Governor Martinez Legacy: Illiterate Children And A Pizza Party

A favorite photo opportunity of Governor Susana Martinez over the last 8 years has been reading children’s books to kids ages 6 to 10 in public schools.

We all now know the real reason why: the kids were not proficient enough to read the children’s books out loud to the Republican Governor.

On Friday, July 20, 2018, Santa Fe District Court Judge Sarah Singleton ruled that the state of New Mexico is violating the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with a sufficient education.

The Court ruling was filed in the case of Yazzie v. state of New Mexico and Martinez v. state of New Mexico.

The District Court ruling came after a two-month trial that concluded in August, 2017.

Nearly 80 witnesses testified during the bench trial.

The consolidated lawsuit was filed by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

The Plaintiffs argued that the New Mexico public schools are inadequately funded.

In a 75-page decision, the court rejected arguments by Governor Susana Martinez’s administration that the education system is improving and for that reason it does not need more funding.

The Court found that the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) did not do the best it could with the funding it has given by the legislature to the education system.

The Court ruling centers on the guaranteed right under the New Mexico Constitution to a sufficient education for all children.

The lawsuit alleged a severe lack of state funding, resources and services to help students, particularly children from low-income families, students of color, including Native Americans, English-language learners and students with disabilities.

BLISTERING COURT RULING

State District Judge Sarah Singleton pulled no punches with her decision.

The Judge found that it was clear that many New Mexico students are not receiving the basic education in reading, writing and math they should be receiving in our public-school system.

As a matter of law, Judge Singleton wrote the “lack of funds is not a defense to providing constitutional rights.”

In her blistering written opinion, Judge Singleton wrote:

“[The evidence presented at trial] proves that the vast majority of New Mexico’s at-risk children finish each school year without the basic literacy and math skills needed to pursue post-secondary education or a career. … Indeed, overall New Mexico children rank at the very bottom in the country for educational achievement. … The at-risk students are still not attaining proficiency at the rate of non-at-risk students … and the programs being lauded by [the Public Education Department] are not changing this picture.”

According to the judge’s ruling, in New Mexico, 71.6% of the state’s public school students come from low-income families, and 14.4% are English-language learners.

Further, 14.8 percent of students have disabilities, and 10.6 percent are Native American.

Judge Singleton addressing proficiency rates for Native American students said that in the past 3 years, those students’ reading proficiency was at 17.6% and their math proficiency was at 10.4%.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1200069/questions-surround-ruling-on-nm-education-funding.html

The Court found that New Mexico does not have enough teachers and that New Mexico teachers are among the lowest paid in the country and stated:

“The evidence shows that school districts do not have the funds to pay for all the teachers they need. … [An example is] Gadsden, one of the better performing school districts in the state, has had to eliminate over 53 classroom positions and 15 essential teachers since 2008.”

The Court also faulted the lack of access to technology in rural districts.

Judge Singleton ruling addressed the state teacher evaluation system implemented by the Martinez Administration by saying:

“[The teacher evaluation system] may be contributing to the lower quality of teachers in high-need schools. … In general, punitive teacher evaluation systems that penalize teachers for working in high-need schools contribute to problems in this category of schools.”

The Court wrote that she was not persuaded by the Martinez Administration’s arguments that no new funding is needed because at-risk student performances are improving.

A spokeswoman for the state Public Education Department has decided to appeal the ruling.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, provided the following statement after the court ruling:

“For too long, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and her administration have abandoned their responsibility to kids and public schools. This ruling confirms what parents and educators know—that New Mexico children are deprived of the essential resources, including qualified teachers and support staff, they need. This deprivation is especially severe for those at risk and in need of additional supports—English language learners, Native American students and those in poverty. The ruling also calls out the governor’s obsession with testing over teaching.”

“In New Mexico, it would take $228 million to get public school funding to what it was before the Great Recession, and average teacher pay in the state is nearly 10 percent lower than what it was in 2009. We call on the state to use this ruling as a long-overdue opportunity to overhaul its broken school funding system to ensure all New Mexico children are afforded the public education they deserve and are entitled to. Voters will be going to the polls in November to elect leaders committed to investing in public education.”

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/judge-rules-lack-of-sufficient-education-for-all-nm-students-violates-constitutional-rights/4997869/?cat=500

NEW MEXICO LAST IN CHILD WELL BEING

The Courts ruling should not come as any surprise to anyone in the education profession and people raising young children.

The court ruling is a confirmation of what has been going on for the last 8 years with the state’s at-risk children under the Republican Martinez Administration.

For the first time in five years, New Mexico has fallen to last among states when it comes to the economic, educational and medical well-being of its children, according to a nonprofit that tracks the status of U.S. kids.

The most troubling in the 2018 Kids Count Data Book is New Mexico’s steep drop in ranking for health care measures which previously a bright spot for the state.

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/education/report-new-mexico-ranks-last-in-child-well-being/article_0f6865fc-d34a-5050-9f74-21680e98a2a5.html

According to the 2018 Kids Count Data Book, 30% of New Mexico’s children were living in poverty in 2016, compared to 19% nationwide that year, the earliest figures available.

