City response to Monitor’s 14th report
ALBUQUERQUE – The city guides released the following response to the Independent Monitor’s 14th report released today.
The report continues to reflect the Independent Monitor’s focus on staff shortages and investigations into the use of force.
Before the report was released, the city raised several concerns to independent monitor James Ginger. While Ginger agreed to make some changes reflecting APD’s progress, he continued to use inflammatory language and imprecise conclusions that suggest APD is deliberately working against reform. City Prosecutor Esteban A. Aguilar told Ginger that APD is taking responsibility for areas where the ministry continues to struggle. But APD has made headway despite law enforcement agencies across the country losing officials as crime rises during COVID.
“The city is frustrated with the pace of reforms” Prosecutor Esteban A. Aguilar specified. “But this slowness reflects all of these realities, not the refusal to do the work. In addition, as the (independent monitoring team) has repeatedly confirmed, the ministry is trying to achieve cultural change, not just review reform. Getting this right takes time. When we solve problems in one area, new problems inevitably arise – the (Internal Affairs Department) problems are related to the restructuring that took place in the Force Review a few years ago, and we could not have solved those problems three years ago. “
“While we appreciate the DOJ’s efforts to address our concerns regarding this report, it is disappointing that the monitoring team refuses to acknowledge the city and APD’s progress towards our shared reform goal,” said Sylvester Stanley, Superintendent of Police Reform of the APD.
In addition to the Monitor’s report, the newly created External Force Investigative Team released its first quarterly report on its work with APD. The team was formed in response to the Independent Monitor’s previous criticism of the APD’s investigation into the use of force.
In addition to conducting joint investigations with APD’s Armed Forces Department, EFIT is working with APD to conduct more effective investigations while creating efficiency so cases can be closed on time.
“EFIT continues to strive to conduct thorough (violence) investigations and will never sacrifice the quality or completeness of a (violence) investigation for reasons of time,” says the report. “However, EFIT believes that more efficient litigation improves the quality of future investigations.”
Aguilar’s letter to the monitoring team highlighted several specific concerns identified in the report, including:
- The report inappropriately cites staffing levels in its criticism of the Internal Affairs Force’s performance. The personnel challenges should be approached separately from the performance.
- The Monitor continues to cite previous reports and cases from those reports to criticize the department during the current reporting period. These old references serve no other purpose than to revive the mistakes of the APD in the past over and over again.
- The report wrongly states that APD does not seek training when that is far from the truth. The city and the APD have gone to great lengths to work with the monitoring team and the DOJ to receive appropriate task-specific training.
APD chief Harold Medina said the surveillance team is out of Albuquerque and not interacting with the community, making it difficult to understand the balance between reform efforts and people’s safety.
“The only time the public hears about the monitor is these reports that gloss over our progress.” APD chief Harold Medina called. “APD was scrutinized every step of the way and held accountable during this process. At some point the monitor has to play a more proactive and supportive role if we want to move forward. “