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DOJ: APD Policy ‘Disjointed’

DOJ: APD Policy ‘Disjointed’

During a break in the two-hour-long hearing, Ginger told ABQ Free Press that he has no idea why APD's policy-making process is so flawed. "I don't think they know," Ginger said.

BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI

The Albuquerque Police Department has failed to submit an acceptable use-of-force for its officers as required by its settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, a special monitor in the case said Monday.

That failure by APD comes despite two intense rounds of negotiation with DOJ and the monitor, James Ginger told a federal Court Judge Thursday. Ginger’s report covers APD’s progress from Feb. 1 to the end of May.

Because there is no use-of-force policy in place, APD officers aren’t being properly trained in use of force, Ginger told U.S. District Court Judge Robert Brack.

That means that cops can’t be properly supervised and judged on their use of force, which could lead to endless appeals by officers if they are disciplined for use of excessive use of force, Ginger said.

“Right now, APD can’t do any use-of-force training because it doesn’t have an approved policy,” Ginger told the judge. “That can lead to unending labor board appeals.”

Ginger submitted his 200-page report on the status of APD’s progress on the 280 goals established by last year’s settlement agreement with DOJ. So far, APD is in compliance with just 1.4 percent of those goals.

The report also says that APD’s policy-making process is “fatally flawed.” Ginger repeatedly told Judge Brack that without good policies there can’t be good training and that if the policy-making process is flawed, it will be difficult for APD to comply with the settlement agree, Ginger said.

During a break in the two-hour-long hearing, Ginger told ABQ Free Press that he has no idea why APD’s policy-making process is so flawed. “I don’t think they know,” Ginger said.

DOJ Civil Right Division attorney Luis Saucedo told Brack that APD’s policy making policy was “disorganized and disjointed.”

“The initial batch of policies was difficult to understand and fatally flawed,” Saucedo said. “If APD is unable to issue a training policy by June 2016 it will be difficult to do training,” Saucedo said.

Albuquerque City Attorney Jessica Hernandez told the court the department will submit another proposed use-of-force policy shortly.

Timing is important because APD wants to start training its officer on the correct use of force beginning in January. It will take 18 months to train all 800-plus officers, she said.

Saucedo also said that APD has submitted some draft policies to the special monitor, but not to the DOJ as required by the settlement agreement. “APD cannot skip this important step,” Saucedo said.

Attorney Fred Mowrer, who represents the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, urged Brack to slow down the process. “This all lands on the employees of APD, and they are human beings,” Mowrer said. “They are human beings and can do so much in a certain amount of time.”

Two advocates for the mentally disabled said they were concerned that APD isn’t developing sound policies to train officers in crisis intervention.

Brack said he was both encouraged with the progress than has been made so far but was concerned that APD might not be in substantial compliance with the settlement agreement by November 2016 as required by the settlement. “We have competing concerns of wanting substantial compliance and wanting to do it right. I know the City of Albuquerque is hurting, but as long as everybody is pulling in the right direction and there is good faith, I will be easy to get along with,” Brack said. “But the community needs to see progress.”

Ginger said he’ll file his next report on March 2.

Dennis Domrzalski is an associate editor at ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com

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

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Albuquerque’s definitive alternative newspaper publishing an inquisitive, modern approach to the news and entertainment stories that matter most to New Mexicans. ABQ Free Press’ fresh voice speaks to insightful and involved professionals who care deeply about our community.

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