Monday 1/30 - Jeff Proctor, ABQ Free Press - APD vs DOJ...Waiting for Trump Appointment

Monday 1/30
Jeff Proctor, ABQ Free Press
APD vs DOJ...Waiting for Trump Appointment

Basketball fans recognize it instantly, the so-called “spread” or “4 corners offense,” in which players retreat to the perimeters of the court and toss the ball back and forth making no attempt to score.  Clearly, this is no offense at all, but a defensive stall, in which the endless inoffensive passes protect a lead by eating up time from the game clock.

It should be noted that the stall only works when the stalling team is ahead in the game.

Wasting time while you are way behind is stupid, unless you’re secretly hoping some divine intervention will end the contest before the score is final.  

Rain rarely falls inside the arena on a basketball court, but the City of Albuquerque seems to be hoping for lightning to strike the courtroom of Federal Judge Robert Brack and call off the game it’s playing with the Federal Department of Justice and its designated reform monitor Dr. James Ginger.

Ginger, who, as Judge Brack said during a January 5 Status Conference has ridden a few rodeos before this one says, the objections he’s been hearing for 9 months from the City and the APD, — that he’s too tough, that he ‘s too public in his criticism, that he’s too stubborn about the rules of a consent agreement in the game of Federal mandated police reform, are familiar.  But eventually, he told the Judge, police and city officials in Pennsylvania and NJ, which had been running a slowdown on his demands, got it.  Under the consent decree, the rules were the rules and the monitor wasn’t going to bend them.

Albuquerque has been different, he told the judge, leaving him “concerned” for the future of police reform of a department diagnosed with a culture of violence and, his and other investigations have made clear, with a management more interested in covering abuses than fixing them.

The Mayor’s chief legal officer denies all that and has offered a new plan, to bring in a Federal Magistrate as a kind of arbitrator between City Hall and Police Headquarters and these mean and inflexible Feds.  A key result of such a plan would – should we chant it together – slow things down…add at least a month or 2 to the arguments, which Dr. Ginger says have become a substitute for taking the prescribed reform medicine.

What’s the City’s real hope…one suspects they see an intervening God on the horizon, the soon to be Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a long-time critic of this kind of outside intervention forcing police to protect and not abuse the civil and human rights of citizens.  

Sessions was the kind of guy who, in the 50s and 60s cried that “outside agitators” were “undemocratically” forcing the segregationist, racist South to change its culture.  Sessions is still the kind of guy who sees a culture of violence and brutality in a local PD and calls it “undemocratic” when Federal outsiders try to force changes.

But Sessions has promised, even though he doesn’t like Federal consent decrees and interventions and monitors, he won’t interfere in any of the 25 such projects the Obama Administration leaves as its legacy.

Did he wink when he said this?  Mayor Richard Berry seems to think so.



Jeff Proctor is an Albuquerque-based investigative reporter whose coverage of the Albuquerque Police Department began with nearly a decade on the police beat for the Albuquerque Journal.  Since then, he has reported on the Department, on the James Boyd killing and on the subsequent Federal reform program for KRQE-TV, New Mexico In Depth, The NM Political Report, The Santa Fe Reporter, The Santa Fe New Mexican and the New York Times.



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