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Judge Delays 35 APD Reforms

The City of Albuquerque, DOJ, the Albuquerque Police Officers Association and the independent monitor, James Ginger, jointly asked for the deadline extension.

BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI

A federal court judge has given the Albuquerque Police Department additional time to met 35 deadlines for changing policies, procedures and training guidelines under its settlement agreement with the U.S. Justice Department.

The changed deadlines won’t affect APD’s commitment to be in substantial compliance with the settlement agreement by Nov. 14, 2016, and in sustained and effective compliance by November 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Brack said in his order granting APD more time to meet the deadlines.

“While an extension will postpone certain changes, this careful investment of time early on will better halt unconstitutional practices in the long term,” Brack said in his Sept. 24 order.

Brack also said that while APD had begun implementing changes required in the agreement even before the independent monitor in the case had started working, that created problems because the department had “insufficient guidance from the Independent Monitor at foundational stages of implementation.”

The City of Albuquerque, DOJ, the Albuquerque Police Officers Association and the independent monitor, James Ginger, jointly asked for the deadline extensions in a motion filed with Brack on August 21.

The motion said that while the settlement agreement was signed by the parties on Nov. 14, 2014, Brack didn’t approve it until June 2 of this year. Ginger didn’t start working on the project until after Brack approved the agreement, and that created delays in meeting many deadlines, the motion said.

“Deadlines that are unrealistic will lose the power to keep the Parties on course,” the DOJ said in the motion.
Some key deadlines that have been pushed back include the revision of APD’s Internal Affairs Bureau manual, providing all APD officers with 40 hours of use-of-force training, firearms training for officers that comports with constitutional principles and providing all field officers with crisis intervention training.

Ginger is expected to issue his first report in early November on APD’s progress in meeting the settlement agreement’s initial goals. The city signed the agreement after a DOJ investigation found that APD’s officers had consistently used excessive and unconstitutional force on citizens.

— Dennis Domrzalski

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.
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