ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A Federal judge ruled Thursday, the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association has a right to weigh in on the settlement agreement between the city and Department of Justice, on the overhaul of the police department.
News 13 spoke with the union Thursday about their concerns.
Since changes will directly affect officers, the APOA argues they deserve a voice at the table.
“Though we’ve been interviewed and we’ve discussed some of our concerns with the DOJ, we were in no way shape or form involved in the negotiation of this agreement,” explained Shaun Willoughby, Vice President of the APOA.
That’s no longer the case. Willoughby told News 13, the police union has a legal stake in the game to represent the rank and file in the department overhaul.
The union’s concerns range from what new use of force policies are going to look like, to how officers are disciplined and their legal rights.
The city and DOJ signed an agreement last year to overhaul the Albuquerque Police Department following a DOJ report that blasted the department’s use of force.
The judge hasn’t signed off on the agreement, so changes are not yet court-enforceable.
Up until now, only the city and the feds were involved. They decided on reforms that call for new training, up-to-date protocols for police shootings, and doing away with some troubled police units.
Now, the union can join the discussion. In an interview with News 13, the APOA wouldn’t go into detail about specific changes they want to see in the deal.
“We’re not here to block reform, we’re not here to protect somebody that breaks the law, we’re here to ensure that the process is consistent, and that a police officers’ rights are consistent,” Willoughby explained.
The union has two weeks to submit what they want added or taken out of the deal. Then, the judge will decide if everyone, including the union, should renegotiate.
Willoughby said the APOA hopes to continue their involvement with the reform process from here on out.
Thursday, a judge also signed off on the federal monitor, the person who will oversee the changes. The monitor will be James Ginger, a man who’s led reforms at departments across the country. The city and feds have until the beginning of March to figure out what he’ll be paid.