April 13, 2016

ABQ city councilor pushes APD brass accountability on reforms

Albuquerque city councilors in May, 2015.

The Albuquerque City Council is scheduled to vote in May on whether to hold the Albuquerque Police Department‘s command staff financially accountable if the department fails to make progress in meeting the goals of its settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Albuquerque city councilors in May, 2015.

Albuquerque city councilors in May, 2015.

The Council’s Finance & Government Operations Committee voted 5-0 Monday to approve a resolution by Councilor Diane Gibson to withhold retention bonuses and pay raises from the command staff if APD fails to make progress in meeting the goals of the settlement agreement. The resolution also requires the department to name one person to spearhead the compliance effort and report on the progress every two weeks to councilors.

Gibson recently has blasted APD, saying its leaders haven’t appeared interested in meeting the requirements of the settlement agreement, which says the department has to be in “substantial compliance” with 270 reform measures by November.

“The intent [of the legislation] is to incentivize everybody on the command staff to do whatever it takes to achieve the work that has to be done to get into compliance,” Gibson told ABQ Free Press. She added that she felt a little better about the compliance efforts after hearing APD officials at Monday’s meeting say that it was getting more policies to the DOJ’s independent monitor, James Ginger.

“We were told that several more policies had been written and I feel better about it. I don’t feel like the bottom is falling out,” Gibson said. “This is good news, and the resolution is necessary as an incentive to keep going forward.”

The resolution applies to command staffers the rank of major and above. Many of those commanders get retention bonuses of up to $12,500 a year.

Ginger has told councilors and the federal court judge who is overseeing the settlement agreement that APD’s policy-writing process is a disaster. The department has to have most of its major policies approved by May so training of officers can begin in June and be completed by November.

Gibson’s resolutions will be considered by the full Council at its first meeting in May.

Dennis Domrzalski is news editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.