New Mexico Revenue Outlook Rebounds; Legislature Debates How Much Is Enough For A “ Rainy Day”

On Friday, August 28, during a Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) held in Taos, it was revealed that the State is experiencing an all-time high windfall of more than nearly $1 billion higher than what was projected in February of this year. The estimates released to the legislative committee by executive and legislative economists project that New Mexico will have nearly $1.4 billion in additional money in the coming year. The $1.4 Billion is the the difference between expected revenue and the state’s current $7.4 billion budget. The cause of the windfall is surging oil and natural gas production and a rise in consumer spending.

The projected revenue total does not include more than $1.5 billion that will automatically flow into a state “rainy day” fund and an early childhood endowment fund over the next two years. It also does not include the $1.75 billion in federal relief funds that have only been partially earmarked by the Lujan Grisham administration.

According to a report to the Legislative Finance Committee:

“Revenues are up $851.3 million from the February 2021 estimate, due primarily to higher-than-expected gross receipts tax and income tax collections that accompanied increased consumer spending and growth in high- and mid-wage employment in the first half of 2021. … Additionally, strong recovery in the oil and gas markets are pushing severance tax and federal royalty collections well above their five-year averages, resulting in large transfers to the newly created early childhood trust fund.”

REVENUE PROJECTIONS

The 2 separate funds that have been created by the New Mexico Legislature to ensure that there is adequate funding to continue to provide essential services and deal with bad economic times such as when the pandemic hit and at the same time state revenues plummeted as a result of the oil boom bust.

The two funds are the Tax Stabilization Fund and the Early Childhood Trust Fund.

The Tax Stabilization Reserve Fund is referred to as the “rainy day fund”. It was created by the legislature in 2017. The revenues for the fund come from royalties or tax collections on the oil and natural gas industries that exceed a five-year rolling average.

The Early Childhood Trust Fund was created by the legislature in 2020 at the insistence of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. The funds revenue source is the same revenue source when total state cash reserves amount to 25% or more of the state’s approved spending level . Funds also come from mineral leasing payments on federal land. The trust fund makes annual distributions to help fund early childhood programs statewide, a major priority of the Lujan Grisham Administration.

According to the Legislative Finance Committee, both funds are projected to spike considerably over the next 2 fiscal years with the following projections made:

TAX STABILIZATION RESERVE:

Fiscal year 2021: $1.8 Billion Fiscal Year 2022: $2.2 Billion Fiscal year 2023: $2.3 Billion

EARLY CHILDHOOD TRUST FUND:

Fiscal year 2021: $334.7 Million Fiscal Year 2022: $505.4 Million Fiscal year 2023: $283.6

Note that based on revenue estimates released a total of $1.8 billion is projected to be in the Tax Stabilization Reserve fund at the end of the current fiscal year that started on July 1, 2021 and ends June 30, 2022, or more than half the state’s estimated $3.1 billion in total reserves. Also not that upwards of $1.1 billion is projected to be transferred into the Early Childhood Trust Fund over a three-year period ending in June 2023.

House Speaker Brian Egolf said in a statement that the revenue projections were proof that Democrat’s policies are working and said:

“With roughly $1.4 billion in new revenue, investments in infrastructure, families, and communities will continue to be central to our work to diversify and guarantee sustainable, long-term growth for our state. ”

According to the Legislative Finance Committee over the last decade New Mexico’s revenue levels have gone up and down from as low as $5.7 Billion in 2013 to now a projected $8.8 Billion in 2023. and fluctuated widely from year to year”. The reported breakdown by fiscal years is as follows:

2013 – $5.7 billion
2014 – $6 billion
2015 – $6.2 billion
2016 – $5.7 billion
2017 – $5.7 billion
2018 – $6.8 billion
2019 – $8 billion
2020 – $7.8 billion
2021 – $8 billion (estimated level)
2022– $8.1 billion (estimated level)
2023 – $8.8 billion (estimated level)

The link to the Journal article reporting on fiscal years breakdowns is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2423653/nm-revenue-levels-projected-to-soar-to-all-time-high.html

GOVERNOR’S REACTION

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s press secretary Nora Meyers Sackett said in a statement that the Governor’s Office has been conducting preliminary agency-by-agency budget meetings in recent weeks to be able to make formal budget recommendations this fall. According to Sackett:

“[The Governor is] incredibly optimistic about [the revenue projection.] It underscores and validates the sound fiscal stewardship of her administration, which has, despite the unprecedented events of the last 18-plus months, put New Mexico in perhaps its best financial position in more than a decade. … The governor’s budget priorities have been clear throughout her term and they are unlikely to change: Public education, economic development, environmental protection and crime and criminal justice reform. … Within that framework is where we will continue to focus our efforts to respond to and invest in the areas New Mexicans care most about.”

LEGISLATORS DEBATE ON HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH FOR A “RAINY DAY”

The 2022 legislative session is a 30 day session, called a short session and is convened to deal almost exclusively with the budget, financial matters and taxation. It is the Governor who set the agenda is such sessions. The 30 day session begins January 17, 2022.

The debate between legislator’s is already beginning as to how the additional funding should be used.

Representative Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, the chairwoman of the Legislative Finance Committee, said that she has asked legislative staffers to look into possible changes to the Early Childhood Trust Fund including a possible cap on the fund’s total balances. Lundstrum had this to say:

“I don’t want money sitting in funds when we have so many needs”.

Senator George Muñoz, D-Gallup, the vice chairman of the Legislative Finance Committee suggested the revenue windfall should be spent on one-time expenditures not part of the state budget and had this to say:

“There’s going to be a lot more money than we know what to do with in the next few years, but it’s not going to last forever. … Now is the time to tackle the structural issues of New Mexico. We’re going to think big … We’re not going to pull around our little wagon anymore. … We’re going to load our armored trucks, and we’re going to develop and make New Mexico grow. ”

House Majority Leader Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, had this to say:

“[The tax stabilization reserve fund] is getting pretty big, and I think we need to take a look as a Legislature at how it’s structured.”

Representative Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, proclaimed the state could withstand two consecutive decadelong economic downturns, given the amount of money in the savings funds and said:

“Money sitting in an account is actually counterproductive to the future of our state.”

