ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Albuquerque police force has been slow in reforming its practices and indifferent to feedback, according to an independent monitor’s latest assessment.
James Ginger, the monitor charged with overseeing federally-mandated reforms, will discuss his latest report Thursday with the judge presiding over the efforts.
In the report, which was released earlier this month, Ginger describes how the progress of reform efforts has been slow for more than a year. He also said the police department has been “deliberately indifferent” to his feedback such as with use-of-force training, the Albuquerque Journal reported .
City officials have shot back, claiming a deteriorating relationship with Ginger and a lack of feedback from him has hindered reform.
Ginger did say progress has been made with specialized units, crisis intervention programs and recruiting efforts.
The meeting comes as the U.S. Justice Department has agreed to a court hearing over whether Ginger has shown bias in his position.
The city filed a motion Oct. 31 arguing that Ginger could not be neutral. In documents, the city cited recorded comments Ginger made last year about the police command staff. That 2016 conversation between Ginger, City Attorney Jessica Hernandez and police officials was recorded by Assistant Police Chief Robert Huntsman’s lapel camera without Ginger’s knowledge.
According to the motion, Ginger expressed frustration with an appearance by Hernandez before the City Council during which she answered questions about the reform process and at times disagreed with the monitor’s findings.
The motion also referred to a comment made by one of Ginger’s staffers that the monitor “has an ax to grind.”
The police department has been undergoing an overhaul since the Justice Department found a pattern of excessive force in 2014. The findings led to a settlement agreement mandating numerous court-ordered reforms such as developing clearer policies on use of force and better engagement with the community. Ginger is paid to review the police department’s progress and report back periodically to a federal judge. He initially issued a report every four months. Now, it is every six months. He is prohibited by the settlement agreement from making public comments about the reform efforts.
Watchdog groups are hoping newly elected mayor Tim Keller, who takes office Dec. 1, will choose a new police chief who can keep progress on track. Police Chief Gorden Eden announced he would retire at the end of this month.
Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com