The Albuquerque Police Department's former command staff so obstructed APD's reform effort that the department basically has to start much of the reform the process all over again.
(Photo: Jim Ginger.)
That's the word from the independent monitor in the reform case, James Ginger, who, earlier this month told the federal court judge who is overseeing the case that the prior command staff never developed a plan to comply with the settlement agreement the city signed in late 2014 with the U.S. Department of Justice.
As a result, Ginger is working frantically to get APD's new command staff up to speed on the reform process and help them develop a complete compliance plan. But that so-called new way forward has yet to be fully fleshed out.
“To make a long story short, the reason we're in the mess right now is we never could get a real plan out of the old APD,” Ginger told U.S. District Court Judge Robert Brack during a Feb. 8 status conference in the case.
“At this -- at this stage of the game, I think everybody understands they [APD] are seriously off track. That had nothing to do with this new command staff that is present. They've sort of inherited the mess. And what I've tried to do is design a way forward that will allow the new APD to pick up the pieces and start making progress relatively rapidly and, basically, to help the Court understand what I'm recommending happen, is a highly compressed and highly focused process that was provided originally to the old APD when this project first started.
“I've designed a process that I think, based on my experience, will allow the new APD to pick up the pieces -- I mean, there's a lot of things that have been developed that we – quite frankly, we just need to throw away and start over again, but that's not everything. We can -- we can salvage some of the work that was done in the first couple of years.”
Ginger told Brack that his team, which is being paid $4 million for their efforts, spent 18 months giving APD's old command staff technical assistance on a variety of issues. Much of that technical assistance might have to be gone over again for the new command staff, but the money budgeted for that assistance has already been spent, Ginger told the judge.
“We had a fairly protracted period of technical assistance where we worked with [former] key command staff members on a Use of Force Policy, on policy development, on training, planning and development, on supervision, and on command levels,” Ginger told Brack. “And what we plan on doing -- that period – that lasted for a period of about 18 months until we thought they had had enough technical assistance and APD was ready to start moving forward.
“Unfortunately, that movement forward never really happened with the old APD. What we're planning on doing, given the budgetary constrictions that we're confronting as a monitoring team -- in other words, we've spent most of our technical assistance monies already, and yet we find a need to have to do that again.”
During the status conference, Brack was also told that three city councilors have called off their requested audit of Ginger and the work he has done so far in the reform case.
The councilors – Don Harris, Ken Sanchez and Brad Winter – called for the audit in late October saying they were worried that Ginger was trying to game the system by spending more time here than necessary and squeezing more money out of city taxpayers.
But during the status conference, attorney Jerry Walz, who has been hired by the City Council to represent them in front of Brack in regards to the audit, told the judge that the councilors had called off the audit.
“A request was made on behalf of – in late January of several of the requesting councilors for the audit that the Internal Audit Department at this time discontinue or otherwise not move forward on any type of independent review or audit performance of Public Management Resources, Inc., and Mr. James Ginger, who is the independent monitor,” Walz told Brack.
“It's my understanding that based on that request, there has been no movement forward by Lawrence Davis, who is the acting City auditor to conduct such an audit, as originally was envisioned pursuant to the City Council's resolution 17-252. Rather the City Council may be working what I would label as an approach to somehow assess the type and nature of services rendered and to confirm that the dollars appropriated and spent were appropriately done so.”
The councilors called off the audit after learning that Ginger was charging the city only a fifth of his usual fee in such cases.
“I think that they were all quite surprised to learn that Dr. Ginger has been working at a fifth of his regular consulting rate while he has been working on this project,” Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Martinez told Brack.
Martinez also told Brack that APD's new command staff, including Chief Michael Geier, are working with the city's community policing councils in a way that the old command staff never did.
“The City and the Police Department already have responded to the requests from POB [Police Oversight Board] and the CPCs for a restructuring of the citizens police academy that would better meet the needs that they have to get their members trained so that they can participate in the functions that they have to fulfill under the CASA. And it's just terrific,” Martinez told Brack.
“They have completely revamped the training that the CPCs, the POB members have to have to do their work. And it's just heartening. And I applaud the – we all applaud APD and Chief Geier and the City for moving so quickly on this.”