Adding Insult To Injury

Neighborhoods, businesses turning to private security companies for protection

This falls under the category of adding insult to injury.

KRQE is reporting that the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) is so short staffed that people, neighborhoods and businesses are unable to solely rely on APD police so they are turning to private security companies and paying for private security.

According to the KRQE report more and more, people and businesses are looking for extra protection that normally would and should be provided by APD.

“Everything from shopping malls, movie theaters, banks, private businesses, residential, everything you could think of that law enforcement is involved in, but we’re doing it on a privatized level,” explained Aaron Jones, the President and CEO IPS a local private security company,

According to the KRQE report, IPS has 85 marked patrol units and more than 100 security officers.

Aaron Jones says Albuquerque’s criminals keep him busy.

“Ever since we’ve been in business, we’ve seen nothing but an upward sprial,” Jones said.

He explained that his private security business doubles every year and he can’t hire security guards or buy units fast enough.

“We’re getting a lot of burglar alarm responses and a lot of crimes in progress,” he said.

Retired APD Officer Daniel Magetteri says private security companies are filling a gap where APD is shorthanded.

Police services are a basic essential service that needs to be provided by city government and not privatized but that is what is happening within the market place and it’s a damn shame.

Having to pay a private security company to handle calls for service that should be handled by law enforcement is adding insult to injury when taxes are also being paid for police services.

But given the shortage of sworn police, you cannot blame people for hiring private security given our rising crime rates.

The Albuquerque Police Department had a general fund budget of $171.8 million approved for the 2017-2018 fiscal year which includes an increase by $7 million or a 4.2% increase for the Department.

The adopted FY/18 General Fund budget for APD has funding for a total of 1,484 full-time positions which consists of funding for 484 civilian support staff and funding for 1,000 sworn police officers.

Although funded for 1,000 sworn officers, APD has 853 sworn police officers, and only 436 are assigned to field services, divided into three working shifts, less any of those on vacation, sick leave or in court.

Albuquerque has six (6) APD area commands.

At any given time, there are 124 sworn police officers assigned to field services, divided by three shifts, or 24 officers per field command shift.

In 2016, field service officers responded to 546,550 calls for service with a priority 1 response time of 11 minutes, 35 seconds which is approximately two minutes over the national standard.

In 2016, APD made 8,744 felony arrests, 19,857 misdemeanor arrests, 1,070 DWI arrests, and 2,462 domestic violence arrests.

The voters of Albuquerque have a right to demand and expect a fully funded and staffed Albuquerque Police Department.

Reliance on private security to fill in the gap for APD reflects a serious failure of City Hall, not only by the Mayor but the Albuquerque City Council.

But hey, knowing Mayor Berry and his false and inflated opinion of himself and what an excellent job he thinks he has done he will say he has been a “job creator” because his mismanagement of APD has resulted in jobs being created in the private security sector!

We Will Learn Soon Who Are The DINOs and Who Are The RINOs In The Municipal Herd Of Candidates

Any one that knows me and that reads this blog knows that I am as Democrat as they come and I have never tried to hide that fact.

I have been a Democrat all my life and have served as a Ward Chair, Precinct Chair and on the Democratic Party State Central Committee.

I consider myself a strong Democrat and enjoy having spirited political discussions with people no matter their party affiliations.

Hell, I even have a number of Republicans who are very good friends and relatives, but that’s another story for later.

Four (4) years ago when I ran for Mayor, I did so as a proud Democrat and was severely criticized for it by the Republican Party and the Albuquerque Journal with little if anything being said by the Democratic Party.

Four (4) years ago, the Democratic Party showed reluctance to publicly get involved with the race for Mayor.

The Republican Party on the other hand, including the Governor and her political operative Jay McClusky and many prominent Republicans and Republican elected officials, jumped in full force with a vengeance into the Mayor’s race and helped raise over $910,000 for the incumbent.

The Republican party orchestrated many negative press releases and even feed the Albuquerque Journal negative stories or leads for stories that wound up published in the Journal.

Two questions from a good friend caught my interest:

“What about the nonpartisan form of government called for by the City Charter? Seems you don’t care for people cooperating with each other?

These are two very good questions.

The New Mexico Constitution provides that all municipal elections be nonpartisan and that is why it is in our city charter and not because the framers of our city charter thought it was a great idea.

Municipal elections are held in odd number years and the voter turnouts are always miserably low.

Four years ago, in Albuquerque’s municipal election, the voter turnout was 19% of registered voters.

I do care about the City Council cooperating with each other and the Mayor and I did it when I was on the city council and did it when I was a Deputy City Attorney, but I feel there are limits.

As an Albuquerque City Councilor, I worked and cooperated with the entire city council and Mayor when it came to issues like passage of the quality of life tax that built the children’s science museum, the aquarium, the balloon museum, the botanical gardens, purchase of critical open space, the passage of the comprehensive ground water protection policy, passage of the vehicle emissions program and the creation of the Independent Council Office to review citizen complaints against the Albuquerque Police Department, and the creation of the Internal Audit Department.

Creation of the Independent Council Office to review citizen complaints against the Albuquerque Police and the Quality of Life tax that I sponsored were the most difficult resolutions to get passed and the City Council could not have done it without Republican support.

However, there is a significant difference between cooperating and working with other elected officials from the opposite party and being downright hypocritical and going against your own basic political philosophy of what you believe to be true as your core values and what you stand for as an elected official.

I have been accused recently of “tearing down democrats” when I have questioned the voting record of Democrat City Councilors who vote and act like Republicans on the City Council.

Pointing out the voting record and actions of Democrats who are running for re-election is not tearing someone down as a candidate, but legitimate political commentary to question how that person is acting on the City Council.

