The Justice Department and the City of Albuquerque (City) today agreed that because the City has sustained compliance with significant provisions of the consent decree for the last two years, covering the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), the City now will self-assess compliance with those provisions. The announcement was made by filing a joint notice of the parties’ agreement with the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, which oversees the City’s implementation of the consent decree.
The City will analyze and publicly report on its compliance every six months, pursuant to a self-assessment plan also filed with the court. This transition to self-assessment is a significant accomplishment, and represents significant progress toward compliance and termination of the consent decree.
“The Albuquerque Police Department has made real progress toward compliance with this Consent Decree,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The progress that we have seen in the City of Albuquerque has yielded reform and is moving the city in the right direction when it comes to constitutional policing. We look forward to working with officials to achieve full compliance with the consent decree. The residents of Albuquerque deserve nothing less.”
“Today, we come before the court to recognize important and sustained advances made by the Albuquerque Police Department toward the goal of constitutional, effective policing,” said U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez for the District of New Mexico. “Successful self-assessment is the cornerstone of true reform, and the Albuquerque community should expect no less. I want to commend the hard work put in by the men and women of APD, as well as the persistence of community stakeholders, that went into this accomplishment. Together, we will realize the goals set out by this community, through mutual agreement, seven years ago.”
As detailed in today’s joint notice, the City has achieved sustained substantial compliance with and will self-assess the portions of the consent decree covering:
- The Multi-Agency Task Force that investigates shootings by APD officers;
- Specialized units (except tactical units);
- Training on behavioral health and field training;
- Filing of complaints by the public;
- Officer support programs;
- Recruitment, hiring, performance evaluations, and promotions; and more.
For example, APD has achieved full compliance with the consent decree’s requirement that it “develop a comprehensive recruitment and hiring program that successfully attracts and hires qualified individuals.” In its most recent report, the independent monitor found that APD has “set new standards in police recruiting,” and increased interest in joining APD at a time when police recruiting has become more difficult nationwide. In addition, APD has also developed and maintained a robust and effective public information program to facilitate misconduct reporting and ensure that civilian complaints are accepted and investigated.
The parties’ agreement reflects the strides APD has made in important areas of reform, while also recognizing that APD has put in place the necessary staff and systems to accurately and credibly assess its own continued compliance with these portions of the consent decree. This agreement will allow APD to focus even more on critical areas where it has made substantial improvements, as recognized by the independent monitor in its most recent report. These areas include force investigations, for which the monitoring team found that APD had improved both timeliness and quality, and discipline, where the monitoring team noted that APD continues to make “marked improvements.”
The Justice Department initiated an investigation of APD in November 2012 under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. This law authorizes the Attorney General to file a lawsuit to address a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives individuals of their rights under the Constitution or federal law. The investigation was conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico. The Justice Department announced the findings of the investigation in April 2014. The consent decree was approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico in June 2015.
The findings report and the settlement agreement, as well as additional information about the Civil Rights Division, are available on its website at Special Litigation Section Cases and Matters (justice.gov). Additional information about implementation of the consent decree is also available on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office at Investigation into Albuquerque Police Department (justice.gov).