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.
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.