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City's Response to Monitor's 14th Report

City’s Response to Monitor’s 14th Report

 

ALBUQUERQUE – City leaders released the following response to the Independent Monitor’s 14th report that was made public today.

 

The report continues to reflect the Independent Monitor’s focus on staffing shortages and investigations into the use of force.

 

Prior to the release of the report, the City raised several concerns with Independent Monitor James Ginger. While Ginger agreed to make some changes that reflect progress by APD, he continued his use of inflammatory language and inaccurate conclusions to suggest APD is deliberately working against reform. City Attorney Esteban A. Aguilar communicated to Ginger, that APD takes responsibility for areas in which the Department continues to struggle. But APD has made progress, despite the reality that law enforcement agencies across the country are losing officers at the same time crime is increasing during COVID.

 

“The City gets frustrated at the pace of reform,” City Attorney Esteban A. Aguilar stated. “But that slowness is a reflection of all of these realities, not of a refusal to do the work. Also, as the (Independent Monitoring Team) has repeatedly acknowledged, the Department is trying to accomplish culture change, not just ‘check the boxes’ on reform. Doing this right takes time. As we solve problems in one area, new problems necessarily emerge – the problems with (Internal Affairs Force Division) are related to the restructuring that happened a few years ago in force review and we could not have addressed those issues three years ago.”

 

“While we appreciate the effort by the DOJ to consider our concerns about this report, it is disappointing that the Monitoring Team refuses to acknowledge the City and APD’s progress toward our shared goal of reform,” said Sylvester Stanley, APD’s Superintendent of Police Reform.

 

In addition to the Monitor’s report, the newly created External Force Investigative Team issued its first quarterly report about its work with APD. The team was created in response to past criticism from the Independent Monitor about APD’s investigations of use of force.

 

In addition to conducting joint force investigations with APD’s Force Division, EFIT is working with APD to conduct more effective investigations, while creating efficiencies so cases can be completed on time.

 

“EFIT remains committed to conducting thorough (Use of Force) investigations and will never sacrifice the quality or completeness of a (Use of Force) investigation for the sake of time,” the report stated. “However, EFIT believes that making the process more efficient enhances the quality of investigations going forward.”

 

Aguilar’s letter to the Monitoring Team highlighted several specific concerns identified in the report, including:

 

  • The report inappropriately cites staffing in its criticism of the performance of the Internal Affairs Force Division. The staffing challenges should be addressed separately than performance.

 

  • The Monitor continues to cite past reports and cases from those reports to criticize the Department during the current reporting period. These old references serve no purpose but to repeatedly revive past failings of APD.

 

  • The report unfairly portrays APD as not making efforts at obtaining training, when that is far from the truth. The City and APD have gone to great lengths to work with the Monitoring Team and DOJ in obtaining appropriate task-specific training.

 

APD Chief Harold Medina said the Monitoring Team is not in Albuquerque and does not interact with the community, which makes it difficult to understand the balance between reform efforts and keeping people safe.

 

“The only time the public hears from the Monitor is through these reports that gloss over the progress we’ve made,” APD Chief Harold Medina said. “APD has been scrutinized and held accountable at every turn during this process. At some point, the Monitor needs to play a more proactive and supportive role if we’re going to move forward.”

 

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