Philip A. Snedeker Seeks NM State Senate District 21 Democratic Nomination; His Strong Law Enforcement Background Is What’s Needed Now In NM State Senate

EDITOR’S DISCLAIMER: The political blog www.petedinelli.com was not compensated for publication of this announcement. The announcement is published as a public service to voters of Senate District 21.

Philip A. Snedeker of Albuquerque is a candidate for Senate District 21. He faces Athena Ann Christodoulou in the June 4 Democratic primary. Republicans Michael Wiener, John C. Morton and Nicole Tobiassen are running in the June 4 Republican primary. Incumbent Republican Mark Moores is not seeking reelection.

PHIL SNEDEKER IN HIS OWN WORDS

On April 11, the Albuquerque Journal Published the following guest column by Philip A. Snedeker entitled Extraordinary Results Require Extraordinary Ideas And Principles:

“My name is Philip A. Snedeker. I am a candidate for the office of New Mexico state senator, Albuquerque District 21. I will be seeking the Democratic nomination for the office in the primary election in June of 2024.

I grew up in southern New Mexico, in the town of Silver City. I attended local area schools. I earned a BA degree in social science, and an MA degree in educational administration, from Western New Mexico University, Silver City, and am a formally trained educator and administrator.

I would bring an extensive 47-year career in law enforcement and criminal justice to the Senate. I began my career in law enforcement as a police officer with the Silver City Police Department while attending college. I subsequently served, for a 10-year period as a New Mexico State Police Officer in the communities of Santa Fe, Farmington and Tucumcari.

I was subsequently elected as a Democrat as the sheriff of Quay County, serving the communities of Tucumcari, San Jon and Logan in eastern New Mexico. I additionally oversaw the operations of the county detention center.

I subsequently served, for a 31-year period, as a certified peace officer, probation and parole officer, and administrator for the Albuquerque Regional Office of the state Probation and Parole Division, serving for an 18-year period as the regional administrator of the District Court Services Office in Albuquerque.

As a lifelong, dedicated public servant with a strong commitment to serving the people of my community, I bring a career in public safety and law enforcement, administration and policy development, and a personal dedication to this community and its constituents.

I have the experience and knowledge necessary to best represent the interests of, and concerns of, our citizens. I will be focused on implementing comprehensive crime and violence reduction measures, and the strengthening and support of our criminal justice system.

I will support changes and modifications to pretrial detention statutes, ensuring violent, repeat, predatory criminals are held in custody, ensuring the safety of our communities and citizens.

I will commit to supporting research-based, focused-deterrence policing strategies, ensuring the safety and well-being of our citizens, and the suppression and curtailment of crime.

I will support and advocate for expansion and funding of programs dedicated to alcohol, substance abuse, and mental health treatment.

I will support and advocate for appropriate funding measures for creating economic growth and stability, job creation, and supporting and the improvement of public education.

I will work to properly fund our schools and support increases in teacher salaries, benefits and conditions.

I will provide for the safety of our schools, our teachers and our students, and fund such efforts.

I will advocate and support and provide for our veterans and our elderly.

I will support and advocate for women’s health care issues, and will work diligently for streamlining and reductions in health care costs, for all.

I will work to improve and fund our transportation systems.

I will provide for the care of our environment.

My commitment to Senate District 21 and its citizens is unmatched, and I am professionally prepared to take on the responsibility of serving as state Senator. I am committed to improving the lives of our citizens and moving this Senate District, and New Mexico, to greatness.

I am committed to extraordinary ideas and principles, and as such, we are going to see extraordinary results.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/opinion/opinion-extraordinary-results-require-extraordinary-ideas-and-principles/article_b56c5bde-f76b-11ee-926f-63d5e7e2e0ad.html

PHIL SNEDEKER BIOGRAPHY

PHIL SNEDEKER was raised in the southern New Mexico town of Silver City, attending local area schools. He graduated from Western New Mexico University, in Silver City, with a B.A. Degree in Social Science, and subsequently earned a M.A. Degree, in Educational Administration.

Snedeker has dedicated his 47-year career to public service, most recently serving for the State of New Mexico Probation and Parole Division. Snedeker began his career as a police officer with the Silver City Police Department while attending college. After graduating college, Snedeker served as a New Mexico State Police Officer for 10 years in the communities of Santa Fe, Farmington, and Tucumcari.

For the last 31 years, Snedeker served as a certified peace officer, as a probation and parole officer, and administrator, for the State of New Mexico, Albuquerque Regional Office, Probation and Parole Division. This included 13 years as the Divisional Administrator of the District Office in Los Lunas, NM and 15 years as a Divisional Administrator of the District Office and District Court Services Offices in Albuquerque.

Snedeker then ran, and was elected, Sheriff of Quay County, serving the communities of Tucumcari, San Jon, and Logan, in eastern New Mexico. In addition to being the chief executive of the Sheriff’s Department, Snedeker oversaw the operations of the county detention center.  In 2022, Phil Snedeker ran for Bernalillo County Sherriff with Democrat John Allen elected.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

For the past 5 years, New Mexico’s high crime rates have been front and center in the New Mexico Legislature. Hot button legislation has been introduced, but has not been enacted.  Issues such as the banning of assault weapons, pretrial detention to create a rebuttable presumption for persons charged with serious violent crimes, gun purchase waiting periods,  age restrictions on the purchase of  guns, increasing penalties for violent crimes, updating criminal laws, creation of new laws such as prohibiting hazing, and requiring back ground checks and criminal justice reform efforts have all been subject of legislation that has failed. Governor Lujan Grisham has now called for a Special Session in July that will deal exclusively with public safety.

PHIL SNEDEKER will provide a level of expertise in law enforcement that is sorely needed in the New Mexico Legislature to deal with many of the issues facing New Mexico residents. PHIL SNEDEKER’s background and expertise makes him the most qualified of all 5 of the candidates running for State Senate District 21 and voters are encouraged to vote for him in the June primary and the November general election.

Search Light New Mexico Article: “Can The Albuquerque Police Department ever be reformed?”; APD Ranks #1 In Civilian Killings Out Of The 50 Largest City Police Departments In The Country; APD Killing More People Than Ever Despite Implementation Of Reforms

On November 14, 2014, the City of Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and the United State Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into a stipulated Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). The settlement was the result of an 18-month long investigation by the DOJ that found that APD engaged in an pattern of “excessive use of force” and “deadly force”, especially when dealing with the mentally ill. The DOJ investigation also found a “culture of aggression” existed within the APD.

The Court Approved Settlement Agreement mandates 271 police reforms, the appointment of a Federal Monitor and the filing of Independent Monitor’s reports (IMRs). There are 276 paragraphs in 10 sections within the CASA with measurable requirements that the monitor reports on. Eighteen Federal Monitors reports to date have been filed.

Under the terms and conditions of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA), once APD achieves a 95% compliance rate in the 3 identified compliance levels and maintains them for 2 consecutive years, the case can be dismissed. Originally, APD was to have come into compliance within 4 years and the case was to be dismissed in 2020.

The link to the 118-page CASA is here:

https://documents.cabq.gov/justice-department/settlement-agreement.pdf

SEARCHLIGHT NEW MEXICO ARTICLE

Searchlight New Mexico is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that seeks to empower New Mexicans to demand honest and effective public policy. Its Mission Statement is “investigative and public service journalism in the interest of the people of New Mexico and to deliver high-impact investigative reporting to inspire New Mexicans to demand action on systemic problems that plague our state.” The publication stands for the proposition that great reporting can motivate all New Mexicans to confront racial and economic inequities, government corruption and negligence, and abuses of power.

The links for more information on Searchlight New Mexico are here:

https://searchlightnm.org

https://searchlightnm.org/about/

https://searchlightnm.org/about/guidelines/#:~:text=Searchlight%20New%20Mexico%20retains%20all,our%20articles%20and%20visuals%2Fmultimedia.

https://www.groundworksnm.org/nonprofit-directory/nonprofit/45184#:~:text=Searchlight%20New%20Mexico%20is%20a,problems%20that%20plague%20our%20state.

Searchlight New Mexico is on Twitter and FACEBOOK @SearchlightNM (Twitter) and/or @SearchlightNewMexico (Facebook).