In educational measures, the report says 75% of the state’s fourth-graders were not proficient in reading in 2017, compared to 65% nationally, and 80% of eighth-graders were not performing up to par in math in 2017, compared to 67% across the U.S.

COMMENTARY

Republican Governor Susana Martinez, with her policies and her Secretary of Public Education appointments, especially the appointment of Secretary Hanna Skandera, contributed more than anyone else and she ultimately responsible for our failing education system.

The Judge ordered Governor Susana Martinez, her administration and the New Mexico Legislature to establish a funding system that meets constitutional requirements by April 15, 2019.

The New Mexico legislature is now tasked with putting together a plan to comply with the court’s ruling to be approved in the upcoming 2019 legislative session when we will have a new Governor.

There is no doubt that teacher salaries and resources for Native American youth will need to be addressed by the legislature.

Because of the spike in oil production and revenues, the state is in a much better financial position now to earmark more money for public education, but for how long is the problem.

Oil and gas production booms do not last forever and a permanent funding source is what is needed to sustain reoccurring revenues and expenses in a public education system such as ours.

For the full 8 years of her administration, Governor Martinez has had a less than a stellar working relationship with the New Mexico Legislature.

The relationship Governor Martinez has with the New Mexico Legislature can be characterized as contemptuous and vindictive on her part and it is not at all likely the relationship will improve any over the next 5 months.

Further, Martinez’s Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera as well as Cabinet Secretary Designate Christopher Roszkowski have both been an absolute disaster especially when it comes to the “school grading” system advocated and implemented by the Republican Martinez Administration.

New Mexico voters are electing a new Governor in November who will be sworn in on January 1, 2019.

It is doubtful Governor Susana Martinez will want or is even willing to make anything easy for her successor, especially if a Democrat is elected.

January 1, 2019 cannot come soon enough for Governor Martinez and her Education Secretary to be gone.

With this court ruling, maybe now the New Mexico Legislature will finally see the need to dip into the State’s permanent fund, one of the largest in the country in the billions of dollars, for the sake of our kids’ education and early childhood care and intervention programs.

State Senator John Arthur Smith, the powerful Chair of the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) known as Dr. NO on State Finances and Taxation, needs to get the hell out of the way and allow the New Mexico Legislature to do its job and address the education crisis with use of the permanent fund instead of being the number one obstacle in using the permanent fund.

New Mexico Governor candidates Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Steve Pearce need to articulate in no uncertain terms their plans to deal with funding the State’s education system to guarantee that at-risk students are provided with an education where they can read and write.

Further, our candidates for Governor should reveal their position on the use of the States Permanent fund for education, early child care intervention and counseling for preschool and who, or what they are looking at, to be appointed Cabinet Secretary for the Public Education Department.

The Legislative Finance Committee needs to convene special hearings over the next five months on public education reforms, funding and increasing teacher pay, early childhood education and care programs and intervention programs and resources with a permanent funding source.

The comprehensive education reform legislation can be introduced for passage in the upcoming 2019 legislative session when Governor Martinez will be long gone, but not the education crisis of her making.

It is long overdue for our legislature to take care of our children’s education needs.

As for Governor Susanna Martinez, her legacy will be that of illiterate New Mexico children she liked to read to and a “punitive teacher evaluation system that penalized teachers for working in high-need schools”.

Governor Martinez will also be remembered for a pizza and beer holiday party at a Santa Fe, Hotel at taxpayer expense.

Mi Casa Blanca Es Su Casa Blanca

On July 16, 2018, I posted on my FACEBOOK page a photo of President Trump hugging the American flag with another photo of Trump standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The FACEBOOK post that accompanied the photos was short and said:

“After watching Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s joint press conference that followed a two-hour private meeting between the two, I could not help but feel that I was witness to the first President of the United States committing treason against his own country’s best interests. When I went back and looked at the photo where Trump was hugging the United States flag, I realized Trump was actually dry humping the American Flag for his own sexual gratification.”

The FACEBOOK post was crude but made the point and to me it was legitimate political commentary.

The FACEBOOK post had 156 likes, 225 comments and 32 shares.

The comments were overwhelmingly supportive and agreed with the commentary.

TREASON DEFINED

One FACEBOOK friend strongly disagreed with the post and said he did not feel Trump’s actions in Helsinki were treason and demanded that I give my definition of treason.

Section 4 of Article Two of the United States Constitution provides:

“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The definition of treason is simple: the crime of betraying one’s country usually for your own self-interest or personal financial gain.

When it comes to any US President, treason is whatever the US House of Representative says it is in Articles of Impeachment followed by a trial and a conviction in the United States Senate.

The recent indictments that came out make it clear that Trump in a very public manner solicited Russia’s help on the Clinton emails in order to get elected.

Read full blog article “Putin and Russia Were Listening When Trump Asked For Help” here:

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/07/14/putin-and-russia-were-listening-when-trump-ask-for-their-help/

Trump originally said for two years that there was no Russian interference with our election, yet all 16 of our national security agencies said there was interference.