Senator Crystal Diamond, R-Elephant Butte, said legislators should be mindful of the historic volatility of oil and gas revenues noting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and said:

“We do not know what the future holds, and as such, we should think twice before spending exorbitantly simply because our coffers appear to be full today.”

Republican Senator Pat Woods raised concerns about widespread inflation and said:

“I think New Mexico is very flush with money. … And it’s all about the money that poured into this state.”

The links to quoted source material are here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2423653/nm-revenue-levels-projected-to-soar-to-all-time-high.html

https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/new-mexico-projects-nearly-1-4-billion-budget-windfall/article_391f5c9c-0741-11ec-88c4-bb0bacd4cb1f.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Although New Mexico’s financial out look is looking better, it is too easy to forget how quickly things can change practically overnight.

It was in 2019 that the New Mexico oil industry’s historic energy production was enabling unprecedented investment by Mew Mexico in education. In FY 2019, the oil and gas industry contributed $1.36 billion to public education, representing a 28% increase over FY 2018. Public schools and higher education received $1.36 billion from state oil and gas revenue in FY 2019, up a staggering $300 million from FY 2018. It includes upwards of $1.06 billion for primary and secondary education, and $302 million for state universities, colleges and other higher education institutions.

A report by the New Mexico Tax Research Institute released in January, 2020, revealed that the oil and natural gas industry contributed more than $3.1 billion in tax revenue for fiscal year 2019, a dramatic 41% from the $2.2 billion generated the year before. The $3.1 billion was an increase of $910 million from 2018. Oil and natural gas represent 39% of New Mexico’s General Fund revenues, the highest share of all industries in recent history.

https://www.energyindepth.org/oil-industry-sets-new-record-with-3-1-billion-in-revenue-for-2019-new-mexico-budget/

https://www.abqjournal.com/1410518/nm-earned-31bn-in-oil-gas-revenue-in-fy-2019.html

https://www.nmoga.org/FuelingNewMexico

On February 20, 2020, the New Mexico legislature ended having enacted a $7.6 Billion dollar budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The enacted budget raised annual spending by $536 million, or by nearly 8% over last year’s budget. The increase in spending was a result of record-breaking oil production in the Permian Basin with the state originally anticipating at least an $800 million increase in state government income during the coming budget year. The legislature also enacted a separate $49.5 million in capital outlay projects. Oil and natural gas represent 39% of New Mexico’s General Fund revenues. The 2020-2021 fiscal year begins July 1.

https://markets.businessinsider.com/commodities/oil-price?type=wti

Passage of the $7.6 billion budget plan for the 2021 budget year was predicated on oil averaging $52 per barrel. The price of crude oil per barrel has now plummeted to an alarming $20 dollars a barrel and is expected to go down even further. With each $1 drop a barrel in oil prices, the state loses upwards of $22 million in direct oil and gas revenue over a full year. Within one month of adjournment of the New Mexico legislature, the corona virus hit the country and hit New Mexico, but the oil price war between Russia and the Organization of Petroleum Exports (OPEC) has hit the state coffers even harder. The biggest fear is that oil prices will drop to single digits.

Just when things were looking great with respect to oil and gas royalties to finance state government, BAM the corona virus hits, a global oil price war intensified, and New Mexico got hit in the process, all within one month since the adjournment of the New Mexico legislature on February 20, 2020. The global oil price war hit hard the state’s revenue boom, harder than anyone expected. It caused the state budget surplus to evaporate. The New Mexico Legislature’s finance analysts had pegged oil prices for the budget year that ends in June to an average $52 per barrel but oil prices per barrel of crude hit an all time low $21.

As the result of the financial crisis in revenues, Governor Lujan Grisham was forced to call a Special Session on November 24, 2020 to deal with the revenue shortfall and pandemic relief.

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/11/25/special-legislative-session-begins-and-ends-within-8-hours-and-spending-330-in-coronavirus-19-pandemic-relief-aide/

One thing is for certain is that New Mexico lawmakers did not envision the spike of billions of revenues in such a short period time. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Legislature will soon be releasing their own separate proposed budgets before the start of next year’s 30-day legislative session. Both those budgets will act as the blue prints for enactment of a final budget.

Manny Gonzales Denied $661,000 For 5th Time In Public Financing; Unethical Gonzales Calls Judge’s Ruling “Bad” and “Unethical”; Private Financing Sought; Will There Be A Run Off Between Keller And Aragon?

On Tuesday, September 13, First Judicial District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid upheld the Albuquerque City Clerk’s decision to deny public financing to Sheriff Manny Gonzales. During the hearing, Gonzales’ attorneys argued that even without the signatures in question, Gonzales still had enough to qualify for the funding. However, city’s adopted campaign finance rules allow the clerk to deny public financing, no matter how much fraud is found, no matter how minor it is.

Judge Biedscheid in announcing his ruling from the bench said:

“There has been really nothing presented to the court [today] to indicate that the clerk’s initial finding was fraudulent, arbitrary, capricious … that it wasn’t’ supported by substantial evidence.

Essentially Mr. Gonzales has wanted two things throughout this proceeding, which is, one, instantaneous decision-making and, (two), the most elaborate trappings of full criminal prosecution and the like, and you cannot provide both of those,” the judge said. “I think this court has been in a position similar to that which the clerk was in, and that is a position of trying to balance the need for expedited proceedings and the need to make sure everyone has due process and the right to respond.

While much is made and much effort is expended trying to paint Mr. Watson as the instrument of the mayor, that is not legally true. … He is the Albuquerque city clerk that has been vested with authority and duties under Albuquerque ordinances.”

Gonzales’ attorneys argued that even without the signatures in question he still has enough to qualify for the funding. However, the the city election rules are clear and allow the clerk to deny public financing, no matter how much fraud is found.

Sheriff Manny Gonzales during an afternoon press conference called the Judge’s decision a “bad” and “unethical” decision.