What I am tired of are Democrats trying to act and talk like Republicans, especially after they get elected to positions like the City Council and arguing that they are being “nonpartisan” when the issues are indeed partisan as they come such as the minimum wage, the mandatory sick leave initiative, public finance of elections, equal pay for woman, sanctuary city and the privatization of city services that is anti-union, all which have been before the city council.

Four years ago, the voter initiative prohibiting late term abortions was on the ballot, which was clearly partisan, but the Mayor and the Republican City council made sure it was on the runoff ballot so as not to have any affect on the Mayors race and to affect voter turn out.

I opposed the late term abortion prohibition initiative while the incumbent supported it.

Marriage equality was also an issue in the Mayor’s race four years ago when the New Mexico Supreme Court recognized gay couples right to marry.

I publicly supported marriage equality while the incumbent insisted that marriage could only be between a man and a woman.

For the last 8 years, we have had the most partisan Mayor in Albuquerque history especially when the Republicans controlled the City Council by a 6 to 3 margin just over four years ago.

During his time in office, Mayor Berry has appointed numerous Republican political operatives to six figure plus salaried positions with contacts to Governor Martinez and Jay Mc Clusky, yet he proclaims to have acted in a non-partisan fashion.

Good examples of Berry’s political operative appointments including their salaries are the following:

1. Republican Darren White appointed Chief Public Safety Officer. Previously White served as Bernalillo County Sherriff, served as Governor Gary Johnson’s Cabinet Secretary for Public Safety and ran for Congress, paid $130,000 a year by Berry before he was pressured to resigned.
2. Republican Rob Perry appointed City Attorney and then Chief Administrative Officer. Perry served as Secretary of the Department of Corrections under Gary Johnson and ran for New Mexico Attorney General, paid $191,000 a year by Berry.
3. Republican Jessica Hernandez appointed City Attorney. Hernandez was the general Counsel for Governor Susana Martinez before becoming City Attorney, paid $151,942 a year by Berry.
4. Republican APD Chief Gordon Eden. Chief Eden served as US Marshal under President George W. Bush and then as Cabinet Secretary for Governor Martinez before becoming APD Chief, paid $168,480 a year by Berry.
5. Republican Tito Madrid appointed constituent liaison for the Mayor. Tito Madrid was campaign chairman for Berry’s election and served with Congresswoman Heather Wilson handling constituent services.

When Berry had the chance to appoint two city councilors to vacancies in predominantly Democrat seats, he appointed two Republicans instead.

Both of Berry’s appointed City Councilors lost their re-election bids to Democrats Isaac Benton and Diane Gibson.

For a supposedly nonpartisan race, Mayor Berry’s 2013 contributors list was top heavy with prominent Republican donors and players including the Republican National Committee, Brewer Oil Company, Western Refining Company, Pete Domenici, Harvey Yates, Micky Barnett, Ed Lujan, Bill Sego, Don Chalmbers, Jon Barela, John Sanchez, Margaret and Turner Branch, Nadine Bicknel, Larry Laranaga , Nate Gentry, Herb Hughes, Sherman McCorkle, Trudy Jones, Michael Brasher, John Ackerman, Bob Stamm, Jack Stahl, Gerry Geist, Justin Fox Young, and Doug Turner just to mention a few.

The Albuquerque’s press, especially the Albuquerque Journal, likes to point out party affiliations of candidates running for municipal office, even though the races are supposed to be non-partisan.

I was severely criticized and blasted by the Albuquerque Journal in an editorial for running as a Democrat for Mayor and being critical of Democrats who vote for Republicans who oppose Democratic core values.

The first question that the Albuquerque Journal asks in their candidate questionnaire is what party affiliation are you?

What I have also seen over the years, and see even today, is that candidates, both Democrat and Republican, like to downplay their party affiliation when running for municipal office to get votes, especially when they are running in a district that is predominantly voters from the opposite party, only to show their true colors once elected.

To say we have a form of nonpartisan government is a farce when it comes to reality and how the city council works and votes.

The New Mexico legislature needs to change municipal elections to be conducted in the same year as federal and state elections and make them partisan.

As candidates or Mayor and City Council talk like progressive Democrat, they need to be asked point blank by Democratic Party voters if once elected will they act or vote like a Republican saying they are non-partisan.

As all those who run for Mayor and City Council, none of the candidate should be afraid to disclose their party affiliation, unless they are afraid to be identified with their own political party and philosophy and what they stand for in order to mislead voters.

Voters sooner or later figure out who are the DINOs (Democrat In Name Only) and who are the RINO’s (Republican In Name Only) in the herd of candidates.

Public Safety By The Numbers And Dollars Spent

The City of Albuquerque has a total general budget of $955.3 million dollars, of which $529.6 million is the general fund which goes to providing essential services.

The City of Albuquerque budget is a performance based budget where each department provides a listing of previous years accomplishments and formulate performance measures to justify their proposed and submitted budgets to the Mayor and then the Albuquerque City Council for approval.

“Public Safety” represents 29% of all general fund appropriations for the City of Albuquerque.

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) Annual budget is $171.8 million.

The Albuquerque Fire Department (AFD) annual budget is $75.5 million.

APD employs 1,484 full time employees.

AFD employs 699 full time employees.

Following is a review of both the Albuquerque Police Department and Fire Department budgets with the information gleaned from the 2017-2018 proposed budget.

(Source: City of Albuquerque Proposed 2017-2018 Budget at http://documents.cabq.gov/budget/fy-18-proposed-budget.pdf)

THE ALBUQUERQUE POLICE DEPARTMENT (APD)

The Albuquerque Police Department had a general fund budget of $171.8 million approved for the 2017-2018 fiscal year which includes an increase by $7 million or a 4.2% increase for the Department.

