APD Academy Director Meltdown; CNM Announces Law Enforcement Academy

On Monday, October 21, 2018, Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) announced that it is launching its own Law Enforcement Academy next year.

The first graduating class will head to the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).

Growing the ranks of the Albuquerque Police Department has been extremely difficult for the past 9 years.

On December 1, 2009, APD was fully staffed at 1,100 police officers, and APD was the best trained, best staffed and best equipped agency in the state and fully committed to community-based policing.

For a full 8 years under the previous Republican City Administration, the number of APD officers declined from 1,100 sworn police to 850, or by 250 sworn police officers.

Currently, APD has about 880 sworn officers as a result of graduating a lateral class of 29 officers in October recruited from other police departments.

APD at the beginning of 2018 fiscal year had 878 sworn police notwithstanding the approved funding for 1,040 sworn police.

APD’s has aggressively recruited more than 60 sworn police officers from other law enforcement agencies in the State in order to “grow” the size of the department by 100 officers in the 2018-2019 fiscal year that began July 1, 2018.

CNM’s LAW ENFORCEMENT ACADEMY

In announcing the CNM Law Enforcement Academy, CNM President Katharine Winograd said “As a community college, we are here to support the educational and workforce needs of our community.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1236279/cnm-launches-police-academy.html

Winograd also announced that in addition to Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, the Village of Corrales, Los Lunas, Moriarty, and the Pueblos of Laguna and Isleta police departments plan on using the CNM Law Enforcement Academy, as do sheriff’s offices in Sandoval, Valencia and Torrance counties, and the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Law enforcement departments can hire cadets for a CNM academy that starts next fall.

Law enforcement cadets who graduate from the academy will earn 32 college credits which is particularly important for APD employment.

Albuquerque police are required to eventually obtain at least 60 college credits.

The 17-week academy will be available to officers who have already been hired by any police agency.

In APD’s case, the academy will be an alternative to the six-month academy that APD uses to train and certify their officers.

After graduating from CNM, APD’s cadets will have to take another 11-week training course at Albuquerque police before they are ready to hit the streets.

According to APD Officials, cadets in the CNM academy will already be city employees and will be paid while they are in the academy.

The city will also pay for the cadet’s tuition, though the details of how much that will cost are still being negotiated.

APD officials said they are relying on CNM to teach some of APD’s cadets the core law enforcement courses that are required of all police officers throughout the state.

CNM’s HISTORY OF COMMITMENT TO ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE

CNM already has an exceptional Criminal Justice program that can be relied on and that will no doubt “dove tail” into the new Law Enforcement Academy by offering courses to police academy cadets.

The extent of Criminal Justice courses already offered by CNM are worth noting and inlcude:

• Introduction to Criminal Justice
• Criminal Law
• Criminal Procedure
• Juvenile Law and Procedure
• Introduction to Security Services
• Report Writing
• Patrol Practices
• Probation and Parole
• Rules of Criminal Evidence
• White Collar Crimes
• Organized Crime and Terrorism
• Management for Criminal Justice Professionals
• Community-Oriented Policing
• Correctional Services
• Juvenile Corrections
• Institutional Corrections
• Introduction to Homeland Security
• Criminal Investigation
• Transportation and Border Security
• Intelligence Analysis and Security Management
• Criminal Investigation Laboratory

It is likely that significantly more courses will be added to the CNM Law Enforcement Academy to teach and provide training in “constitutional policing practices” mandated by the federal court settlement agreement.

You can read the extent of law enforcement courses offered by CNM in its course catalog at the below link:

https://catalog.cnm.edu/content.php?

APD POLICE ACADEMY DIRECTOR TURNOVER AND ONE MELTDOWN

The Keller Administration is proposing to spend $88 million dollars, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures, to hire 322 sworn officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers in order to return to community-based policing.

For the first fiscal year of the four-year plan, the 2018-2019 budget provides for increasing funding from 1,000 sworn police to 1,040.

Since May, 2015, the APD Academy has had 5 Directors with 4 directors forced out for one reason or another.

The APD Academy Directors beginning since May 15, 2015 have been Joseph Wolf, Lt. Michael Archibeque, Commander Jessica Tyler, Commander John Sullivan and the current Director is Commander Angela R. Byrd.

The most disturbing departure was that of John Sullivan who resigned on July 21, 2018 and replaced by Commander Angela R. Byrd.

John Sullivan claimed he was forced to retire by Police Chief Michael Geier a month after Sullivan testified before the federal court judge overseeing the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) mandating APD reforms.

Sullivan testified that he had ended what he called a “good-ol’-boy” testing practice at the APD Academy where cadets were told what questions would be on their tests, where cadets were allowed to take tests in a group and where passed with a 95 percent score.

