the Albuquerque Police Department engaged in an pattern of “excessive use of force” and “deadly force”, especially when dealing with the mentally ill. The DOJ investigation also found a “culture of aggression” existed within the APD. 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 to the federal court presiding over the case reforms.

Soon after the entry of the CASA on November 14, 2014, the APD police union intervened in the lawsuit and became a third party to the case to advocate union interest in city policy. The police union was at the negotiating table over the use of force and deadly force policies and has sat in the court room during all the hearings. It was the police union that was a major contributing cause for a full one-year delay in writing the new policies on use of force and deadly force.

The CASA mandated APD adopt a new system to hold officers and supervisors accountable for misconduct and violations of policies, especially violations of excessive use of force and deadly force. Personnel procedures were implemented which included outlining details how use of force cases and deadly force cases must be investigated.

The CASA requires far more reporting by officers and field supervisors. It requires detailed reviews of those reports up the chain of command within the department. Sergeants and lieutenants are required to be much more involved in field supervision and review of use of force and deadly force.


One thing is for certain is that Willoughby and some police union members have done everything they can to undercut the police reforms brought on by the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation that found a “culture of aggression” and repeated use of deadly force and excessive use of force.

The Federal Court Appointed Monitor has labeled the union interference with the reforms as the “County Casa Effect”. It was on September 10, 2018, during a status telephone conference call held with the US District Court Judge that Federal Monitor Dr. James Ginger first told the federal court that a group of “high-ranking APD officers” within APD were thwarting the reform efforts. The Federal Monitor revealed that the group of “high-ranking APD officers” were APD sergeants and lieutenants.

In his 10th report Federal Monitor Ginger referred to the group as the “Counter-CASA effect” and stated:

“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 … 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.”

In his 12th Federal Monitor’s report released on November 2, 2020 the Federal Monitor reported this:

“[The federal monitor] identified strong under currents of Counter-CASA effects in some critical units on APD’s critical path related to CASA compliance. These include supervision at the field level; mid-level command in both operational and administrative functions, [including] patrol operations, internal affairs practices, disciplinary practices, training, and force review). Supervision, [the] sergeants and lieutenants, and mid-level command, [the commanders] remain one of the most critical weak links in APD’s compliance efforts.”

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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.