On April 10, Searchlight New Mexico published a remarkable story written by staff reporter Josh Bowling. The article asks and, in many respects, answers the question “Can the Albuquerque Police Department ever be reformed?” Following is the Search Light New Mexico article followed by  www.PeteDinelli.com Commentary and Analysis.

SEARCHLIGHT NEW MEXICO HEADLINE: Can the Albuquerque Police Department ever be reformed?

Despite 10 years of federal oversight, Albuquerque police are killing more people than ever.

by Joshua Bowling, Searchlight New Mexico, April 10, 2024

“In the past decade, reforming the Albuquerque Police Department has cost nearly $40 million and generated 5,600 pages of oversight reports under the federal government’s effort to address the force’s excessive violence.

But what does the city have to show for it? While the department touts an internal culture change, mandatory body cameras and a slew of other reforms, its officers continue to kill residents at an outsized rate.

Even as APD has moved into compliance with nearly every reform mandated by a U.S. Department of Justice consent decree, nothing has rectified the department’s most glaring problem: the fact that it has more police shootings now than ever.

Though the federal government’s oversight appears to be on the verge of ending, Albuquerque police continue to kill people at a higher rate than any other police force in the country. In 2014, when the DOJ issued its consent decree, city police were involved in nine shootings. Last year, the department logged 13 shootings — a 44%  increase in a city of 561,000 people.

“How the hell do we have more shootings than we did before they came here?” asked Shaun Willoughby, a patrol officer and president of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association. “You absolutely did not get what you paid for.”

The man who has arguably benefitted the most from the consent decree is its independent monitor, James Ginger, who has collected more than $12 million since he took the job in early 2015, according to city invoices.

At the time, Ginger pledged to move to Albuquerque and open an office with a “hot-line and walk-in system” for people with “comments, compliments and concerns” regarding APD. Court documents show he estimated the reform effort would take four years and cost $4.5 million.

A Searchlight New Mexico investigation found that his lucrative post has lasted more than twice that long and cost the city nearly three times his original estimate. Meanwhile, Ginger has rarely been seen in Albuquerque and, according to his official resume, lives in South Carolina.

It’s hard to know exactly where he lives as details are hard to come by. Ginger has repeatedly refused to be interviewed for this story. Searchlight emailed him six times and visited his locked Albuquerque office twice within the course of a month to ask questions and request a sit-down meeting; he did not respond other than to acknowledge that his website was out of date and to explain why his office hours changed frequently. Calls to his cell phone were ignored; the staff in his Albuquerque office refused to talk when reached by phone and in person.

“I am completely occupied,” he wrote in a March email to Searchlight, referring to work on his next APD compliance report. “I am officially a ‘no comment.’”

His office only updated the reports on its website after Searchlight asked why the page was two years out of date.

The office itself is tucked away in a nondescript building just a few blocks south of the downtown Rail Runner train station, on 4th Street SW. It is locked from the inside, preventing anyone from entering without being granted access by a staffer. Its windows and doors are blacked out. The office hours displayed on its website, abqmonitor.org, change routinely, sometimes on a daily basis, making it difficult or impossible for citizens to know how or when to visit (in one of the only emailed comments he offered to Searchlight, Ginger said that no one has ever complained). The building’s scant signage identifies it as the Area Agency on Aging, with no visible indication that a police monitoring office is inside.

On multiple occasions, people who identified themselves only by their first names answered the locked door for a Searchlight reporter. They said they worked for Ginger and that he had given them orders not to speak to the press.

One of those people identified himself only as an assistant monitor named Eric; when asked how often Ginger was on the premises, he shut the door and locked it. The online staff directory for the office does not list anyone named Eric, and APD Chief Harold Medina said he has never known anyone by that name to work for Ginger.”

A LETHAL HISTORY

“Whether or not the consent decree has reduced the APD’s deadly use of force, the federal government has largely let go of the reins in recent years. In 2022, the DOJ announced it would allow Albuquerque to monitor much of its own progress. That was largely due to the department meeting a majority of DOJ goals: equipping officers with body cameras, providing more extensive training, tracking every instance in which they fired a weapon and prohibiting them from firing a gun from inside a moving vehicle.

But for every reform codified in department policy and for every city press conference praising the police force’s new compliance, police killings persisted.

Last year, APD killed 10.6 people per million residents — more than any other sizable police department in the nation, according to data tracked by the national nonprofit Mapping Police Violence.

In 2022, the department set a record for police shootings with 18, 10 of which were fatal. That year, a Searchlight analysis found, only the police departments in Los Angeles, New York and Houston killed more people than APD.

Law enforcement officials, including police leaders and district attorneys, say such figures are nuanced. They point to the acute dearth of mental health resources in New Mexico and, anecdotally, stories of people who draw guns on police officers as explanations for why the problem of police violence is so outsized locally.”

DINELLI EDITOR’S NOTE: The Search Light New Mexico article contains a horizontal graph listing the 50 largest cities in the United States. According to the graph, among the 50 largest cities, Albuquerque Police killed people at the highest rate than all the other city police departments in 2023  at the rate of  10.6 per 1 Million population. It is worth comparing Albuquerque’s 10.6 kill rate to the largest cities in the surrounding border states of Texas, Colorado, Arizona and also including Oklahoma and Nevada:

  • Albuquerque, NM: 10.6
  • San Antonio, Texas:  9.8
  • Phoenix, Arizona: 8.7
  • Austin, Texas: 7.3
  • Denver, Colorado: 5.6
  • Tucson, Arizona: 5.5
  • Fort Worth, Texas: 5.4
  • Houston, Texas: 5.2
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado: 4.2
  • Dallas, Texas: 3.1
  • El Paso, Texas: 2.9
  • Las Vegas, Nevada: 2.6
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: 2.0

“In the past four years, Albuquerque police repeatedly shot people who were suffering visible mental health crises. They shot 26-year-old Max Mitnik in the head during a “schizoaffective episode” in which he asked officers to fire their weapons at him; they shot and killed 52-year-old Valente Acosta-Bustillos who swung a shovel at officers and told them to shoot him; they shot and killed 33-year-old Collin Neztsosie while he was on his cell phone, pleading for help with a 911 dispatcher.

These grim numbers have led reform advocates, critics and law enforcement leaders themselves to question what it means to be “in compliance.”

“You can improve things on paper or comply with the terms of a consent decree and still have these things happening,” said UCLA law professor Joanna Schwartz, author of the 2023 book Shielded: How the Police Became Untouchable.”

“Albuquerque is a prime place to be asking the questions…about what impact consent decrees have,” Schwartz said. The city should be ground zero for the national conversation on police reform, she and others believe.

This is not to say that the consent decree has been without merit. The 2014 Court-Approved Settlement Agreement between the DOJ and Albuquerque laid out nearly 300 mandated reforms: Since its launch, APD has fulfilled hundreds of reform requirements, including overhauling scores of policies and training procedures.”

CONSENT DECREE 101

The Search Light New Mexico article contains the following side bar summary insert:

The 2014 consent decree was meant to be “Policing 101,” according to the people who crafted it. It demanded that APD:

  • Rectify excessive use of force
  • Outfit specialized tactical and investigative units 
  • Train officers in crisis intervention
  • Have a process to investigate allegations of misconduct
  • Overhaul department policies and training
  • Boost staffing, management and supervision
  • Improve processes for recruitment and promotions
  • Establish mechanisms for officer assistance and support
  • Establish community engagement and oversight

“Each mandated reform bears three benchmarks — primary compliance, secondary compliance and operational compliance — and once the APD reaches 100%  compliance with all three benchmarks on every reform, the consent decree will draw to a close. As of Ginger’s latest progress report, filed in November, the department stands at 100 percent for primary compliance — meaning it has implemented policies and procedures in line with national best practices. According to Ginger’s reports, the department has also achieved 99% secondary compliance — meaning it has trained staff in those best practices — and 94% operational compliance, regarding its day-to-day implementation of the best practices.”

