DOJ police reform is killing ABQ

By Dennis Domrzalski and Dan Klein



While the judge listens to Dr. Ginger complain that the utopia he is trying to create is failing, outside the doors of the federal court building Albuquerque is collapsing. Albuquerque has become a crime-ridden cartel city in large part due to the overreach of the DOJ consent decree and federal monitor.


Mayor Keller has a duty to obey the consent decree, but he also has a duty to protect Albuquerque citizens. In trying to appease one, he has failed at both.


The DOJ has made APD into a toothless police department where officers have to wait for themselves or citizens to be aggressively threatened before they can take action. That is insane.


-- If you are tired of living in a cartel city, if you want APD to start protecting you again, please call / email U.S. District Court Judge James Browning.

Interim Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina shook up our world on Friday, and if you didn't hear about it or understand it, we'll explain.


In a private, four-minute video, Medina told his officers that APD can no longer focus exclusively on its one and only job, which is fighting crime and keeping all of us safe.


Why? Because the police department has to spend time, people and other resources complying with the Department of Justice's consent degree.


If that doesn't scare the living crap out of you, then you're brain-dead. If you can't figure out what it means, well, here it is:


We are sacrificing the safety of the citizens of Albuquerque to satisfy outsiders from the DOJ. We are

sacrificing the ability of the Albuquerque Police Department to do good, thorough investigations in order to satisfy outsiders from the DOJ. In other words, we're turning over our city to the cartels and criminals—making ourselves less safe—in order to satisfy the DOJ. And that's insane. Actually, it's suicidal.



The history of DOJ consent decrees is one of failure. The problem is with how the DOJ incorporates their system and beliefs on local law enforcement. The DOJ seems to want a utopia in Albuquerque where never again is any criminal suspect harmed, or even touched, in any way by a cop. And if a gun-toting suspected rapist suffers a broken nail while being taken into custody, you can bet that in the DOJ's world of policing the cop will be disciplined.


The DOJ wants a perfect world, and that's impossible. And it's insane.


Police work, even in the best department, is going to be ugly at times. It’s the nature of the business. Remember, and never forget, that cops are almost always dealing with people who are at their worst—people who hate them and don't want to be taken into custody, people who are high and crazy on drugs and booze, people who are full of hate and resentment, people who want to hurt other people. And, it's inevitable that something is not going to go perfectly. A suspected murderer is not always going to obey an order to halt. An obese man who is threatening someone in his apartment and who refuses to move will have to be carried down the stairs by the cops, and—horrors!—they might bump him against the wall and bruise his chubby arms.


The DOJ and monitor would do well to understand this, but they don't, and that's hurting all of us. Because of the DOJ's demand for perfection and a perfect world, we are all less safe. And it's only going to get worse.


But it doesn't have to be. It is not mutually exclusive to have a constitutionally professional police department and one that protects the community and solves crime. These two concepts are not at odds with each other, but under the DOJ consent decree, Albuquerque has been forced to make a decision to either please the outsiders at the DOJ or to protect Albuquerque citizens. Sadly, the decision that has been made is to watch Albuquerque become a cartel, crime-ridden city so that Dr. Ginger and the others at the DOJ can be pacified. This is not what any consent decree should do, but the history of consent decrees have shown that this is the outcome in city after city.


In almost every city where the DOJ has enforced a consent decree crime has skyrocketed. Therefore, the problem is with how the DOJ is implementing reform. The DOJ must change. But it isn't going to unless all of us start demanding that change.


The Albuquerque Police Department, years ago, used far too much force on citizens. This began after the murder of two officers. But that is not the Albuquerque Police Department we have today. Over the last five years APD has moved that pendulum in the other direction, but the DOJ reform is causing it to go too far, and no one in command at APD or in the mayor’s office is willing to stand up in federal court and plead for relief from the judge. While the judge listens to Dr. Ginger complain that the utopia he is trying to create is failing, outside the doors of the federal court building Albuquerque is collapsing. Albuquerque has become a crime-ridden, cartel city in large part due to the overreach of the DOJ consent decree and federal monitor. Mayor Keller has a duty to obey the consent decree, but he also has a duty to protect Albuquerque citizens. In trying to appease one, he has failed at both.


So here's what the DOJ's desire for utopia is starting to look like for cops, and for all of us.


Consider this as a hypothetical situation for an APD officer. You go to a domestic violence call where a mother tells you that her son has threatened to stab and kill her. The son is intoxicated and not at the residence while you are there. When you are outside the residence you see the son walking toward his mothers’ home. You clearly see a knife on his waistband in a sheath. You ask the son to stop, but he refuses and ignores you as he strides toward the front door of his mother's home. What do you do? The current DOJ training in Albuquerque says you can’t take physical action against the son until he becomes an active aggressor. Does that mean the officers have to wait for him to kick down the door? Do they have to wait for him to pull out his knife and attack his mother? Do the officers have to place themselves in danger (remember this guy has a knife) by getting between the son and the door? Do they have the authority to immediately grab this person and take him to the ground? Is it reasonable to ask the officer to go “hands on” with this guy who has threatened his mother and is armed with a knife? Could the officers use non-lethal weapons (40mm nerf baton) and shoot it at the son to stop him? Remember, the son has earlier threatened to kill the mom, is armed with a knife and is attempting to walk inside the mother's residence, but since he is not threatening anyone at this moment, do APD officers have the right to strike him with non-lethal weapons to stop him? From current APD/DOJ guidelines it appears that if the officers use any force on this suspect, while he is passively resisting, the officers would be in violation.


