Millions spent for federal police oversight, hundreds of police complaint cases heard and a denied request for an investigation into an unjust drug sting are just some of the issues recently tackled by members of the Albuquerque City Council.
A report hidden in the Oct. 4 consent agenda says the city has spent $2.6 million on the United States District Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) between the Albuquerque Police Department and the US Department of Justice over the department’s excessive use of force issues. The report covers the nine-month period from July 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017. This money came out of about $4.6 million budgeted for the fiscal year that began July 1. Of the $2.6 million, about $150,000 has been spent on use of force investigations, $277,000 on crisis intervention measures and $79,887 on community engagement.
Millions of dollars have gone to Dr. James Ginger and his staff of more than a dozen compliance, records and implementation people. Ginger is the court-appointed monitor overseeing CASA implementation. There was no discussion at this meeting but a couple councilors at a previous meeting quizzed City Attorney Jessica Hernandez about the amount of money Ginger and his team are being paid to oversee the reform while they are not located in Albuquerque. In an August interim report, Ginger said the department is well below where it should be in the reform process. He also said the department is turning in inaccurate data. The next report is due out in early November.
A report from the Civilian Police Oversight Agency was also tucked deep in the long consent agenda. The CPOA investigates police misconduct and makes findings regarding alleged misconduct. The CPOA is required under CASA and was initially tasked with clearing a couple hundred cases from 2016. According to the report, out of the 227 cases completed, 72 percent of the allegations were for general conduct of police officers, 8.3 percent for faulty investigations, 6.2 percent for excessive use of force and 3.7 percent for racial profiling. Other tidbits from the report include the fact that 89 percent of the complaints were made against white male officers, most complaints are against officers with 7 to 12 years on the job and that the brass at the police department agreed with the CPOA 67 percent of the time. The most common form of discipline for officers was either a verbal or written reprimand.
On Oct. 9, the city council government committee declined to send to the full Council a resolution asking for an explanation/
That is apparently what the current members of the council were compared to during an election night radio broadcast. Several councilors took exception to the comparison at their Oct. 4 regular city council meeting. Council President Isaac Benton stood up for the council saying, “We may not be exciting but we are not brawling out in the lobby.” Councilors took turns congratulating the councilors who survived the municipal election. A run-off will be held between Westside District 5 candidates Robert J. Aragon and Cynthia Borrego. Current councilor Dan Lewis will face Tim Keller in the Nov. 14 run-off for the Mayor’s seat.
Another handful of Burqueños stepped up to lend their voices to several of the city’s many advisory bodies. Diva L. Miramontes and Emmanuel Ohiri were appointed to the Youth Advisory Council. John Frazier and Sally Hebert were appointed to the Municipal Golf Advisory Board. Daniel Strones will take a seat at the Americans with Disabilities Act Advisory Council.
Councilors deferred some items and tackled a few in the less than two-hour meeting.
• Approved extending the deadline for renegotiating the contract with Comcast to provide Albuquerque TV cable service until April 2018.
• Updated and clarified some townhouse regulations in the University Neighborhoods Sector Development Plan.
• Established that no new neighborhood associations can be created unless they meet certain criteria until the neighborhood recognition ordinance is updated.
• Extended a moratorium for certain mixed use permits along North Fourth Street until the city’s new zoning code, the Integrated Development Ordinance, is in place.
• Deferred items included amending the traffic code to deal with panhandlers at intersections and amending the city’s pawnbroker’s ordinance regarding who can buy precious metals.