Police Oversight in Albuquerque, NM
Consent decrees (also called settlement agreements) result from the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division’s investigations and findings. The DOJ’s “pattern or practice” cases:
focus on systemic police misconduct rather than isolated instances of wrongdoing. They also focus on the responsibilities of law enforcement agencies and local governments, rather than on individual officers.
Albuquerque Independent Police Oversight (policeoversite.com) is commited to inexpensively providing the requisite resources and, whenever possible, the remedies needed by people with important concerns about their City’s government and its police department.
There are over 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States. Only 15 police agencies are currently operating under court-authorized consent decrees. The Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the City and its Police Department and Police Union and its settlement agreement with the City and APD address some important national issues that warrant scrutiny and debate.
On November 12, 2014, the DOJ filed its civil complaint in the U.S. District Court against the City of Albuquerque for failure to maintain constitutional policing resulting in unconstitutional uses of force and other violations of the rights and interests of the people. The City answered, denying most of the allegations.
The DOJ’s Complaint initiated a formal police reform effort based on a Sec. 14141 “pattern or practice” claim. The Settlement Agreement called for both community involvement and effective oversight of the Albuquerque Police Department and the City of Albuquerque.
The APD reform effort is now in its third year. Judge Brack presides over the case; Dr. James Ginger heads the Team that monitors compliance and reports to Judge Brack.
Dr. Ginger discusses his role at his first appearance before the Albuquerque City Council on December 15, 2015. The appearance was well-attended by high ranking APD officers.
Facing imminent failure in its policy reform attempt early in 2016, City Attorney Jessica Hernandez announced the creation of a new APD policy process: the Office of Policy Analysis (OPA) which was designated the City’s first and final policy-maker. Meetings of the OPA were closed to the public.
But in May, 2016, the retired federal judge who took over the City’s policy-making effort stunned the oversight board by telling them he had never heard of “OPA,” but that he and two others were the City’s real policy-makers, what he called his “SOP Team.”