I’d never heard of a limp noodle turning into a rapier, until I read reports of what independent Federal monitor James Ginger told the Albuquerque City Council and then his supervising Federal Judge about how things are going in the attempt to reform the Albuquerque Police Department.
Remember, Ginger has no powers to fire anybody or to dictate any changes in policy or actual policing at the APD. All he can do is watch the Federal Department of Justice’s project to reform the police department, offer advice and guidance, and make reports on what he is seeing.
Late last month, Ginger made his second report to City Council and to U.S. District Judge Robert Brack and it was as cutting a Toledo Blade could be. “What’s happening right now isn’t working,” he said. “I’m anything but pleased.”
That damning summation was mild compared to Monitor Ginger’s details. The agreement between the Justice Department and the APD contained 277 primary tasks. Of them, Ginger said, 22 had achieved some degree of compliance, but only eight were operationally effective.
But the awfulness of those numbers was itself surpassed by a few examples: APD was asked to design a policy for responding to civil disturbances and told to model it on the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia’s 140 page policy plan. APD wrote one and a half pages. Several other APD reports of three to four pages have generated 70 to 80 calls for changes.
When I was a teacher, if someone had handed in a page and a half instead of 100 plus page assignment, I’d suggest they leave the class. But Ginger can’t do that either. But he can say of the Albuquerque City Government and its City Attorney Jessica Hernandez, their policy seems to be “delay, do little and deflect.” Hernandez declared herself shocked by this judgment and then said something might be truer than she meant it to be:
“We are as committed to the process as much as we’ve ever been,” she said.