Sullivan testified that the independent monitor found an unusually high rate of passing grades for the academy’s cadets by saying:

“… [The Federal monitor’s team] found it interesting that everybody received a 95 percent or higher …. And when I looked at that, I found it kind of interesting, too. And being a police officer now for almost 20 years with the Albuquerque Police Department, I knew in my mind exactly why it was happening; however, I chose to create a completed staff work to address that issue. I did some research, looked at some of the best practices nation-wide and found out what I think we all knew already, but the Academy wasn’t doing testing correctly. … We were doing the good-ol’-boy testing. The instructor would say, ‘This could be something you might see later,’ and everybody was allowed to kind of sit there and do the testing with each other and a group test environment took place.”

Sullivan submitted a two-sentence retirement letter to Geier that said, “Per your directive, I am involuntarily retiring from the City of Albuquerque without waiving rights to any legal action I may pursue in the future.”

On September 6, 2018 it was reported that former commander John Sullivan filed a “whistleblower lawsuit” suing the city, claiming he was demoted and forced into retirement by Mayor Tim Keller’s administration after he reported to the Federal court on the police academy’s secrets and training practices.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/fmr-apd-officer-sues-city-of-albuquerque/5059574/

Newly appointed Angela R. Byrd apparently is having a very difficult time in carrying out her job duties.

Sources at the APD Police Academy as well as an APD watchdog group report that recently an incident occurred at the police academy during a cadet training session.

The training session involved the discussion of a “use of force” hypothetical scenario where APD Police Academy Director Byrd was at the podium.

A previous “use of force” expert and trainer had given a totally opposite opinion to the hypothetical scenario that was give by Commander Byrd.

Sources report that while at the podium, a cadet officer took strong issue with Commander Angela R. Byrd’s recommended police response and challenged her in front of the group.

The officer claimed how wrong she was and that her suggested answer for a police response endangered officer safety whereupon she began crying at the podium and excused herself to compose herself.

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

The creation of a CNM Law Enforcement Academy is great news for APD and a city plagued with skyrocketing crime rates.

The creation of a CNM Law Enforcement Academy is long overdue and a welcome development.

The APD Academy has a 9-year record of being very ineffective and a record of failure in keeping up with APD retirements.

A revolving door has apparently been installed at the APD Police Academy to accommodate all the departures of APD Academy Directors.

Four years ago, on October 31, 2014 the City of Albuquerque entered into a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice after the Department of Justice (DOJ) found the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) displayed a “pattern and practice” in the use of excessive use of force and deadly force.

With the forced retirement of APD Academy Director John Sullivan, it is painfully obvious that Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Michael Geier see no need for a stable APD Police Academy dedicated to the Court Approved Settlement reforms.

Keeping up with APD retirements and having a competent Academy Director with the skills to make sure the APD Academy gets it right with training and screening is more critical now than ever before in APD’s history given the financial commitment to spend $88 million dollars, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures, to hire 322 sworn officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers in order to return to community-based policing.

During the last 4 years, under the Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) the City of Albuquerque and APD are mandated to implement new training in constitutional policing and crisis intervention of all sworn police officers.

The mandated training is aimed at correcting a pattern of excessive force within APD that the DOJ announced it had found in 2014.

Excessive use of force and deadly force training is where the rubber hits the road when it comes to constitutional policing

The CNM Law Enforcement Academy will allow APD and the other agencies to recruit people who might not otherwise be interested in law enforcement.

What is also important is that CNM has a proven track record of educating and certifying people far better than the APD Academy.

The CNM Law Enforcement Academy will give APD a major opportunity to recruit enough sworn police officers to rebuild the department, get them trained and on the street to patrol and give the city hope of getting out from under the DOJ consent decree.

What is truly pathetic is that taxpayers are paying millions a year to operate and fully staff and operational APD Police Academy that now has to rely on a State higher education institution to train its police cadets.

With the creation of the CNM Law Enforcement Academy, just maybe the city will be able to expand and grow APD with a new, younger generation of police officer fully committed and trained in constitutional policing with less reliance on lateral hires.

For more on growing APD see:

APD Needs A New Generation Of Police Officer

Do Not Rebuild A “New APD” With Old Problems

Vote “YES” To Retain Judge Edward L. Benavidez To Continue Work On Metropolitan Court Recovery Program

Since 1997, the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court’s Recovery Court Program, known by many as Drug Court, has been a leader in addressing the community concerns of repeat DWI offenders.

The Metropolitan Recovery Court Program is a highly critical program that has an impact on people’s lives by offering repeat DWI offenders a chance at rehabilitation and recovery instead of incarceration.

The highly successful program blends judicial oversight by a program judge, supervision by probation officers, a designated court calendar, use of incentives to reward and improve performance, graduated sanctions for non–compliance, and comprehensive substance abuse treatment and ancillary services to address causative factors associated with DWI.

The program has been a key component in the Metropolitan Court’s efforts to enhance community safety, promote evidence–based practices for offender accountability, and support offender rehabilitation.

The DWI Recovery Court program team consists of one judge, seven probation officers, a program manager, and a programs division director.

Metropolitan Court Judge Edward L Benavidez is the Chief Judge of the Metropolitan Court.

Judge Benavidez has been a judge at Metropolitan Court for the past 10 years.

