ABQ Reports: Ax Falls On APD’s Command Staff

This is what you call the first major step to real reform of the Albuquerque Police Department and what should have been done four years ago.

Following is the December 9, 2017 ABQ Reports article written and published by Dennis Domrzalski on his blog ABQ Reports:

(www.abqreport.com/single-post/2017/12/09/Ax-Falls-On-APDs-Command-Staff)

Ax Falls On APD’s Command Staff

Massive Reorganization Begins!

Entire Command Staff Demoted, Three Quit

Jessica Tyler Resigns

Over the past several years, many people in the community have said that the Albuquerque Police Department’s command staff needed a complete change if the department was ever going to reform itself.

On Friday, that change, or call it a massive cleanup effort, began. Sources tell ABQReport that all of the department’s commanders – at least 15 people – were demoted to acting commanders and were told they will have to reapply for their jobs while their roles and performances at APD are being evaluated.

(Photo: APD Chief Michael Geier.)

Three of those commanders chose to retire instead of accepting the demotions, sources said. And, Maj. Jessica Tyler, whose hiring in July of 2015 as head of APD’s training academy caused a massive controversy, resigned from the department on Friday.

In addition, Police Chief Michael Geier made good on his insistence on Wednesday of this week that members of the command staff would no longer receive retention bonuses of $6,000 to $12,000 a year. Sources said that the commanders who were receiving the bonuses were called on Thursday afternoon by human resources people and told they would no longer be getting the extra money.

The personnel actions on Friday were part of a of a total re-evaluation and restructuring of APD that Mayor Tim Keller promised after he took office. During a Dec. 6 news conference with Geier in front of police headquarters in Downtown Albuquerque, Keller gave a hint of the massive changes that were coming to APD.

“Reforming the police department to better attack crime from all sides has been one of the most important and difficult roads that lie ahead,” Keller said. “Change began at the Mayor’s office just November 14th, and continued yesterday with the swearing in of these chiefs behind me…..they are charged with evaluating, restructuring and turning around APD.”

To many in the community, the demotions of the current command staff will be welcomed. For three years now, James Ginger, the independent monitor in APD’s reform settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, has ripped the command staff to the federal court judge who is overseeing the case. Ginger has accused the command staff of deliberately sabotaging the reform process.

Tyler’s hiring in mid-2015 was controversial because then-APD Chief Gorden Eden broke the department’s rules to hire her. Tyler came from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department. But, at the time of her hiring, she was the subject of a Sheriff’s Department Internal Affairs investigation. APD’s rules said that an officer who was under investigation by their former department couldn’t be hired.

And, the command staff retention bonuses were a sore point for APD’s rank-and-file officers. The City Council authorized the bonuses in late 2014, but those bonuses were intended for rank-and-file officers. However, the command staff found a loophole in the council’s legislation and were able to claim the bonuses for themselves as well.

When the city council ended the bonus appropriation in 2015, the command staff still found a way to give it to themselves. The department shifted money within its budget – most likely from savings from vacant positions – and kept giving commanders the bonus.

APOA Union President Is The One Acting Dishonorably

On Wednesday, December 6, 2017, Mayor Tim Keller did a press conference along with his newly appointed Police Chief and command staff as they stood alongside him to talk about the work ahead of them to reform the Albuquerque Police Department.

Before the Mayor Keller discussed his plans for APD, the mayor announced he had a few apologies to make.

WHAT MAYOR KELLER ACTUALLY SAID

Following is what Mayor Keller said at the press conference:

“I’m a believer in community policing, and that includes one of the pillars of community policing, which is about truthfulness with the public. And in that spirit, I want to start by offering an apology on behalf of City Hall to our community. Our community deserves an apology for its historical tone at the top of the department and a culture of excessive force that has hurt our community.”

“I also want to tell the victims of families who have been hurt by unnecessary use of force that I am sorry, and that we are sorry as your city government. We will work every day to restore trust in our community.”

