Keller squanders opportunity to push accountability - again - Albuquerque Journal

Keller squanders opportunity to push accountability – again

The Mayor Tim Keller administration’s new negotiated contract with the police union is another lost opportunity to reform the Albuquerque Police Department and implement the DOJ reforms under the settlement. No doubt the union is ecstatic, given the fact that the Keller administration did exactly what it did four years ago: it caved into union demands, giving the union all the pay increases it demanded. The new negotiated contract makes APD the best-paid law enforcement agency in the region by increasing hourly pay by 8% and longevity pay by 5%, and creating a whole new category of incentive pay. There are no meaningful provisions to prevent overtime time abuse or fraud, which has plagued the department for 10 years.

Under state labor law, management is not allowed to join unions. The new union contract again allows APD management positions of sergeants and lieutenants to be police union members, violating state law. The police union is a party to the federal settlement case. The union has obstructed the implementation of the mandated reforms. The federal monitor has repeatedly found it is sergeants and lieutenants who are resisting management’s implementation of the DOJ reforms. Sergeants and lieutenants should have been removed from the bargaining unit and made at-will.

The Keller administration failed to get concessions from the union on police misconduct accountability. Three provisions not included and opposed by the union were in the new contract:

• The contract provision barring the city’s Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA) board members from knowing the names of officers investigated by the agency. This provision undermines the purpose and intent of the CPOA to identify sworn officers who have a history of misconduct and who should be disciplined or terminated.

• The union contract requires that the name(s) of the person(s) who complained about them is/are disclosed to officers under investigation. This provision was in the old contract. Allowing identification of complainants who choose to remain anonymous discourages the filing of civilian complaints for fear of retaliation.

• Police oversight advocates, such as APD Forward, wanted to increase the amount of time for the city to complete police misconduct cases. Under the previous contract, 90 days for police misconduct investigations with an optional 30-day extension with the police chief’s approval, was provided. However, in practice, the 90 days is not sufficient.

The police union bluntly said it was not interested at all in extending the timelines for investigations. The reason for that is that the union, and its minions of sergeants and lieutenants know that the shorter the time taken to investigate misconduct cases likely means there will be no disciplinary action. The union goal is to avoid any disciplinary action at all cost and ignore the truth of police misconduct.

In his latest report, the federal monitor found 667 uninvestigated use-of-force cases. All non-force-related misconduct investigations completed by APD were found to be deficient. Approximately 83% of the cases were time-barred for discipline in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement should misconduct be found.

Keller was given a second chance when he was reelected to reform APD and implement the APD settlement agreement reforms. With the new union contract, he has essentially capitulated and, once again, given in to all union demands, squandering an opportunity to reform APD.

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