Source: Everybody 'Kumbaya' about refreshed APD-DOJ relationship | KOB 4
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Source: Everybody 'Kumbaya' about refreshed APD-DOJ relationship

Caleb James
January 19, 2018 10:39 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – "I know that you have told people that you can't or you won't work with me, and that's not going to work."

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In secret recordings obtained by KOB, former Albuquerque City Attorney Jessica Hernandez repeatedly accuses court-appointed federal monitor James Ginger of allowing his distaste for her to interfere with the Albuquerque Police Department's reform process.

In nearly a dozen recordings from 2015 and 2016, Hernandez, former APD Assistant Chief Robert Huntsman and APD's former so-called 'civilian chief' Bill Slauson spar with Ginger over concerns his monitoring of the department's reform efforts is unfair and confusing.

But Albuquerque's new leaders were in court Thursday – and given a clean slate by the federal judge presiding over APD reform.

According to minutes taken during the court proceeding, federal Judge Robert Brack wants to move on from the drama of the past administration.

An attorney present in court tells KOB the status conference was a "kumbaya" moment.

The description is a stark comparison to the city's relationship with Ginger during the previous administration under the former mayor, Richard Berry, and former APD Chief Gorden Eden.

During a November 2016 conversation, Ginger was recorded by Hernandez, then a city attorney, for over two hours.

"You and I have had some issues, I don't know if we need couples therapy or what," Ginger said during that conversation. "But I do try not to let that affect the process."

The recording highlights the former administration's contentious relationship with Ginger. But the court-appointed monitor also expresses serious concerns over APD's leadership under former chief Eden and assistant chief Robert Huntsman throughout the recordings.

During the November 2016 conversation, Ginger recalls a meeting with command staff where APD officials talked at length about policies they planned to implement.

"At the end of that conversation, a very high-ranking command staff member said, 'So we get compliance because we said we're going to do it, right?'" Ginger said.

Hernandez suggests the command staff member may have been joking, but Ginger insists there was a general misunderstanding among APD management that intention qualified as reform.

But nearly two months into Albuquerque's new mayoral administration, the relationship is starting fresh.

Minutes from a status conference in front of Brack on Thursday reveal the court has, "No interest in looking back..."

Those minutes indicate the court and its parties will allow the new administration to enjoy a fresh start.

One of the attorneys present on the teleconference of those proceeding tells KOB there was no major disagreement from any parties, saying, "Everybody was 'Kumbaya.'"

The source described "such a different spirit of cooperation" in the discussion.

And as for those recordings made by members of the former Berry administration?

According to the attorney present in court, "the substance of the recordings was not (discussed)." 

The possibility of going without a seventh full monitoring report from Ginger was discussed during the conference. Instead, there's a proposal on the table for Ginger to submit two "mini-reports" on APD's compliance status – one in May, and one in August.

There must be an official motion made to the court to advance that request, and all parties must approve it.

In a statement released publicly Friday evening, City of Albuquerque Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair said the administration appreciated the recognition of the renewed relationship from Brack.

"The reset of this relationship has officially begun," Nair said in the statement. "And we look forward to restoring the trust between the public and its police department." 

 

Credits

Caleb James

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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