Leadership with OIR Group, the new, independent police auditor hired by the City of Las Cruces, was introduced to City Council during the Council’s Work Session on Monday, May 10, 2021.
The City has been without an independent police auditor for about 22 months. OIR Group began as the City’s new police auditor on May 1, after City Council unanimously approved a one-year contract, for an amount not to exceed $75,000 annually, on February 16. The contract also includes an option to renew the agreement for as many as four additional one-year terms.
The City of Las Cruces and Las Cruces Police Department has utilized independent police auditors for much of the time since June 2010. Michael Gennaco, project director for OIR Group, said that previous experience should benefit the City.
“Your city has been ahead of the trend,” Gennaco said. “You have already been a part of this (police audit) process.”
Gennaco added the Las Cruces Police Department is one of about 500 U.S. police departments that has employed the use of an independent police auditor.
OIR Group, of Playa del Rey, California, has 17 years of experience as a police auditor. OIR Group currently serves as the independent police auditor in five California cities: Burbank, Palo Alto, Anaheim, Davis, and Santa Cruz.
OIR Group is involved in the review, audits, and assessments of complaints and internal investigations, officer-involved shootings, critical incidents and other uses of force in numerous other law enforcement agencies. The company said it has a proven record of building and maintaining relationships with diverse entities and groups, while preserving its independence and critical outside perspectives.
“We hope to have a more robust feedback (with the City of Las Cruces),” Gennaco said. “…I hope when you see our reports, they will be more granular (finely detailed), more specific.”
OIR Group is expected to present its initial audit to City Council by the end of this year.
Also, at Monday’s Work Session, City Council was presented with a quarterly update report of the status of General Obligation (GO) Bond projects. City voters approved the sale of $35.6 million in general obligation bonds in August 2018.
Public Works Director David Sedillo said solid progress has been made on the projects that will enhance public safety and the quality of life for Las Cruces residents. The bonds are being used to pay for $16.9 million in improvements to City parks, including sports fields and other related facilities; $9.8 million is designed to construct a new animal shelter adoption facility; $6.2 million is to replace Fire Station No. 3, at 390 N. Valley Drive; and $2.7 million is to construct and improve recreational walking, jogging, and biking trails.
“All GO Bond projects will be completed by the end of 2022,” Sedillo said.
Details and updated information about GO Bond projects is available online at: https://www.las-cruces.org/1892/General-Obligation-Bond-Projects.
Additionally, at Monday’s Work Session, the annual City Art Board Update was presented to the Council. As established by Ordinance, the Art Board advises City Council and assists City staff in the development of guidelines, programming and administration of policies, rules and regulations, and recommendations for new art-related projects and programs.
The Art Board also participates in the organization and administration of the City’s art collections and makes formal recommendations to City Council regarding the acquisition and commissioning of public art installations.
Monday’s presentation highlighted the Las Cruces Public Art Program Master Plan, approved by the Council in early 2020. The Council was updated on public art projects at City Hall, Klein Park, a proposed sculpture at the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley Adoption Center, an art project to be completed in conjunction with the replacement of Fire Station No. 3, and projects at Calle Abũelo Park, the “Tierra Sagrada” mural at Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, a collaborative mural project at the Alameda Arroyo Multi-Use Trail Tunnel, Munson Senior Center, the Earth and Cosmos mosaic repairs at La Placita in downtown Las Cruces, and the repair and maintenance of the Refuge sculpture at Lions Park.
The update was followed by a presentation by Art Board member Saul Ramirez, entitled “Public Art and Civic Spaces.” Ramirez’s presentation included his perspective on utilizing more local artists and placing greater historical emphasis on local art projects.