US attorney’s office responds to APD’s path to DOJ reform 

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – There’s no denying there’s been a lot of progress from use-of-force incidents to civilian oversight of APD. But leaders say now comes the next challenge of not only keeping that progress, but building on it.

“I always say things with a little asterisk because I’m an attorney. But I do think it’s a good day,” said Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Aja Brooks. 

Brooks signed on to the office in 2022 and quickly became familiar with APD’s ongoing Court Approved Settlement Agreement, or “CASA.” She agrees Monday marked major progress in reaching the end of that agreement.

“APD has definitely made some positive progress. They have some definite things that they should be proud of, and that we should be proud of as a community,” said Brooks.

According to the report filed Monday, APD is one 100% compliant in policies and training protocols, and 96% compliant in using those policies in the field. 

“It is notable to mention that 96% operational compliance is the highest level of compliance that APD has ever reached during this process. And so it is something that is a true achievement,” Brooks said. 

Brooks also points to data about use-of-force. There were a total of 484 uses of force in the DOJ monitor’s 2020 report. There were 276 in the report released Monday. 

“Numbers that, you know, are very obvious and that everyone should be proud of,” said Brooks. 

But the U.S. attorney’s office knows the work is not done yet.

“The work is constant. And we will work with the police and the community to ensure that the progress that we’ve seen continues,” said Brooks. 

Brooks has personally focused on the civilian oversight and community policing parts of the agreement. According to the report, those still need work in training and reporting to reach compliance. 

“I think we are very hopeful that things are moving in the right direction. You know, I think regarding staffing, hopefully we’ll see some positive change related to the CPOA moving forward,” Brooks said. 

Moving forward under a watchful eye. 

“Do I think that we will always need to be watching and ensuring that things are moving in a positive direction? Yes,” said Brooks. 

APD insists that it’s in compliance with all its parts of the settlement. They say it’s the job of the city council and the Civilian Police Oversight Agency to reach 100% compliance. The U.S. attorney doesn’t have a timeline for that.

Brooks also mentioned a bright spot to come out of this agreement has been the Albuquerque Community Safety Department, adding a behavioral health component to front line response.