Albuquerque Police’s new reform website leaves stakeholders skeptical

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Police Department is promoting a slick new online effort it hopes will become the hub for information about the department’s reform effort.

Calling it an effort to “to help residents understand progress and milestones” about the APD-DOJ settlement agreement, APD launched a new website Thursday called “APDReform.com.”

Loaded with court documents, APD says it made the website in response to public feedback. The department says it’s received many requests for “one spot to get information about what’s going with reform process.”

“The people of Albuquerque deserve the best from their police department,” says Gorden Eden in a welcome video on the website. “We encourage you to take a closer look at the progress we have made.”

While the information on the website is factual, some stakeholders in the reform effort are questioning how the department is presenting it.

“I think that (people) should be particularly skeptical of the motives behind it,” said Peter Simonson, ACLU New Mexico’s executive director.

The website provides both summarized information and access to the majority of court filings in the case. Those filings include information filed by the city of Albuquerque, the Department of Justice and the Independent Monitor, James Ginger. As of now, Ginger has released five monitoring reports.

Simonson says to an extent, he appreciated APD’s effort in trying to get more information about reform into the public’s hands.

“We certainly want the community to trust in our police department and that is clearly what the website is intended to accomplish,” said Simonson.

However, the ACLU of New Mexico questions some of the information the department boldly states on the site.

“It unfortunately misrepresents to the community where things really stand right now,” said Simonson.

One example Simonson points to is an image on the front page of the website. The image reads, “93 percent primary compliance reached of tasks outlined in the agreement.”

However, there’s no definition of what “primary compliance” is.

“That’s really misleading,” said Simonson.

The phrase “primary compliance” is not a generic term of completion. According to the Independent Monitor’s reports, “primary compliance” is a narrowly focused term measuring “the policy part,” meaning it’s a measurement of how many new policies APD has had accepted.

Primary Compliance: Primary compliance is the “policy” part of compliance. To attain primary compliance, APD must have in place operational policies and procedures designed to guide officers, supervisors and managers in the performance of the tasks outlined in the CASA. As a matter of course, the policies must be reflective of the requirements of the CASA; must comply with national standards for effective policing policy; and must demonstrate trainable and evaluable policy components.

From “Independent Monitor Report 5” – Published May 2, 2017.

“Operational Compliance,” however, is what figuratively gets the DOJ to “go away,” so to speak. Persistent “Operational Compliance” is what APD ultimately needs to meet in order to be free and clear of monitoring.

Operational Compliance: Operational compliance is attained at the point that the adherence to policies is apparent in the day-today operation of the agency e.g., line personnel are routinely held accountable for compliance, not by the monitoring staff, but by their sergeants, and sergeants are routinely held accountable for compliance by their lieutenants and command staff. In other words, the APD “owns” and enforces its policies.

From “Independent Monitor Report 5” – Published May 2, 2017.

As of Independent Monitoring Report 5, APD is 47 percent operationally compliant.

In a way, APD has acknowledged that. In the video posted on the website, Chief Gorden Eden says, “Our mission is far from complete. It won’t be easy, but easy is not what we signed up for. Albuquerque deserves the best.”

While reform advocates can agree with APD that the “mission is far from complete,” some wish APD made it more clear.

“There are significant problems that still remain,” said Simonson.

One report that appears to be missing from the website is the “Special Report” the Independent Monitor released in 2016. That report was highly critical of the department’s use-of-force investigations.

Timing wise, the launch of the new website is notable. Next week, the Independent Monitor is expected to release draft copies of his latest review of the department.

APD says it will continue updating the site as reforms continue. According to APD, the site cost $40,000 to create. Another $30,000 will be spent to advertise the website to the public.

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