NOBODY’S ‘MONITORING THE MONITOR’

“Once the consent decree was handed down, authorities had to find an objective third party to monitor APD’s progress in complying with the court-mandated reforms. Several people, including police authorities and reform advocates, recall being impressed with James Ginger’s credentials. He had overseen two previous consent decrees, including the first of its kind in Pittsburgh, in 1997 and the other in New Jersey, in 2000. He had also consulted with the Los Angeles Police Department, known for its chronic issues with excessive violence.

“He brought a reputation of being extremely rigorous, extremely detailed, unrelenting in holding the line on accountability,” recalled Peter Simonson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico. “I’m sure folks have things to say about Ginger that they never liked, but I felt like, by and large, he played that role. He was calling balls and strikes as he saw them, no matter whether APD liked it or not.”

While Ginger had a reputation for reform and a wealth of experience in policing and academia, he also became known for keeping a low profile and shying away from interactions with the greater community, other observers said.

“I may have seen him once or twice [in recent years],” said Damon Martinez, the former U.S. Attorney for New Mexico, who helped shape and implement the consent decree before resigning in 2017. As Martinez recalled it, Ginger walked “on the other side of the street” so they wouldn’t cross paths, going out of his way to avoid him.”

MILLION-DOLLAR QUESTIONS

“In late 2015, Ginger addressed a packed room at an Albuquerque town hall meeting where residents peppered him with questions about his nearly $1.5 million salary. As one man in the crowd interrupted him with a question about accountability, Ginger called for security, according to news reports. Then, as things simmered down, he made a promise.

“This is top secret,” Ginger said, according to local NPR affiliate KUNM. “Come December, I’ll be living here, so no more flying back and forth.”

Such a move would have made sense. In Ginger’s original terms of employment, he’d estimated that the Albuquerque assignment would require 800 “on-site” days over four years.

Two years later, in 2017, a bipartisan minority on the Albuquerque City Council checked him on his math. When three city councilors ran the numbers, they found he’d spent an average of 42 days per year in Albuquerque — hardly the 200 days, as originally proposed.

“He rented an office here and he was never there. Nobody held him accountable,” former City Councilor Brad Winter recalled. “He was getting paid, and nobody was monitoring the monitor.”

The costs don’t stop with the $12 million in checks that Albuquerque has made out to Ginger. Medina, the APD chief, estimated that his department has spent an additional $25 million — on everything from body cameras to training — in efforts to comply with the consent decree. In 10 years, APD’s annual budget has ballooned from $163 million to nearly $268 million.”

A POLICE SHOOTING SETS REFORMS IN MOTION

“From the start, the demand for reform was sparked by the 2014 killing of James Boyd, a homeless man with schizophrenia who was camping in the Sandia Foothills. Boyd did not have a gun, a review of his belongings at a subsequent trial showed, but was instead carrying three knives, an empty can of mace, multiple Bibles and a handful of dollar bills.

Almost immediately, large protests erupted in downtown Albuquerque over the killing. The next month, the DOJ released a blistering 46-page report that accused the police department of employing an “overwhelming pattern of unconstitutional use of deadly force.” City officials signed the consent decree in the report’s wake, setting in motion the next decade of federal oversight. 

Some reforms took hold almost immediately after the report dropped. The Bernalillo County District Attorney charged Officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez with murder and manslaughter for killing Boyd.

Body cameras were mandated for every sworn APD officer with a badge and a gun.

Internally, things were changing. The department disbanded its Repeat Offender Project, which some today liken to a police gang. The highly controversial unit focused on “career criminals” and used a hangman’s noose as its logo. Sandy, one of the officers who killed Boyd, was a member of the ROP unit.

Department leaders say the consent decree brought about a culture change as well. Issues can’t be swept under the rug anymore, they say, because there are more eyes than ever on police conduct in Albuquerque.

“We terminate more people than ever before,” Medina, the police chief, said in an interview. “These things have always happened. They were just dealt with differently.”

Reform advocates, for their part, contend that such a “culture change” has not been as far-reaching as the department claims. In recent months, an FBI investigation into the department spilled into public view. Officers were investigated for allegedly taking bribes to get DWI cases dismissed from court. The ongoing scandal has led to the resignation of five officers to date.”

FROM RODNEY KING TO JAMES BOYD

“In the history of American policing, consent decrees are a relatively new invention.

The need for enforceable reform became clear in early 1991 as the nation watched televised footage of Los Angeles police officers brutally beating Rodney King, an unarmed Black man whom they accused of driving while intoxicated. If the LAPD couldn’t reform itself, members of Congress announced they’d draft legislation to let the DOJ step in and order reforms.

Lawmakers inserted two small paragraphs, known as Section 14141, into the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1994. The new provision made it illegal for law enforcement officers to engage in a “pattern or practice” that deprived people of their constitutional rights, privileges or immunities. If a police department violated the provision, the U.S. Attorney General could intervene and right the ship.

In 1997, the DOJ found its first test case in the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, a department that was criticized for unlawful traffic stops and police violence.

In some ways, launching the Pittsburgh decree was a symbolic move: The city’s police union is the oldest in the nation. After five years of federal oversight, the department improved its civilian complaint system and adopted one of the nation’s first “early warning” systems, letting supervisors track which officers exhibited problematic behavior in the field.

Since then, consent decrees have ebbed and flowed with the political tides. George W. Bush campaigned on a promise, which he kept, not to institute a single consent decree: The DOJ was unnecessarily “second-guessing” local law enforcement agencies, he said in 2000.

Barack Obama’s administration, on the other hand, dispatched DOJ investigators across the country at unprecedented levels. Many of the now-active decrees, including Albuquerque’s, date back to his administration.

Perhaps the most visible differences between the early consent decrees and today’s are found in the documents themselves. Pittsburgh’s 1997 decree was a mere 18 pages long; Albuquerque’s sprawls over more than 100 pages.

Across the country, 13 other municipal police departments or county sheriff’s offices — including in Los Angeles, Chicago and Baltimore — are currently working under consent decrees to address police abuses, lack of training and deficient mental health care in jails, among other issues.

Experts believe the consent decree is one of the government’s best tools to reform problematic police departments. But they’re not a permanent fix.

“The problem with police departments is that you are not dealing with one bad apple or a couple of bad apples. They are problems of systems,” said David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who has studied the history of consent decrees.

In Pittsburgh, he said, “there did seem to be real promise of change. And some things did, in fact, change. But it didn’t stick in the long run.”

‘LIFE AFTER DOJ’

“If APD continues to shoot and kill record numbers of civilians while it stands at near-total compliance, what will “life after DOJ,” as  [APD Chief] Medina put it, look like?

Medina and Simonson of the ACLU have both expressed a desire to retain some form of oversight after the consent decree ends. Medina also envisions a new training academy for internal affairs investigators.

“I want to build something that’s going to outlast me,” Medina, who plans to retire in late 2025, told Searchlight. The department, he said, needs to be “vigilant” about maintaining what it’s achieved.

To reform advocates like Simonson, though, such progress has been too little too late. “The fact that we’ve had to invest so much money in Albuquerque for such limited results is in large part a consequence of what policing is in this country,” he said. “We know what some of the ingredients are, but we don’t really have the recipe yet to fully bake a constitutional, professional and community-safe police force.”

Both see a need to stop sending armed officers to the scenes of 911 calls for mental health crises. In 2020, Albuquerque launched a formal push to do just this, though responders and families of police violence victims have criticized the rollout.

The next independent monitor’s report, which will provide updated numbers on APD’s compliance levels, is expected to be published in the coming months. Medina aspires to have the consent decree wrapped up by the end of 2025.

Ginger’s contract, meanwhile, is set to expire at the end of June. It will likely be renewed and net him another million if the effort follows Medina’s timetable.”

The link to read the full, unedited Searchlight New Mexico article with photos and graphs is here:

https://searchlightnm.org/can-the-albuquerque-police-department-ever-be-reformed/?utm_source=Searchlight+New+Mexico&utm_campaign=ca4e266790-4%2F10%2F2024+-+Albuquerque+Police+Department+Reform&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8e05fb0467-ca4e266790-362667516&mc_cid=ca4e266790&mc_eid=ccd9412715

­­­DINELLI COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

On November 16 , 2023, it was  a full 9 years that has expired since the city entered into the CASA with the DOJ. It was originally agreed that implementation of all the settlement terms would be completed within 4 years.  Because of previous delay and obstruction tactics found by the Federal Monitor by APD management and the police officer’s union as well as APD backsliding in implementing the reforms, it has taken 5 additional  years.