The adopted FY/18 General Fund budget for APD has funding for a total of 1,484 full-time positions which consists of funding for 484 civilian support staff and funding for 1,000 sworn police officers.

Although funded for 1,000 sworn officers, APD has 853 sworn police officers, and only 436 are assigned to field services, divided into three working shifts, less any of those on vacation, sick leave or in court.

Albuquerque has six (6) APD area commands.

At any given time, there are 124 sworn police officers assigned to field services, divided by three shifts, or 24 officers per field command shift.

In 2016, field service officers responded to 546,550 calls for service with a priority 1 response time of 11 minutes, 35 seconds which is approximately two minutes over the national standard.

In 2016, APD made 8,744 felony arrests, 19,857 misdemeanor arrests, 1,070 DWI arrests, and 2,462 domestic violence arrests.

The SWAT Unit was activated 44 times in 2016 and this is the unit that was the subject of the 2014 Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation report for excessive use of force and deadly force with the DOJ finding a “culture of aggression” within APD.

Priority 1 call are those calls that involve the immediate threat of great bodily injury or violent crimes and include but are not limited to murder, rape, assault with a deadly weapon and armed robbery.

Personnel changes within the APD general fund budget that are noteworthy include the addition of 11 full-time civilian positions.

The positions include the following:

1. Three (3) crime scene specialist supervisors to replace the sergeants at the crime lab
2. Four (4) real-time crime center operators to assist with the increased call demands
3. Two (2) repeat offender analysts to help identify and track repeat offender court cases through the judicial system
4. One (1) crime stopper liaison to streamline the communication between multiple agencies, and
5. One (1) community policing council coordinator to provide assistance and resources to the community policing council.

Other noteworthy changes and increases in the APD Budget include the following:

An increase in risk assessments of $1.8 million, which is presumably to address civil lawsuit liabilities.

The FY/18 proposed budget contains $1.2 million designated for a “property crime reduction” program to fund seventeen (17) positions for $975 thousand together with operating cost of $224 thousand.

An additional one million dollars is designated to address the sexual assault kit backlog by funding two DNA forensic scientist positions at a cost of $192 thousand used in conjunction with $808 thousand in contractual services to outsource the service more cost effectively.

There are nine (9) major areas of funding contained in six (6) program strategies budgeted for APD.

The nine (9) areas of funding are as follows:

1. NEIGHBORHOOD POLICING: This is the largest of the program strategies supporting the six area commands, as well as open space, tactical support, the traffic section and the Police Academy.
2. INVESTIGATIVE SERVICES: This program consist of three specialized divisions: The special investigations division targets narcotics offenders and career criminals (gangs, vice, fugitives);
3. THE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION DIVISION: The Criminal Investigation Division investigates armed robberies, homicide, property crimes and juvenile crimes. This division also includes the mental health intervention team named the Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST) and the Family Advocacy Center which investigates domestic violence and sexual abuse and copartners with other social agencies in providing assistance to victims.
4. THE METROPOLITAN FORENSIC SCIENCE CENTER: The Metropolitan Forensic Science Center performs the department’s criminalistics, identification, and evidence functions.
5. THE REAL TIME CRIME CENTER: The Real Time Crime Center assists police officers in tracking and responding to crime in the city [as tracts the crime as it occurs to assist police].
6. THE PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY PROGRAM: The Professional Accountability Program strategy is comprised of chief’s administration, internal affairs, Department of Justice (DOJ) policy and training, communications, and behavioral sciences.
7. THE OFF-DUTY POLICE OVERTIME PROGRAM: The off-duty police overtime program provides a mechanism to allow businesses and other external entities to employ sworn officers during their off-duty hours.
8. THE ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT PROGRAM: The administrative support program strategy provides long-range planning, problem solving, records management, human resources, and fiscal support.
9. THE PRISONER TRANSPORT PROGRAM: the prisoner transport program funds the transport of prisoners to the Metropolitan Detention Center

APD PERFORMANCE MEASURES REPORTED IN 2017-2018 GENERAL FUND BUDGET:

Number of sworn officers approved for 2017: 1,000, mid-year 2017 actual : 853
Number of cadet graduates approved for 2017: 71, mid-year 2017 actual: 34
Number of calls for service 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 546,550, 2017 mid-year actual: 285,278
Average response time for Priority 1 calls 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 11:35 minutes, midyear actual 12:17 minutes
Number of service calls that resulted in use of force 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: .03:100 ratio, 2017 mid -year ratio .05:100
Number of felony arrests 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 8,744, 2017 mid-year actual: 4,429 9,200
Number of misdemeanor arrests 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 19,857, 2017 mid-year actual 9,122
Number of DWI arrests 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 1,070, 2017 mid-year actual 775
Number of domestic violence arrests 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 2,462, 2017 mid-year actual 1,322
Percentage Homicide clearance rate 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 80%, 2017 mid-year actual: 63%
Number of alcohol involved accident investigations 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 623, 2017 mid-year actual 350
SWAT Activations 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 44, 2017 midyear actual: 17
Bomb Squad Activations 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 129, 2017 mid-year actual 79
K-9 Activations (Building and area searches) 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 819, 2017 mid-year actual 461

THE ALBUQUERQUE FIRE DEPARTMENT (AFD)

The 2017-2018 fiscal year general fund budget for the Fire department is $75.5 million.

The department’s 2017-2018 budget funds 699 full-time positions.

All Albuquerque Fire Department firefighters are not only firefighters but are also fully licensed emergency medical technicians or para medics.

AFD provides service to the community 24 hours a day.

