US Justice Department, Albuquerque announce police monitor to oversee troubled police force

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ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — After weeks of negotiations, the U.S. Justice Department announced Tuesday that federal officials and the city of Albuquerque have agreed on an independent monitor to oversee the city's troubled police force.

James R. Ginger, an expert on police reform, will lead a team to monitor a settlement agreement to overhaul the Albuquerque Police Department, federal officials said.

The police department, serving a city of about 560,000 people, has faced scrutiny for more than 40 police shootings — 28 of them fatal — since 2010. The fatal shooting of a homeless man in March sparked protests around the city after video footage appeared to show the man surrendering during a standoff.

Ginger and his team will be responsible for independently assessing progress on the agreement and will report on changes to a federal judge. They will have access to documents, personnel, facilities and other information related to the settlement and will engage with officers and community members, federal officials said.

Ginger has served as an independent monitor over a consent decree obtained by the Justice Department in Pittsburgh. He also was a monitor over a consent decree involving the New Jersey State Police.

"Dr. Ginger's proven success with police departments and criminal justice systems in the United States will assist in promoting compliance with critical structural and systemic reforms that are necessary to restoring public confidence and achieving effective and constitutional policing in Albuquerque," U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez for the District of New Mexico said in a statement.

The Justice Department and Albuquerque officials signed the agreement last year after a federal report faulted Albuquerque police over excessive force.

The reform blueprint calls for new training and protocols for investigating officer shootings. It also calls for the agency to dismantle some troubled units.

"The selection of the monitor is an important step," said Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry. "I am encouraged that we came to agreement with the DOJ as quickly as we did."


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