Trump and his campaign solicited Russia to commit a crime to interfere with our elections to get himself elected and it was treason to do so.

TREASON IS ALRIGHT WITH TRUMP SUPPORTERS

A Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted after Trump’s summit at the Helsinki and joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where Trump refused to blame the Russian leader for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and cast doubt on the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies.

The poll found that Trump’s actions did not have any impact on his overall approval rating.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-voters/majority-of-americans-think-trump-mishandling-russia-reuters-ipsos-poll-idUSKBN1K72T1

Forty-two percent of registered voters said they approved of Trump’s performance compared with a daily average of between 40% and 44% so far in July, 2018.
The poll found that 55% of registered voters disapproved while 37% approved of his handling of relations with Russia.

Among Republicans, a stunning 71% approved of Trump’s handling of Russia compared to 14% of Democrats.

According to the Reuters/Ipsos poll, 59% of registered voters agree with the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 U.S. election.

Only 32% of Republicans think there was Russian interference compared to 84% of Democrats who think there was.

According to the poll, President Trump still enjoys broad support among Republican voters despite criticism from party leaders about his words and actions while standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin answering questions from reporters.

COMMENTARY

It has now been announced that Trump has invited Putin to the White House in the fall for second “summit” and negotiations are underway (no joke).

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/07/19/president-trump-asked-amb-bolton-to-invite-putin-to-washington-sanders-says.html

Trump being in the commercial real estate and development business will no doubt give Putin a tour of the White House and try to sell or rent it to Putin.

Then again, Trump is so indebted to this Vladimir Putin he just may deed it to him and Russia outright and saying “Mi Casa Es Su Casa” and quoting Governor Susana Martinez.

One thing that is very clear is that Trump was absolutely correct when he said:

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

Committing treason is another crime Donald Trump can apparently commit without losing votes among Republicans and his hard-core base of 42%.

Kudos To Keller, APD For Bringing Property Crime Down But Still Carry Your Gun

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has released the city’s crime statistics for the first half of 2018 (January to June) comparing them to the first half of 2017, (January to June).

https://www.abqjournal.com/1198242/crime-is-down-for-the-most-part.html

Looking at the raw numbers, property crime is down, but it’s the homicide rate that continues to be alarming.

Here’s a look at the crime stats for the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same period last year:

Traffic Stops

2017: 17,376
2018: 23,461
Change: +35%

PROPERTY CRIMES

Auto Burglary
2017: 6,559
2018: 4,523
Change: -31%

Auto Theft

2017: 3,633
2018: 3,061
Change: -15.7 %

Commercial Burglary

2017: 1,183
2018: 994
Change: -15.9%

Residential Burglary

2017: 2,207
2018: 2,075
Change: -5.9%

VIOLENT CRIME

Robbery

2017: 1,467
2018: 1,012
Change: -31%

Aggravated Assault:

2017: 1,957
2018: 1,851
Change: -5.4

Non-Fatal Shootings:

2017: 60
2018: 63
Change: 5.0%

Rape:

2017: 236
2018: 226
Change: -4.2

Homicides:

2017: 33
2018: 39
Change: 18.2%

AUTO THEFTS DOWN

It is very good news that auto burglary went down 31% and that auto thefts went down by 16%.

On July 14, 2018, it was reported that for the year 2017, that Albuquerque was ranked number one in auto thefts in the country for the second year in a row.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1196427/albuquerque-area-ranked-no-1-in-auto-theft-again.html

The decline in auto thefts and auto burglaries for the first 6 months of this year is a clear indication that the “Bernalillo County Auto Theft Suppression Effort” is having an impact.

On March 21, 2018, it was announced that the Albuquerque Police Department, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State Police were joining forces to address the city’s and the county’s out of control auto theft rates calling it the “Bernalillo County Auto Theft Suppression Effort”.

The auto theft suppression effort includes tactical operations that combine technology, resources, manpower and intelligence from all three of the law enforcement agencies to arrest more suspects and recover more stolen vehicles.

MURDER RATE STILL ALARMING

There were 6 more murders in the first quarter of 2018 compared with 2017 which was a 50% increase.

Homicides have now dropped the first half of 2018 by 18% compared to last year which is great news.

However, the city is still on track to break the all time high of 70 murders by the end of the year.

Non-fatal shootings for the first quarter of this year had a 0% change from last year, but now have increased by +5% for the first half of 2018.

Property crimes by far are more common than non-fatal shooting and murders.

The fact is, murders do not drive property crime trends, but it is the other way around.

A murder is usually committed when another crime is being committed such as armed robbery or domestic violence or it’s a crime committed in the heat of anger and a gun is readily available.

It’s difficult at best to bring down homicide rates, but it can be done when you bring down other violent crime such as armed robbery, aggravated assaults, illicit drug offenses and domestic violence.

In March of this year, 5 homicides were reported in six days!

Albuquerque has had 39 homicides the first 6 months of this year as compared to 33 murders for the same time period last year.

COMMENTARY

Mayor Tim Keller, Chief Michael Geier and APD can take comfort and a degree of credit for bringing down property crimes for the first half of the year on their watch and congratulations to them all.