GONZALES SEEKS PRIVATE FINANCING

After Judge Biedscheid’s ruling to deny him public finance, Manny Gonzales held a news conference and announced his campaign’s plan to move forward with raising private financing. A defiant Gonzales said he and his supporters will not be “hushed” and had this to say:

“This is something that has never happened to another campaign. And I think that’s going to be the driving force, and the motivation, and the inspiration for us winning this race. … What we want people to know is that not only am I more inspired than ever but I’m also ready to win this race on behalf of the people.”

Gonzales also came out swinging blaming the Democrt Progressives for undermining his campaign all because of his support of President Trump and accepting federal funding last year for a law enforcement initiatives. Gonzales appeared with then Attorney General William Barr at an Albuquerque Press conference and later Gonzales traveled to the White House to attend a Presidential Press conference on a crime initiative where Albuquerque was identified as one of 7 cities that would have federal agents sent to deal with violent crime.

Gonzales now has less than 8 weeks before the November 2 election to get private contributions for his mayoral campaign.

Links to quoted news source materials

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/district-court-judge-upholds-denial-of-gonzales-public-financing/6237898/?cat=500

https://www.krqe.com/news/politics-government/elections/district-court-judge-denies-public-financing-for-manny-gonzales-again/

https://www.abqjournal.com/2429152/sheriff-changes-course-after-loss-in-court.html

https://www.abqjournal.com/2429152/sheriff-changes-course-after-loss-in-court.html

ORIGINAL DENIAL BY CITY CLERK

On June 18, City Clerk Ethan Watson posted on the city web site his office had reviewed and verified that Gonzales submitted more than the required 3,000 valid signatures and more than the 3,771 valid qualifying donations. The city clerk rejected 745 petition signatures and rejected 573 Qualifying $5.00 contributions submitted by the Gonzales campaign. Ostensibly with the posting, no forgeries were found in the 3,000 nominating signatures and the 3,771 qualifying donations approved by the city clerk.

The Keller campaign submitted to the City Clerk 149 examples of alleged forgeries on documents submitted to the City Clerk by the Gonzales campaign. The Keller campaign also filed signed statements from upwards of 40 people contacted by a private investigator hired by Keller campaign. Most of those contacted said the signatures on Gonzales’ nominating petition was theirs and half confirmed they had contributed $5 to Gonzales’ public financing effort. Nearly all said signatures on the $5 qualifying donations were forgeries.

The city’s Office of Inspector General investigated the qualifying $5.00 contribution receipts and found that there were problems with 15% of the 239 randomly selected Gonzales campaign receipts it reviewed. According to the Inspector General, the voters identified and contacted in those instances said either that they signed the receipt but never gave money or that they never signed the receipt or gave $5.

Complicating things for Gonzales is he admitted that signature forgeries were on both nominating petitions and the $5.00 qualifying donations. On July 14, after repeated denials of any wrong doing by the Gonzales campaign, and in a written response to an ethics complaint filed with the Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices, Gonzales’ campaign stated.

“It does appear, upon the Gonzales campaign’s own investigation, that many of the qualifying-contribution (“QC”) receipts…were signed by someone other than the voter.”

In a letter dated July 9, Albuquerque City Clerk Ethan Watson notified Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales’ that the city was denying his campaign $661,00 in public financing citing misconduct in the qualifying process and forgery of signatures on $5 qualifying donations. City Clerk Watson wrote Gonzales he could not confirm that Gonzales had complied with the city’s Open and Ethical Election Code and associated regulations.

It is Part C of the regulations entitled “QUALIFYING PERIOD AND QUALIFYING CONTRIBUTIONS” that outlines the certification process relating to the $5 qualifying donations for all the candidates.

Paragraph 15 entitled “Certification of Participating Candidates for Public Financing” provides in part as follows:

“The City Clerk shall certify as a Participating Candidate, all Applicant Candidates who meet the requirements of the OEEC and submit an Application for Certification.

“In addition to the criteria for certification listed … upon receipt of a final Qualifying Contribution report from an Applicant Candidate, the Clerk shall determine whether the Applicant Candidate has:

… been found to have submitted any fraudulent Qualifying Contributions or any falsified acknowledgement forms for Qualifying Contributions or Seed Money Contributions, where the Applicant Candidate knew or should have known of the fraudulence or falsification.

If the Clerk makes … the finding … above, the Clerk shall not certify the Applicant Candidate as a Participating Candidate.”

The link to the regulations is here:

https://www.cabq.gov/vote/documents/2021-regulations-for-the-open-and-ethical-election-code.pdf

Gonzales appealed Watson’s denial of public finance and the case was assigned to a city hearing officer. Within a week, a hearing was scheduled.

HEARING OFFICER RULING

On Monday July 19, city hearing officer Ripley Harwood issued his written ruling on Manny Gonzales’ appeal of the City Clerks denial of $661,000 in public finance. Harwood found Manny Gonzales had failed to prove that Clerk Ethan Watson had acted inappropriately in denying him $661,000 in public financing. Harwood specifically found that it was Gonzales’ responsibility to keep fraud and forgery in the gathering of the qualifying donations. In his ruling upholding the city clerk, Harwood wrote:

“I endorse the view that it is the duty of candidates to manage and oversee their campaigns in a way that assures that fraud and falsifications do not occur. I would view this as a non-delegable duty even if (Gonzales) had not signed a document acknowledging responsibility for the acts of his key subordinates. … Failing to detect and eliminate a multitude of forged qualifying contribution forms bearing the signatures of his key subordinates constitutes failure to exercise ordinary care in the management of a campaign and meets the ‘knew or should have known’ standard of [the “Open and Ethical Elections Code” regulations.]”

FIRST BIEDSCHEID RULING

Gonzales appealed the city hearing officer’s ruling to state district court. All Second Judicial District Judges disqualified themselves from hearing the case and First Judicial District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid was assigned the case by the Supreme Court.

On Friday, August 27, Santa Fe District Judge Bryan Biedscheid reversed Albuquerque City Clerk Nathan Watson’s decision denying Sheriff Manuel Gonzales the public financing for his mayoral campaign. The Court ruled that Watson denied Gonzales due process of law.