Albuquerque’s consent decree is somewhat unique to all the other 13 consent decrees. A number of those consent decrees deal with police departments that engaged in racial profiling. The Department of Justice investigation found that APD had engaged in a pattern of “excessive use of force and deadly force” and that there existed a “culture of aggression”. The federal investigation found that there was a disproportionate number of people who were mentally ill who fell victim to APD’s excessive use of force and deadly force and that APD officers were not sufficiently trained in de-escalation tactics when dealing with the mentally ill who were suffering from psychotic episodes.

REFORMS IMPLEMENTED

The major reforms achieved under the CASA can be identified and are as follows:

  1. New “use of force” and “use of deadly force” policies have been written, implemented and all APD sworn have received training on the policies.
  2. All sworn police officers have received crisis management intervention training.
  3. APD has created a “Use of Force Review Board” that oversees all internal affairs investigations of use of force and deadly force.
  4. The Internal Affairs Unit has been divided into two sections, one dealing with general complaints and the other dealing with use of force incidents.
  5. Sweeping changes ranging from APD’s SWAT team protocols, to banning choke-holds, to auditing the use of every Taser carried by officers and re-writing and implementation of new use of force and deadly force policies have been completed.
  6. “Constitutional policing” practices and methods, and mandatory crisis intervention techniques an de-escalation tactics with the mentally ill have been implemented at the APD police academy with all sworn police also receiving the training.
  7. APD has adopted a new system to hold officers and supervisors accountable for all use of force incidents with personnel procedures implemented detailing how use of force cases are investigated.
  8. APD has revised and updated its policies on the mandatory use of lapel cameras by all sworn police officers.
  9. The Repeat Offenders Project, known as ROP, has been abolished.
  10. Civilian Police Oversight Agency has been created, funded, fully staffed and a director was hired.
  11. The Community Policing Counsels (CPCs) have been created in all area commands.
  12. The Mental Health Advisory Committee has been implemented.
  13. The External Force Investigation Team (EFIT) was created and is training the Internal Affairs Force Division on how to investigate use-of-force cases, making sure they meet deadlines and follow procedures.
  14. Millions have been spent each year on new programs and training of new cadets and police officers on constitutional policing practices.
  15. APD officers are routinely found using less force than they were before and well documented use of force investigations are now being produced in a timely manner.
  16. APD has assumed the self-monitoring of at least 25% of the CASA reforms and is likely capable of assuming more.
  17. The APD Compliance Bureau has been fully operational and staffed with many positions created dealing directly with all the reform efforts and all the duties and responsibilities that come with self-assessment.
  18. APD has attained a 100% Primary Compliance rate, a 99% Secondary Compliance rate and a 92% Operational Compliance rate.

SPIKE IN APD OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTINGS ANALYZED

It was in 2022 that there were more APD police officer shooting than during any other year before.  In 2022, there were 18 APD Police Officer involved shootings,10 of which were fatal.  In 2021 there were 10, four of which were fatal.

A review of shootings by APD police officers between 2018 and 2022 identified three common circumstances:

  1. When officers are attempting to apprehend violent suspects;
  2. When individuals are experiencing some kind of mental health episode;
  3. When people with little criminal history are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and make bad decisions.

In 2022, the Albuquerque Police Department released data that showed there had been 54 police shootings dating back to 2018. Of the cases reviewed, 85% involved people who were armed with a gun or a weapon that appeared to be a firearm.  About 55% of the cases involved people under the influence of drugs or alcohol, while only 2 cases in which intoxication did not play a role. Without toxicology tests, it was unknown whether drugs or alcohol played a role in the remainder of the cases.  Statewide, authorities said the number of shootings in which officers opened fire stands at 50 for the year.

Barron Jones, a member of APD Forward and a senior policy strategist with the American Civil Liberties Union in New Mexico, said that more transparency is needed to better understand what, if anything, could be done to prevent shooting deaths at the hands of officers. Jones also said there is  the need for a statewide use-of-force policy that includes clear, consistent protocols for deescalating interactions with the public “to avoid these kinds of tragic incidents.”

The link to the quoted news source article is here:

https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/albuquerque-marks-record-number-police-shootings-2022-93084096

On December 6, 2022  the spike in APD shootings dominated the hearing on the Federal Monitors 16th progress report.   The increase in APD police officer shootings overshadowed the report on APD’s progress with the reforms and dominated the day long hearing.

Alexander Uballez, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico, said this about the shootings:

“[My job]  will not be complete until there’s a substantial reduction in police shootings and fatalities.”

Paul Killebrew, the deputy chief of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, acknowledged frustrations.  He said that the DOJ wants to see how the city, APD,  the Civilian Police Oversight Agency, the Mental Health Response Advisory Committee, and the Force Review Board  respond to the spike.   Killebrew said this:

“The increase in officer involved shootings is unacceptable. … You see a spike in officer involved shootings and it feels like we’ve set back the clock by 10 years. … It’s clear from what we’ve heard today that it is inconsistent with the community’s values. … So we need to see action from the Albuquerque Police Department and from the groups [responsible to oversee APD] . From where we sit this is an ongoing crisis. This is an ongoing problem.”

APD Forward includes upwards of 20 organizations who have affiliated with each other in an effort to reform APD and implement the DOJ consent decree terms and reforms. Daniel Williams of APD Forward sad  that members of his group had been hoping to hear “concrete actionable steps that the city has taken” to address the increase in shootings by officers but were disappointed.

Taylor Rahn, an attorney on contract with the city to assist with implementation of the CASA, urged the court and the public to wait before passing judgment and said this:

“We recognize that concerns about the number of individuals who are suffering from some type of mental health issue during the use of force encounter is a pattern that the community is concerned about… The city will not jump to any conclusions and will allow all of the processes that are in place for independent review of individual incidents, officers and patterns to run their course.”

Police Chief Harold Medina pointed out that the settlement agreement is meant to assess whether policies are in place to reduce an officer’s likelihood of using deadly force, whether officers are trained in those policies and whether they are being held accountable when they violate them.  Medina told the court:

“We will never 100% take out human errors, and we will always have officer misconduct. … This process was started for us to identify the officer misconduct and address the misconduct. … I don’t know if there’s ever been a period of time before in the Albuquerque Police Department when individuals were held as accountable. We will continue to hold individuals accountable. We will continue to monitor our policies. We will continue to monitor our training.”

The link to quoted news source material is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2555721/rise-in-police-shootings-worry-apd-reformers.html

 

 

Gov. MLG To Call Special Session On July 18; Focus To Be Public Safety; Special Session Should Include Creating State Wide Mental Health Court For Civil Mental Health Commitments To Assist Mentally ILL,  Drug Addicted And Unhoused

On April 17, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she will call state legislators into a Special Session starting July 18.  The session will focus on addressing public safety proposals. The governor said she expects the session to wrap up within several days. She decided to convene the session to allow lawmakers to finish what they started during the regular 30-day session.  The upcoming special legislative session will be the fifth special session the governor has called while in office.

According to a news release, the session will focus on public safety. The Governor’s news release says in part:

“While we made some progress toward a safer New Mexico during the 30-day day session, we agree that we must do more. The special session in July will enable us to deliver additional statutory changes that reduce the danger and risk New Mexico communities face every day. The best proposals for making our state safer will be under consideration, and I welcome input from my colleagues in the legislature.”

https://www.governor.state.nm.us/2024/04/17/gov-lujan-grisham-announces-special-session-starting-july-18/

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth said  the special session will give lawmakers more time to work through details on complex public safety bills. Wirth said this in a press release:

“The Governor’s announced date for a special session gives us enough time to find consensus public safety legislation that can pass both chambers. Discussions between the Governor and legislative leadership to date have focused on bills from the recent 30-day session that required more work due to their legal complexity, namely: criminal competency, felon in possession of a firearm and panhandling. We have agreed additional gun safety and pre-trial detention bills will wait for the sixty-day session in January. In the next several months, we will also focus on finding ways to expand the critical safety net of mental health and treatment services that are vital to the success of the legislation that will be considered.”

