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Mayor Keller, Chief Medina Respond to News about DOJ Reform Process

Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Harold Medina responded to today’s announcement by U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland about improving the way the government monitors the reform efforts at police agencies.

Sept. 13, 2021

Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Harold Medina responded to today’s announcement by U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland about improving the way the government monitors the reform efforts at police agencies.

Mayor Keller’s Administration has been meeting for months with Washington officials from the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as working through the Major Cities Chiefs Association, to outline several concerns about existing process used by the DOJ to monitor the Albuquerque Police Department. For example, the Keller Administration highlighted the exorbitant cost paid by Albuquerque taxpayers for the work of out-of-state monitors who oversee APD’s reform process.

AG Garland announced several steps today to ensure that monitorships are independent, highly qualified and free of conflicts of interest.

“Monitoring is a public service, and there should be no question that the monitors’ commitment is to the department and community they serve – not to their bottom line,” AG Garland said during his speech today to the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

While AG Garland’s announcements were specific to future consent decrees, Mayor Keller said Albuquerque will approach the U.S. District Court in New Mexico to ensure the same standards are applied to APD’s settlement agreement.

“We appreciate that the Attorney General of the United States listened to our concerns and is making changes to reflect the realities we’re facing,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “In this city, we want to make reforms that are actually meaningful to our local communities rather than out-of-state consultants. I believe that Albuquerque has what it takes to do that while supporting our officers, tackling crime and making our city safer for people from all walks of life.”

“The people of Albuquerque demanded that we change the culture at APD, and we have made tremendous progress,” Chief Medina said. “But the public also deserves a fully staffed police department that has the resources to focus on fighting crime. The pendulum has swung too far in the wrong direction where officers do not feel supported. We need the local flexibility to ensure we can balance fighting crime while protecting the rights of all citizens.”

AG Garland outlined several steps the DOJ will take to improve the monitoring of consent decrees, including:

  1. Monitorships must be designed to minimize the cost to jurisdictions and to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest.
  2. Monitors must be accountable for the work they do. Going forward, a monitor will be given a set term that can only be renewed after an assessment of the monitor’s performance and cost-effectiveness.
  3. Monitors should assess compliance consistently across jurisdictions.
  4. Monitors must engage in sustained and meaningful community engagement.
  5. Monitors must be incentivized to efficiently bring consent decrees to an end. 

“Organizational change takes time, but a consent decree cannot last forever,” AG Garland said.