In making his first ruling in the case, Judge Biedscheid emphasized that Gonzales was denied the opportunity to answer the allegations of fraud against him in the collection of the $5 qualifying donations for public finance. Instead, the City Clerk decided to withhold certification of the funding unilaterally by interpreting and applying election rules and regulations he wrote an issued in September of 2020.

The Judge also ruled the city clerk could ultimately deny Gonzales the public financing, but to do so, the City Clerk will need to determine that Gonzales has been found to have violated regulations and make specific factual findings on those allegations. The judge further ordered the City Clerk must establish and carry out a process by next week giving Gonzales due process. The judge stressed that Gonzales has to be given the opportunity to answer the allegations against him.

NEW MEXICO SUPREME COURT REFUSES TO INTERVENE

On September 1, the Gonzales campaign filed a PETITION FOR WRIT OF SUPERINTENDING CONTROL asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to intervene. On September 8, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied the petition and dismissed the case.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

At the very least it is downright embarrassing and the very worst very pathetic that Sheriff Manny Gonzales would actually say Judge Biedscheid’s decision was “bad” and “unethical” decision and essentially taking absolute no responsibility for the illegal conduct of his campaign. Sheriff Gonzales has 30 years of law enforcement experience. As an elected Sheriff, he is also held to a higher standard and he is not above the law. There is no doubt that Gonzales knows that forging a person’s signature is a 4th degree felony with a basic sentence of 18 months in prison and that fraud to secure $661,000 in financing would be a second degree felony punishable by a basic 18 years in prison, yet Sheriff Gonzales allowed fraud and the forging of signatures in an effort to secure $661,000 in his campaign financing.

Sheriff Gonzales embarrassingly argued that fraud and forgeries go on all the time in political campaigns. That may be true, but it was the Gonzales campaign that got caught. The blunt truth is that Biedscheid ensured that Gonzales was given “due process of law” and an evidentiary hearing and then and only then was the public financing taken away. One thing Gonzales may have learned out of all of the mess he created is that even the guilty are entitled to due process of law, and once due process occurs, a decision is made as to the consequences. If there was any unethical conduct in this whole damn mess it came from the Gonzales campaign.

Gonzales will find it extremely difficult to raise money. The municipal election is scheduled for November 2, giving Gonzales 8 weeks to raise private financing an extremely daunting task. It will require major donors to raise sufficient financing to run a viable campaign. Now that Manny Gonzales has been denied $661,000 in public financing for the 5th time, it is also more likely than not that whatever support he had from conservative Democrats, Trump Republicans and Independents will implode as his reputation in law enforcement has been severely tarnished. Donations to the measured finance campaign supporting and promoting Manny Gonzales began to decline when his trouble with the city clerk emerged and now he has had almost 2 full months of negative press that has sullied his before good reputation.

WILL THERE BE A RUNOFF BETWEEN KELLER AND ARAGON?

Incumbent Mayor Tim Keller no doubt benefits from having his most viable opponent’s public finance funding zeroed out by the courts. Keller has qualified and been given the $661,000 in public finance. Further, the measured finance committee “Build Back Burque”, organized to raise money and to promote Keller has $51,770 on hand to promote Keller or tear down Gonzales or Eddy Aragon for that matter. Sources have confirmed that Mayor Tim Keller is already taping and preparing video campaign ads that will likely be release come October 1.

Der Führer Trump Republican candidate Eddy Aragon will also benefit from Gonzales’ downwards spiral and loss of public finance and support. Aragon is a private finance candidate and the only Republican who qualified for Mayor securing the 3,000 nominating signatures in an impressive two-week period. Further, the Republican Party has now endorsed Aragon and that will likely also bring in donations, but if it will be nearly enough to run an effective campaign is the ultimate question.

At this point in time and 8 weeks before the election, incumbent Mayor Tim Keller is the front runner. With that said, with a low voter turnout, which is expected, Mayor Tim Keller may not secure the necessary 50% of the vote plus one to avoid a runoff. As the Gonzales campaign continues to nose dive and if the Eddy Aragon campaign gains traction, or major event happens that tests Keller’s leadership and he fails, there could be a runoff between Mayor Tim Keller and Eddy Aragon with neither getting 50% of the vote and Gonzales coming in 3rd.

In a runoff, Keller will consolidate the Progressive and Moderate Democratic vote, Aragon will consolidate the Republican and conservative Democrat vote. Under such a scenario, the city could see a repeat of the Democrat Tim Keller and Republican Dan Lewis election 4 years ago with Keller ultimately winning.

Fasten your seat belt and stay tuned!

US Attorney General Garland Announces New Rules For Federal Monitoring Of Consent Decrees; City And APD React; Police Union President Shoots Off Big Mouth

On Monday, September 13, during an online speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, United States Attorney General Merrick Garland, and former US Court of Appeals Judge, unveiled new rules governing federal monitors responsible for overseeing police reforms and implementation of court approved settlement reform measures. The new rules include setting limits on federal court appointed monitor’s tenure, budgets for their services and requiring them to undergo more training.

5 PRINCIPALS, 19 ACTIONS

Since Garland was appointed Attorney General, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has undertaken “pattern or practice” investigations of police departments in Minneapolis, Louisville and Phoenix. It was in 2013 that such an investigation occurred with the Albuquerque Police Department. The DOJ found that APD engaged in a pattern of “excessive use of force” and “deadly force” and a “culture of aggression”. The DOJ investigation of APD resulted in a Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) entered into by the City and the DOJ mandating 271 police reforms.

The biggest and most pervasive complaints involving the settlement agreements are that they go on, and on for on years, they harm police morale and frustrate community residents. Monitoring teams, such as what Albuquerque has, are usually composed of former police officials, lawyers, academics and police-reform consultants. The monitoring teams typically bill local taxpayers between $1 million and $2 million per year. In Albuquerque, Federal Court Appointed Monitor James Ginger has been paid upwards of $8 million over the last 7 years and his team has prepared 13 Independent Monitor’s Report filed with the federal court. Each time a report is release, the Federal Court has an all day briefing in the case.

The Department of Justice said in a press release:

“The department has found that – while consent decrees and monitors are important tools to increase transparency and accountability – the department can and should do more to improve their efficiency and efficacy. The Associate Attorney General [Vanita Gupta] has recommended – and I have accepted – a set of 19 actions that the department will take to address those concerns.”