Sen. Joe Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he believes the special session should focus on the “absence of resources to enforce existing law. … The fundamental problem with crime in Albuquerque is not a lack of laws. It’s lack of accountability and enforcement of those laws.”  Cervantes said he hoped the governor would be receptive to initiatives from the Legislature before the special session “and that my colleagues will step up to consider some changes in law.  It’s hard to imagine that you can accomplish in a matter of a couple of days the work that it’s going to take to restore public trust in public safety in Albuquerque and elsewhere.”

The links to quoted news sources relied upon are here:

https://www.krqe.com/news/politics-government/governor-lujan-grisham-calls-for-special-session-in-july/

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/new-mexico-governor-calls-special-session-on-public-safety/

https://www.koat.com/article/governor-announces-special-session-public-safety/60524385

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/special-legislative-session-on-crime-slated-for-july/article_e0033e54-fcce-11ee-a2cc-972f1ab7c84e.html

FOUR MEASURES BEING DISCUSSED

In a March 26 interview with the Santa Fe New Mexican, Governor Lujan Grisham said there are 4 measures she might include in a Special Session:

The first bill would send criminal defendants who are found incompetent to stand trial to a mental health or behavioral health treatment program. Supporters, like Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman, say there are far too many suspects who are arrested, deemed incompetent to stand trial, and then released back on the streets only to commit more crimes. It’s one version of the so-called “revolving door” that the governor clearly wants to close. It appears that bill,  which did not make it very far in the previous legislative session, is at the top of the special session agenda.

The second bill would be “sort of a civil counterpart to [to the first]”  Lujan Grisham said. It would offer mental or behavioral health programs to people with “a significant mental health issue and a chemical dependency” when family members are unable to have them involuntarily held in an inpatient facility. The bill would allow for treatment for at least 90 days according to the Governor. The governor said this:

“Judges want this tool. … They can meaningfully use it.”

The third measure would restrict panhandling and in particular when people are camping out on medians or standing near busy intersections. The governor said she has seen people lying down in roadways and chasing vehicles, including hers. The Governor said this:

“This has to end because someone on the streets is going to get killed. A child is going to get killed. A motorist is going to get killed or kill someone.”

According to the Governor, the 3 bills together would “allow us then to focus on the remaining supports and remedies — housing, income, the ability to provide meaningful behavioral health for people who couldn’t get access.”

The fourth bill would increase penalties for some crimes, such as being a felon in possession of a firearm.

https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/legislature/governor-special-session-on-public-safety-measures-more-likely-than-not/article_9e392f96-ebb3-11ee-85fb-c3469c35fa27.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Ever since the 2024 legislative session ended on February 16, Governor Lujan Grisham has more than once hinted at calling a Special Session.  Now that it’s official, the Special Session called by the Governor for public safety should include the statewide expansion of the existing Second Judicial District Mental Health Court to include mental health commitment hearings by district attorneys and public defenders.  There is a critical need for a civil mental health and drug commitment court for the homeless suffering from mental illness and/or drug addiction and who pose a threat to themselves, their family or to the general public. Such courts do in fact exist in the other parts of the country and have proven to be highly successful.

The existing Second Judicial District Mental Health Court program is 100% voluntary, and is an alternative to the standard judicial process and that should be changed.  It should be made mandatory to function as outreach and treatment court for the drug addicted and the mentally ill in a hospital or counseling setting and not involving jail incarceration.

CREATE A 14TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT COURT

Warehousing the mentally ill or drug addicted in jails for crimes committed is not the answer and does not address treatment and the court’s must be looked to as part of the solution.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Legislature need to proceed with the Special Session, but one primary emphasis should be the creation of a new 14th Judicial District Court with 3 separate regional divisions one located in Albuquerque, one in Las Cruces and one in Las Vegas, New Mexico with the creation of at least 3 District Court Judge positions with 6 year terms appointed by the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Appointment by the Supreme Court would ensure rapid filling of the new positions and take the elective partisan politics out of the process.  The Administrative Offices of the Courts must play  a pivotal role in setting up the new court process, including locating the new Mental Health Treatment Court in existing court houses in all 3 locations.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the legislature should seek to designate the 14th Judicial District Court a specialty “Mental Health Treatment Court” functioning as outreach and treatment court for the drug addicted and the mentally ill in a hospital or counseling setting and not involving jail incarceration.  The existing Second Judicial District Mental Health Court would be consolidated into the Albuquerque District Mental Health Treatment Court.

There is an even bigger need for the construction and staffing of a mental health facilities or hospitals to provide the services needed to the mentally ill or drug addicted. As it stands now, there exists less than adequate facilities where patients can be referred to for civil mental health commitments and treatment. There is glaring need for a behavioral health hospital and drug rehabilitation treatment facility.  The Bernalillo County Behavioral Health Center and the Las Vegas Mental Health hospital could be expanded to accommodate for court referrals and a new behavioral health facility could be constructed in Las Cruces to handle mental health commitment and treatment.

New Mexico is currently experiencing historical surplus revenues and this past legislative session the legislature had an astonishing $3.6 Billion in surplus revenue. Now is the time to create a statewide Mental Health Court and dedicate funding for the construction of behavioral health hospital and drug rehabilitation treatment facilities the courts can rely upon for referrals.

Creation of a new court system must include funding for District Attorneys and Public Defenders with dedicated personnel resources for the filing and defending of civil mental health commitments as prescribed by law.

A statewide mental health court with mandatory civil commitments will get treatment to those who need it the most, help get the unhoused off the streets and help families with loved ones who resist any mental health treatment.

The link to a related blog article is here:

ABQ Journal Dinelli Guest Opinion Column: “Lawmakers should set up statewide mental health court”; Related Column: Laws, Statistics, and Resources Needed To Create 14th Judicial District Court For Mental Health Commitment Court

APD Chief Medina Mockingly Tells Internal Affairs Officers And Superintendent of  Police Reform “Let’s Appease Everyone” With Outside Investigation Of His Crash; APD’S Investigation Of Medina A Sham As APD Finds Crash As “Non Preventable” And Decides Not To Charge Chief

On February 17 APD Chief Harold Medina and his wife were in a city unmarked APD truck on their way to a press conference with Mayor Tim Keller. Medina decided to stop and call APD to clear a homeless encampment   Medina witnessed two people fighting, a gun was pulled and pointed at Medina and a shot was fired. In response Medina fled from the scene and drove through a red light and he T-boned a 1966 Ford Mustang. Chief Medina admitted he ran a red light. The other driver sustained a broken collarbone, shoulder blade, eight broken ribs, and a collapsed lung and was taken to the hospital in critical condition where he underwent 7 hours of surgery for injuries. Medina referred the car crash to APD Internal Affairs and the Superintendent of Police Reform Eric Garcia for investigation.

On April 3 Superintendent Garcia gave an update to the Albuquerque City Council on the Internal Affairs investigation of Chief Medina.  He said the APD Fatal Crash unit conducted an investigation, prepared a final report and forwarded it to the Crash Review Board.  The report concluded that while Chief Medina “did enter an intersection failing to obey the traffic control devise (sic) without activating his emergency lights and sirens … resulting in a vehicle crash causing injury”  the car crash was “non preventable”.  The APD Crash Review Board voted unanimously to deem Medina’s crash “non-preventable.”  APD has now said that Chief Medina will not be charged.

In response to Superintendent Garcia’s remarks that the crash was “non-preventable” City Councilor Louie Sanchez said this:

If the chief would have made a police action and executed his police powers and made an arrest immediately, we would not have a traffic accident. We would not have an investigation. How can you say that this is not preventable?”

SURVEILLANCE VIDEO OF MEDINA’S CRASH REVEALS CRASH WAS PREVENTABLE

On Tuesday, February 20, Chief Medina did a “Chief’s Corner” video briefing which was sent to all APD personnel.  He announced that it was a “special edition” of his Chief’s corner to discuss the February 17 car crash with APD personnel and he gave his version of what happened and what lead up to the crash. Medina said on the video he thought the oncoming Mustang would pass through intersection before he got there. Medina said this in his video statement:

“I looked to my left, and the intersection was cleared. … And I thought that the car was going to pass before I got there, and it did not, and unfortunately, I struck a vehicle.”