“Secondly, we also need to apologize for our skyrocketing crime rates. I have heard from hundreds of folks who don’t feel safe and who worry about their families every day. And I want to acknowledge to all the victims of crime in this city and to all the families who have fallen victim to crime that we have let you down in many ways. Public safety is a critical function of government, and we must do better and it starts with owning up to that today.”

An apology for City Hall’s failure to bring down our high crime rates and the “culture of aggression” and the unnecessary use of force found within APD has been long overdue.

To be perfectly blunt, an apology for the destruction of one of the finest police departments is something the previous Mayor and his Chief never had the political backbone or courage to do as they refused to take any responsibility for our rising crime rates.

The previous Mayor and Chief would never apologize or admit just how much they let this city and the victims’ of crime down.

The APOA union has never issued any sort of an apology when one of its own members has broken the law or has used unreasonable or unnecessary force or unnecessary deadly force even after large judgments have been paid out for the police misconduct.

APOA REACTION

A few days after the Mayor’s press conference, Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) President and APD Police Officer Shaun Willoughby claimed his membership were upset that Mayor Keller apologized to the citizens’ of Albuquerque for APD’s “culture of excessive use of force” and claimed his phone had been ringing non-stop from angry cops since the apology.

Police union ‘disappointed’ with mayor’s apologies during first week in office

Willoughby went on to say that the Mayor’s apology was a “global apology” or a blanket apology for all use of force by the rank-and-file police officers, which it was not.

Willoughby was not even at the press conference and did not hear the words spoken by the Mayor.

(See December 9, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, page C1, “Keller ‘mistep’ irks APD officers; Blanket use-of-force apology rips open old wounds, union chief says”)

(www.abqjournal.com/1104351/keller-misstep-irks-apd-officers.html)

Willoughby also claimed that the rank and filed felt “discredited” by the Mayor.

WHO IS REALLY ACTING DISHONORABLY?

Willouby apparently suffers from political amnesia on a few levels.

It was the Department of Justice (DOJ), not Mayor Keller, who discredited APD four (4) years ago when it did an investigation of APD.

The Department of Justice investigation found a “pattern and practice of excessive force” and a “culture of aggression” within the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).

In the last eight (8) years, there has been 41 police officer involved shootings, and the city has paid out over $63,000,000 million dollars in settlements for police misconduct cases and excessive use of force and deadly for cases.

Three years ago, the DOJ investigation resulted in a consent decree with mandated reform measures that included a complete re write of APD’s “use of force” and “deadly force” policies.

What is downright laughable and embarrassing is when Willoughby said on camera:

“It’s important to understand that the APOA is not a political organization. I’m actually employed by the cops that we serve. … I don’t think that the APOA having discontent is wrong or reminding anybody that we felt that, that was dishonorable to apologize for a group of police officers.”

What truly is dishonorable is Willoughby’s political motivations and he has forgotten the union’s involvement in the last election.

If APOA is not a political organization as Officer Willoughby claims, it had absolutely no business endorsing anyone for Mayor.

The police union endorsement in many respects politicized APD even further.

Willouby also forgets that Mayor Keller is an employee of the City of Albuquerque and has taken oath to serve and represent all citizens, and not to just promote the APOA union agenda.

Willouby is the same union President who had no problem with the union paying $2,000 to police officers who were placed on administrative leave after a police involved use of deadly force incident and before the killing was determined “justified”.

Willouby also did not like the fact that the District Attorney brought criminal charges against police officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez for the shooting of homeless camper James Boyd.

Recently, Willouby said that Perez was acquitted of the murder of James Boyd which was not the case seeing as that the jury could not reach a verdict and the District Attorney decided not to retry the case.

Officer Willouby apparently feels the citizens who pay his salary are not entitled to any sort of apology for the actions of members of his union who are found to use unreasonable force, or unjustified excessive use of force or unjustified deadly force.

THAT UNION ENDORSEMENT

The police union had no business endorsing any candidate for Mayor in the last election.

Under normal circumstances, union endorsements are common place, but when it comes to the Albuquerque Police Department, it is a department in crisis and for the first time in its history is under a Department of Justice consent decree.

The APOA Union understands full well the consent decree in that the police union leadership, including Willouby, has attended and has sat at counsel table during court hearings and Federal Monitor presentations.

