EDITORIAL: New Internal APD Monitor Raises Red Flags and Makes New Millionaires

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November 18, 2023, 2:45 pm , ,

BY: ABQ RAW staff

POSTED: 11/18/2023 @ 7:45AM

Albuquerque’s Mayor Tim Keller and APD’s top brass held a press conference to announce a “new and innovative” idea about taking the federal mandated CASA agreement to an internally run oversight.

Mayor Tim Keller’s decision to replace the external federal oversight with an in-house monitoring team for the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) prematurely assumes the completion of reforms and disregards the potential consequences of premature withdrawal from the Court-Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

There are also major questions on how much this will cost taxpayers and how discipline will be handed out to APD officers and civilians under this newly formed position.

“The idea was that we are going to set up APD to continue to self monitor and self reform perpetually going forward, through institutionalizing the concept of constitutional policing, and reform inside the department, without the CASA,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said.

When we asked at the press conference how much this newly created office was going to cost taxpayers APD’s public information officer Gilbert Gallegos stepped in front of Mayor Keller before he could answer and Gallegos said they would get back to us. We followed up in an email to APD and have not heard back and never will.

We are a news organization and analyze contracts and salaries on a regular basis. Most of our staff were born in the morning, but not yesterday morning. That being said, we know these 3 hand picked individuals will not work for less than $100,000 per year during their appointment more than likely $200K per monitor per year. Considering that Dr. Ginger makes over $900k per year doing the same thing all alone, it’s not far-fetched to believe that the city will pay these members whatever they want.

We will publish the contracts once they are posted on the City’s transparency site.

While the Independent Monitoring Team may indicate significant progress within APD’s compliance with the CASA terms, a fundamental shift from external oversight to an internal monitoring team could risk reversing the hard-won advancements and the continuous improvement that external monitoring ensures.

The history of the CASA spans nearly a decade, a period during which external oversight was essential in holding APD accountable for reforms addressing systemic issues such as excessive use of force. Since Mayor Keller handpicked all of the members transitioning to an internal monitoring team could create a conflict of interest, potentially compromising the objectivity and thoroughness needed for effective oversight. Without an independent perspective, there’s a risk of oversight becoming biased towards the department’s interests rather than ensuring true compliance with the CASA terms.

Moreover, assuming operational compliance based solely on the findings of an internal team without a comprehensive review from a federal judge is premature. A federal judge’s unbiased evaluation provides an essential external check to validate the progress claimed by the internal monitoring team. Rushing to remove federal oversight before a thorough and impartial assessment could lead to overlooking unresolved issues or deficiencies in the reforms.

For the community’s trust to be upheld and for sustainable reform within the APD, external oversight should persist until a comprehensive, unbiased evaluation confirms substantial and lasting compliance with the CASA terms. Prematurely ending federal oversight risks undermining the progress made and could jeopardize the community’s confidence in the APD’s commitment to lasting reform.

It should also be noted that the court-appointed monitoring team cannot simply be ‘replaced.’ The United States Department of Justice and Office of Civil Rights, must concur with any recommendation for the federal monitor to be dismissed from the monitoring process. Subsequently, a federal judge must take action to remove the court-appointed federal monitor.

Mayor Keller and APD have only offered lip service to the public regarding transparency. There are many red flags associated with this new program, and taxpayers’ money will be spent without clear oversight and put APD officers career at risk.

This editorial appears on ABQRAW’s social media and website. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the news site rather than any specific writers.

ABQRAW welcomes all opinions and anyone can submit their content to post in our opinion section. Send your opinion 500 words or less to info@abqraw.com .

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