Federal Judge “Clarifies” Ruling on APD Policy

Rejects Union Position on City Promotional Policy

Last November U.S. District Judge Robert Brack made his first ruling on an APD policy in the more than two-year old reform effort, holding that a City promotional policy provision that allowed the Chief to remove an officer from the City’s promotional list for prior misconduct violated the officers’ rights to due process. In a Memorandum Opinion and Order filed on April 14, 2017, Judge Robert Brack clarified his use of the word “primarily” with respect to the Albuquerque Police Chief’s discretion to remove an officer from the City’s promotional list for prior misconduct.


U.S. District Judge Robert Brack rules on City promotional policy

The Court had previously ruled that the Chief’s discretion to remove names from the promotional list was “primarily” limited to misconduct that occurred after the Settlement Agreement went into effect. If the Union’s view had prevailed the prior ruling would result in the promotion of officers who had unreasonably shot and killed people or cost the City millions of dollars, City lawyers claimed.

Judge Brack now clarifies his ruling, stating that he meant “the Chief should have some discretion” to remove officers from the lists, however, that “discretion to consider conduct that predates the CASA should be limited to the most egregious cases that directly violate the spirit of the CASA.” The Judge wrote that he:

…cannot offer the parties a bright-line test with objective criteria to guide the Chief on when it is appropriate to use the discretion to consider pre-CASA conduct, (but) certainly the exercise of the Chief’s discretion regarding [Lampiris-Tremba] is consistent with the Court’s use of the word “primarily.”

APD Detective Brett Lampiris-Tremba describes how Kenneth Ellis III was holding the gun to his head during his cross examination. Friday, Mar. 08, 2013. (Jim Thompson /Albuquerque Journal.)

The Court referred to Officer Brett Lampiris-Tremba as “an officer who shot and killed a citizen and received a judicial finding that his conduct violated the citizen’s constitutional right to be free of excessive force.”  And Judge Brack wrote that he was “concerned” that if the City was “forced to promote an officer whose case was one of the incidents that prompted the DOJ’s original investigation, the parties’ efforts could suffer setback.”

The Court concluded its opinion by encouraging “the parties to continue developing policies that reflect their commitment to train and promote officers who are committed to effective and constitutional policing and to create and uphold policies that promote the public’s confidence and the goals of the CASA”

On March 13, 2013, Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz resigned immediately following a jury award of $10,000,000 for the shooting of Ken Ellis, III by Lampiris-Tremba.

A March, 2013, report by UNM Professor David Correia provides details.

While the federal judge’s words about developing policies that promote the public’s confidence may sound good to the Court, there is little evidence that policy development and attempts to resolve labor and contract disputes between the City and its Police Union in closed meetings without either the knowledge or input of the community are in any way constructive or capable of properly promulgating public policy or advancing the “public’s confidence (or) the goals of the CASA.”

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