The union leadership was at the negotiating table for the full year assisting in the drafting of the “use of force” and “deadly use of force” policy.

The APOA has made it clear that it does not like the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree nor the mandated reforms.

The police union and its leadership feels that the mandated reforms under the consent decree are interfering with rank and file officer’s ability to performing their jobs.

During the November 16, 2017 status conference before Federal Judge Robert Brack on the Federal Monitor’s sixth report, Willouby told the court that the use of force and deadly force policies that he help draft are unworkable and that “his” officers were having difficulty with the mandated reforms.

Keller’s acceptance of the APOA endorsement will no doubt be brought up during union contract negotiations and the Union will argue that Keller wants to fully support the salary demands of the police union.

The APOA endorsement is one that Mayor Keller should not have sought and one he should have said no thank you to, and I hope a lesson has been learned.

Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

As the saying goes, politics makes strange bedfellows.

However, the makeup of the new City Council leadership is not as strange as it appears.

Mayor Tim Keller appears to have been sent a clear message by the Albuquerque City Council that any attempt on his part to pursue a “progressive agenda” for the city will be met by a conservative coalition of three (3) Democrats and three (3) Republicans with a supermajority of six (6) votes.

(See December 5, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, Metro & NM section, page A-5, Council elects Sanchez president. Harris VP.)

https://www.abqjournal.com/1101968/sanchez-elected-council-president.html

The Albuquerque City Council has elected Democrat City Councilor Ken Sanchez as council president and ultra-right wing Republican Don Harris as Vice President of the City Council even when the City Council has a 6-3 makeup favoring Democrats.

Sanchez was able to become City Council president by getting the votes of Republicans Don Harris, Trudy Jones and Brad Winter and failed to get the votes of Democrats Isaac Benton, Diane Gibson and Pat Davis.

Councilor Sanchez was just elected to his fourth term and has served as Council President twice before as President.

Harris, Jones and Winter are as partisan Republicans as you can get and have towed the Republican agenda for the last eight (8) years and were reliable votes for the Republican Administration.

At no time did Harris, Winter and Jones ever criticize or take issue with the previous administration, even when it came to the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and you can expect that to change with Mayor Keller.

Sanchez was able to secure the votes of fellow west side Democrat Councilors Klaressa Pena and newly elected City Councilor Cynthia Borrego.

Councilor Borrego during her campaign actually campaigned and held herself out as a “conservative” Democrat.

To complicate matters for Mayor Keller is that Republican City Councilor Trudy Jones was also chosen Chairwoman of the Council’s Budget Committee.

The Budget Committee by far is the most influential of all the City Council committees and the Chairperson sets the agenda and tone.

Councilor Jones is the one who has declared war on “panhandlers” and who has opposed “sanctuary city” policies.

What was a real slap in the face is the fact that so called progressive City Councilor Pat Davis sought to be Council President and when he lost he sought to be Vice President.

Democrat City Councilors Diane Gibson and Isaac Benton both voted for Pat Davis, with Davis voting for himself and securing only 3 votes.

Davis is now running for Congress and no doubt felt that being President of the Council would help him win the nomination.

Ken Sanchez and Pat Davis I consider Democrats in name only (DINO’s) because for the past two years, they both have agreed with the Republican Administration and agreed with the Republican City Councilors on so many strategies and issues you would think they were in fact Republicans.

Both Sanchez and Davis were strong supporters of the ART bus project, refused to advocate meaningful changes to our public finance laws making it easier for candidates to qualify for public finance, voted for the final adoption of the ABC-Z comprehensive plan which will have long term impact on our neighborhoods and favors developers, and have done nothing when it comes to Albuquerque Police Department (APD) reforms and never made comment on the sixth scathing reports of the Federal Monitor.

(See also my blog article “Pat Davis Can Run For Congress But He Cannot run From His Record at http://www.petedinelli.com/2017/06/07/pat-davis-can-run-for-congress-but-cant-hide-from-his-record/)

During the past two years, Pat Davis has gone out of his way and has taken great pride in working on legislation to cosponsor with Republican Don Harris.

