- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Former New Jersey and Pittsburgh police officials will be part of a court-appointed independent monitor team overseeing Albuquerque police reform, the independent monitor announced Tuesday.

After weeks of a silence, independent monitor James Ginger introduced his team, which also includes a community activist from Washington, D.C. The team will be tasked with gathering data and submitting regular reports on the reform progress of Albuquerque’s troubled force.

“The team will not move here,” Ginger said. “Probably beginning in October, I will be here on a virtually permanent basis.”

However, team members will visit Albuquerque often and help with draft reports, which will eventually be made public on a new website so the public will be aware of progress, Ginger said.

In January, federal officials and the city selected Ginger to lead a team to monitor a settlement agreement to overhaul the Albuquerque Police Department.

Ginger and his team will be responsible for independently assessing progress on the agreement and will report on changes to a federal judge. They will have access to documents, personnel, facilities and other information related to the settlement and will engage with officers and community members.

The police department, serving a city of 560,000 people, has faced scrutiny for more than 40 police shootings since 2010.

Before coming to Albuquerque, Ginger served as an independent monitor over a consent decree obtained by the Justice Department in Pittsburgh. He also was a monitor over a consent decree involving the New Jersey State Police.

Those experiences helped him to look for “the hidden ball” - or attempts to hide needed data, he said.

“I’ve gotten pretty good at it,” he said. If his team isn’t getting the needed information from Albuquerque police, Ginger said he will know immediately.

In an effort to project unity, Ginger introduced his team alongside Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and Stephanie Lopez, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, a police union.

Lopez said she was looking forward to working with Ginger and wants to make sure “officers are safe.”


Follow Russell Contreras at https://twitter.com/russcontreras.

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