All can breath a little easier, but not for long.

Property crimes do tend to be “seasonal” and increase in the summer time, so APD needs to continue with their efforts and vigilance.

It is very good news is that Albuquerque’s property crime rates for the first time in a number of years are declining.

The bad news is that the city’s murder rates is still way too high and the city is way too violent.

In other words, your property may be safe, but you still need to carry your gun for self-protection.

ABQ REPORTS: “Old APD” is Alive and Well

Below is the July 18, 2018 article written and published by Dennis Domraski on his blog “APD Reports” followed by commentary and other blog articles.

For a number of years, Dennis was a reporter the Albuquerque Tribune and later a column writer for the “Albuquerque Free Press” where he covered city hall and APD and he is one of the most knowledgeable reporters in Albuquerque when it comes to APD.

July 18, 2018 ABQ REPORTS: “Old APD” Is Alive And Well”

BY Dennis Domrzalski

“Both Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Mike Geier have publicly denounced what they call the “Old APD.” And when they refer to the “Old APD” they mean a police department that lies to the public, that rewards and covers up for favorites, no matter how serious their infractions, and punishes so-called enemies; a department that never holds its own wrongdoers accountable; a department that frames innocent people; and a department that hunkers down and tries desperately to keep the public from knowing what is really going on inside of its dark, dank bunker of paranoia, secrecy and contempt for the public.

Both Keller and Geier have publicly vowed to destroy the Old APD and its culture of secrecy, misconduct, favoritism and disservice to the community.

Their statements have made for good soundbites and have brought some hope to the community, and to the hundreds of honest APD officers who are sickened by how deep the department has sunk into the foul slime of incompetence, lies, coverups, secrecy and favoritism.

But the events of the past few months have shown that rather than draining the APD swamp, Keller and Geier are either being swallowed by the Old APD’s culture, or are actually embracing it.

What else can you conclude when you look at the case of Jennifer Bell Garcia, who as commander of APD’s Internal Affairs unit, was investigated for wrongdoing earlier this year and quietly transferred to APD’s Traffic Unit.

APD won’t say what Garcia, who makes $95,000 a year, was being investigated for, even though that is public information. There are rumors about why the investigation was launched, and they are serious allegations. And there are rumors that Garcia has been suspended and that her suspension has already begun.

But APD won’t confirm or deny any of those rumors, which I have asked them about in writing.

If the rumors about the allegations are true, and if the charges against Garica have been sustained, it would cause any honest cop, and any moderately-informed lay person to ask, “Why hasn’t she been fired, or at least demoted?”

Well, here are some possible answers.

Geier promoted Jennifer Garcia to deputy chief/commander on Feb. 17. Jennifer Garcia is married to Deputy Chief Eric Garcia, a command staff holdover from the Old APD that was headed by the incompetent Gorden Eden.

Maybe Eric Garcia, who headed up APD’s incompetent Investigations Bureau for years – a bureau that botched the Victoria Martnes murder case and then lied about it, and that let two innocent young men rot in jail for early a year for a murder they didn’t commit – has some special influence with Keller and Geier and won’t let his wife be fired.

Maybe it’s the Old APD’s Good ol’ Boy and Gal culture that is still thriving at APD? Remember, you just don’t criticize or dump on one of your own, especially when they’re part of the exclusive and high and mighty command staff club.

Many former and current cops have asked why Eric Garcia hasn’t yet been fired, especially since he was part of the Old APD’s command staff that spent four years obstructing APD’s reform settlement agreement with the Department of Justice. Remember, the independent monitor in the reform case has consistently said that APD was in “deliberate noncompliance” with the settlement agreement and that the command staff was directly responsible for that deliberate noncompliance.

Again, APD isn’t saying much about the Jennifer Garcia case, which means that like the Old APD, it is stonewalling the public on a matter of great public importance: a police commander accused of wrongdoing.

That sounds like the Old APD, whose practice was to hold the media and the public in contempt.

And then there was Geier’s public response earlier this year the now infamous 7-year-old girl’s bloody underwear case. The public, and lots of retired cops were stunned and outraged that an APD officer who was called out to the case of the girl, and told by her teacher that she had found blood on the girl’s underwear, didn’t even suspect a crime might have been committed and didn’t tag the garment into evidence for possible use in a criminal investigation.

Geier stood by his officer and said the cop was correct to not take the underwear as evidence. It was the Old APD in action: Support your own, no matter how incompetent or wrong they might be, dive into the bunker, pull the doors shut and ignore the public and the news media.

A few weeks later Geier reversed course and said that he was wrong about the case, but that it wasn’t his fault because he had been misled by someone in the department. Most people equate being misled as being lied to.

So what did Geier do to the person or persons who lied to him, the person who lied to the chief of police?

So far, nothing. Oh, he launched an IA investigation, which he said would take 90 days to complete. Does it really take 90 days to figure out who gave you bad and incorrect information and to fire them?