Pat Davis now knows how far his work and cooperation with Don Harris has gotten him.

Time Is Now Of the Essence With APD Changes

Mayor Keller has selected former Rio Rancho Police Chief Michael Geier as “Interim Chief” of the Albuquerque Police Department.

Chief Geier retired from APD after 20 years and has extensive knowledge of APD.

Mayor Keller has also appointed retired APD Roger Banez, and retired APD Harold Medina, and current Deputy Eric Perez as Interim Deputy Chief’s and each have extensive years of service with APD.

Chief Michael Geier is more than capable of stabilizing APD along with the appointed Deputy Chief management team.

I suspect one of the first decisions Geier will make is increase the homicide unit from 5 to 12 or 15 to deal with the 73-murder investigations this year.

Mayor Keller has committed to a national search for a new permanent APD Chief.

The national search needs to be conducted in short order not only for a new Chief but new Deputy Chiefs who are selected by whoever takes over from Chief Geier.

FEDERAL CONSENT DECREE STILL LOOMS LARGE OVER APD

The next Federal Monitor’s report will be issued in five months, which makes time of the essence of the selection of a new chief.

Hopefully the Federal monitor will be a finding that APD command staff is cooperating with the reform process with the interim chief and command staff in place.

I would hope that Mayor Keller would seek a hearing with the Federal Court, the Federal Court Appointed Monitor, the United States Department of Justice, the United States Attorney and City Attorney and the Chief of Police to outline discuss all changes to be made to APD.

A court order approving modification to the consent decree could be negotiated restructuring APD in order to continue with the implementation of the DOJ mandated reforms.

The entire APD chain of command must be removed and replaced with a new generation of leadership and not from within the ranks of APD.

The command staff who created, contributed or who did not stop the “culture of aggression” need to be replaced.

A national search must be conducted to identify and hire a new management team to take over APD, including a new Chief of Police, new Deputy Chiefs and a new chain of command to assume control of APD.

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY

Mayor Keller should consider creation of a Department of Public Safety by executive order, which would overtime include both the Police and Fire Departments, both Police and Fire Academies, and 911 emergency dispatch center, the emergency operations center with the appointment of a Public Safety Commissioner.

Until the creation of the Public Safety Department, a Police Commissioner could be appointed immediately to assume civilian control of APD.

The Police Commissioner would assume direct civilian oversight, management and control of APD and would serve at the pleasure of the Mayor.

A Police Commissioner and Chief with extensive and proven leadership in managing a municipal police department must be hired, not political operatives.

The civilian Police Commissioner would assume primary responsibility for implementation of all the DOJ-mandated reforms.

Implementation of the DOJ consent decree reforms would include continued formulation, writing and implementation of standard operating procedure and changes agreed to under the consent decree, expansion of crisis intervention mandates and certified training of APD department personnel in constitutional policing practices.

The Police Commissioner, with support assistance from the Chief, would assume the responsibility for interacting and reporting to the Police Oversight Board and the Community Police Councils.

The Police Commissioner would completely overhaul and restructure APD, appoint new chiefs, commanders, lieutenants, academy director and a 911 manager and each would report directly to the Chief of Police, with the Police Commissioner in the Chain of Command as the Commissioner determines to be necessary and appropriate to carry out their duties.

The positions of APD Majors would be abolished and the chain of command would be streamlined where necessary.

Every single APD felony unit would be increased in personnel by anywhere between 40% and 60%, including the following APD units: Armed Robbery, Auto Theft, Burglary, Homicide, Gang Unit, Narcotics, Property Crimes and Sex Crimes Units and the Criminal Nuisance Abatement Unit.

The number of sworn police officers patrolling the streets is currently 436 and would be increased to at least 650 out of a fully staff department of 1,200.

The civilian Police Commissioner would be responsible for preparing budgets, personnel management and enforcement of personnel policies and procedures and imposing personnel disciplinary action.

The Chief of Police would be responsible for day-to-day operations of APD, public safety initiatives, tactical plans and management of sworn staff and report directly to the civilian Police Commissioner.