For the past 4 years, Judge Benavidez has worked with and presided over the Recovery Court Program while at the same time carrying out his duties as presiding judge and a full case load.

Following is a guest commentary by Judge Edward L. Benavidez:

JUDGE EDWARD L. BENAVIDEZ GUEST COMMENTARY

“Repeat DWI offenders who are facing from 90-364 days in jail have the
option of entering into the program instead of going to jail. The
program is an intensive rehabilitation process that demands sobriety,
maintaining employment, and involves a commitment to counseling in an
effort to make the participants responsible members of society who no
longer endanger themselves and our community.

The program runs for a minimum of fourteen months. There are five
phases that must be completed prior to graduation. Depending on
success with phase requirements, participants transfer phases every
three months. Participants are sentenced at the end of the program
which involves suspension of any jail jurisdiction that remains.

The first phase is the toughest. Participants are responsible for
attending AA or another community-based support group three times
weekly. They must work at least 28 hours per week or perform
community service. They are required to attend group and individual
counseling session with our contracted counselors. They are required
to check in weekly with their probation officer at Metro Court and
they meet with the Court every two weeks in our open court sessions.
The court sessions are open to the public and it is a forum where the
individuals progress is publicly discussed.

As participants move from phase to phase the requirements are
lessened. Graduations are the culmination of a hard-earned program
where participants have demonstrated the ability to maintain sobriety
and in effect have recovered their lives. The road to recovery and
graduation can be difficult. Sometimes participants experience
relapses and miss program requirements. These issues are dealt with
by sanctions that include additional community service hours and
increased counseling and testing as warranted.

Our success with the program is measured by recidivism, which is the
number of graduates that pick up a new DWI charges after graduation.
After four years into the program, our recidivism rate is at 4.4
percent. I have had 327 graduates with only 13 people having
reoffended to this point. Nationally, the drug court recidivism rate
is about 7 per cent.

Alcohol and drug abuse touch many people. Anyone who is reading
this likely knows of a friend or family member who has struggled.
Many people suffer trauma of some sort that can lead to alcohol and
drug abuse. Fortunately, Metropolitan Court offers help.

Aside from the community safety benefits and recovery of the
participants, the program creates huge tax dollar saving to the
citizens of Bernalillo county. The program costs $17.00 a day to run
as opposed to $120.00 a day to incarcerate someone at the Metropolitan
Detention Center.

With an average of one-hundred participants in the program at any
given time, the tax dollars saved are over one million dollars
annually. The funding to run the program is primarily obtained
through Federal Grants.

Open court sessions are in Courtroom 700 at the Bernalillo County
Metropolitan Court on Thursday mornings of every week. Drug court
rehabilitation is the key to reducing criminal recidivism, creating a
safer community, and saving millions of taxpayer dollars. I would
personally, extend an invitation to any of you who are interested to
attend a session. Your thoughts and comments are welcome.”

Respectfully yours,

JUDGE EDWARD L. BENAVIDEZ
Chief Judge of the Metropolitan Court.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Metropolitan Court Judges are initially elected in partisan elections to full terms and then after serving the term, they must go before voters for retention.

Every election cycle where Judges appear on the ballot, the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission evaluates judges by sending out confidential surveys to lawyers, court jurors and others who interact with the court to grade the Judges and the Commission then rates the judges and recommends to voters who they should vote to retain.

All to often, Judges who run afoul of certain segments of the New Mexico Bar are targeted by attorneys who give low marks to Judges because they do not like the Judge’s rulings and want the Commission to make a negative recommendation at election time.

Any Judge who does not secure a “yes” vote from 57 percent of those voting on their retention are removed from office and the Governor then appoints a judge to fill the vacancy who then must run in the next general election in a partisan race.

All State of New Mexico Judges are strictly prohibited by the Code of Judicial Conduct from holding any elected or appointed positions in political parties.

All state Judges are strictly prohibited from endorsing any candidate for office and cannot solicit donations for elections and must have registered measured finance committees to raise money for them to prevent the Judges from knowing who donated to their campaigns.

A Judge is also prevented by the Code of Judicial Conduct from making “extrajudicial comments” to the media or groups that may reflect on their fairness and impartiality.

Once the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission issues its ratings, there is virtually no recourse for Judges to dispute a none-retention recommendation rating given to them other than to campaign vigorously for votes.

Judge Edward Benavidez is seeking retention on the Metropolitan Court and his name appears on the November election ballot.

On October 23, 2018, the Albuquerque Journal issued its editorial advocating voters keep all Metro Judges on the bench, including Judge Edward L. Benavidez.

This is what the Albuquerque Journal had to say about JUDGE EDWARD L. BENAVIDEZ:

“Benavidez has served as Metropolitan Court chief judge since May of 2017, overseeing the court’s $27 million budget and 300 employees. And he has presided over DWI Recovery Court for the last four years. Of the 335 offenders who graduated from the program, only 13 have re-offended, an astonishing success rate and proof this program is making a difference. And he’s juggled these duties while presiding over regular cases.

