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.