The Public Safety Department would consist of four civilian staffed divisions and managed by the Police Commissioner:

1. Personnel and training, for recruiting, hiring, internal affairs investigations and police academy;
2. Budget and finance;
3. Information technology support and crime lab; and
4. 911 emergency operations center with a civilian manager.

“Deadly use of force” cases would continue to be investigated by the Critical Incident Review Team and the final reports with finding and recommendations submitted to the Police Commissioner.

APD has consistently shown over many years it cannot police itself which contributed to the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice.

The APD Internal Affairs Unit needs to be abolished and its functions absorbed by the Office Independent Council.

The investigation of police misconduct cases including excessive use of force cases not resulting in death or nor serious bodily harm would be done by “civilian” personnel investigators.

The function and responsibility for investigating police misconduct cases and violations of personnel policy and procedures by police would be assumed by the Office of Independent Council in conjunction with the City Human Resources Department and the Office of Internal Audit where necessary.

The Office of Independent Council would make findings and recommendations to the Police Commissioner for implementation and imposition of disciplinary action.

The city needs to fund and implement a non-negotiated major hourly rate increase for entry level sworn officers, excluding management, to improve recruitment, retention and morale.

Sign on bonuses, tuition debt payoff and mortgage down payment bonuses need to be offered to new recruits.

Yearly experienced officer retention bonuses must be made permanent.

APD needs to “triple down” on recruitment and dramatically increase the size and number of police academy classes per year.

If necessary, the City Council should consider enactment of a public safety tax to pay for APD’s staffing expansion, pay incentive programs, needed training programs, DOJ-mandated reforms, equipment acquisitions and 911 emergency operations, staffing and equipment.

CONCLUSION

Mayor Keller has been given a mandate by voters to make change at APD.

Until aggressive action is taken with APD and the Department of Justice mandated and agreed to reforms, APD will continue to spin out of control, crime rates will continue to rise and Albuquerque will continue to see dramatic spikes in violent crime.

Appointing Eden Was A Berry Bad Mistake; Time Also To Replace APOA Union Leadership?

The Albuquerque Journal did one final front page article on the tenure of Albuquerque Police Chief Gordon Eden.

(See December 4, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, page A-1, “Chief Eden’s tenure mired in tough times; Ex-APD boss receives mixed reviews from people who interreacted with him”).

www.abqjournal.com/1101482/chief-edens-tenure-mired-in-tough-times.html

Despite the headline as well as some of the negative facts pointed out, the entire article basically says that Chief Gordon Eden was a victim of circumstances beyond his control, which they were not and Chief Eden contributed to the problems.

Eden should have never been appointed police chief in the first place and he is a political operative that had absolutely no prior experience managing a municipal police department.

The leadership Chief Eden provided to the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) was to make sure his command staff did what it could to undermine the Department of Justice (DOJ) mandated reforms he agreed to and the reform process itself.

For three years, Chief Gordon Eden and his APD Command Staff had an extensive history of resisting civilian oversight not only to the Civilian Police Oversight Board, but also resisting the Community Policing Council’s (CPCs) and the Federal Court Appointed Monitor.

On November 12, 2016, the Albuquerque Journal published an article reporting that city Community Policing Councils were frustrated with Chief Eden not attending their meetings, the Police Oversight Board complaining that Chief Eden ignored its findings and discipline recommendations, and the city attorney, instead of Chief Eden, was often the person who publicly explained the reform efforts.

APD Forward, an APD oversight group, also said Eden had not been present for many settlement-agreement meetings.

(See November 12, 2106 Albuquerque Journal article “Police reform groups say APD Chief not involved” at https://www.abqjournal.com/887736/groups-where-is-eden.html)

FEDERAL CONSENT DECREE REFORMS

The truth has always been that Chief Gordon Eden and his command staff have never been committed to implementing the DOJ reforms as evidenced by their actions and the findings of the Federal Monitor in six scathing progress reports over the last three years.