In surveys, 82 percent of court staff and 77 percent of resource staff (police officers) recommended Benavidez be retained. But only 51 percent of attorneys surveyed recommended retention. Benavidez, who has been a Metro Court judge for 10 years, says he ran afoul of defense attorneys and [the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission] JPEC in part because he still sets bonds for defendants he feels are a danger or flight risk. He has a 94 percent affirmation rate on appeal while also maintaining the highest case clearance rate in Metro Court.”

You can read the Journal recommendations for retention of all the Metro Judges here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1236297/voters-should-keep-all-18-metro-judges-on-the-bench.html

Judge Edward L. Benavidez has done and impressive job with the Metropolitan Court Recovery Program and voters should vote “YES” to retain him so he continue with his work.

$4.2 Million For “Public Safety Experts”

Four years ago, on October 31, 2014 the City of Albuquerque entered into a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice after the Department of Justice (DOJ) found the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) displayed a “pattern and practice” in the use of excessive use of force and deadly force.

After the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) was signed, law enforcement consultant Dr. James Ginger, along with his team of consultants, was appointed by the Federal Court to monitor and audit the reform efforts of APD over a 4-year period at a cost of $4.5 million paid by the city.

The Federal Court Monitor contract will be up in the 2019 fiscal year.

Under the CASA, the federal monitor only has authority to audit APD’s progress and report to the federal court.

The Federal Monitor has absolutely no management nor command control over APD under the CASA.

Under the CASA, the Federal Monitor does not have the authority to write “use of force” and “deadly force” policy nor write policy reforms.

The CASA mandates that the parties to the lawsuit must write use of force and deadly force policy and implement the process for reporting, reviewing and investigating use of force and deadly force policy.

NO PROGRESS WRITING USE OF FORCE POLICY

On September 10, 2018, a status telephone conference call was held with the United States District Court Judge Robert Brack who is presiding over the reforms underway at APD under the CASA.

Ginger reported that the statistics he uses to audit, monitor and track progress show that APD has achieved 99.6 percent compliance with primary tasks, 75.4 secondary compliance and 59.5 percent operational compliance.

According to Ginger, it’s the first time APD has achieved above 50 percent operational compliance.

To complete the CASA and have the case dismissed, APD must reach and maintain 95% compliance in all three categories.

Ginger said those statistics will be in his next monitoring report, which will be released in November.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1232650/judge-gives-high-marks-for-reform-efforts-at-apd.html

During the September 10, 2018 status conference, Federal Monitor James Ginger reported there remains a problem with the “use of force policy” when he said:

“I hate to be the one to rain on the parade, but I just simply have to report the facts.I received the latest use-of-force document, 2-52, from the parties last week.I found it lacking in multiple key aspects. It was missing key components. Issues that needed to be dealt with in a Use-of-Force Policy were not dealt with. I had questions about enforceability. So I’m working on writing the resolution document … I found it necessary to basically rewrite the policy. There were, at last count, 50-plus changes that I saw as needing to be made. So, it’s been a fairly complex process. Those have been made. They’re in draft form. As soon as I finish proofing that draft, it will go out to the parties immediately.”

COSTLY PUBLIC SAFETY EXPERTS

Including Federal Monitor James Ginger, there are now four civilians employed by the city writing and implementing APD “use of force” and “deadly force policies”, the DOJ reforms, and other APD policies at a minimum cost of $4,730,000 to taxpayers and counting.

The 3 additional public safety experts and policy writers are:

JUDGE LORENZO F. GARCIA

Judge Garcia is a retired federal magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico. Former Judge Garcia was hired by APD early in 2016 by the former Berry Administration to help write police policy even though he had no prior experience writing police policy. Judge Garcia was hired to help draft APD standard operating procedures after the city attorney acknowledge that the so called “inhouse experts” at APD consisting of high-ranking command staff were having difficulty and unable to write the policy. Judge Garcia has been paid $230,000 and word has it the Keller Administration renewed his contract, but his billings and work product have never been disclosed to the public.

JAMES B. LEWIS

On February 26, 2018, former New Mexico State Treasurer James Lewis was appointed by the Keller Administration as “Senior Public Safety Advisor” to oversee police reform and help implement community policing. Mr. Lewis is paid on contract $75,000 a year. Mr. Lewis is assigned to work for APD in the Albuquerque Police Department Compliance Bureau which deals with policy and his duties include helping with “the implementation and oversight of the Department of Justice mandated reforms” and working with the APD command staff.

DAMON MARTINEZ

On October 18, 2018, the Keller Administration announced that former U.S. Attorney for New Mexico Damon Martinez was hired full time to write police policy and is paid $118,000 a year. As US Attorney, Mr. Martinez was instrumental in leading the DOJ efforts to get the Albuquerque Police Department to agree to a reform effort and settlement agreement. Mr. Martinez recently ran for congress in the Democratic primary. Mr. Martinez will also serve as the department’s primary civilian liaison with the 2nd Judicial District Attorney, 2nd Judicial District Court, the District Court for the District of New Mexico, tasks that are normally a function of the City Attorney. Mr. Martinez is tasked with overseeing the development of strategic policies designed to improve APD’s ability to fight crime and ensure the successful prosecution of criminals.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

No rational has been reported on why Judge Lorenzo’s Garcia’s contract to write policy has been renewed nor any report given on what policy he has written over the last two years.

