August 2, 2016

‘Picnic’ celebrating APD reform progress in bad taste

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Jordan Meeter

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The Federal Court ordering barbecue and having a “celebratory picnic” in a courtroom with the parties to the DOJ consent decree to celebrate the reform effort and success in writing police policy was offensive to the general public and offensive to the families of victims killed in excessive use of force cases.

Pete Dinelli is a former Albuquerque City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer in the Martin Chavez administration.

Pete Dinelli

Pete Dinelli

Having a picnic was a sharp contradiction to what is contained in the July 1, 2016 third monitor’s report. I did not attend the courtroom picnic, but did attend the fourth public meeting attended by Federal Monitor Dr. James Ginger the same evening where he talked about his  progress report.

I read his report out loud to him at the meeting where he said “Across the board, the monitoring team has found that the components in APD’s system for overseeing (and holding officers accountable for) the use of force, for the most part, has failed. Hence, the serious deficiencies revealed point to a deeply rooted systemic problem. … The deficiencies, in part, indicate a culture of low accountability is at work within APD, particularly in the chain of command reviews.”

Despite the report language, Dr. Ginger said he can only report to the Court and has no authority over APD command staff.

To me, Dr. Ginger’s report is a confirmation of my long standing belief that APD and the command staff cannot police themselves which Dr. Ginger did not dispute or take issue with me. Further, the US Attorney acknowledged that the City Council has authority to enact police oversight legislation outside the consent decree.

The Albuquerque City Council can “civilianize” the investigation of Police misconduct cases and excessive use of force cases by abolishing APD Internal Affairs and replace it with a Police Commissioner. “Civilianization” of APD Internal Affairs functions can take the form of a Police Commissioner coordinating the police misconduct investigations with the existing Human Resource Department, the Office of Inspector General and the Internal Audit Departments that have civilian investigators and subpoena powers.

The Commissioner would assume primary responsibility for implementation of all the DOJ mandated reforms and only be removed for cause by the City Council. The Police Commissioner would completely overhaul and restructure APD, appoint new Chiefs, Commanders, Lieutenants, Academy Director and 911 Manager.

Correction: This piece originally did not identify Pete Dinelli as the author. We regret the error.

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