The July 1, 2016 federal monitor’s third report states “Across the board … the components in APD’s system for overseeing and holding officers accountable for the use of force, for the most part, has failed … the serious deficiencies revealed point to a deeply-rooted systemic problem. … The deficiencies, in part, indicate a culture [of] low accountability is at work within APD, particularly in chain-of-command reviews. …”

The November 1, 2016 fourth federal monitor’s report states that when “excessive use of force” incidents are investigated by the APD Critical Incident Team, it“ [deploys] carefully worded excuses, apparently designed not to find fault with officer actions” and “[uses] language and terminology apparently designed to absolve officers and supervisors of their responsibility to follow certain CASA (Court Approved Settlement Agreement) related provisions.

The most damning and disturbing findings were made by the Federal Monitor in his fifth report when he found hat APD “subverted” the reform process by issuing “covert special orders,” denying the existence of the orders, and APD exhibiting a “near total failure” to accept civilian oversight.

The federal monitor laid direct blame on the APD command staff for the “deliberate non-compliance” with APD’s settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The report says “zero percent of the command personnel, who should have ordered additional investigation to resolve inconsistencies and improve reliability and credibility of supervisory personnel’s use-of-force investigations, did so! Few systems can survive such a failure rate.”

The Federal Monitor in the fifth report stated “There seems to be no one person, unit, or group with responsibility and command authority to make change happen”.

Three years ago, after the DOJ consent decree was signed, Chief Gordon Eden, Eden’s appointed Assistant Chief Huntsman and APD Deputies represented to the monitor and the City Council they were taking on the responsibility of implementing the reforms under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

Chief Eden went as far as to say “we’re going to take the department well beyond any findings the DOJ has”.

Where Eden took APD was into the ditch.

ATTEMPT TO DISCREDIT THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY

Chief Gordon Eden also did his best to discredit the then District Attorney Kari Brandenburg when she decided to prosecute former police officers Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy in the killing of homeless camper James Boyd.

Eden initially called the killing of James Boyd “justified” but the City settled the wrongful death civil lawsuit by paying the Boyd family $5 million.

Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg and her office were removed from the prosecution of former APD Police Officer Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy and a special prosecutor had to be appointed.

At the time of her removal from the prosecution of the case, Chief Eden made sure APD revived a very weak investigation and charges of Brandenburg that went nowhere for alleged witness tampering in a criminal case involving her son.

Chief Eden made sure the criminal report was forwarded to the Attorney General and he even wrote an opinion piece to the Albuquerque Journal saying his department was obligated to “follow the evidence”.

The New Mexico Attorney General reviewed the APD criminal investigation of Brandenburg, found no criminal conduct by her and issued an opinion that APD’s investigation of the Brandenburg was “politically motivated”.

Brandenburg and her office were removed from the Perez/Sandy prosecution because of allegations of conflict of interest made by the defense against her and related publicity and a special prosecutor had to be appointed by the District Attorney.

Ultimately, the trial of Perez/Sandy ended with a hung jury and the case was later dismissed by the special prosecutor.

APOA LEADERSHIP COMMITMENT TO DOJ REFORMS

The one comment that I must take strong exception to in the final Journal article on Eden was made by the Police Union President Shaun Willoughby when he said “[Chief Eden] basically told the public that in his assessment [of the killing of homeless camper James Boyd by two police officers] looked like a justified shooting. If you fast-forward years from that time, he’s proven right. Those officers were acquitted.”

Sorry Officer Willouby, Chief Eden was not proven right.

After a weeklong trial, the jury deadlocked and the special prosecutor decided not to retry the case.

The two police officers were never acquitted!

Many believe that the new District Attorney Raul Torrez should have gone forward with another prosecution, but the decision was made not to prosecute and to dismiss the case.

CONCLUSION

Officer Willoughby’s defense of Eden should not come as a surprise seeing as he felt that the police officers Perez and Sandy should never had been prosecuted.

Officer Willouby has never truly objected to Chief Eden’s handling of the implementation of the DOJ consent decree reforms.

Officer Willouby’s commitment to the DOJ reforms is seriously lacking and the APOA police union leadership oppose many of the DOJ reforms.