Both James B. Lewis and Damon Martinez are highly respected within the community, they are highly talented and possess managerial skills far superior to many of the appointments made by Mayor Tim Keller.

Both James Lewis and Damon Martinez have been relegated to positions far below their pay grades, talents and abilities with little authority given to them to have an impact other than for providing public relations.

Under the terms of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement, the federal court appointed monitor can only audit and report to the federal court on the reform process and cannot write any new policy, even though he has the expertise.

The rewriting of the “use of force” and “deadly force” and implementation and training is where the “rubber hits” the road and is the most critical purpose of the CASA.

Repeatedly over the last three years since his appointment, Federal Monitor James Ginger has said it is not his job to write the “use of force” and “deadly force policy” even though he has said privately he could do so very easily in short order and without difficulty.

The parties to the CASA have taken well over a year to negotiate the “use of force” and “deadly force” policy and the negotiations contributed to the significant delay in the implementation of the reforms.

Amazingly, Ginger reported to the Court on September 10, 2018 that he “received the latest use-of-force document, 2-52, from the parties last week. I found it lacking in multiple key aspects. It was missing key components. Issues that needed to be dealt with in a Use-of-Force Policy were not dealt with. I had questions about enforceability. So I’m working on writing the resolution document … I found it necessary to basically rewrite the policy.”

Ginger is now rewriting use of force and deadly force policy when the City and APD have hired high paid public safety experts and policy writers such as Judge Garcia, James Lewis and Damon Martinez, not to mention the highly cumbersome and elaborate process for writing and approving APD policy

The CASA is clear and unambiguous that the Federal Monitor does not have any management nor control over APD staff nor command staff.

Under the CASA, Ginger’s only court authority is gathering information from APD and auditing and reporting to the court.

With the cumbersome policy process outlined in the below postscript, it is a wonder that anything really gets done in writing new policy, yet the city taxpayer continues to be on the hook paying an enormous amount of money to people to write and implement policy for APD.

When Dr. Ginger’s next status report is released in November, perhaps the public will get a better idea how much longer the Federal Monitor will be around.

The next Federal monitors report should give an indication of how much longer we have to pay people outlandish salaries to write policy for APD and the command staff and to implement the DOJ reforms.

Given that fact that Ginger’s contract will soon be up for renewal, taxpayers can anticipate he will say APD needs more time and he will need more time and no doubt will want another $4.5 million and 4 more years to help write policy and to audit.

Given the City’s record for hiring people to write policy or implement the DOJ reforms, do not be surprised if another $4.7 million will be paid out over the next 3 years in contracts with even more “public safety experts” hired to convince the public something is being done to reform APD.

__________________________________________________________________________

POSTSCRIPT ON USE OF FORCE POLICY DRAFTING

The Department of Justice Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) mandates a very elaborate and cumbersome process used to draft and approve new or revised APD standard operating procedure policy.

The process for developing APD policy, practices and procedure is essentially by committee and committee referrals.

The mandatory steps followed to draft APD policy under the Department of Justice Consent decree are as follows:

1. Existing standard operating procedure (SOP) goes to the Office of Policy Analysis (OPA) where all the stakeholders give input.
2. The Office of Policy Analysis (OPA) drafts new or revised SOP.
3. The new SOP goes to the “SOP Review Committee” and input is given by “subject matter” experts and a final draft of SOP is prepared and APD proposals are also considered.
4. The new SOP goes to the “Policy and Procedures Review Board” (PPRB) for review and they send it to
5. Office of Policy Analysis (OPA) for final review to ensure appropriateness and consistency with other APD Policy and then it is sent for
6. Review and approval by Chief of Police and City Attorney to see if it relates to the settlement agreement
7. If Chief and City Attorney do not approve, it goes back to step one, and the process starts all over again.
If the SOP is approved by Chief and City Attorney, it then must be reviewed and approved by all the parties to the lawsuit and consent decree.
8. The revised or new SOP goes to the federal monitor who must approve it and then it is sent to the federal judge for final approval.

Looking The Other Way Is No Stringent Vetting Process

The Associated Press and local news media report that the Keller Administration and the Albuquerque Police Department has hired an out of state law enforcement veteran to manage APDs Real-Time Crime center who was accused 19 years ago in a lawsuit of using excessive force while conducting a traffic stop as a New Jersey state trooper.

https://apnews.com/b326e9f0b3ee4a73b731f5291e1c519a?fbclid=IwAR1dzafYZkk6J8EHSc3QnvVc50xtS7zH2PYutUhkA8Adx5mhp6eJ2YOfvds

The lawsuit, which also included racial profiling claims stemming from other incidents involving troopers, was eventually settled, with state payouts ranging from $25,000 to $200,000.