Firefighters are assigned to 22 engine companies, 20 rescue companies, seven ladder companies, two heavy technical rescue (HTR), two hazardous materials response units, and when needed, four brush trucks used as wildland response units.

AFD facilities include Headquarters and Dispatch with fire stations located and scattered throughout the city,

The precise number of fire stations are not identified in the budget, but APD and AFD do have some shared facilities and substations and share the 911 emergency dispatch center and emergency operations center.

In 2016, the Albuquerque Fire Department responded to 144,726 calls for service, 8,365 emergency calls, were dispatched to 98,183 calls, responded to 59,950 medical first responder calls, and 34,257 advanced life support calls.

The Fire Department budget has a decrease of 1.6% or $1.2 million below the FY/17 original budget.

AFD PERFORMANCE MEASURES REPORTED IN 2016-2017 GENERAL FUND BUDGET:

Number of calls: 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 144,726, mid-year 2017 actual: 86,513
Number of hazardous materials condition: 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 1,270, mid-year 2017 actual: 739
Number false alarm calls 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 3,193, mid-year 2017 actual: 2,346
Number of other emergency calls 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 8,365, mid-year 2017 actual: 4,633
Number of other (non-emergency) calls 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 46,543, mid-year 2017 actual 30,597
Number of calls dispatched 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 98,183, mid-year 2017 actual: 55,556
Number residential fires 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 167 mid-year 2017 actual: 78
Number non-residential structural fires 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 46, mid-year 2017 actual: 17
Number hazardous materials incidents 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 646, mid-year 2017 actual: 310
Number wildland fires 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 21, mid-year 2017 actual: 24
Number medical first responder calls (Basic Life support) 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 59,950, mid-year 2017 actual: 29,728
Number Advanced Life Support Calls 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 34,257, mid-year 2017 actual: 16,545
Number of Firefighters trained in Wildland Task Force 135, mid-year 2017 actual: 180
Number of Firefighters Trained as Technical Rescue Technicians: 59, mid-year 2017 actual: 61
Number of Citizens Trained at Comm. Training Center 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 11,050, mid-year 2017 actual: 1,410
Number arson cases cleared 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 16, mid-year 2017 actual: 12
Number fire related injuries 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 12, mid-year 2017 actual: 6
Number citizens trained in prevention techniques 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 12,983, mid-year 2017 actual: 3,901
Number of children educated 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 16,097, mid-year 2017 actual: 13,130
Number of plans reviewed 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 3,500, mid-year 2017 actual: 1,717
Number of initial inspections 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 4,940, mid-year 2017 actual: 2,181
Number of Cadets Graduating from Academy 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 52, mid-year 2017 actual: 18
Number of Trained Paramedics 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 202, mid-year 2017 actual: 214
Number of Firefighters Trained in Professional Development Program 2016 Fiscal Year Actual: 98, mid-year 2017 actual: 88

CONCLUSION:

Both the Albuquerque Police Department and the Albuquerque Fire Department represent the communities first line of defense when it comes to public safety.

Given the sure volume of calls for service that both departments handle in any given years, 29% of all general fund appropriations is money well spent.

They Need To Go Where They Need to Go

The Albuquerque Journal in a front page above the fold story reported that the greater Albuquerque metro area is now number one in the country per capita for stolen vehicles.

(See June 10, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, Page A-1, “METRO NO. 1 IN STOLEN CARS; 10,00 vehicle thefts-up 50 per cent-in ABQ and neighboring counties in 2016”)

(See also https://www.abqjournal.com/1015730/report-albuquerque-area-worst-in-nation-for-auto-thefts-last-year.html)

SOBERING STATISTICS

Twenty-seven (27) vehicles are stolen a day in the greater Albuquerque area and the three (3) neighboring counties.

More than 10,000 vehicles a year are reported stolen in the greater Albuquerque area and the neighboring three (3) counties.

The increase in auto theft has only gotten worse over the last three (3) years with no end in sight.

From 2014 to 2015, Albuquerque had a 45.6% jump in auto thefts.

In 2015, Albuquerque was number two (2) in vehicle thefts in the United States with 5,179 auto thefts reported.

In 2015, APD had only 4 detectives assigned to investigating auto thefts, which was one detective for every 1,294 vehicles stolen in 2015, with Detectives having upwards of 30 cases opened at any given time.

In 2016, Albuquerque saw a 50% increase in auto thefts over 2015.

In 2016, the four (4) county metro area had 10,011 auto thefts, or 1,114 per 100,000 people, according to new figures from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

When Mayor Berry was asked about Albuquerque being number one (1) in stolen cars in the country, he said in characteristic style with a positive spin: “We’re working closely with the District Attorney and with [APD] to make sure we have the resources to go after repeat offenders and to make sure they have what they need to go where they need to go.”

Eight (8) years ago when Mayor Berry ran for Mayor the first time, he did a commercial about his truck being stolen, it was found totaled and burned out, and he promised to make Albuquerque a “bad place to be a criminal”.

“Making Albuquerque a bad place to be a criminal” is the identical campaign slogan and political rhetoric being espoused by none other than Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis who is now running for Mayor and thinks no one will remind him he is part of our problem at city hall.

Dan Lewis has been on the City Council for the last eight (8) years and he has supported Berry’s policies of mismanagement of APD by failing to hold Berry and his APD command staff accountable.

Dan Lewis is part of the problem when it comes to doing nothing and allowing the increase in crime rates and the mismanagement of the Albuquerque Police Department.

Berry’s disastrous mismanagement of APD along with the lack of oversight leadership by the Albuquerque City Council, including Dan Lewis, has in fact made Albuquerque a good place to steal cars and commit violent and property crimes.

