ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As Police Department officials, lawyers and community advocates spent a full day discussing the progress of the police reform effort before a federal judge in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, Paul Killebrew, the special counsel for the Department of Justice, said it might be next fall before they know how the city has fared in implementing the next crucial steps of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement.
“What we expect in November is a number of paragraphs (in the settlement agreement) will have come into compliance,” Killebrew said. “If they come to you and haven’t brought that into compliance, that’s a concerning sign. If they don’t live up to that expectation, we’re going to have to have a serious conversation.”
That’s because the Albuquerque Police Department launched its new use-of-force policy suite just last month and it is still in the midst of asking the Department of Justice to suspend outside monitoring of about one-fourth of the requirements laid out in the settlement agreement.
The new use-of-force policies include tasking a dedicated team of internal affairs detectives with investigating most use-of-force cases rather than field supervisors. APD has said the move is a better division of resources because the detectives will have more practice and time to devote specifically to use-of-force investigations and won’t have the same reluctance to investigate field officers that area command supervisors have. APD has also said the investigations will become more consistent across the department.
Tuesday’s hearing before Judge James Browning was initially expected to cover the city’s motion asking to suspend the independent monitor’s role in overseeing about a quarter of the settlement agreement, but the city did not file a self-assessment plan laying out how they would do so in time. A hearing has been scheduled to hear that motion later in the month.