In 1996, newly appointed APD Real Time Crime Center Leonard Nerbetski was accused of twisting the arm of an Egypt-born woman in her 20s and holding a gun to her head.

In 1999, Leonard Nerbetski was also named as one of two New Jersey State troopers accused of using excessive force and roughing up Laila Maher and Felix Morka, both minorities and both law students at the time, during a traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike.

While the State of New Jersey admitted to no wrongdoing under the settlements, the traffic stop involving Nerbetski and the other trooper led to changes in how the New Jersey State Police handle complaints of misconduct.

For the past 4 years, APD and the city have been struggling to implement mandated reforms agreed to in a Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) after a U.S. Justice Department investigation in 2014 found a “culture of aggression” within the Albuquerque police ranks and excessive use of force and deadly force.

From 2010 to 2017, there were 42 police officer involved shooting and the city has paid $62 million in settlements in excessive use of force and deadly force cases and civil rights cases.

GROWING THE DEPARTMENT BY POACHING LATERALS

The Keller Administration is proposing to spend $88 million dollars, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures, to hire 322 sworn officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers in order to return to community-based policing.

For the first fiscal year of the four-year plan, the 2018-2019 budget provides for increasing funding from 1,000 sworn police to 1,040.

Recently, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) issued a recruiting status report giving statistics summarizing APDs recruiting efforts to increase the number of sworn police.

On October 1, 2018, APD had 853 full time sworn police officers and just graduated a lateral class of 29 which brings the department to 882 sworn police officers.

APD’s has aggressively recruited more than 60 sworn police officers from other law enforcement agencies in in order to “grow” the size of the department by 100 officers in the 2018-2019 fiscal year that began July 1, 2018.

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

Old law enforcement bad habits, attitudes and philosophy are difficult to overcomer, even with new training, but can easily be hidden before a hire is made unless a proper vetting process occurs.

Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said in a statement that Leonard Nerbetski was hired for his expertise in crime analysis and running a “high-level smart policing program.”

Mayor Tim Keller said his hiring was among several intended to help manage “a more effective and community-focused APD.”

APD is essentially saying the public needs to look the other way when it comes to the hire because it happened 19 years ago and it is a management hire.

Why does this sound so damn familiar? Because it has happened before with lateral hires!

APD and the city cannot afford to pay another $61 million in police misconduct cases for excessive use of force and deadly force cases and civil rights violations nor hire APD management who have no problem with such conduct or who find excuses for such conduct.

The Keller Administration prefers to ignore that the conduct led to changes in how state police handle complaints of misconduct so the conduct must have been pretty egregious and then did not result in much of an Internal Affairs investigation.

This is the type of hire and justification for the hire that creates a credibility gap with the public and the Keller Administration that proclaims it is doing a stringent vetting process.

The news story identifies the very problem associated with lateral hires for APD, including those hired for management positions, predicted by many.

A major problem with hiring “laterals” is that lateral hires contributed to the “culture of aggression” and that very argument was alleged in a civil lawsuit against APD that resulted in a $900,000 judgment against the city.

The Keller Administration recently graduated a lateral class of 30 and intends to hire another 30.

Notwithstanding the claims of a strict vetting process, the prospect of even a few officers, including management, being hired when they should not be hired looms large.

APD officials said they are closely vetting all lateral hires during the current hiring push claiming all lateral hires are vetted just as stringent as the new hires.

Background checks to work for APD are part of the vetting process before a person is hired.

It has not been reported if a background check was done on Nebreski for the management position and if so, did the Keller Administration hire him anyway.

APD Spokesman Gallegos did not disclose if Leonard Nerbetski notified the city of the previous lawsuits he was involved with for excessive use of force.

APD should avoid hiring police officers that have a history of personnel problems to the department they are leaving.

APD must avoid and make sure it does not hire any police officers from other agencies, including management, who are not fully committed to the Department of Justice agreed to mandated reforms.

The city cannot afford to pay another $61 million in police misconduct cases for excessive use of force and deadly force cases nor have APD management who have no problem with such conduct and who may look the other way when it does happen.

UPDATE

On October 20, 2018, it was reported that APD is standing by its decision to hire an out of state law enforcement veteran Leonard Nerbetski to head up the real time crime center who once was accused of racial profiling and excessive force in a nearly 20-year-old lawsuit where there was a settlement payout.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1235400/apd-stands-by-hire-facing-accusations.html

APD is also saying it will reach out to Leonard Nerbetski’s former employer to get more information about his background.

The Keller Administration also said the hire came highly recommended by the Federal Monitor.

There are two takeaways from this story:

FIRST: APD did not do the “stringent vetting” they claimed they were doing with all lateral hires.

SECOND: Why is the Federal Monitor recommending anyone for a job when for the last 3 years he has failed to weigh in on any other hires, including Gordon Eden and Assistant Chief Huntsman?

Huntsman was in charge of SWAT when a number of the 12 shootings occurred by SWAT that the DOJ investigated and as Assistant Chief with the rewriting use of force policies.