Exactly what has Berry and the Albuquerque City Council been doing the last eight (8) years when it comes to our rising crime rates?

The answer is not much.

Albuquerque being number one in auto thefts is the least of our crime problems and law enforcement problems.

VIOLENT CRIME AND PROPERTY CRIME RATES

Albuquerque has become one of the most violent cities in the country.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in 2015 Albuquerque’s violent crime rates increased by 9.6% and property crime rates increased by 11.7%.

In 2015, there were 34,082 property crimes reflecting a 15% increase.

Murders spiked from 30 in 2014 to 46 in 2015, an increase of 53%!

Albuquerque’s violent and property crime rates have hit a 10 year high.

Since 2010, Albuquerque’s violent and property crime rates dramatically increased by 14% to 20% percent.

DRAMATIC DECLINE IN DWI AND TRAFFIC CASES

The statistics from the Bernalillo County Metro Court are just as alarming as the increases in auto thefts, violent crimes and property crimes.

The statistics from the Bernalillo County Metro Court reveal just how terrible things are with the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) staffing levels.

APD is unable to patrol our streets, get drunks off the road, make DWI arrests and issue traffic citations and prosecute cases.

In 2008, there were 633 felony DWI arraignments and the number steadily declined each year to 104 in 2015.

In 2008, there were 6,538 DWI/DUI misdemeanor arraignments and the number steadily declined each year to 2,942 in 2015.

In 2008, there were 84,527 traffic court arraignments and the number steadily declined each year to 31,163 in 2015.

(Source: http://www.nmcourts.gov/reports-and-policies.aspx)

DWI felony and misdemeanor arrests, arraignments and convictions are down dramatically.

In 2009, there were 746 people arraigned for felony DWI and that number dropped to a mere 104 in 2015.

In 2008, there were 6,538 people arraigned for misdemeanor DWI and in 2015 that number dropped by close to 60% to 2,942.

Between all the reckless and careless drivers and the drunk drivers, the streets of Albuquerque are not safe to drive.

APD STAFFING SHORTAGE

The severe shortage in APD staffing has a direct correlation to increased crime rates and the ability for APD to do community based policing.

Fewer cops also means fewer can actually patrol our streets to enforce our traffic laws and arrest DWI offenders.

In eight (8) years, APD has gone from 1,100 sworn police to 844 all under the watchful eye of Mayor Berry and the Albuquerque City Council pretending they support public safety.

Of the 844 sworn police officers, only 436 are assigned to field services, divided into three working shifts, less any of those on vacation, sick leave or in court.

Albuquerque has six (6) APD area commands

At any given time, there are 124 sworn police officers assigned to the field, divided by three shifts, or 24 officers per field command shift.

Each year, field service officers respond to 69,000 priority one calls, and response times have gone from 8 minutes, 58 seconds in 2009 to close to 15 minutes in 2017, depending on the type of call and how it is dispatched.

Eight (8) years ago, auto thefts, violent crime and property crime rates were declining and response times were at historical lows and below the national average.

From 2010 to 2014, the city council fully funded 1,100 sworn police positions despite the mass exodus of sworn police and the APD Police Academy’s failure to recruit and keep up with retirements.

Three years ago, the City Council voted to reduce funding from 1,100 sworn officers to 1,000 sworn officers because of the Berry Administration’s failure to recruit and keep up with retirements.

The City Council voted for the reduction in staffing and as of today APD employs 844 sworn officers.

In 2015, an APD “personnel needs study” was performed and it was determined that APD needs at least 1,000 sworn police officers to do its job of protecting the city.

A city council by resolution can enact increases in APD personnel and give raises, retention and incentive bonuses and offer sign on bonuses and education pay to help with recruitment.

Notwithstanding the City Councils authority over APD, Albuquerque City Councilors Ken Sanchez and Don Harris, in an effort to help their re-election efforts, declared a law enforce personnel shortage crisis and introduced a charter amendment for voter approval to mandate increasing APD staffing levels to 1,200 sworn police officers.

THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE MANDATED REFORMS

Since 2010, there have been 41 police officer involved shootings and over $61 million dollars paid in taxpayer money for police misconduct cases, excessive use of force cases and deadly force cases.

On April 14, 2014, after a yearlong investigation reviewing sixteen police officer involved shootings, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a scathing report that found a “culture of aggression” within the Albuquerque Police Department.

Because of the DOJ investigation, the DOJ filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Albuquerque and the city entered into a Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) mandating sweeping APD reforms.

The settlement agreement mandates approximately 300 changes in standard operating procedures and policy and training with a federal court appointed monitor and costing millions in taxpayer money to implement the reforms.

The Federal Monitor has issued five (5) reports over three years that have been highly critical of APD command staff.

In his fifth report, Federal Monitor is very critical of APD’s high ranking supervisors and command-level officers, accusing them of “deliberate non-compliance” with the consent decree.

The most damning and disturbing findings made by the federal monitor are that APD “subverted” the reform process by issuing “covert special orders,” denying the existence of the orders, and APD exhibiting a “near total failure” to accept civilian oversight.

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

CITY COUNCIL HAS FAILED IN OVERSIGHT OF APD

The Albuquerque City Council plays a crucial oversight role of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) including controlling its budget.

During the last three (3) years, the City Council has done nothing when it comes to APD reforms.

The City Council has never challenged the APD command staff in any meaningful way demanding compliance with the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree reforms.

Each time the Federal Monitor has presented his critical reports of APD to the City Council, the entire City Council has been silent and has declined to demand accountability from the Mayor and have declined to hold the APD command staff responsible for dragging their feet on the reforms.

Not a single City Councilor has ever attended any of the federal court hearings on the consent decree.

