ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Three months after the Department of Justice hit APD with a scathing report, the city and feds announced progress in reaching a deal designed to fix the problems that report identified.
In a joint statement, the two sides laid out an outline of what that deal would look like.
The city and DOJ have agreed that deal will fix problems in eight key areas, including policies in use of force, training and recruitment, mental illness interactions, internal investigations and issues within tactical units. The joint statement does not lay out any specific fixes however.
“We’ve fully embraced and made a full commitment to reform with the Albuquerque Police Department and our community,” said Albuquerque Mayor RJ Berry.
Since the DOJ report was released in April, APD has shot and killed four people. Several in the community have expressed concern. The city and the federal government said they’re listening.
“The final product is going to reflect the community’s voice in all the outreach that we’ve done, we’ve listened to them and the final product is also going to be workable for the police department,” said Damon Martinez, U.S. Attorney for New Mexico.
The two sides also agree an independent monitor will be appointed to ensure the city lives up to its end of the deal and agreed to come up with concrete ways of measuring whether any changes made are effective.
However, in that same letter, the mayor’s office also raises questions about the DOJ’s report, saying it disagrees with some of its assertions.
News 13 asked Mayor Berry Thursday what those specific objections were and whether the city agreed or disagreed that APD showed a pattern of unconstitutional policing, but didn’t get a clear answer on either question.
“We made a decision very early on that we were going to take the findings letter and not spend a lot of time agreeing or disagreeing from a legal standpoint,” Berry said in response. “I’ll let our lawyers go through the process of talking about what’s in the findings letter.”
Those same lawyers are now at the table hammering out a final deal. Neither the U.S. Attorney nor the mayor wanted to speculate on how long it would take to get to that final agreement, although both say they recognize the need for urgency.
“I’m not sure you’re going to see anything as important as this decision today before we get to the final agreement,” said U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez.
“I can tell you in the meetings, there’s an urgency,”Berry said. “But we want to make sure it’s done right.”
The ACLU issued a statement regarding the statement of principles Thursday saying:
“We appreciate the city’s expressed desire to work towards a swift settlement with the Department of Justice. The ACLU of New Mexico continues to insist that any agreement the two parties craft puts in place a strong enforcement mechanism that allows a court to impose sanctions if the city fails to abide by the terms. The underlying principles the city and the DOJ have agreed upon are solid, but the devil will be in the details of the actual consent decree. Until we see the final text, we will not know what level of rigor the agreement will rise to. It is encouraging, however, that both parties appear committed to working “as long as necessary” to ensure they meet all the reform goals.”