Huntsman also secretly recorded a conversation with the Federal Monitor that resulted in an admonishment from the Federal Court.

Now we have the Federal Monitor serving a function of human resources when his duties are strictly suppose to be monitoring the progress of the consent decree.

APD must avoid and make sure it does not hire any police officers from other agencies, including management, who are not fully committed to the Department of Justice agreed to mandated reforms nor management who may look the other way when it comes to police misconduct.

You can read more on lateral hires and rehires at the below links:

Do Not Rebuild A “New APD” With Old Problems

APD Needs A New Generation Of Police Officer

APD’S $200,000 A Year Public Information Officer

On October 16, 2018, reporter and editor Dennis Domrzalski of ABQ Report published an investigative report that APD’s Public Information Officer and Patrolman First Class Simon Drobik has earned $146,000 so far this year and is on track to make $200,0000 this year as a result of overtime pay.

You can read the entire ABQ Report here:

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/2018/10/16/APDs-200000-Man-PIO-Made-146000-So-Far-This-Year

According the ABQ Report article, Drobik’s’ base pay is around $48,500 a year but he has made nearly $100,000 in overtime so far this year.

That works out to 60 hours a week in overtime.

If you count Drobik’s regular 40-hour week, he appears to be working, or claiming to work, an average of 140 hours each and every week.

ABQ Report sent APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos an email asking for an explanation of how Drobik has been able to make $146,000 so far this year.

APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos’ responded to ABQ Report in an email as follows to:

“Officer Drobik has historically worked overtime, doing duty as a master patrolman and as a uniformed Public Information Officer, often working 7 days a week. When the new administration took over, we advertised for a full-time, uniformed PIO to help carry the workload, but no other officers expressed interest. We appreciate that Officer Drobik stepped up and continues to do patrol work in addition to PIO duties. We are cognizant of the need to reduce overtime in the department. With the influx of new recruits and lateral officers being hired, we plan on filling many positions where we currently rely on overtime to cover essential services. Officer Drobik has agreed to serve as the full-time PIO during weekdays as his primary assignment.”

Readers may recall that former APD officer James Geha was indicted in early October for time card fraud while he was employed by APD.

Geha is alleged to have bilked the city out of $13,000 through the time card fraud.

FORMER APD SARGEANT DAN KLEIN

On October 17, 2018 an article by former APD Sergeant Dan Klein was published in ABQ Report.

You can read the entire Klein ABQ Report article here:

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/2018/10/17/Klein-Audit-APDs-Human-Robots-Time-Sheets

Dan Klein demands to know who at APD has been approving Drobik’s time sheets and overtime.

Klein proposes to put APD’s payroll and human resources functions under the city’s Human Resources Department

Another point raised by Klein is it appears Drobik is claiming he is working 100 hours each and every week, seven days a week

Klein goes on to suggest the payroll records and time sheets of Simon Drobik need to be audited to find out who at APD has been signing off on what looks like an outrageous and impossible amount of overtime.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Under the City’s personnel rules and regulations, supervisors and managers, such as department heads and deputy positions, are not paid any overtime.

Supervisors and managers are paid significantly more than the average employee and for that reason are expected to work whatever time is necessary to get their jobs done.

APD patrolmen first class are all part of the police union bargaining unit and are paid hourly and are entitled to be paid time and a half for anytime worked over a 40-hour work week so long as they get approval in advance and apply for it.

APD Sergeants and Lieutenants, although supervisors and managers, are part of the police union bargaining unit and can be paid time and a half for all overtime.

Patrolmen first class earning excessive overtime is nothing new and has been going on for years at APD.

In March of 2017, a city internal audit report revealed that the Albuquerque Police Department spent $3.9 million over its “overtime” budget resulting in $13 million paid in overtime when the actual budget was for $9 million.

In 2016-2017 fiscal year, five (5) APD Patrol Officers First Class were listed in the top 250 city wage workers as being paid $146,971, $145,180, $140,243, $137,817 and $125,061 respectfully because of overtime making them the 6th, the 7th, the 10th, the 12th and the 20th highest paid employees at city hall.

What is new is that a person holding a public relations position of public information officer (PIO) is being paid almost $200,000 a year claiming they are holding and performing two separate jobs at one time and demanding time and a half of hourly pay for overtime pay for both positions.

The big difference between all other patrol officers first class and Simon Drobik is that he is a public information officer (PIO) for APD.

Simon Drobik has become the face of APD given his repeated-on camera and media appearances, briefings and interviews and by all accounts is the main spokesman for APD over all other PIO’s for the department.

Simon Drobik should be classified as a supervisor because he has the supervisor authority to demand information from anyone at city hall when it comes to APD issues including sworn officers as well as others in the chain of command.

APD Public Information Officer Simon Drobik has been given unprecedented authority to speak for Chief Geier and Mayor Tim Keller.

It is common to see Drobik on all 3 local TV news casts on any given day when there is a major crime being reported on when it would be far more appropriate for the Chief or a Deputy Chief to brief the media.