Well, at the New APD, which looks a lot like the Old APD, it does. And that could be by design. At the Old APD the practice was to ignore bad things, launch phony investigations and hope that the public would forget about them.

Let’s just hope that Keller and Geier weren’t lying to us about wanting to get rid of the Old APD. Right now, it’s beginning to look like they did.

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/2018/07/18/Old-APD-is-Alive-and-Well

DINELLI COMMENTARY

When candidate Keller was running for Mayor, he promised sweeping changes with APD, a national search for a new APD Chief and a return to Community based policing.

During the last 8 months of Mayor Tim Keller’s term, APD has not seen dramatic management changes but a reliance on past management of the department and past practices, including those outlined in the ABQ Report.

The current Deputy Chiefs are not outsiders at all but have been with APD for years.

The Deputy Chiefs of Police appointed by Mayor Keller include Harold Medina who retired from APD as commander after serving 20 years, Rogelio Banez who was the area commander in southwest Albuquerque, and Eric Garcia who was a Deputy Chief under APD Chief Gordon Eden.

The command staff under Chief Geier do not reflect a new generation of police officer fully committed and trained in constitutional policing.

All the previous commanders under the previous administration have been shuffled around with a few retiring, with no firm commitment that they will be kept as commanders.

It was the past APD management practices that resulted in the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice that lead to the federal consent decree after 18 police officer involved shootings and the findings of excessive use of force and deadly force by APD.

APD needs a clean sweep in management and philosophy to remove anyone who may have assisted, contributed or who did not stop the culture of aggression found by the Department of Justice and who have resisted the reform process during the last 3 years of the consent decree.

Appointing a new interim police chief who is a retired APD commander and former Rio Rancho Police Chief understandably was necessary given the two-week time frame Mayor Keller had from his election to his swearing in on December 1, 2017.

By all accounts, Chief Geier has done a good job of settling the department down and has publicly committed to the DOJ reforms.

However, making Interim Chief Geier permanent is evidence nothing is going to change with APD management.

The “new” command staff is a reflection of APD’s past and all have been with APD for some time.

The current command staff are not a new generation of police officer fully committed and trained in constitutional policing.

Mayor Keller did say one encouraging thing when he made the announcement making Chief Geier permanent:

“The search process showed us that there are other strong candidates out there who might be able to help build the leadership bench and bring fresh perspectives to APD. … We are continuing to talk to talented professionals to see if others will be a good fit to join the team.”

Hope springs eternal that Keller, and for that matter Chief Geier, are truly committed to finding and hiring outside management to rebuild APD and end the bunker mentality of the Department.

For other blog articles and commentary see:

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/07/17/apd-power-couple-of-apd-chief-geiers-own-creation/

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/06/05/channel-4-does-major-disservice-to-apd-chief-selection-process-and-viewers/

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/05/03/no-need-for-charade-if-fix-already-in/

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/05/21/too-much-at-stake-to-rush-and-get-wrong/

APD Power Couple Of APD Chief Geier’s Own Creation

The term “power couple” can be loosely defined as two people who are married to each other and both have extremely successful careers or hold high ranking management positions in the same company, organization or profession.

APD has its own version of a power couple when it comes to APD Commander Jennifer Bell Garcia of the Albuquerque Police Department’s Internal Affairs unit and APD Interim Deputy Chief Eric Garcia who are married.

APD Commander Jennifer Garcia is paid $95,000 a year and was promoted by APD Chief Michael Geier.

APD Deputy Chief Eric Garcia is paid $135,000 a year and was appointed by APD Chief Geier.

DEPUTY CHIEF ERIC GARCIA

Deputy Chief Eric Garcia is a holdover Deputy Chief from the Chief Gordon Eden and the Berry Administration.

The Keller Administration has charged Deputy Chief Eric Garcia with implementing the Department of Justice mandated reforms.

From 2013 to 2017, Deputy Chief Eric Garcia was in charge of Investigations and the Crimes Against Children Unit and Homicide Unit answered to him which is problematic given what happened during that time frame on his watch that helped create, cause or did not stop the culture of aggression.

Deputy Chief Garcia is now in charge of implementation of the DOJ mandated reforms.

April 2014 was when the Department of Justice found that there was a “culture of aggression” within APD and when police officer involved deadly shootings were at an all-time high.

Deputy Chief Eric Garcia was ultimately in charge of the Victoria Martens murder investigation where a 10-year-old child was raped, murdered and dismembered in the bathtub of her own home in that the murder investigation occurred under his watch when he was Deputy Chief in charge of Investigations.

The Victoria Martens Child abuse case is also the same case where two APD Public information Officers were found to have lied to the media and public that Victoria Martens and her mother had been contacted and interviewed by APD regarding a referral from Children Youth and Families Department.

District Attorney Raul recently announced that his office did a two-year investigation and review of the evidence found Michelle Martens, the mother of Vitoria, falsely admitted to committing the crimes she was charged.

According to Torrez, the forensic evidence revealed Martens and her boyfriend were not even present and did not participate in the murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens.