Here is another hypothetical: a man attempts to shoplift from a business on a busy street. The security guard attempts to stop him and the man displays a gun and walks out with the shoplifted goods. The security guard calls the police and they catch up with the suspect at a busy intersection. The officers can see the suspect has a gun in his waistband. He refuses all police orders to surrender, but he is not actively resisting. He is passively resisting. Are the officers supposed to expose themselves to potential gunfire and approach this guy? What about the safety of the citizens driving through the intersection? If the suspect begins walking toward an officer, refusing to stop, is that officer allowed to use a non-lethal weapon like the 40 mm baton? Or does the officer have to expose themselves to the possibility of being shot by getting in this guy’s way so at some point he threatens them? There are usually microseconds between actively resisting and shooting or stabbing, so what are the officers supposed to do? From current APD/DOJ guidelines it appears that if the officer uses force against the suspect, while he is just passively resisting, the officer is in violation.


This is the crazy world we now live in. Because of past abuses of use of force, the DOJ consent decree has swung the needle way too far in the other direction. I don’t know if Dr. Ginger is trying to create a utopia where police officers never have to use force against a person, but in the real world there is no utopia. The DOJ has made APD into a toothless police department, where officers have to wait for themselves or citizens to be aggressively threatened before they can take action. That's insane.


The federal judge needs to step in and monitor his monitor. In Dr. Ginger’s latest report he complained about uses of force that were simply ridiculous. Albuquerque is losing the battle against crime, part of this is firmly the fault of the DOJ and how they are handling the consent decree. Mayor Keller must come out from hiding, go into federal court and plead with the judge to release us from the decree. If not, there won’t be a city left.


Mayor Keller needs to instruction Interim Chief Medina that when he speaks to his officers or to the citizens he must represent the department better. No more polo shirts. It’s Class-A uniform. Look sharp and be proud that you are the chief of APD.


Keller also needs to publicly address the citizens and do something Medina didn’t do, which is to tell us the truth. During his news conference last week, Medina never once mentioned how the DOJ consent decree is harming APD’s ability to deal with criminals and crime. Not once. Yet just 24 hours later Medina tells his officers this is the reason APD can’t get control of the crime issue. No more spin. Keller and Medina need to always speak truthfully to the citizens


Consider another hypothetical situation. An officer witnesses a drive-by shooting and gets into a foot chase with the offender. The officer tells the offender to “get on the fucking ground.” Once on the ground the officer handcuffs the offender, who is 15 years old. The officer finds a stolen gun on the offender along with a large amount of drugs. The officer then tells the kid “What the fuck were you thinking? I could have shot you!” Is the officer in trouble? Does the DOJ approve of the officer's actions? Not in Albuquerque. The officer ends up being disciplined for using curse words in a high emotion situation. That’s stupid and completely disregards that officers are human. They get scared. Curse words are nothing but words, they don’t harm you when you hear them. Yet in Albuquerque the officer would be disciplined.

If you are tired of living in a cartel city, if you want APD to start protecting you again, please call / email U.S. District Court Judge James Browning. He is in charge of the consent decree. It’s a waste of time to contact Dr. Ginger because we believe he is making too much money and has a very slanted agenda for him to listen to anyone. It’s also a waste of time to speak to Mayor Keller. He is owned by the far left on this issue and he will NEVER go against that base that wants to ruin this city and it’s police department. Judge Browning is our only hope. Please email and call him, keep it very professional, but explain to the judge that your community is collapsing and that is in large part due to Dr. Ginger and the DOJ consent decree. Implore Judge Browning to reconsider the consent decree and to instruct Dr. Ginger to stop nitpicking on crazy issues. There has to be a way to get reform and have a safe city at the same time. Judge Browning holds the keys, but he needs to hear from you, citizens of Albuquerque.

Judge James Browning

505-348-2280

browningchambers@nmd.uscourts.gov

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Independent Journalism

I've been a reporter, writer and editor for 37 years. I'm dedicated to honest, fair and hard-hitting reporting. I'm not conservative or liberal, but am just a reporter who tries to get to the truth at any given point in time. I don't believe in pulling punches or being a lap dog because that serves no one. A free and aggressive press is essential to human liberty. That's why the Founding Fathers put a free press in the Constitution. So on this site you'll get a variety of news, fearless opinion, analysis, humor, satire and commentary. It's kind of like a free-for-all. My motto is "Without fear and without favor."  But good journalism takes time and money, so I hope you will contribute what you can to these efforts by clicking on the "Donate" button above. I could use your help. Thanks, Dennis Domrzalski.

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