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Independent monitor begins community meetings on plans to reform Albuquerque police

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ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — A court-appointed independent monitor overseeing the implementation of Albuquerque police reforms is beginning to have community meetings amid a push to unite activists, unions and city officials.

James Ginger met with Latino activists and family members of those shot by police on Wednesday and was scheduled to host a forum Thursday.

Ginger said he plans to meet with community members to inform them how his team will operate and to hear from all parties who have a stake in reforming the troubled police force.

"I'm cautiously optimistic but we want to see a plan of action now," said Ralph Arellanes, who chairs the Hispano Round Table of New Mexico and called for a federal investigation into Albuquerque police in 2007. "'Trust-me-I'm-working-hard' isn't going to be good enough."

In January, federal officials and the city selected Ginger to lead a team to monitor a settlement agreement to overhaul the Albuquerque Police Department. The agreement follows a harsh report from the U.S. Justice Department, which faulted police over allegations of excessive force.

PHOTO: Independent monitor James Ginger speaks about his role in helping oversee a federal settlement agreement to overhaul Albuquerque police amid allegations of excessive force during a news conference at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque, N.M., on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. Ginger also introduced his monitoring team, which will includes former New Jersey and Pittsburgh police officials. The police department, serving a city of 560,000 people, has faced scrutiny for more than 40 police shootings since 2010. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)
Independent monitor James Ginger speaks about his role in helping oversee a federal settlement agreement to overhaul Albuquerque police amid allegations of excessive force during a news conference at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque, N.M., on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. Ginger also introduced his monitoring team, which will includes former New Jersey and Pittsburgh police officials. The police department, serving a city of 560,000 people, has faced scrutiny for more than 40 police shootings since 2010. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

Ginger and his team will be responsible for assessing progress on the agreement and will report on changes to a federal judge. The team will have access to documents, personnel, facilities and other information related to the settlement.

The police department, serving a city of 560,000 people, has faced scrutiny for more than 40 police shootings since 2010.

Ginger told reporters this week he has already met with city officials and members of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, a police union.

He said his team will write draft reports to update the public on pending reforms and post them online.

Arellanes said he and other advocates don't want to see reforms end after the monitoring team leaves in four years.

"This is something that has to remain with us," he said. "Because we've been the monitors, really."

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PHOTO: Independent monitor James Ginger speaks about his role in helping oversee a federal settlement agreement to overhaul Albuquerque police amid allegations of excessive force during a news conference at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque, N.M., on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. Ginger also introduced his monitoring team, which will includes former New Jersey and Pittsburgh police officials. The police department, serving a city of 560,000 people, has faced scrutiny for more than 40 police shootings since 2010. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)
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