Associate Attorney General Gupta for his part had this to say:

“Consent decrees have proven to be vital tools in upholding the rule of law and promoting transformational change in the state and local governmental entities where they are used. … The department must do everything it can to guarantee that they remain so by working to ensure that the monitors who help implement these decrees do so efficiently, consistently and with meaningful input and participation from the communities they serve.”

The 19 actions are outlined in the memo released released by the DOJ. There are major 5 principals outlined in Gupta’s memo that will require future monitorships of state and local governmental to meet. Those principals are:

1. Monitorships should be designed to minimize cost to jurisdictions and avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.
2. Monitors must be accountable to the court, the parties and the public.
3. Monitors should assess compliance consistently across jurisdictions.
4. Sustained, meaningful engagement with the community is critical to the success of the monitors.
5. Monitoring must be structured to efficiently move jurisdictions into compliance.

The steps the department will take going forward in all monitor agreements to ensure that these principles are outlined as follows:

1. Budget Caps: Future consent decrees will include an annual cap on monitors’ fees to increase transparency and help contain costs.

2. No Double Dipping: To dispel any perception that monitoring is a cottage industry, lead monitors in future consent decrees will no longer be able to serve on more than one monitoring team at a time. Editor’s Note: The APD Federal Monitor has served in the past as a consent decree monitor in other cities, but only one at a time.

3. Monitors Should Prioritize Stakeholder Input: To ensure that monitors selected are able to understand of a variety of interests and perspectives of the stakeholders in the process, including impacted communities, law enforcement and victims of official misconduct.

4. Term Limits: To ensure that monitors are being held accountable, consent decrees will impose specific terms for monitors that can only be renewed after a process of judicial evaluation and reappointment.

5. Effective Practices Guide, Assessment Tools and Training Materials: To ensure that monitorships are being conducted consistently across jurisdictions, the department will convene a group of stakeholders to create a set of effective practices for monitors, training programs for new monitors and judges overseeing monitorships and assessment tools for monitors to use to evaluate jurisdictions.

6. Termination Hearing After No More than Five Years: To ensure that monitorships are designed to incentivize monitors and jurisdictions to move towards compliance as efficiently as possible, future consent decrees will require a hearing after five years so that jurisdictions can demonstrate the progress it has made, and if possible, to move for termination. To the extent that full compliance has not yet been reached by five years, the hearing will be used to solidify the plan for getting over the finish line in short order.

The changes will not automatically impact the city of Albuquerque’s court-mandated reform effort. Notwithstanding, Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement that his administration “will approach the U.S. District Court in New Mexico to ensure the same standards are applied to [the Albuquerque Police Department’s] settlement agreement.”

Links to quoted source material are here:

https://www.policemag.com/618380/ag-garland-announces-new-rules-regulating-consent-decree-monitors

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/justice-department/justice-department-set-new-rules-court-appointed-monitors-police-departments-n1279051

https://www.axios.com/justice-department-police-reform-monitors-b4c31809-29c5-4631-9ff9-2334d54042e5.html

https://www.abqjournal.com/2428874/doj-unveils-changes-to-monitoring-of-future-consent-decrees.html

CITY AND APD REACT TO ATTORNEY GENERAL GARLAND’S ANNOUNCMENT

The changes announced by Attorney General Garland pertain immediately to any future consent decrees negotiated but will not automatically impact the city of Albuquerque’s Court Approved Settlement Agreement. Notwithstanding, APD and Albuquerque city officials praised the changes.

APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said the Keller administration has been meeting with DOJ officials for months and has worked with the Major Cities Chiefs Association. Gallego said the Keller met with DOJ officials “to outline several concerns about [the] existing process used by the DOJ to monitor the Albuquerque Police Department. … For example, the Keller administration highlighted the exorbitant cost paid by Albuquerque taxpayers for the work of out-of-state monitors who oversee APD’s reform process.”

Mayor Tim Keller for his part had this to say in a statement:

[We appreciated the Attorney General for listening to the city’s concerns and for] making changes to reflect the realities we’re facing. … “In this city, we want to make reforms that are actually meaningful to our local communities rather than out-of-state consultants. … I believe that Albuquerque has what it takes to do that while supporting our officers, tackling crime and making our city safer for people from all walks of life.”

APD Chief Harold Medina has said recently the Court Approved Settlement Agreement has interfered with his ability as Chief to put more resources toward fighting crime. In a statement, Medina said APD has made “tremendous progress” in changing the culture in the department and said:

“But the public also deserves a fully staffed police department that has the resources to focus on fighting crime. … The pendulum has swung too far in the wrong direction where officers do not feel supported. We need the local flexibility to ensure we can balance fighting crime while protecting the rights of all citizens.”

The link to quoted source material is here

https://www.abqjournal.com/2428874/doj-unveils-changes-to-monitoring-of-future-consent-decrees.html

APD POLICE UNION REACTION

Shaun Willoughby, the President of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association had this to say in an on-camera interview with Channel 4:

“They don’t come in here with policies that are considered best practice and a huge blank check book to train police officers … So this whole blue print called the DOJ consent decree and the monitoring process, it’s a joke.”

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/doj-releases-new-rules-for-cities-under-consent-decree/6237220/?cat=500

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The new rules and principals announced by Attorney General Garland for the federal monitoring of consent decrees are the first time the Department of Justice has taken action to deal with pervasive criticism that consent decrees go on and on indefinitely with no end in sight, cost way too much and have a major impact of local law enforcement. The fact that the Keller Administration has already taken steps and intends to ask the New Mexico Federal Court assigned the case to apply the principles to the City’s consent decree is a major development. It creates the opportunity for the city to move forward and ask for further relief from the court to modify the existing consent decree. The city should ask for a termination hearing and ask for a dismissal of the case or a significant reduction in the monitoring.