During the November 16, 2017 status conference before Federal Judge Robert Brack on the Federal Monitor’s sixth report, Willouby told the court that the use of force and deadly force policies that he help draft are unworkable and that “his” officers were having difficulty with the mandated reforms.

With the election of new Mayor and the appointment of a new Chief, perhaps it is also time to have a change of leadership at the APOA so the City can have truly a fresh start with the DOJ mandated reforms.

No Press Honeymoon For Mayor Keller

Will wonders ever cease!

An Albuquerque Journal front page, above the fold, bold headline declaring “71 homicides this year are the most in recent history”.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1100183/apd-shooting-victim-dies-number-of-murders-surpasses-record-high.html

The story included a graph reflecting the number of homicides a year since 1996.

The front page story greeted Mayor Keller the very day he is to be sworn in as the new Mayor, along with an editorial “welcoming” Mayor Keller to his new job.

Two days ago on my FACEBOOK page, I linked an Albuquerque Journal story that had the headline “City approaches homicide record with NW Albuquerque shooting, police say” reporting the 69th homicide this year and posted the following comment with the link:

“No one should be surprised that the Albuquerque Journal saw fit NOT to put this headline on their front page seeing as that their favorite Mayor of all time still has two full days of work left and it reflects his true legacy. Watch for the front page headline when one more murder occurs and the city breaks the homicide record of 70 murders in one year. The paper will then demand to know what Mayor Keller is doing to turn things around.”

I took some grief about my FACEBOOK post from a friend who I know and respect and who works for the Albuquerque Journal that said the Journal is not biased against Tim Keller and that they report the news based on facts and not who is in office.

My FACEBOOK friend suggested that I ask the Journal about a program on how a newspaper works.

My response was that the Journal editors needed to attend a program that will help them see how government and law enforcement actually works and what it is like to defend against someone who buys ink by the barrel.

Well the Journal Editors proved my point in their December 1, 2017 Editorial “Welcome, mayor Keller; Now the hard part begins”, page A-6, which welcomed the new mayor his first day on the job when it editorialized in part as follows:

“Keller’s appointment of Oriana Sandoval, chief executive officer at the Center for Civic Policy, to a newly created position of “deputy city attorney” to focus on immigrant rights protection, refugee affairs, environmental justice and civil rights, is baffling. In every recent poll, Albuquerqueans have overwhelmingly called crime the major concern facing the city – not refugees or environmental justice. It’s unfortunate that one of the new mayor’s very first hires bolsters concerns raised by his opponents – that he would focus on a national progressive agenda vs. addressing local concern.”

The truth is that the appointment of one deputy city attorney, an interim one at that, does not mean a national progressive agenda as the Journal implies.

Mayor Keller has also terminated City Attorney Jessica Hernandez by telling her that her services are no longer needed and that she did not have to report to work on December 1, 2017.

The appointment of a new city attorney is one of the most critical appointments that needs to be made given the Department of Justice Consent Decree, the litigation involving excessive use of force and deadly force cases, not to mention the complete reorganization of the Albuquerque Police Department.

It is not just the Albuquerque Journal but also the TV stations and one radio station in particular that have shown very favorable biases to the former Republican administration.

Two of the TV stations had reporters go to work for the Berry administration which resulted in unprecedented access to information at city hall.

The Berry Administration also had a very well-known Albuquerque Journal reporter go to work for it eight years ago.

The first six months of any administration sets the tone for the entire four year term.

The normal “honeymoon” period with the press is 4 to 6 months for any newly elected official, but I suspect that will not be the case for Mayor Keller.

Albuquerque voters tend to be very impatient and will want to see tangible results especially when it comes to our high crime rates and the Albuquerque Police Department.

The appointment of Interim Chief Michael Geier was a good first step to stabilize APD, but time is of the essence to do a national search and appoint a new APD Chief.

The next federal monitor’s report will be in six months.

If the Federal Monitor reports that nothing has changed and there is still resistance to the DOJ reforms even with the new interim chief and command staff, Mayor Keller will be held responsible.

With the press breathing down his back from day one, Mayor Keller has his work cut out for him.