APD Forward Defends Federal Monitor Overseeing ABQ Police Reforms

Steven Allen condemns the lack of collaboration by APD in a press conference on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 outside police headquarters in Albuquerque.
(Sophie Wickert / NM News Port)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The City of Albuquerque needs to work with federal monitor Dr. James Ginger — not attack his integrity — to reform a broken Albuquerque Police Department, according to the police reform advocacy group APD Forward.

In a press conference outside police headquarters, APD Forward spokesman Steven Allen condemned APD’s “latest attempt to discredit the integrity of independent federal monitor Dr. James Ginger.”

The defense of Ginger comes in response to the City of Albuquerque’s motion to request an evidentiary hearing regarding Ginger’s neutrality, filed in federal court on Tuesday October 31st. The City claims Ginger is biased against the department, and submitted as key evidence a video of Ginger referring to the reform process as a “game.”

APD Forward questions the timing of the City’s request. With the monitor’s 6th progress report released November 1st, the City of Albuquerque is attempting to “cloud the record,” said Allen, who also serves as Director of Public Policy for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico.

The progress report, which is over 400 pages, slammed the department for its use of force policy, its body camera policy, and its internal affairs. The report also stated the department displayed a lack of cooperation.
The department, says Allen, displays a “pattern of not engaging in collaborative work.”

In response to the video evidence, Allen says Ginger was voicing frustration that was “probably taken out of context.”

During the press conference, APD Forward defended Ginger’s credentials. His experience overseeing police reform processes includes serving as a reform monitor for the Los Angeles Police Department, the Pittsburgh Police Department, and the New Jersey State Police.

“We reviewed the contract, and we do not understand why the audit was requested,” said Allen.

“We hope the City and Police Department work to create a collaborative relationship with the monitor,” said Angelica Hall, chair of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association at the conference.

APD Chief Gorden Eden, in a statementt, said APD is committed to reform.

“We’ve revamped our policies and procedures, implemented hands on, scenario based training, ensured every field officer is crisis intervention trained, and implemented robust community outreach programs,” Chief Eden said in his statement to the Albuquerque Journal.

Adriann Barboa, field director for Strong Families New Mexico, speaking at a press conference Nov 1, 2017 calling for better cooperation with a federal monitor overseeing Albuquerque police reforms. (Sophie Wickert / NM News Port)

During the press conference, APD Forward also released their list of criteria to assist the soon-to-be-elected mayor of Albuquerque in choosing a new police chief.

Both candidates in the November 14 runoff election — Democrat Tim Keller and Republican Dan Lewis — have vowed to replace Chief Eden and follow through with police reforms.

“As a lifelong resident of Albuquerque, it’s a ‘game’ when we’re not reforming APD,” said Adriann Barboa, the field director for Strong Families of New Mexico.

“Thankfully, we’re getting a new APD chief,” said Barboa. “It’s a new day for our PD.”

For more follow Sophie on Twitter.