The City and APD for over 7 years have been struggling to implement the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) and the 217 mandated reforms. Millions have been spent. Not at all surprising is Shaun Willoughby, the President of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, shoots off his big mouth about the consent decree, babbles on and on with his false characterization of the consent decree. Willoughby now disparages the new rules for federal monitoring of consent decrees calling the consent decree and the monitoring process “a joke”. The real joke is that the police union, its membership of sergeants and lieutenants and the union President say they are supportive of the consent decree reforms yet have done everything they could for the last 7 years to oppose and undermine the consent decree reforms.

Hope springs eternal that the day will come when Willoughby for just once will speak the truth when he gives interviews to the local news media and the media in turn will fulfill their responsibility and report the truth contrary to what Willoughby has to say.

The link to a related blog article is here:

City And APD File “14th Progress and Status Summary Report” In Federal APD Police Reform Case

City And APD File “14th Progress and Status Summary Report” In Federal APD Police Reform Case

On September 2, 2021, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) Compliance and Oversight Division filed its “14th Progress and Status Summary Report” in the case brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the city and APD for excessive use of force and deadly force. The 14th Progress report was prepared by the Albuquerque Police Department Compliance and Oversight Division.

The report is APD’s version on the progress made in the 3 compliance levels of the settlement and to document the 13th Independent Monitor’s Report (IMR), the Independent Monitoring Team’s (IMT) recommendations, APD’s actions in response to the IMT recommendations, individual paragraph compliance status, and other efforts. The 14th Progress report covers the period February 1 to July 31, 2021.

This blog article is a summary of the major highlights of the 14th report. It should not be considered as all inclusive. The link to the full 208-page 14th progress report can be found here:

https://documents.cabq.gov/police/reports/department-of-justice/thirteenth-apd-progress-report.pdf

COMPLIANCE LEVELS

Compliance with the Court Approve Settlement is measured on 3 levels: primary, secondary, and operational. The 3 compliance levels audited for compliance are:

1. PRIMARY COMPLIANCE: Primary compliance is the “policy” part of compliance. To attain primary compliance, APD must have in place operational policies and procedures designed to guide officers, supervisors and managers in the performance of the tasks outlined in the CASA. As a matter of course, the policies must be reflective of the requirements of the CASA; must comply with national standards for effective policing policy; and must demonstrate trainable and evaluable policy components.

2. SECONDARY COMPLIANCE: Secondary compliance is attained by implementing supervisory, managerial and executive practices designed to and be effective in implementing the policy as written, e.g., sergeants routinely enforce the policies among field personnel and are held accountable by managerial and executive levels of the department for doing so. By definition, there must be operational reports, disciplinary records, remands to retraining, follow-up, and revisions to policies if necessary, indicating that the policies developed in the first stage of compliance are known to, followed by, and important to supervisory and managerial levels of the department.

3. OPERATIONAL COMPLIANCE: Operational compliance is attained at the point that the adherence to policies is apparent in the day-to-day operation of the agency e.g., line personnel are routinely held accountable for compliance, not by the monitoring staff, but by their sergeants, and sergeants are routinely held accountable for compliance by their lieutenants and command staff. In other words, the APD “owns” and enforces its policies.

At the end of the February 1, 2021 to July 31, 2021 reporting period, APD’s compliance levels were:

Primary Compliance: 100% with no changed from the 12th monitors report

Secondary Compliance: 82%, a loss of 9.9% from the 91% reported 12th monitors report

Operational Compliance: 59%, a loss of 7.8% from the 64% reported 12th monitors report

Primary Compliance relates mostly to development and implementation of acceptable policies and conforming to national practices and APD is now in 100% primary compliance. APD is now in 82% Secondary Compliance down from 91%, which means that effective follow-up mechanisms are beginning to be taken to ensure that APD personnel understand the requirements of promulgated policies in the areas of training, supervising, coaching, and disciplinary processes to ensure APD personnel understand the policies as promulgated and are capable of implementing them in the field. APD is in 59% operational compliance down from 64%, which means that 59% of the time, field personnel either perform tasks as required by the CASA, or that, when they fail, supervisory personnel note and correct in-field behavior that is not compliant with the requirements of the CASA.

EXTERNAL FORCE INVESTIGATION TEAM

In February 2021, a joint motion was filed with the Federal Court establishing a temporary External Force Investigation Team (EFIT) to assist APD in conducting quality and timely investigations of Level 2 and Level 3 uses of force by APD officers. In April 2021, the city advertised a Request for Letters of Interest outlining requirements for potential vendors, worked closely with the Department of Justice in the selection process, and selected a vendor. EFIT is designed to assist, evaluate and provide guidance to the Internal Affairs Force Division personnel. EFIT’s work will be evaluated in the same manner as APD by the Independent Monitoring Team (IMT) and DOJ for the duration of the contract term. The EFIT became fully operational on July 16, 2021, and will continue at least through April, 2022.

MAYOR APPOINTS CHIEF OF POLICE AND THE SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE REFORM/DEPUTY CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER APPPOINTED

In March 2021, Mayor Tim Keller appointed two executive positions to oversee the Albuquerque Police Department. Acting APD Chief Harold Medina was made permanent and Sylvester Stanley was appointed the Chief of Police and the Superintendent of Police Reform/Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (Superintendent). APD Chief Harold Medina retired as a commander from APD in 2014, became Chief of Police in the Pueblo of Laguna and returned back to APD in 2017 as the Deputy Chief of Police over the Field Services Bureau and then appointed First Deputy Chief. Superintendent Sylvester Stanley is a four-time police chief who is responsible for key pieces of the CASA reform effort. The Superintendent oversees the following at APD:

Training Academy Division
The Internal Affairs Professional Standards Division
Internal Affairs Force Division
Crisis Intervention Division and Behavioral Health Section

APD TRAINING ACADEMY AND COMPREHENSIVE TRAINING UNIT

Training is a necessary component and training equals secondary compliance for measurable paragraphs throughout the CASA.

According to the report. APD has made significant progress by transforming leadership at the Training Academy. After restructuring the Department to put the Training Academy under the Superintendent of Police Reform in March 2021, APD hired two key personnel into the Training Academy. Those positions are:

1. The Training Academy commander and
2. The Training Academy curriculum development manager.

In May 2021, an experienced, civilian educator was hired to manage the Comprehensive Training Unit (CTU) which is responsible for all APD curricula. The curriculum development manager earned a Ph.D. in political science and has over 11 years of experience in education as a trainer and in the development and design of training.

