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Independent Counsel

1. The Independent Counsel Should Make More Use of its Present Authority to Oversee the APD.

Commentary. The Independent Counsel currently has very broad authority with respect to oversight of the APD. The IC has not fully utilized that authority with respect to reviewing the policies and procedures of the APD. The IC should also become a more active participant in complaint investigations. As is the case in other jurisdictions, this participation should include being present at interviews and being able to suggest questions. The IC should conduct investigations after IA if necessary, and also when a complainant has appealed to the oversight board. The IC should appoint an assistant to assist in participation and conduct of investigations.

2. The Independent Counsel Should Play an Active, Public Role in the Community.

Commentary. The Independent Counsel has played almost not public role. As a result there is little community awareness of the IC. This has undermined the positive work that the IC has done in providing citizen input into the complaint process. The IC should be part of a more active program of outreach to the community.

3. The Position of Independent Counsel Should Be Filled Through Competitive Bid.

Commentary. The current practice of employing the Independent Counsel on the basis of a sole source contract is unwise. Competitive public bidding would facilitate hiring decisions based on comparative competency and the presentation of innovative ideas about how the IC should function. Among other things, the City would be able to choose applicants committed to playing a more active public role as recommended above.

Public Safety Advisory Board

4. The PSAB Should Make Full Use of its Authority to Conduct Studies and Make Recommendations.

Commentary. The PSAB has not effectively utilized its existing authority to conduct studies and make recommendations about the APD. No new legislation is required to accomplish this. Political leadership is all that is required. The PSAB should engage in a long-term planning process through which it identifies major problems and establishes a program of studies.

Along the same lines, PSAB meetings should begin with public comment. There should also be an established agenda which is sent to police department personnel with requested reports on specific subjects set for a designated time on the agenda.

5. The PSAB Should Oversee the Activities of the Independent Counsel.

Commentary. The PSAB should be restructured so that it oversees the work of the Independent Counsel. This would address the current problems with both the PSAB and the IC. It would give the PSAB a clearer focus in terms of overseeing the APD. It would also help to overcome the low visibility of the IC.

The PSAB should have the authority to review the work of the IC with respect to the quality, thoroughness and impartiality of investigation. The PSAB should have the authority to hear complainants' appeals of dispositions and then, where appropriate, direct the IC to conduct more investigation. This additional information would then be forwarded to the Police Chief and/or Mayor for their use in making their decisions on the appeal of a complaint disposition.

Internal Affairs

6. The Internal Affairs Unit of the APD Must Immediately Begin an Active Outreach Program to Publicize the Complaint Process.

Commentary. The failure of APD to adequately publicize the complaint process is unacceptable. This failure occurs despite several recommendations in the past that it take the proper steps. Both the IC and the PSAB should closely monitor compliance with this recommendation.

This program should include outreach to all segments of the Albuquerque community, particularly those such as the Native American community which seem particularly disaffected from the complaint process. This program should include in-person presentations, wide distribution of the official APD brochure, and steps to ensure that officers on the street are properly informing citizens about the complaint process.

The program of outreach should also include adding locations where complaints may be filed. This should include locations separate from the police department which are staffed by non-police personnel. The IC and IA should conduct training sessions for the personnel of community organizations who wish to make this service available to their clientele.

7. Internal Affairs Should Reorganize its Citizen Police Complaint (CPC) filing system.

Commentary. This reorganization should include a filing system which includes face sheets, an early warning system, and a formal process for requests to waive the time deadlines. Waivers should be automatically requested and granted whenever needed by IA or when the IC and/or the new board are handling an appeal investigation.

Internal Affairs should give top priority to meeting the established time deadlines for investigating complaints. Both the IC and the PSAB should monitor this problem.

Internal Affairs should also proceed quickly with its current plans to develop an early warning system (EWS) to identify problem officers. It should consult widely with police departments that already have such systems and determine which form of intervention is the most effective.

City Attorney and Risk Management

8. The City Attorney and Risk Management Should immediately Seek to Reduce Tort Claim Payments and Provide More Feedback to APD.

Commentary . The current level of tort claim payments for police misconduct is unacceptable. Immediate steps should be taken reduce these payments. This should include (1) a policy on settling tort claims against the city that addresses the underlying behavior of APD officers; (2) the establishment of specific goals and timetables for reducing tort claims based on payments from comparable cities; (3) a formal system of feedback to APD command officers regarding problems that might require additional training and/or changes in APD policy.

Both the IC and the PSAB should monitor the implementation of this recommendation.

9. Both the City Council and the Mayor Need to Take a More Active Role in Overseeing the APD.

Commentary. Problems with the APD have been allowed to fester for too long. These problems include the high number of fatal shootings, the extremely high annual tort claim payments, and the continuing tensions between the APD and segments of the community. Both the City Council and the Mayor need to take a more active role in addressing these problems. They should utilize their current authority to request the PSAB to conduct studies of problems they identify.

10. All Public Officials Need to Work Closely with Mental Health Professionals to Examine Both the Range of Services For the Mentally Ill and APD Policies for Handling Mentally Ill Persons.

Commentary. A high percentage of fatal shootings by APD officers involve mentally ill persons. The APD is currently taking steps to address this problem. We commend the development of the Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) and the implementation of the Bean-bag technology as a form of less than lethal force. We are concerned about the apparent inadequacies of programs and facilities for the care and treatment of the mentally ill. In particular there appears to be no secure facility for persons who are an immediate danger to themselves or someone else. We were not asked to investigate this matter in detail and we are not experts on this subject. Nonetheless, there appears to be a serious problem here that has direct impact on the APD and its relations with the community.

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