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Feds: No Changes In APD Reform Effort

Feds: No Changes In APD Reform Effort

So far no effect has been seen from Sessions' memorandum

The federal government’s reform process for the Albuquerque Police Department hasn’t changed since the end of March when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told DOJ lawyers to review all consent decrees with police departments around the country.

During an April 6 conference call about the APD reform effort, a DOJ lawyer said he hadn’t received any direction from his boss about altering Albuquerque’s settlement with the government.

And a spokeswoman for the New Mexico U.S. Attorney’s office said Wednesday that that was still the case.

During the April 6 conference call, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Brack asked DOJ lawyer Luis Saucedo if he had gotten any direction from Sessions’ office regarding the Albuquerque reform effort.

“We have not gotten any direction – any change of direction from where we have been. We will continue to enforce the agreements,” Saucedo told Brack. “Many of the principles that were in the [Sessions] memo were specifically incorporated in CASA [Court Approved Settlement Agreement] and were really our guiding sort of a guiding bedrock in developing many of the measures that are in there.

“And so at this point, they’re – we have no other – we have not gotten word that we’re going any other direction other than to continue as we have been.”

In his March 31 memo, Sessions told the DOJ to look at whether the consent degrees and other agreements the Obama administration signed meet the new administration’s law-and-order principles, including one that says, “the individual misdeeds of bad actors should not impugn” the work police officers perform “in keeping American communities safe.”

The memo raised concerns here that the DOJ might walk away from it 2014 settlement with APD, or enforce it less aggressively.

Some legal experts told freeabq.com that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the DOJ to alter its agreement with APD because the case involves a signed settlement agreement between the city and the federal government that is being overseen by a federal court judge. And judges are loathe to change a signed agreement, they said.

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

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