In July 2021, APD hired the commander of the Training Academy Division. The Training Academy commander retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and served as both the deputy director and assistant director of the FBI Academy the last 3 years.

USE OF FORCE TRAINING AND USE OF FORCE INVESTIGATIONS

According to APD, it has made significant progress in Tier 4 Use of Force training.

“APD did not complete Tier 4 Use of Force training in 2020, resulting in a decrease in compliance rates for numerous, interrelated paragraphs. Tier 4 is comprised of two days of training. The first day of Tier 4, Use of Force training was approved by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Independent Monitoring Team (IMT) in February, 2021. Training began in March 2021 and completed in May 2021 with a compliance rate of 98%. The second day of Tier 4 training was approved by the DOJ and IMT in July 2021, which is currently being delivered to all sworn officers and expected to be completed by December 2021, meeting the annual use of force training requirement.”

A major problem area identified by the monitor in his 13 monitor’s report was failed progress in Use of Force Investigation. According to APD, it has made significant progress with Use of Force investigations. APD reported that In April 2021, it continued to improve the process of tracking policy violations relating to use of force investigations. To ensure use of force reviews are consistently factored into supervisor’s performance evaluations, APD included an additional evaluation process. Based on available data, the process includes the verification of employee performance documents reviews by commanders to confirm any violations related to Use of Force standard operating procedures.

Review and investigation by department personnel are documented within officer performance evaluations. This is needed to ensure the quality of supervisory work is evaluated and documented. APD expressed to the Court and the Independent Monitoring Team the need to clarify the use of progressive discipline and abeyance. Because of that concern, APD took major steps clarify the use of progressive discipline during the 14th monitoring period.

STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE DISCIPLINE SYSTEM REVISED

SOP 3-46 is a CASA-related policy that APD recognizes as having a significant impact on personnel, establishing requirements for progressive discipline and the use of abeyance as recommended. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 3-46 Discipline System was revised and published in July 2021. On multiple occasions, APD worked with both the Independent Monitoring Team and DOJ in this policy’s revision, accepting feedback and making the necessary changes to develop a stronger policy.

According to APD’s report, it has worked diligently on an early intervention system since 2018 and believes the department has come a long way in the development of an in-house system while APD continues with an outside vendor to tailor an early intervention system to meet the department’s needs and requirements. The “Pareto Principle Method”, or 80/20 Rule, which means that 80% of successes or failures are caused by the actions of 20% of employees.

In February 2021 the method was approved by the monitoring team as the statistical application that will be used to measure both acceptable and unacceptable behaviors from officers as outlined in the CASA. The Performance Evaluation and Management System (PEMS) training plan was approved by the Independent Monitoring Team and the DOJ. Training began in August 2021, and is scheduled to be completed in December 2021.

ETHICAL POLICING IS COURAGEOUS PROGRAM (EPIC)

APD has continued with the Ethical Policing is Courageous (EPIC) program, which was brought to APD by the New Orleans Police Department in 2019. During this reporting period, APD experienced numerous known examples of EPIC through APD employee interventions. EPIC has evolved into the Active Bystander for Law Enforcement (ABLE) project, which trains officers to support peer intervention. ABLE aims to create a police culture in which officers routinely intervene to prevent misconduct, avoid police mistakes, and promote officer health and wellness.

In July 2021, APD was accepted as a member of the ABLE project. Members of the APD executive staff attend an ABLE conference in August 2021. Additionally, , APD participated in ABLE’s train-the-trainer session by sending five officers to become ABLE instructors in order to train APD employees.

SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER AWARDS

In July, 2021, APD was awarded two national School Resource Officer (SRO) awards. An APD SRO is a department officer assigned to a local high school working in a community-oriented policing capacity. They work with students, teachers, school administrators, and typically are assigned to one or more schools. APD earned the “Model SRO Program of the Year Award”, which annually recognizes SRO programs that made specific and significant contributions to their local communities and school districts. In addition, an APD officer earned the “SRO of the Year Award”. The officer was nominated by the principal for Manzano High School for the officer’s years of engagement and carrying out duties that kept the youth and staff alike safe.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT EFFORTS

Community engagement efforts continued through numerous collaborations with a cross section of community members and organizations. APD instituted an Ambassador Unit, which is designed to facilitate clear, consistent lines of communication between the department and different groups within the community who have not previously had a voice with law enforcement. The program represents a commitment to find solutions that work for the Albuquerque community to focus on the dual challenges of crime and meaningful reform.

The City’s Office of Equity and Inclusion provided two intensive trainings to officers assigned as Ambassadors and introduced them to community organizations that serve specific populations to help build relationships. The Ambassadors work with Native American, African American, Hispanic, Asian, Refugee, LGBTQI, Faith, Senior Citizen, Veteran, and Americans with Disabilities communities.

WELLNESS PROGRAM FOR POLICE

APD Behavioral Sciences Section teamed up with the APD Training Academy Wellness Program, the City of Albuquerque Wellness Program, APD Peer Support, and APD Chaplains to build a comprehensive wellness program. APD’s goal is to have a wide range of easily accessible mental, emotional, and physical health and wellness resources. Mindfulness and resilience training is a component dedicated to the wellness of police officers and their families. This comprehensive wellness program aims to encourage officers to seek professional help when dealing with the complexity of the profession.

APD contracted with Benchmark Analytics in January of 2020 to design and tailor a management system across eight areas of focus:

1. Personnel Management
2. Use of Force, Internal Affairs
3. Early Intervention System
4. Supervision and Performance Evaluations
5. Community Engagement & Outreach, and
6. Training

APD continues to work with the City of Albuquerque Department of Technology and Innovation and Benchmark Analytics to move this project forward. Testing for the Personnel Management and Internal Affairs modules is scheduled for the third quarter of 2021. Further data mapping and module development continues for Use of Force, Early Intervention, Supervision and Performance Evaluations.