District Attorney Raul Torrez announced he was forced to dismiss numerous felony charges against the three suspects in the murder case because of severe deficiencies in the evidence gathering and interviews conducted by the APD Homicide Unit in the murder case

There were many mistakes made by the APD Homicide Unit with the Victoria Martens murder case involving the interview and the evidence gathering process.

Nothing has ever been disclosed about Deputy Chief Eric Garcia’s management involvement with the Victoria Martens murder case nor of his involvement with the false information disseminated by APD spokespersons, even though he was in charge of Investigations for Crimes Against Children and Homicide and he knew or should have known what was going on with case.

INTERNAL AFFAIRS COMMANDER JENNIFER BELL GARCIA

In 2015, Jennifer Bell Garcia became the Lieutenant in charge of Internal Affairs and then her position was upgraded to Commander of Internal Affairs by Chief Michael Geier.

Internal Affairs is responsible for providing fair, thorough, and comprehensive administrative investigations of claims relating to police misconduct and evaluation of department policies, practices, procedures, and training.

All sworn police officers assigned to the Internal Affairs Unit are held to a higher standard in order to have any credibility investigating police misconduct cases.

A few months ago, the City of Albuquerque hired a private agency to investigate allegations of wrongdoing against APD Internal Affairs Commander Jennifer Bell Garcia.

It has now been reported that the investigation against Commander Jennifer Garcia has been completed.

APD has not announced what the specific allegations against Jennifer Garcia were nor how they were brought to the department’s attention nor who made the allegations.

Confidential sources are saying that Jennifer Garcia falsified public documents and lied in an Internal Affairs Investigation.

On July 10, 2018, ABQ Report asked APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos whether APD could confirm rumors that Garcia was under investigation, that she had been transferred to the Traffic Division and that she had been suspended for five weeks.

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/2018/07/11/Breaking-APD-Commander-Investigated-for-Allegations-of-Wrongdoing

Gallegos was also asked whether Geier would move to revoke Garcia’s law enforcement license and whether he had referred the case to the District Attorney’s office.

In response to ABQ Reports inquiry, APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos issued the following statement:

“An investigation was initiated following a complaint of alleged misconduct by Commander Jennifer Garcia earlier this year. She had been recently promoted as Commander assigned to IA at that time [by Chief Michael Geier]. Following a preliminary review by command staff, the investigation was assigned to a private investigations agency. The agency conducted a thorough investigation and presented its findings to the Chief, Human Resources Department and members of the City Attorney’s staff. The Chief reviewed their report and is currently in the process of making a final determination in this matter. No final action has been taken. As a high-ranking officer in APD, she will be held to a higher standard of accountability due to her position and assignment at the time. She was transferred from that assignment in IA to Traffic Division at the onset of this investigation.”

COMMENTARY

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

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

The pending disciplinary action against Commander Jennifer Garcia and her relationship with Deputy Chief Eric Garcia in the APD upper command staff is further evidence that APD cannot police itself because of the inherent biases of one police officer investigating another.

The function and responsibility for investigating police misconduct cases and violations of personnel policy and procedures by police should 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 investigation of police misconduct cases including excessive use of force cases not resulting in death or serious bodily harm should be done by “civilian” personnel investigators.

The Office of Independent Council would make findings and recommendations to the APD Chief for implementation and imposition of the recommended disciplinary action.

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

APD’s chain of command is clear: Commanders report to Deputies who report to the Chief with the Chief selecting the Commanders and Deputies and who serve at the pleasure of the Chief.

The APD Deputy Chiefs and the Internal Affairs Commander are responsible for and in charge of enforcement APD’s professional standards and involved with imposition of disciplinary action as well as carrying out the Department of Justice mandated reforms.

Deputy Chiefs and Commanders must be held to a higher standard, including being held responsible and accountable by the Chief for their own conduct and management decisions and mistakes and failures of the past.

The fact that the Commander of APD Internal Affairs unit has now been found to have engaged in wrongdoing is by all accounts totally unacceptable and demands swift action by Chief Geier without biasness or influence to restore some semblance of confidence in his own management team.

By virtue of the high-ranking positions held by Deputy Chief Eric Garcia and his wife Commander Jennifer Bell Garcia, it is difficult to comprehend how APD Chief Michael Geier could not understand nor appreciate the danger of conflicts of interests or appearance of impropriety that could arise with one overseeing or being involved with the review of the other’s conduct and management decisions.

APD Chief Geier is now faced with a difficult personnel management decision on how to deal with a “power couple” within his department of his own creation.

Geier must now to deal with the ramifications of taking disciplinary action against one of his appointed Commanders that will likely have an affect on his working relationship with his appointed Deputy in charge of implementing the Department of Justice mandated reforms.

Geier has already taken steps and has asked at least two APD Commanders to retire or be demoted to Lieutenant because of their job performance under the previous administration.

One consideration Geier should take into account now is deciding if it is time thank Deputy Chief Eric Garcia for is 25 years of service and ask him to retire and move on because of his past job performance in managing the Homicide Unit and Crimes Against Children Unit.

Rest assured Geier’s entire upper command are watching just how committed he is to holding his chain of command responsible and accountable for their past and present conduct.