APD lapel camera video of Chief Medina being interviewed by APD police soon after the February 18 crash has been released. In the video, Medina says this:

“The individual that was facing east through a handgun, I heard the shot go off and still had the handgun up in his. We tried to get across out of the line of fire because my wife was on the passenger side as we tried to get out of the line of fire so I could get out and try to confront the individual. As we were crossing, we struck that gold card. And I think I think I tried to slow down and still trying to clear the intersection and get away from the spot.”

The link to the quoted news source is here:

https://www.koat.com/article/new-body-cam-video-shows-moments-after-impact-in-apd-chief-crash/60457197

On February 21, APD released a surveillance video that shows Chief Harold Medina running a red light and crashing into the Ford Mustang seriously injuring the driver of the Mustang.   The surveillance video reveals that the intersection was not clear as Medina has proclaimed when Medina ran the red light. The surveillance video shows Medina  cutting  in front of another car before accelerating at a high rate of speed through the intersection and T-boning the other vehicle. The video shows Medina drives his truck into westbound oncoming traffic, he drives between two vehicles, one of which appears to stop to avoid a crash. Medina’s truck then accelerates at a high rate of speed and crosses the two west bound lanes of Central and crashes into the classic Mustang that was headed East.

The crash resulted in both vehicles doing a half circle turn in a counterclockwise direction. Medina’s truck came to rest against the southeast corner of the intersection with front end and rear end damage including a collapsed rear wheel reflecting an apparent broken axle. The Mustang was struck on the driver’s side with the door ripped opened and it also struck the south curb just east of the intersection and skid and rolled east for a distance before coming to rest, facing west, in the eastbound lane.

MEDINA ORDERS MANDATORY PERSONNEL MEETINGS INCLUDING INTERNAL AFFAIRS OFFICERS AND SUPERINDEDANT OF POLIC REFORM INVESTIGATING MEDINA

On Wednesday, April 3, the Albuquerque City Council voted on a City Council Resolution to remove and terminate APD Chief Harold Medina for cause. However, no final vote was taken and the Resolution was withdrawn by Westside City Councilor Louie Sanchez. Prior to the City Council meeting APD Chief Medina ordered all APD sworn and civilian staff to attend personnel meetings where he discussed the “No Confidence Resolution”, the APD bribery and conspiracy scandal to dismiss DWI cases and his February 17 car crash. All the meetings were held at the APD academy. According to sources, 4 meetings were ordered.

KOAT TV Target 7 obtained audio recordings of one of the meetings where  Chief Harold Medina talked  about the investigations into himself and the department.  During the meeting Chief  Medina made highly critical remarks of the city council’s attempts to remove him as Chief. He tells the assembled officers and civilian employees and makes it very clear he has no intent of going anywhere and will remain chief.

Sources have confirmed that Medina refers to himself in the third person and attacks his critics, including city councilors and even bloggers at times individually by name, and says the person “does not like Chief”.  Medina simply does not understand that it’s not an issue of people hating him as an individual, but people taking issue with his  incompetency and what he has done to APD to destroy it. Medina goes so far as to say he intends to remain as Chief until December 2025 when Mayor Tim Keller’s second term ends.

It’s common knowledge that Mayor Tim Keller is preparing to seek a third term in 2025 and Medina will without a doubt be an issue in the race for Mayor. Mayor Tim Keller has repeatedly gone to the defense of Medina, he says Medina has done a good job and has refused to terminate Medina saying with a straight face that  Chief Medina “is arguably the most important person right now in these times in our city.”

During the meeting KOAT TV reported on, Chief Medina can be heard making comments about the FBI investigation into APD’s DWI Unit. Medina said this:

“We trace it back to some of the people who have resigned who were in DWI in the early 2010s. The ongoing investigation will continue. There’s not widespread corruption within the department.”

Medina mentions concerns regarding the corruption investigation and how it will affect the DOJ consent decree and the federal oversight of the department. Medina says this:

“I worry about some paragraphs in terms of investigation, and we’ll see how this goes. ”

Chief Medina then talks about his February 17 car crash. At the meeting are Internal Affairs investigators and Superintendent of Police Reform Eric Garcia.  Some of the Internal Affairs officers in attendance are assigned to investigate whether Chief  Medina violated any policies when he ran a red light and crashed into another car. Medina says this:

“Once again, one city councilor [known to be City Councilor Louie Sanchez] decides this case should be shipped off to another agency for investigation of the traffic crash. … .  What are they going to discover? That I didn’t cause the accident. Like what is in dispute? We probably will send it off somewhere else so they can look at it, to appease everybody.”

The Chief then criticized the city council, which took a vote of no confidence later that week, saying he will be fine because he plans to retire soon.

“Am I pissed? Yes, I am pissed. But you know what? I’m fine. I’ll go through that tomorrow. I have my plan. They have their plan. We will play this game until December 2025, when I decide to retire.”

He then concludes by talking about how  years ago Superintendent of Police Reform Eric Garcia reprimanded him. Garcia was standing next to the chief during the meeting, he did not dispute anything the Chief was saying as if he had no problem with what Medina was saying to APD sworn.  Medina jokes about how Garcia is now the Superintendent of Police Reform and is in charge of disciplining the chief. Medina said this:

“The last person to discipline me was [Eric Garcia]  the day I got promoted to sergeant. Eric Garcia gave me a letter of reprimand as my lieutenant. Thanks, Eric. And hopefully, you will give me that last discipline in the course of my career.”

https://www.koat.com/article/albuquerque-police-chief-recorded-lets-appease-everyone-crash-investigation/60473617

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The Office of Internal Affairs and the Office of Superintendent of Police reform are supposed to be fair and impartial in their investigations of police misconduct. They are supposed to be above reproach and above influence of the Chief, the Mayor and City Council. No Chief can dictate nor order the outcome of any Internal Affairs Investigation, but that does not stop Medina from trying.

It is downright obscene that Chief Harold Medina would have mandatory staff meetings to discuss his car crash in front of all sworn personnel which included the very Internal Affairs officers who are investigating him as well as the Superintendent of Police Reform Eric Garcia who stood beside the Chief during his comments which was totally inappropriate.  It is clear Medina was lobbying both the Internal Affairs officers and the Superintendent for Police Reform for a favorable outcome of their investigations. Their presence at the mandatory staff meeting sent the undisputable message to all  APD sworn personnel and civilian staff they have the Chief’s  back and that the investigations are going nowhere and neither is the Chief.

AN AVOIDABLE AND PREVENTABLE ACCIDENT

It is obscene and an insult to the general public’s intelligence that the APD Crash Review Board voted unanimously to deem Chief Medina’s crash as “non-preventable.” It is an absolute farce that Chief Medina’s car crash that put another driver in the hospital in critical condition was ruled “unavoidable” by APD officers who are under his command. It’s a no brainer that an independent, outside investigation should have been ordered immediately by Mayor Tim Keller and that Medina should have been placed on administrative leave pending that investigation. Instead, we have a sham of an investigation by police officers who work for Medina and who he is clearly influencing.  (Editor’s Note: The postscript to this article provides the definitions of “preventable” and “non preventable” crashes.)

Simply put, the crash was  preventable  and could have been avoided by simply stopping at Central, or turning right to go West on Central.  Instead, Medina ran through a red light in a panic and floored the  gas pedal of his vehicle  and went forward.  The APD Crash Review Board voting unanimously to deem Medina’s crash “non-preventable” is nothing more than a cover up of a preventable accident that gives Chief Medina a defense and APD an excuse not to charge Medina with reckless driving. The finding will allow the City to argue the other driver was contributorily negligent as to crash responsibility.

Surveillance video shows Medina cutting in front of another car before accelerating at a high rate of speed through the intersection. Medina’s actions and the car crash fit the very definition of reckless driving by a person who “drives any vehicle carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others and without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger … any person or property.”  APD policy for responding to calls says when officers are responding to a call they must “exercise due regard for the safety of all persons and property.” It adds that they have right of way while responding to a call, but it does not relieve them from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all others.

STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES VIOLATED

Based on all the news accounts and the comments, statements and the admissions against interest and admissions of liability made by Chief Harold Medina, it is clear Medina violated one or more of APD’s Standard Operating Procedures. Medina has his wife in the vehicle as he engaged in a law enforcement call.  Chief Medina has admitted that he did not have his body camera on. Medina has admitted he did not have his police radio on in his truck which is a standard operating procedure violation.  Medina also admitted he did not turn his body camera on in a timely manner which is a violation APD Standard Operating procedures. At no point did Medina have any emergency equipment on during or after the event which is another violation.

APD PROVES AGAIN UNABLE TO POLICE ITSELF

APD has repeatedly shown it is unable to police itself.  APD’s inability to police itself is proven by the Department of Justice Court Approved Settlement agreement that mandates 271 reforms after it was found that APD engaged in a pattern of excessive use of force and deadly force and finding a culture of aggression within APD. It has been proven recently that it can not police itself by the DWI dismissal and bribery scandal that is still being investigated by the FBI and that has resulted in the resignations of 5 APD officers. And now APD has found that the February 17 crash was none preventable and that Medina will not be charged. The February 17 crash should have been investigated by another law enforcement agency to eliminate any doubt of a cover-up by APD.

Any other APD police officer involved in such a crash that caused serious bodily injury to another would have been charged and immediately placed on administrative leave and investigated and perhaps terminated. Any private citizen involved with such an accident would have been charged and arrested and hauled off to jail. APD Chief Harold Medina must be held 100% responsible for the car crash critically injuring another.  Chief Medina should be charged with Reckless Driving and be terminated “for cause” for the numerous violations of APD’s Standard Operating procedures.

_____________________________________________________________

POSTSCRIPT

APD STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES

It is 2-50 of APD’s Standard Operating Procedures that creates the Crash Review Board. The purpose of the Crash Review Board (CRB) is to review and classify all Albuquerque Police Department-issued vehicle crashes as preventable or non-preventable. The CRB reviews all preventable crashes for cause analysis to prevent similar types of crashes in the future

Section 2-50-3 of APD’s Standard Operating procedures that defines a crash as “An unintended event resulting in injury or damage involving one (1) or more motor vehicles as defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and defines a  Non-Crash as Damage caused by an intentional act that is not a crash, under normal driving conditions, which strikes a motor vehicle likely to cause damage this includes, but is not limited to a Pursuit Intervention (PIT) maneuver.”

Section 2-50-3 C  of APD’s Standard Operating procedures defines a “Non-Preventable” crash as  “A crash that involved a motor vehicle that could not have been averted by an act, or failure to act, by the driver when the driver exercised normal judgment and foresight and was unable to avoid it or which steps would have risked causing another kind of mishap.”

Section 2-50-3 D of APD’s Standard Operating procedures defines a “Preventable Crash” as “A crash in which the driver failed to do everything that reasonably could have been  done to avoid the crash, and if a driver, who exercises normal judgment and foresight could have foreseen the possibility of the crash, and avoided it by taking steps within their control which would not have risked causing another kind of mishap.”

Links to related blog articles are here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2024/04/05/vote-of-no-confidence-and-resolution-to-remove-apd-chief-harold-medina-withdrawn-apd-crash-review-board-votes-unanimously-that-february-17-medina-crash-non-preventable-internal-aff/

https://www.petedinelli.com/2024/04/03/apd-lapel-camera-video-footage-released-from-february-17-chief-medina-crash-reveals-apd-failed-to-follow-standard-operating-procedures-with-medina-given-preferential-treatment-by-apd-and-failures-to/

https://www.petedinelli.com/2024/03/28/victim-of-chief-medinas-reckless-driving-comes-forward-and-speaks-out-about-injuries-demands-that-chief-be-held-accountable-lawsuit-to-be-filed-mayor-keller-eviscerated-for-praising-medina/

ABQ Journal Dinelli Guest Opinion Column: “Lawmakers should set up statewide mental health court”; Related Column: Laws, Statistics, and Resources Needed To Create 14th Judicial District Court For Mental Health Commitment Court

On April 14, 2024 the Albuquerque Journal published the below 550 word guest opinion column on the proposal to create a statewide mental health court. Many thanks are given to the Journal for publishing the column.

The Journal guest column is a very abbreviated version of a News and Opinion column published on April 8, 2024 by www.PeteDinell.com entitled “Gov. MLG Says 80% Chance For Special Session; COMMENTARY: Special Session Should Be Convened To Expand Mental Health Court; Create 14th Judicial District Court With 3 Regional Divisions For Mental Health Commitment Hearings; Build Regional Treatment Facilities And Hospitals For Mandatory Treatment”. 

The link to the full news and commentary blog article is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2024/04/08/gov-mlg-says-80-chance-for-special-session-commentary-special-session-should-be-convened-to-expand-mental-health-court-create-14th-judicial-district-court-with-3-regional-divisions-for/

Below is the guest column:

ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL GUEST OPINION COLUMN

HEADLINE: “Lawmakers should set up statewide mental health court”

BY PETE DINELLI

“Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is saying there’s an 80% chance she will call state lawmakers back to the state Capitol for a special session to approve new public safety laws.

Legislation being discussed includes mandatory sentencing of criminal defendants who are found incompetent to stand trial to mental or behavioral health treatment programs.

A civil commitment process where there would be mandatory treatment of at least 90 days in a state facility setting for mental or behavioral health or drug and chemical dependency is being touted. The state could initiate civil action when family members are unable to have a relative involuntarily held in an in-patient facility.

There are laws on that books that deal with when and under what circumstances formal civil commitment hearings can be initiated for three-day, seven-day and even 30-day observation and diagnostic evaluations for the mentally ill and the drug addicted.

All deal with the civil commitments of those who are a danger to themselves and others. The laws also provide that district attorneys can initiate civil mental health commitment actions for evaluations and treatment and these laws should be expanded.

The Point In Time Survey for the unsheltered for the years 2009 to 2022 reports 46% of the unsheltered suffer from serious mental illness and that 44% of the unsheltered suffer from substance abuse, for a staggering 89% combined total.

In Albuquerque, 30.19% of the unhoused self-report as having a serious mental illness and 25.5% self-reported as substance abusers. New Mexico’s homeless numbers increased 48% in 2023 going from upwards of 2,600 people to 3,842.

The Bernalillo County Second Judicial Court has the only specialized Mental Health Court. It is a state-certified specialty treatment court specifically for individuals whose involvement with the legal system is directly related to an untreated mental health or drug addiction disorder. The court serves individuals charged and/or convicted of felony level charges and provides intervention, treatment and support.

Warehousing the mentally ill or drug addicted who are unhoused in jails for crimes committed is not the answer and it does not address treatment.

There is a need for statewide mental health facilities or hospitals to provide services needed to the unhoused mentally ill or drug-addicted. There exists less than adequate facilities where patients can be referred to for civil mental health commitments and treatment and a need for behavioral health hospital and drug rehabilitation treatment facilities.

The courts must be looked to as part of the solution. A special session of the Legislature for public safety should be for the creation of a statewide Judicial District Mental Health Treatment Court functioning as a mandatory outreach treatment court for the drug-addicted and the mentally ill in a hospital or counseling setting not involving jail incarceration.

Regional divisions located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Las Vegas could be created for mandatory mental health and drug treatment programs.

Creation of a new court system must include funding for district attorneys and public defenders with dedicated personnel resources for the filing and defending of civil mental health commitments as prescribed by law.

A statewide mental health court with mandatory civil commitments will get treatment to those who need it the most, help get the unhoused off the streets and help families with loved ones who resist any mental health treatment.”

Pete Dinelli is a former chief public safety officer, former chief deputy district attorney and former Albuquerque city councilor.

