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City, DOJ face deadline on APD reforms watchdog

Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal

Applicants for the job of overseeing reforms at the Albuquerque Police Department include several consulting groups, a former director of the FBI, a retired federal magistrate judge, a retired APD officer turned lawyer and a performing arts teacher from Northern New Mexico.

Today is the deadline for the U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Albuquerque to notify U.S. District Judge Robert C. Brack on whether they have reached agreement on who they think should serve as the court’s watchdog on APD reforms. Or if they can’t reach an agreement, each side will submit their top three applicants to Brack.

Seventeen individuals and groups formally expressed interest in the job, including several national firms with experience in overseeing police department reform efforts for federal judges.

Among those applying were a firm led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh; Edmund E. Perea, a retired Albuquerque police officer who is now an attorney; retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Lorenzo F. Garcia; and Gary Yamane, a performing arts teacher from El Prado, NM.

Yamane admitted in his letter of interest that he “might not be the most qualified candidate” but that he did have experience as the community coordinator for Citizen’s Police Review Board in Santa Cruz, Calif., that he thought would be helpful.

City officials and representatives of the DOJ are not saying if they have reached any agreement.

Whether the parties agree or submit recommendations, the public will learn about it next Wednesday when a status conference on the case is scheduled in front of Brack.

But observers including the head of the New Mexico American Civil Liberties Union, Peter Simonson, said that based on his meetings with both the city and DOJ, discussions on who the monitor might be appear to be amicable.

“They seemed interested in getting our views on who should oversee the consent decree,” Simonson said. “They appear to be working collaboratively. But, of course, they didn’t disclose who they were recommending.”

APD Forward, a community coalition that includes the NMACLU that has pushed for police reform, released its recommendations Tuesday.

The three firms recommended by APD Forward are:

  • Public Management Resources, Inc., which carried out monitorships of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and New Jersey State Police and advised on the DOJ consent decree with the Los Angeles Police Department.
  • Warshaw & Associates, which served as monitor in Detroit and currently monitors police departments in Oakland, Calif., Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Maricopa County in Arizona.
  • CNA, which assessed and monitored the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s collaborative reform agreement with the Community Oriented Policing Services office of the DOJ.

“There were a number of highly qualified firms with highly credentialed staff,” Simonson said. “Many had experience with consent decrees but not as many have as deep a history of monitoring consent decrees involving police departments.”

Simonson said he met with city and DOJ officials to pass on APD Forward’s recommendations.

Simonson also said a commitment to work with the local community as part of the reform effort was important in APD Forward’s recommendations.

Watchdog applicants

Here is the list of applicants for federal court monitor to oversee reforms in the Albuquerque Police Department:

■ Affiliated Monitors, a group of  Boston-based former law enforcement officials who have been involved in reviews of police departments in New England.

■ Baker & Hostetler, a New York-based law firm that includes former federal prosecutors involved in court monitoring of high-profile banks and unions.

■ Charles A. Gruber Consulting, which is currently monitoring a consent decree on police practices in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

■ CNA, an Arlington, Va.- based firm that headed a collaborative reform effort with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

■ Cuddy & McCarthy, an Albuquerque and Santa Fe law firm with experience in advising local governments.

■ Edmund E. Perea, a retired Albuquerque police officer now an attorney.

■ Elite Performance Assessment Consultants, with members based in New York and California and experience in the DOJ consent decree in New Orleans.

■ Freeh Group International Solutions, a national organization headed by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.

■ Gary Yamane, a performing arts teacher from El Prado, N.M.

■ Guidepost Solutions, a New York-based team that includes former NYPD Police Commissioner Robert J. McGuire.

■ KROLL, a national firm with offices in New York and Chicago that has been involved in the Los Angeles Police Department consent decree and in monitoring unions and carting companies for federal courts.

■ Police Performance Consulting, a Connecticut-based firm with experience in monitoring police departments in Oakland, Calif., and Niagara Falls, N.Y.

■ Public Management Resources, a South Carolina-based firm that served as federal court monitor in Pittsburgh and for New Jersey State Police.

■ Stein Mitchell, a Washington, D.C.-firm relatively new to federal court monitoring.

■ The Santa Fe law firm of Jones, Snead, Wertheim & Clifford, which lists  retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Lorenzo F. Garcia as the lead monitor.

■ Warshaw & Associates, a North Carolina-based firm with experience in monitoring federal court decrees involving police departments in Detroit, New Jersey and California.

In addition, Ethos, a technology firm from Albuquerque, has offered its services to any firm chosen to monitor the U.S. Department of Justice/APD agreement.