WE HAVE BECOME NUMB TO THE HEADLINES

The people of Albuquerque have become so numb to our rising crime rates we accept it as the new norm.

It should not be this way, and we can do better as a community and demand more from our elected officials, especially the Mayor and the Albuquerque City Council.

There has been no outrage to hold Mayor Berry, Chief Gordon Eden nor the Albuquerque City Council accountable for the rising crime rates and what they have done to what was at one time one of the best law enforcement agencies in the country.

Berry and Eden are on their way out in five (5) months and have done nothing in the last three years to address our auto theft, violent crime and property crime rates except blame our judicial system, judges and the New Mexico legislature.

TIME FOR CHANGE

On October 2, 2017, Albuquerque will be electing a new Mayor and five (5) city councilors.

With the approaching October 2, 2017 municipal election, now is the time for voters to start voicing and voting their outrage over what has been happening in Albuquerque when it comes to the rising crime rates and demanding that something be done to make our community safer.

Democrat Albuquerque City Councilors Ken Sanchez, Diane Gibson and Klarissa Pena and Republican Don Harris are up for re-election while Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis is vacating his seat to run for Mayor.

On December 1, 2017, we will be swearing in a new Mayor and hopefully a new APD Chief and it cannot come soon enough so that just maybe things can start to change with APD and people can start feeling safe again.

Come December 1, 2017 when a new Mayor and new city council are sworn in, Mayor Berry, Chief Gordon Eden, along with all incumbent city councilors, “need to go where they need to go” and that is into political obscurity never to be heard from again.

It’s Laughable Calling Albuquerque Municipal Elections And Government Non Partisan

Any one that knows me and that reads my blog articles knows that I am as Democrat as they come and I have never tried to hide that fact.

I have been a Democrat all my life and have served as a Ward Chair, Precinct Chair and on the Democratic Party State Central Committee.

I consider myself a strong Democrat and enjoy having spirited political discussions with people no matter their party affiliations.

Four (4) years ago when I ran for Mayor, I did so as a proud Democrat and was severely criticized for it by the Republican Party with little if anything being said by the Democratic Party.

Four (4) years ago, the Democratic Party showed reluctance to publicly get involved with the race for Mayor.

The Republican Party on the other hand, including the Governor and her political operative Jay McClusky and many prominent Republican and elected officials, jumped full force into the Mayor’s race and helped raise over $910,000.

The Republican party orchestrated many press releases.

I have been accused of “tearing down democrats” when I have questioned the voting record of Democrat City Councilors who vote and act like Republicans on the City Council .

Pointing out the voting record and actions of a Democrat who is running for re-election is not tearing someone down as a candidate, but legitimate political commentary to question how that person will act once elected.

There were two questions from a good friend that particularly caught my interest:

“What about the nonpartisan form of government called for by the City Charter? Seems you don’t care for people cooperating with each other?

I thought these were two very good questions.

The New Mexico Constitution provides that all municipal elections be nonpartisan and that is why it is in our city charter and not because the framers of our city charter thought it was a great idea.

Municipal elections are held in odd number years and the voter turnouts are always miserably low.

Four years ago, in Albuquerque’s municipal election, the voter turnout was 19% of registered voters.

I do care about the City Council cooperating with each other and the Mayor and I did it when I was on the city council and did it when I was a Deputy City Attorney, but I feel there are limits.

As a City Councilor, I worked and cooperated with the entire city council and Mayor when it came to issues like passage of the quality of life tax that built the children’s science museum, the aquarium, the balloon museum, the botanical gardens, purchase of critical open space, the passage of the compressive ground water protection policy, passage of the vehicle emissions program and the creation of the Independent Council Office to review citizen complaints against APD and the creation of the Internal Audit Department.

However, there is a significant difference between cooperating and working with other elected officials from the opposite party and being hypocritical and going against your own basic political philosophy of what you believe to be true and what you stand for as an elected official.

What I am tired of are Democrats trying to act and talk like Republicans, especially after they get elected to positions like the City Council and arguing that they are being “nonpartisan” when the issues are indeed partisan such as the minimum wage, the mandatory sick leave initiative, public finance of elections and equal pay for woman and sanctuary city.

For the last 8 years, we have had the most partisan Mayor in Albuquerque history especially when the Republicans controlled the City Council by a 6 to 3 margin just over four years ago.

During his time in office, Mayor Berry has appointed numerous Republican political operatives to six figure plus salaried positions with contacts to Governor Martinez and Jay Mc Clusky, yet he proclaims to have acted in a non-partisan fashion.

Good examples of Berry’s political operative appointments include the following:

1. Republican Darren White appointed Chief Public Safety Officer. Previously White served as Bernalillo County Sherriff, served as Governor Gary Johnson’s Cabinet Secretary for Public Safety and ran for Congress, paid $130,000 a year by Berry.
2. Republican Rob Perry appointed City Attorney and then Chief Administrative Officer. Perry served as Secretary of the Department of Corrections under Gary Johnson and ran for New Mexico Attorney General, paid $191,000 a year by Berry.
3. Republican Jessica Hernandez appointed City Attorney. Hernandez was the general Counsel for Governor Susana Martinez before becoming City Attorney, paid $151,942 a year by Berry.
4. Republican APD Chief Gordon Eden. Chief Eden served as US Marshal under President George W. Bush and then as Cabinet Secretary for Governor Martinez before becoming APD Chief, paid $168,480 a year by Berry.
5. Republican Tito Madrid appointed constituent liaison for the Mayor. Tito Madrid was campaign chairman for Berry’s election and served with Congresswoman Heather Wilson handling constituent services.

When Berry had the chance to appoint two city councilors to vacancies in predominantly Democrat seats, he appointed two Republicans instead.