Abolishing “Good Ol Boy” Detective Selection

During the July 12, 2018 regular meeting of the City’s Police Oversight Board, APD Chief Michael Geier made a presentation regarding the practices and methods used to hire and train APD Homicide Detectives.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1195981/apd-will-revamp-hiring-training-of-detectives.html

APD Chief Michael Geier, along with APD Commander Paul Duran, may not have used the term and may not have realized it, but basically announced perhaps the beginning of the end of the “good-ol boy” system in the hiring, selection or promotion of detectives.

The Police Oversight Board requested Chief Geier to make the presentation after extensive media reports surrounding the investigation of the murder case of 10-year old Victoria Martens who was raped, murdered, dismembered and burned in her home.

District Attorney Raul Torrez announced he was force to dismiss numerous felony charges against the three suspects in the murder case because of severe deficiencies in the evidence gathering and interviews conducted by the APD Homicide Unit in the murder case.

“GOOD OLD BOY” PATH TO BECOME DETECTIVE

Chief Geier along with APD Commander Paul Duran of the Homicide Unit made the presentation to the Police Oversight Board.

Geier and Duran discussed the practice for selecting and training homicide detectives.

Areas discussed with the board ranged from how crimes are investigated, to who is deemed qualified enough to investigate certain crimes, and the training involved for those officers wanting to become detectives.

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/apd-chief-process-to-become-a-detective-needs-to-be-more-formal-/1299505590

Currently, any police officer who has a desire to become a Detective in the Homicide Unit can, so long as they seek certain types of training that detectives would need, such as interrogation and criminal investigations courses made available to them.

According to Chief Geier the current practice is for sworn police officers to go from field services to detective, with both position being essentially the same with respect to rank.

The only difference between a uniformed police officer and a detective is that one wears a badge, a police uniform and carries a gun while the other has the title “detective” and wears civilian clothes, carries a gun and badge.

Chief Geier made it clear that at this point becoming a detective is considered a lateral move and not a promotion.

The current practice has been that police officers do not receive a promotion or raise if they become a detective.

Police Officers aspiring to become detectives have to take it upon themselves to enroll in certain training classes.

Police officers starting out in a detective role usually spend a few years investigating lower level crimes and Geier explained it saying:

“They work these in the area command and investigate things like property crimes, shoplifting, burglaries. … It’s kind of like an apprenticeship because that’s where detectives really start their training.”

The way the process works now is that if a person is selected for a detective position, they start as a more general detective working in a particular area command, investigating such things as property crimes and domestic violence cases without serious injuries.

As the officer continues to gain experience and seek out training courses, the detective can then be selected for a specialty unit like crimes against children or homicide.

According to Chief Geier:

“There is a hierarchy with some of the most serious crimes being at the top, homicide being one of them. … So of course, we wouldn’t want someone who just came from patrol to become a homicide detective. We want that series of steps where that person gained experience.”

Chief Geier made a stunning admission that has been believed to be true for years by outside observers of the Albuquerque Police Department:

“In the past, I regret to say this, but sometimes if you’re friends with someone that’s served in units, you have an inside track.”

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/police-oversight-board-grills-apds-top-brass/4987335/?cat=500

Outsider observers would call the Chief’s comments the admission of a “good ol boy” system for transfers and promotions which has gone on for years within APD and not just within the Homicide Unit but has included other units, especially including the SWAT Unit.

The “good ol boy” approach to transfers in law enforcement is the worst form of cronyism among people who have known each other for a period of time with transfers based on friendships and not qualifications.

Chief Geier said detectives need more training, especially when they are interviewing people with mental health issues.

Dealing with a mentally deficient person is a lesson learned in the case of Michelle Martens who falsely implicated herself and another suspect in the death of her daughter.

Chief Geier made another surprising admission to the Police Oversight Board when he said:

“We’re really kind of at fault for leading them [people with mental health issues] on and not knowing that or understanding that process, that’s the kind of new training that’s out there that we have to look at.”

All sworn police officers have already received 40 hours of crisis intervention dealing with the mentally ill as a result of the reforms mandated by the Federal consent decree and cases like mentally ill homeless camper John Boyd who was shot and killed in the Sandia Foothills by APD.

Commander Duran reported that there are now 10 Detectives assigned to the Homicide unit and that APD wants to increase the number even further.

Commander Duran could not answer the question as to how many Detectives he needs to deal with the existing case load.

Duran said he did not know what the national standard number of cases is per detective.

A “CAREER PATH” TO BECOME HOMICIDE DETECTIVE

Chief Geier and Commander Duran announced that a “working group” has been formed to make it a more formal process to become an APD Detective.

The working group includes detectives, supervisors, and a District Attorney’s office representative.

The working group is tasked with coming up with advanced training and more hands-on testing to become an APD Detective.

According to Geier, the ultimate goal is to implement a process for a more formal and structured, definitive career path for APD Detectives.

Chief Geier told the Police Oversight Board he wants to implement a “well-developed process” that looks at giving officers who have a genuine interest in more opportunities to gain knowledge early on in their careers.