2024 Race For Bernalillo County District Attorney Shaping Up To Be Most Expensive Race For DA In It’s History; Other County Races Listed

On March 28, the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office announced those who have qualified to run for county offices in Bernalillo County for the June 4 primary with the general election to be held on November 5.  Second Judicial District Attorney Sam Bregman will face former United State Attorney for New Mexico Damon Martinez. Progressive Democrat and Assistant Public Defender Mathias Swonger announced in March that he dropped out of the race.  There is no Republican running so whoever wins the Democratic primary on June 4 will be Bernalillo County District Attorney.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The postscript to this article reports on the other Bernalillo County elected positions that will appear on the June 4 ballot.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY SAM BREGMAN

District Attorney Sam Bregman, age 60, is a prominent criminal defense attorney who has handled high profile cases and has over 30 years of trial experience in both civil and criminal law including in his early years as an attorney serving as a Bernalillo County Assistant District Attorney. He is a former chairman of the state Democratic Party, a former Albuquerque City Councilor (1995 -1999) and a former member of the State  Racing Commission where he served as chairman. Last year, the Governor appointed Bregman Chairman of the Governor’s Organized Crime Commission.  On January 4, 2023 Sam Bregman was appointed Bernalillo County District Attorney by Governor Mitchell Lujan Grisham to serve out the remaining 2 years of the 4-year term of Raúl Torrez who was elected Attorney General and took office on January 1, 2023. At the time of his appointment, Bregman said he would not run for a full term as District Attorney.  On Thursday, June 29, 2023, a full 6 months after his appointment as District Attorney, Bregman announced he was running for a full 4 year term.

FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY DAMON MARTINEZ

Damon Martinez, age 58, has over twenty years of prosecutorial experience. For 17 years, he worked at the New Mexico U.S. Attorney’s Office, where he rose from a line prosecutor to a supervisor of the wiretap section prosecuting drug cartels. In 2013 Martinez was appointed United States Attorney for New Mexico by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed in the United States Senate in 2014 and served until March 11, 2017. He holds the rank of Colonel and serves as the Army Staff Judge Advocate  for the New Mexico National Guard.  As United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, Mr. Martinez played a critical role in the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) involving the Albuquerque Police Department after a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation found a “culture of aggression” within APD.  In 2018 after Martinez ran for the Democratic nomination for U.S. House, District 1 coming in second, he was appointed Deputy City Attorney and Senior Policy Advisor working for the City of Albuquerque and APD.

Bregman and Martinez were among 14 attorneys who applied for the appointment by Governor Lujan Grisham after then Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez won the Attorney General contest in November 2022. Bregman announced in June that he planned to run to keep the job. Martinez announced in October his bid to unseat Bregman in the primary.

CASH CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

On  April 1, the New Mexico Secretary of State released the campaign finance reports for all 530 candidates state wide listing them in alphabetical order on the Secretary of State  Campaign Finance Reporting System.  The period covered is for October 3, 2024 to April 1, 2024.  Both Sam Bregman and Damon Martinez are listed as the  number 3  and 4 respectively by the New Mexico Secretary State as the top spenders thus far of all candidates in primary 2024 .

The link to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Campaign Finance  Reporting System  is here:

https://login.cfis.sos.state.nm.us/index.html#/index

According to the Secretary of State, District Attorney Sam Bregman has raised $417,601  and former US Attorney  Martinez has raised $302,200 in contributions.  Sam Bregman campaign has spent $98,364 and the Damon Martinez campaign has spent $98,061.

Following is the breakdown of contributions raised, expenditures and the top 5 donors for each candidate:

SAM BREGMAN

Total Contributions: $417,601.01

In-Kind Contributions: $14,815.88

Expenditures: $98,363.60

Current Cash Balance: $319,237.41

Current Debt Balance:  $0.00

The five top donors to the Sam Bregman Campaign listed are:

  1. Holmans USA: $11,000
  2. All Amercan Ruidoso Downs, LLC: $11,000
  3. The New Beginings, LLC: $10,000
  4. Stephen Slatton: $5,500
  5. Plaza Ladera, LLC

ANALYSIS

The $11,000 donation from “All Amercan Ruidoso Downs” to the Bregman campaign should come as no surprise in that long time respected businessman Paul Blanchard is one of the major principals of Ruidoso Downs race track.  DA Sam Bregman was a member of the State  Racing Commission from 2003 to 2009, where he served as Chair.

Other noteworthy contributions made to the Bregman campaign include well known trial attorneys Lisa Curtis who donated $2,000  and  Lisa Torraco who donated $1,000. Torraco is a Republican and was a State Senator from January 15, 2013 to January 15, 2017 and she was also the  Republican nominee for Bernalillo County District Attorney some 20 years ago.

DAMON MARTINEZ

Total Contributions: $302,200

In-Kind Contributions: -0-

Expenditures: $98,061

Current Cash Balance: $204,138

Current Debt Balance: $170,000  (Candidate loan)

The five top donors to the Damon Martinez Campaign listed are:

  1. Damon Martinez (Damon for DA): $170,000.00 (Candidate loan)
  2. Julie Rochman: $5,500.00
  3. Ian McKinnon: $5,500
  4. Jessica Carothers: $5,500
  5. Clinton Marrs: $5,500

ANALYSIS

Former US Attorney Damon Martinez has went into his own pocket and loaned himself $170,000. Other noteworthy donations to the Damon Martinez campaign include Bueno Foods who gave $2,500, respected trial attorney Antonia Roybal Mack who donated $1,000 and a $2,500 donation from the political action committee “CrossPartisan PAC”.

The link to a related news article is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/bernalillo-county-das-race-draws-six-figure-donations/article_6b8a5584-f789-11ee-8516-c7ecac6302a4.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

There is no doubt that both Sam Bregman and Damon Martinez are the most qualified candidates that have ever run for Bernalillo County District Attorney given their combined years of experience as trial attorneys and the past positions they have held. Both are considered highly successful in their own right as trial attorneys and both appear to really want the job. They both appear to be running for the right reason which is a dedication to public service.

Both  Bregman and Martinez have raised significant amounts of money for their campaigns and likely will raise far more before the primary.  It is not likely that they are running for the job for the money given that the job pays $156,000 a year and they both will be spending upwards of $500,000 each to get elected.

There is absolutely no doubt that the race for Bernalillo County District Attorney is the most contentious race of all the county races.  It will be the most expensive race for the job in its history. Voters can expect far more money to be raised and a major onslaught of negative TV ads as well a series of dueling press releases.

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POSTSCRIPT

This election year, there are 7 Bernalillo County elected positions on the ballot.  18 candidates have filed declarations of candidacies and have qualified by submitting the required number of qualifying nominating signatures from registered voters.   In addition to the race for Bernalillo County District Attorney, following is the breakdown of the other Bernalillo County races:

Treasurer Nancy Bearce cannot run for reelection after serving two consecutive terms.  Former New Mexico State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg has filed as a Democrat to run for the seat. Eichenberg served as Bernalillo County Treasurer in the 1970s and was the youngest County Treasurer to have ever been elected and also served as a State Senator before running for State Treasurer. Eichenberg will face Democrat Kenneth Scott, who previously served as Deputy Treasurer and Deputy Assessor for Bernalillo County, in the primary. Lelan Morrison will run for the seat as a Republican.

Two Democrats and two Republicans are vying to replace County Clerk Linda Stover. The Democratic candidates are Deputy County Clerk Michelle Kavanaugh and Karen Montoya, who previously served on the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission and before that two terms as Bernalillo County County Assessor. The Republican candidates are Robert Kwasny and Clayton Pryor.

District 2 Commissioner and Democrat Steven Michael Quezada cannot run for reelection because he will have served two consecutive four-year terms. Two Democrats, Frank Baca and William Walker, and one Republican, Mary Ingham are now running to fill the seat.

District 3 Commissioner, Democrat Adriann Barboa, is running for reelection. She will have two Democratic primary challengers, Robert Padilla and Laura Nasaria-Chavez, and one Republican opponent, Rene Coronado.

District 4 Commissioner, Republican Walt Benson, is running for reelection with no opposing candidates.

Division 11 Metro Court Judge Shonnetta Estrada will also reclaim her position with no opposition.

The link to the news source relied on is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/bernalillo-county-candidates-2024/article_b7ce8202-eb8c-11ee-a169-bbb4b7e19516.html#tncms-source=home-featured-7-block