Both of Berry’s appointed City Councilors lost their re-election bids to Democrats Isaac Benton and Diane Gibson.

For a supposedly nonpartisan race, Mayor Berry’s 2013 contributors list was top heavy with prominent Republican donors and players including the Republican National Committee, Brewer Oil Company, Western Refining Company, Pete Domenici, Harvey Yates, Micky Barnett, Ed Lujan, Bill Sego, Don Chalmbers, Jon Barela, John Sanchez, Margaret and Turner Branch, Nadine Bicknel, Larry Laranaga , Nate Gentry, Herb Hughes, Sherman McCorkle, Trudy Jones, Michael Brasher, John Ackerman, Bob Stamm, Jack Stahl, Gerry Geist, Justin Fox Young, and Doug Turner just to mention a few.

The press, especially the Albuquerque Journal, likes to point out party affiliations of candidates running for municipal office, even though the races are supposed to be non-partisan.

I was severely criticized and blasted by the Albuquerque Journal for running as a Democrat for Mayor and being critical of Democrats who vote for Republicans who oppose Democratic core values.

The first question that the Albuquerque Journal asks in their candidate questionnaire is what party affiliation are you?

What I have also seen over the years, and see even today, is that candidates, both Democrat and Republican, like to downplay their party affiliation when running for municipal office to get votes, especially when they are running in a district that is predominantly voters from the opposite party, only to show their true colors once elected.

To say we have a form of nonpartisan government is laughable when it comes to reality and how the city council works and votes.

The New Mexico legislature needs to change municipal elections to be conducted in the same year as federal and state elections and make them partisan.

As City Councilor Pat Davis campaigns for the US Congress as a progressive Democrat, talks like a progressive Democrat, he needs to be asked by Democratic Party voters if once elected to the US Congress will he vote and act like a Republican as he has done so many times during his very short tenure on the Albuquerque City Council.

As all those who run for Mayor and City Council, none of the candidate should be afraid to disclose their party affiliation.

Behind Closed Door Settlements Do Disservice To Public

http://www.koat.com/article/critics-question-why-perez-s-return-was-negotiated-behind-closed-doors/9992504

KOAT TV Channel 7 has reported that Albuquerque Police (APD) Officer Dominique Perez has negotiated his return to work as an Albuquerque Police Officer with the City of Albuquerque.

The return to work agreement is ten (10) pages long, places extensive conditions on work duties and responsibilities and provides for the City to pay “back pay” to the tune of $140,000 to Perez.

The return to work agreement was negotiated behind closed doors by the Berry Administration.

No civil lawsuit for wrongful termination and no appeal of the discharge with the city’s personnel board was ever conducted which resulted in the return to work agreement.

After the killing of James Boyd, APD Police Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy were charged by the Bernalillo County District Attorney for the murder of homeless camper James Boyd.

Upon being charged with a felony, both Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy were terminated by APD as per the departments standard operating procedures.

A Special Prosecutor was appointed and Perez and Sandy were tried for the murder with the trial costing the State of New Mexico approximately $200,000.

A special prosecutor had to be appointed because the Sandy/Perez defense attorneys successfully had the Bernalillo County District Attorney Office removed from the case alleging biasness, conflict of interest because of alleged interference by the District Attorney in an unrelated criminal case involving a relative of the then District Attorney.

Within hours after homeless camper James Boyd was shot, Chief Eden declared during a press conference that the killing was “justified”.

Months before the criminal trial of Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez, the City settled the civil lawsuit with the James Boyd family paying them $5 million dollars of taxpayer money.

The James Boyd settlement was also conducted behind closed doors without the City defending the case as being “justified” as Chief Gordon Eden had argued in a press conference.

When Sandy and Perez were charge and tried for the murder, a twelve-person jury could not reach a verdict of guilt nor innocence of either officer.

After the criminal trial, the criminal case against Perez and Sandy was dismissed by the Bernalillo County District Attorney.

In the Channel 7 interview, the only explanation Mayor Berry could come up with on returning Dominique Perez to work is he believes the city “had a right to return Perez” to work and “there’s no finding of guilt”.

Mr. Berry, there was also no finding of “not guilty” and no finding of innocence by the jury after a two week trial.

The biggest question is why was Dominique Perez allowed to return to work for APD when it was totally within the rights of the City not to allow him to return to work, even if he had been found not guilty, which did not occur?

There was never any public hearing in a public forum, court or personnel board as to whether or not Dominique Perez should be allowed to return to work for APD.

Over the years, there have been many cases where APD sworn officers have been charged with felonies, found not guilty, and not allowed to return to work by the City and APD.

A recent case that quickly comes to mind is the criminal prosecution of former APD Office Levi Chavez who was charged with the murder of his wife, terminated by APD, and who was later acquitted by a jury of his wife’s murder.

The City and APD refused to allow Levi Chavez to return to work, even though he was found not guilty by a jury.

Levi Chavez’s law enforcement certification was revoked when he went on trial and reinstatement of his certification was turned down by the state law enforcement board even after he was acquitted.

Levi Chaves has since gone on to apply for and is now in law school.

Another question that has gone unanswered or not reported by the media is if the law enforcement certification of Dominique Perez was ever suspended or revoked by the Director of New Mexico Law Enforcement Certification Board?

