March 18, 2016
Federal Monitor James Ginger’s meeting with ABQ City Council Friday. Just as anyone with eyes to see knew about APD before the DOJ report, anyone with eyes knew all this before the Monitor spoke. But below are my notes on the meeting. I refrain from editorial comment because, well, what could I — or anyone say?:
Ginger stated that APD lacks self-assessment skills and has a critical need for strong skills in that area. The use of force policy is done, but only by means of a face-to-face meeting at the DOJ office between APD, the Monitor, and DOJ, going over policy line by line. This is not the way to do it. It is the one success APD has had thus far, but it took too much effort from all parties. Writing policy should be second nature. Policy remains a rough spot.
City Atty Jessica Hernandez says APD is looking at whether they have the right people. They have contracted with former federal judge Lorenzo Garcia to write policy. As for past difficulties writing policy, Hernandez explained that APD had thought they had been directed NOT to look at model policies or national standards or policies used by other police departments. APD will implement an Office of Policy Analysis for ongoing review of how policies are working and to look at trends. Ginger said that this is THE ONE good idea that APD has come up with thus far.
Given that his report covered a period ending 3 months ago and not the current situation, Ginger said the problems noted in the report still exist. Council President Lewis asked if the city administration is getting ongoing, current feedback between formal reports. Ginger seemed to imply there might not have been regular feedback between issuance of reports.
Asked who is responsible on the city side, Ginger said City Council is responsible. He also said that it was a good move to hire a consultant to help with writing policies, but was noncommittal on whether Judge Lorenzo Garcia was the appropriate choice absent seeing the results, saying that he could be ok. City Attorney justified choice of Lorenzo Garcia because as federal judge he is familiar with lawsuits against APD, knows the issues about policies, knows the real world effect of policies, is practiced at reducing complex issues to understandable English. However, City Attorney acknowledged that Judge Garcia has no direct experience writing policy.
Councilor Gibson expressed concern that there is no time for guesswork on whether Judge Garcia is the right person for the job.
City Attorney made it sound like APD was in compliance with all deadlines. Ginger says APD is behind on submitting policies.
Councilor Winter thinks the problem is communication.
Ginger thinks the problem is not communication. He said the problem is that APD’s inability to write policy is now putting APD up against deadlines and creating current time crunch.
Ginger attributes APD belief they could not refer to outside policy to a misunderstanding.
Councilor Jones wants more frequent input from Ginger. Referring to Ginger’s remarks that he and DOJ had had to make 70 comments on use of force policies submitted by APD – a number Ginger thought was clearly indicative of APD non-performance — Jones asked about nature of those comments, whether they were trivial or substantive. Ginger said he is not an English professor correcting grammar, that the comments were substantive, and gave as an example APD’s submitted use of force policy on dealing with public demonstrations, which included no mention of people’s rights to peaceably assemble and express themselves. As another example, another policy gave an obviously incomplete list of who in the chain of command was responsible for certain actions.
Asked by Council members who in the city is taking the lead, Ginger said his emails are one hundred to one from the City Attorney compared to APD command staff. Asked about that, Chief Eden claimed to be fully engaged.
Ginger said he is “more than concerned.”