Doc. 290: Report and Action Plan

Doc. 290:  City's "Action Plan"

Faced with serious issues of non-compliance when the Fifth Monitor's Report was presented in June, Judge Brack ordered the City to develop an "Action Plan" to address some of the concerns of the non-party "stakeholders." 

Development of the Report and Action Plan has taken most of two months. The Judge clarified, then extended the deadline for the Report, which as it turned out is more a set of disconnected issues and problems with a narrative about responsive projects and efforts either planned, completed or underway.

The City's Police Oversight Board, the Mental Health Advisory Committee, class counsel, and APD Forward reviewed a draft of the City's report early in June, and presented their concerns. The Community Policing Councils, considered an important aspect of community involvement, do not appear to have participated.  

The City's lawyers and the DOJ joined in a motion asking the Judge to clarify whether or not he intended the "stakeholders," those not parties to the lawsuit, but interested in it, to comment on the City's proposed "action plan." The answer was "yes."

After receiving what presumably was a lengthy listing of issues and concerns the City's lawyers asked for an additional two weeks to complete the action plan. That document was filed earlier this week. Doc. 290.  At the CPOB's monthly meeting Joanne Fine questioned whether the City would incorporate any of the Board member's proposals into the plan. 

Docket No. DateDescription
2826/2/17Joint Motion to Clarify
2836/5/17Order Clarifying
2876/30/17City Motion for Extension
2907/18/17City's Action Plan

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The CPOB and the Union Contract

At the July meeting of the Civilian Police Oversight Board the Board members asked to be included in the negotiations with APD for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. City Legal had reportedly asked for input from the Oversight Board members as to issues that should be negotiated with the Union. 

APOA-Contract-Settlement-2016

The 2016 Contract / Settlement Agreement netted the APOA $8.1 Million in payments but was not negotiated as part of a collective bargaining agreement,  Police Union issues and pay continue to be at issue in the DOJ's pattern-or-practice litigation brought against APD and the City.

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New CPOB Member: Dr. Bill Kass

Albuquerque's Civilian Police Oversight Board has two new members:  Bill Kass and Valerie St. John.  Dr. Kass is a retired Sandia Labs employee with a PhD in Chemistry. His wife is retired State district judge Anne Kass. They have been concerned and critical of many aspects of the police reform effort in Albuquerque. Bill Kass appears to have a strong sense of the the need for civilian control of police policy, as he addresses the CPOB under "public comments" in June, 2016, a little over a year ago.

Valerie St. John is a self-employed private investigator.  The two new Board members were apparently selected by City Council staff from a list of volunteers for the CPOB positions.

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CPOB Meeting: July 13, 2017

The Agenda for the monthly meeting of the CPOB includes discussion of the Police Union Contract and an update on motor vehicle accident data. An Officer-Involved-Shooting is on the Agenda, the shooting of John Edward O'Keefe by APD Officers Matt Fisher and Michael Oates. 

Agenda item 13 is "Meeting with Counsel re: Pending Litigation or Personnel Issues." While the CPOB continues to violate the N.M. Open Meetings Act by failing to state "with specificity" the reason(s) for going into closed sessions, the Board is being accused by its former Director of improperly closing meetings to discuss matters that must be addressed in public and that will be the likely subject of any secret Board meeting on Thursday.

O.I.S. - John Edward O'Keefe (1/13/2015)

A hair salon owner spotted two men "acting suspicious" behind his shop, saw what he described as a pile of electronic equipment on the ground in back of his shop, and called 911. Minutes later officers were seen chasing a man running away from them, numerous shots were fired, and 34-year-old John Edward O'Keefe was dead in an alley behind a hedge off Constitution near San Mateo. According to Police reports, a gun and body armor stolen the day before from a Sheriff's deputy were found at the scene.

KOAT News presented a comprehensive report, left.

The camera footage from Officer Fisher's lapel camera is on the right. 

The shooting of John Edward O'Keefe as he was running away from police officers who were apparently unaware of the reasons they were chasing him presents the Civilian Police Oversight Board with one of its first opportunities to explore and explain to the public how a 911 call about people "acting suspicious" could turn into an officer-involved-fatality. Many officers were at the scene of the shooting and the investigation should have been lengthy and complex. 

Albuquerque's Burque Media attempted to get copies of video footage but was refused. The American Civil Liberties Union supported a lawsuit under the State's Inspection of Public Records Act to secure the video of this shooting. 

APD officers shot and killed O'Keefe just four days after Lt. Greg Brachle shot and nearly killed Detective Jacob Grant.

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Former Director Sues “Dishonest” Board

Robin Hammer, the former Independent Review Officer (IRO) of the City's Police Oversight Commission and, for a short time between 2014 and 2015, the Executive Director of the current Civilian Police Oversight Agency and Board, has filed a lawsuit against the City and the Board members. 

In her 92-page Complaint Hammer alleges that the City's lawyers and officials and the Oversight Agency and Board members "have violated the public trust" by engaging in "intentional, numerous, unrelenting, and flagrant violations of law." According to Hammer, Oversight Board members are "aware of the requirements of the Open Meetings Act but chose to flagrantly and continuously violate its mandates." She provides numerous examples.

Hammer is a career prosecutor who has worked as trial counsel for the New Mexico Judicial Standards Commission. Her allegations of frequent, dishonest and deliberate violations of the State and City's good government laws are combined with claims that the Defendants engaged in "a spectacularly dishonest and despicable campaign to hurt and damage" her.

There is no doubt that Hammer found herself in a difficult position, attacked from all sides of the controversial issues and investigations she was trying to administer. And many of the accountability and transparency issues are part of the complicated relationships among citizens, police, the police union, and the law.

But the most disturbing aspect of the violations is the fact that so many government officials and lawyers are involved, yet nothing is done to stop the offensive conduct. And most demoralizing, even under the purported scrutiny of the Department of Justice, a Compliance Monitor, and the federal court, the current Police Oversight Board members seem to be violating the same open government laws over and over, continuing to engage in serious violations of the laws that properly require them to be open and honest and to represent and inform the people, not just themselves.

On Thursday, July 13, CPOB members again have a closed "Executive Session" on the Agenda to allow them to again secretly discuss "threatened or pending litigation" with their attorney, Mark Baker. Unfortunately, Baker, City Attorney Jessica Hernandez, and others charged with the duty to object to violations of the people's rights, are active participants and in some cases beneficiaries of the Civilian Oversight Board's closed meetings and IPRA violations.

Here Hammer conducts one of the last meetings of the severely depleted Police Oversight Commission on July 10, 2014, just three years ago. Note the City attorney seated between two of the remaining Commissioners. The newly organized Civilian Police Oversight Board, with Robin Hammer as its Director, held its first meeting in March, 2015.

Open Meeting Act violations have plagued Albuquerque's police oversight agencies, starting around 1999 when the POC began with an extended dispute over the openness of hiring an IRO.  Hammer's Complaint against the CPOB observes that despite the widespread and blatant violations of law, no one reported the lawbreakers.

The Agency and the Board are tasked with enforcing the law concerning Albuquerque's Police Department. Yet the Board failed to police and prevent its own massive violations of law, instead covered them up, and then retaliated against Plaintiff Hammer for calling attention to and trying to correct their illegal activity. In this regard, the Board was an ongoing, lawless enterprise, ironically tasked with overseeing the law involving others, while blatantly ignoring the law as it applies to them.

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