A career path approach will require officers to take “prerequisites” and training courses before they can even apply to be a detective.

A major goal is to require all detectives to have more advanced training throughout their careers.

The new career path that Chief Geier envisions will include written and oral exam testing, a form of “hands on assessment” and include requirements already in place for officers who are receiving a promotion.

According to Geier:

“The idea is not to just take people out of the blue and place them in these assignments, we want to prepare them so they are well trained and not an expedited process, but one that they’ve earned.”

Chief Geier said they are considering putting a year probation on each assignment the officer will have to complete and said:

“So, if they don’t cut the mustard, so to speak, or they find out it isn’t right for them or they’re just not meeting the requirements, then we can pull them from that assignment during that probation period.”

What courses the officers will need to take to become a detective have yet to be finalized.

Geier also said he will consider giving officers raises if they make detective.

Chief Geier summed things up for the Police Oversight Board by saying:

“We want to build their skill set from the first time they become a detective to when they leave their career and retire. … So hopefully it’s a lifetime path so that they don’t lose that experience and we have a better chance at serving [the] public. … This is the plan for the future. … The goal is that we build a quality career path.”

APD’S MURDER CLEARANCE RATE

On April 18, 2018, APD released the city’s crime statistics for the first quarter of 2018 (January to March) comparing them to the first quarter of 2017, (January to March) and the statistics revealed that the property crime rates are down, but the homicide rate increased by an alarming 50%.

There were 6 more murders in the first quarter of 2018 compared with 2017, which is a 50% increase.

In March of this year, 5 homicides were reported in six days.

Albuquerque has had twenty (21) homicides reported in the first 4 months of this year.

There are 36 murder cases from last year that have yet to be cleared with upwards of 40 murders committed this year thus far.

APD’s “clearance rate” is currently in the mid 50%, if not lower.

According to the proposed 2018-2019 APD City Budget, in 2016 the APD homicide clearance rate was 80%, in 2017 the clearance rate was 70% and the projected clearance rate is 46% for mid-year.

The 2009 “West Side Serial Killer” murder case where 12 woman, along with an unborn child, were killed and buried still remains unsolved.

Albuquerque is on track to exceeding the all-time number of 70 homicides in one year.

COMMENTARY

For the last 8 months, Chief Michael Geier has done a very respectable job of settling down a trouble plagued police department.

Geier publicly has made a firm commitment to the DOJ mandated reforms.

The only real public misstep thus far has been his defense of APD in the evidence gathering of the blood-stained underwear of a 9-year-old female child who was being prostituted by her parents.

The case was where a police officer refuse to take and tag into evidence the garment but threw it into the garbage.

Ultimately, Mayor Keller and Geier to their credit ordered an Internal affairs investigation and changes to standard operating procedures in the investigation of child abuse cases were announced.

What is simmering under the radar for Chief Geier is that Commander of the Albuquerque Police Department’s Training Academy John Sullivan retired with allegations that Geier forced him out.

Former Commander Sullivan of the Albuquerque Police Department’s Training Academy ended what he called “good-ol’-boy testing,” which he described as instructors telling officers what was going to be on their tests and allowing them to take tests as a group.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1196764/apd-academy-ends-group-testing.html

Now the real hard part begins for Chief Geier with reforming the hiring, training, transferring and promotion practices of the department.

The “working group” announced to come up with the hiring and training of detectives with a career path is an excellent first step, but only a first step, and will be meaningless if not carried out and is done only for show.

Sources are reporting that upwards of 50 lateral transfers from other agencies are going to work for APD as a result of the pay incentive program initiated by the Keller Administration.

The first priority should be to hire lateral hires who are experienced homicide detectives.

The APD Homicide Unit, now even with 10 Detectives, has the lowest number of assigned Detectives in years with the experience level severely lacking.

The “good ol boy” system contributed to the “culture of aggression” which was found by the Department of Justice three years ago.

It was the APD SWAT Unit that generated so much attention and was investigated by the Department of Justice for the handling of high level call outs that resulted in 18 police officer deadly use of force killings within one year alone.

The “good ol boy” approach to transfers in law enforcement is the worst form of cronyism among people who have known each other for a period of time and where friendships and shared attitudes are given greater weight than qualifications and talent.

Transfer’s based on friendships and not qualifications to handle some of the most egregious violent crime investigations, and for that matter SWAT situations, should never be tolerated.

The “good ol boy” system for transfers and promotions has gone on for way too many years and it must stop throughout APD and not just within the homicide unit.

You can anticipate that the the Albuquerque Police Officers Associate (APOA) will oppose and strenuously resist the effort by the Keller Administration to make the position of detective separate and distinct from field service uniformed officers, especially when the effort is made to make Detective a promotion with a raise.

The police union will demand to have a seat at the table in the determination of qualifications and pay grade and make it part of the union contract.

Chief Geier is commended for his efforts with the Homicide Unit and he has his work cut out for him with other specialized units and dealing with the police union.

Time is of the essence when Albuquerque is suffering a murder rate of epidemic proportions.

As the saying goes “Better late than never”.