The rules and regulations of the Law Enforcement Certification Board provide as follows:

“B. Arrest or indictment on felony charges [of a law enforcement officer]; summary suspension:

(1) The director upon being notified that a certified police officer … has been arrested or indicted on any felony charge(s) shall immediately notify the individual of the intent to suspend the certification. … Notice of the immediate suspension shall be served on the officer … . Upon service of the notice, the individual shall have 15 days to request to be heard at the next meeting of the board. At the meeting, the individual may present evidence, witnesses and argument as to why their certification should not be suspended. The board may deliberate and shall issue a decision on the suspension at the meeting.” (See 10.29.1.11 GROUNDS FOR DENIAL, REVOCATION OR SUSPENSION OF POLICE OFFICER OR TELECOMMUNICATOR CERTIFICATION; REPORTING REQUIREMENTS)

There has never been a court case or personnel board public hearing to determine if there was a “wrongful termination” of Dominique Perez.

The termination of both APD Officer Keith Sandy and Dominque Perez were governed by the APD standard operating procedures dealing with “rules of conduct”.

The ALBUQUERQUE POLICE DEPARTMENT GENERAL ORDERS, Section 1-1-4 of the Rules of Conduct provide as follows:

“B. Compliance with Laws, Rules, and Regulations

1. All sworn personnel are required to take an oath of office.
2. Personnel will obey all federal, state, and local laws, rules and regulations, and, enforce those lawful directives while protecting the rights of individuals, as established in the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of New Mexico. This includes, but is not limited to, obeying all felony, misdemeanor, and traffic laws, and local ordinances, as well as all lawfully issued civil orders of any jurisdiction. …
3. …
4. …
5. Personnel will not commit any act that constitutes a violation of the rules, regulations, directives, or orders of the Department, to include, but not limited to, this policy. Personnel will, at all times, be held accountable for their own personal policy and procedure violations and must report any such violations to their chain of command.
6. …
7. …
8. After providing notice to the Officer or employee, and an opportunity for a hearing, the Department may impose discipline, up to and including termination, upon the occurrence of any of the following:
a. Completion of an internal investigation establishing that an employee more likely than not has violated Department policy or procedure, or has failed to report or document an alleged violation of Department policy or procedure;
b. Completion of a criminal investigation establishing a reasonable belief that the employee has violated a federal, state, or local felony and/or misdemeanor, or has failed to report or document an alleged violation of law;
c. The return of an indictment, or filing of a criminal information, complaint, or other formal criminal charge for the violation of any federal, state, or local felony or misdemeanor.”

The rule of conduct is clear that the return of an indictment, or the filing of a criminal information or complaint, all of which are mere accusations, can be grounds for termination.

The rule of conduct may sound somewhat harsh, but not when you take into consideration that police officers are held to a higher standard and they are not above the law.

The credibility of any police officer and indeed of a police department is seriously undermined when a police officer is charged with a felony crime.

There are no standard operating procedures or rules of conduct that dictate or require that the City or APD are required to return to work a police officer who is found not guilty for a felony.

The question that has never been decided by the city personnel board or by a court of law is if the conduct of Dominique Perez in the shooting and killing of James Boyd was in fact “justified” or if there was any violation of APD standard operating procedures to sustain termination.

The Berry Administration has not given any detailed explanation or justification for returning Dominique Perez to work other than the Mayor saying the City had “the right to do it”.

Both the James Boyd civil lawsuit of $5 million dollars and the return to work agreement have been negotiated behind closed doors.

It has been reported that an estimated $63.3 million the City of Albuquerque has paid in legal settlements in law enforcement civil rights cases from 2010 to 2016 has resulted in a $40 million shortfall in the city’s risk management fund, which pays for uninsured losses.

(See February 14, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, Metro & NM “Payouts leave Duke City $40M short”, section C-1: https://www.abqjournal.com/949518/claims-payouts-leave-abq-40m-short.html)

The report makes one wonder exactly what has the Berry Administration and the City Attorney’s office done to defend the City in police misconduct cases and wrongful termination cases other than writing checks and just “rolling over” without defending and settling the cases and without advocating any sort of defense and just returning people to work.

The Albuquerque City Attorney’s Office employs 34 attorneys, numerous para legals, administrative assistants and support staff.

The City taxpayers are entitled to demand and expect competent and aggressive defense when the city is sued, even in wrongful termination cases.

In 2010, it was the Berry Administration, on the recommendation of then City Attorney Rob Perry, a plaintiff’s attorney before becoming City Attorney, that abolished the “no settlement” policy to the absolute delight of plaintiff attorneys and the courts.

As City Attorney and as Chief Administrative Officer, Rob Perry sits on the City Risk Management Committee that approves city settlements of the cases.

The “no settlement policy” mandated that all “police misconduct cases” be tried before a jury with a few exceptions allowed when liability and misconduct was absolutely certain.

The philosophy was that the “sunlight” of an open courtroom and the presentation of evidence was the best disinfectant for police misconduct to inform the public.

The “no settlement policy” mandated that the City Attorney’s office aggressively defend the cases and police officer’s actions and required plaintiff attorneys to prove police misconduct and their client’s cases and damages.

This should also be the case for “wrongful termination” cases.

Settlements are reached behind closed doors and the public is seldom given much of an explanation of how damages are arrived at and why resulting in much speculation.

The “no settlement policy” worked and the City would often prevail when it went to court saving the taxpayers millions of dollars.

Even when the city did not prevail, judgments awarded by juries were often significantly less than what plaintiffs were seeking.

Plaintiff attorneys absolutely hated the no settlement policy and so did the court’s because it is a lot easier to settle a case than try a case before a jury.

With the abolishment of the “no settlement” policy, the City Attorney’s office has now acquired the reputation of just settling cases for the sake of settling and the city has become an easy mark to settle cases for large amounts of taxpayer money.

After 40 years of practicing law, mostly as a trial attorney, I for one have great faith in the American jury system and feel that there are times a jury needs to hear a case and determine damages, especially when it comes to police misconduct cases and even in “wrongful termination” cases.