On May 30, 2018 Mayor Tim Keller and Chief Geier called a press conference to announce an Internal Affairs Investigation to investigate if policy and procedures were violated by APD’s encounters with relatives and teachers of a 7-year-old female child.

The child’s blood-stained underwear was collected by a teacher and APD refused to tag it into evidence and just threw it away.

Mayor Keller made the stunning admission that he and Chief Geier were not initially given the full story of the police department’s handling of the case, something that should have been investigated and known by Simon Drobik.

Keller and Geier spoke initially at the press conference for about only 5 minutes each and then sat down at a table turning the entire press conference over to APD Spokesman Simon Drobik for 45 minutes.

Drobik then proceeded to contradict the need for the Internal Affairs investigation when he said “We can’t just generate complaints based on speculation. … Somebody has to say something happened.”

The fact that the child was reported to have been unkept, smelling of urine time and again and had blood stained underwear was sure hell not “speculation” of child neglect and screamed out something was happening.

Normally, Public Information Officers for APD do not carry any kind of caseload, make no arrests, do not wear an APD uniform and do not appear in court.

APD is claiming that APD Public Information Officer Simon Drobik works full-time as PIO during weekdays as his primary assignment, working 7 days a week, and he also works as a patrol officer entitling him to be paid for that position as well, in essence holding down and being paid for two positions.

APD Public Information Officers do not need to be sworn police officers and should not be paid an hourly wage of a sworn police with the duties assumed by citizen staff under the direction and supervision of the Mayor’s Office and the Mayor’s Public Information Officer.

A mandatory “cap” on the amount overtime any sworn police office can be paid needs to be established that is fair and equitable for all sworn personnel to make available overtime to more sworn police officers in the department.

All Public Information Officers for the City should be made at will employees amd paid a set yearly salary with no overtime paid and work out of the office of the Mayor under the direction of the administration.

APD Sergeants and Lieutenants are supervisors and managers and should be removed from the police union bargaining unit and be prevented from being paid time and a half for all overtime.

Mayor Tim Keller campaign and promised transparency and accountability and he should order a payroll audit of APD.

An audit of APD payroll clearly needs to be conducted to determine if there is yet another abuse of overtime pay and policies within APD.

For other articles on APD overtime abuse see:

Associated Press Story On APD Police Overtime

APD Overtime Pay Abuse And Recruitment Tool

Steve Pearce Is No John Kennedy

An extremely short but revealing story about the New Mexico Republican Party accompanied the Albuquerque Journal’s front page story on the October 16, 2018 gubernatorial debate between Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Steve Pearce.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1234136/gubernatorial-debate-turns-into-verbal-slugfest.html

Following is the short story article that appeared on page A-5 of the Journal:

“GOP offers ‘makeup’ insult
As Tuesday’s debate ended, the state Republican Party mocked Lujan Grisham’s physical appearance, asking on Twitter if she’d used “Richard Nixon’s makeup artist from the 1960 debate? She looked just like him!”
The message was sent from the party’s verified Twitter account and not signed by any staffer in particular.
Lujan Grisham’s makeup didn’t look unusual Tuesday.
Members of her campaign called the tweet “despicable” and sexist and said the Republican Party should apologize.
A spokesman for the party said the tweet was referring to Lujan Grisham’s debate performance.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It is so damn laughable when the New Mexico Republican party tries to justify the nasty and pathetic tweet saying it was referring to Michelle Lujan Grisham’s debate performance as being akin to Richard Nixon’s performance against President John Kennedy in the famous 1960 televised debate where Nixon was said to have looked very tired with a bad makeup job.

Presumably with the analogy, the State Republican Party thinks their candidate Steve Pearce looked like John Kennedy during the debate.

I was too young to ever meet John Kennedy, but I do know Steve Pearce, and Steve Pearce sure the hell does not look like John Kennedy and Steve Pearce is no John Kennedy.

With that one nasty little tweet against Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, the New Mexico Republican Party showed it has adopted and believes in the tactics of President Donald Trump to degrade woman and is just as bad as Trump.

For over 30 years, President Trump has degraded woman with inflammatory and sexist comments.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/politics/donald-trump-sexism-tracker-every-offensive-comment-in-one-place/

Trump has called women he does not like “fat pigs”, “dogs”, “slobs”, and “disgusting animals”, has referred to “blood running out of places” of women when talking about a female news caster and says women need to be punished if they have an abortion.

One of the most famous comments made by Trump was a recorded conversation with Billy Bush:

“You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women] — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

You would think Steve Pearce and the New Mexico Republican Party would be ashamed of the tweet regarding Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham and her looks and apologize, but no, the New Mexico GOP is just as bad as Trump in degrading of woman, but no, the tweet was taken down without further comment.

Steve Pearce has also defended many things Donald Trump has said:

http://www.petedinelli.com/2018/01/13/congressman-steve-pearce-breaks-back-bending-over-to-defend-racist-trump/

Governor Lujan Grisham will have the last laugh once the election is over.