The Training module is scheduled to begin development in September 2021, followed by the Community Engagement and Outreach module. APD remains dedicated to improving the department’s overall operations and meeting the requirements outlined in the CASA. The City will continue to work with the IMT and the DOJ, taking key steps towards operational compliance.

USE OF FORCE TRAINING

At the end of the last reporting period, APD presented the IMT with a plan to address the use of force training requirements. The Tier 4 training for all sworn officers was approved by the monitoring team and the DOJ. The first day of Tier 4 training was completed in May 2021 and the second day of Tier 4 training is scheduled to be completed in December 2021. The Academy was granted four temporary instructor positions to ensure adequate staffing for Tier 4 Use of Force training delivery.

CIVILIAN CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

In May 2021, APD Academy hired an experienced civilian curriculum development manager. Since her start, she has led new strategies to meet curriculum design, development timelines, and tracking requirements. She has also created a new method for tracking courses in development which delivers daily status of lesson plans for the monitoring team, APD personnel, and the DOJ. APD also hired a new curriculum training manager in June 2021, to oversee the curriculum specialists who collaborate with Department personnel who carry significant training responsibilities on the 7-Step curriculum development process. Courses continue to be developed and delivered to Academy personnel.

SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE REFORM

In March 2021, the Mayor appointed a Superintendent of Police Reform/Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, and assigned the 2nd Deputy Chief for the Police Reform Bureau under that command. This command structure includes Internal Affairs Professional Standards Division (IAPS), Internal Affairs Force Division (IAFD), Behavioral Health Section, Training Academy Division, and the Crisis Intervention Division. The APD Training Academy developed and published an online training calendar which delivers real time updates to the academy schedule, the associated CASA paragraphs, and what aspects of training are impacted. The monitoring team and DOJ have access to the training calendar.

SPECIAL OPERATIONS DIVISION K9 HOME KENNEL INSPECTIONS

The Special Operations Division (SOD) K9 home kennel inspections were instituted to document the condition of the home environment to ensure the safety and security of the canine animal. Home visits will be conducted by a supervisor, bi-annually for every handler. The Special Investigations Division (SID) continues to utilize written operational plans, Risk Assessment Matrix (RAMs), and After Action Reviews (AARs) to examine the need to involve the SOD Tactical Units, to communicate any risks, hazards, or high-risk situations and threats.

SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS DIVISION AND THE SPECIAL OPERATIONS DIVISION

The Special Investigations Division and the Special Operations Division continue to work well together to improve overall operations between the two divisions. SOP 3-46, Discipline System, was revised and published in July 2021. APD worked well with both the monitoring team and DOJ in this policy’s revision, accepting feedback and making the necessary changes to develop a stronger policy. SOP 3-46 is a CASA-related policy the department recognizes as having a significant impact on personnel, establishing requirements for progressive discipline and the use of abeyance as recommended.

APD continued to improve the process of tracking policy violations relating to the use of force investigations. To ensure use of force reviews are consistently factored into supervisor’s performance evaluations, an evaluation process is occurring. Based on available data, the process will verify employee performance documents are reviewed by commanders to confirm any violations related to SOP 2-57 Use of Force – Review and Investigation by Department Personnel, are documented within the evaluation.

The evaluation process includes a determination as to whether a policy violation was documented within the evaluation, and if not, that an internal affairs request was submitted and that the supervisor identified how the policy violation was addressed. A pre-determined percentage of documents are reviewed each month and the parameters for repeat violations and progressive discipline will be included in the overall process.

The Pareto Principle was approved by the Independent Monitoring Team in February 2021 as the statistical application that will be used to measure both acceptable and unacceptable behaviors from officers as defined in the settlement agreement. The Performance Evaluation and Management System (PEMS) training plan was approved by the Independent Monitoring Team and DOJ. Training will begin in August 2021, scheduled to be completed in December 2021.

DATA GATHNERING

APD collects a massive amount of data and is working with the DOJ to operationalize the data in a meaningful way. An organization-wide data gap analysis report and assessment conducted by AH Datalytics on behalf of the DOJ was approved and conducted; the finding were reported in the Albuquerque Police Department Gap Analysis report in January 2021 (See Appendix 1). Recommendations from the report included: to apply data and analytics to identify problems and develop solutions, use data to inform how resources are allocated, and create a change management process to guide APD through the transition. APD continues to work regularly with AH Datalytics and the DOJ to address the recommendations outlined in the gap analysis.

FORCE CLASSIFICATION PROCEDURES

APD agrees to develop and implement force classification procedures that include at least three categories of types of force that will determine the force review or investigation required. The categories or types of force shall be based on the level of force used and the risk of injury or actual injury from the use of force. The goal is to promote greater efficiency and reduce burdens on first-line supervisors, while optimizing critical investigative resources on higher-risk uses of force.

The levels of force are defined as follow:

A. LEVEL 1 is force that is likely to cause only transitory pain, disorientation, or discomfort during its application as a means of gaining compliance. This includes techniques which are not reasonably expected to cause injury, do not result in actual injury, and are not likely to result in a complaint of injury (i.e., pain compliance techniques and resisted handcuffing). Pointing a firearm, beanbag shotgun, or 40 millimeter launcher at a subject, or using an ECW to “paint” a subject with the laser sight, as a show of force are reportable as Level 1 force. Level 1 force does not include interaction meant to guide, assist, or control a subject who is offering minimal resistance.

B. LEVEL 2 is force that causes injury, could reasonably be expected to cause injury, or results in a complaint of injury. Level 2 force includes use of an ECW, including where an ECW is fired at a subject but misses; use of a beanbag shotgun or 40 millimeter launcher, including where it is fired at a subject but misses; OC Spray application; empty hand techniques (i.e., strikes, kicks, takedowns, distraction techniques, or leg sweeps); and strikes with impact weapons, except strikes to the head, neck, or throat, which would be considered a Level 3 use of force.

C. LEVEL 3 is force that results in, or could reasonably result in, serious physical injury, hospitalization, or death. Level 3 force includes all lethal force; critical firearms discharges; all head, neck, and throat strikes with an object; neck holds; canine bites; three or more uses of an ECW on an individual during a single interaction regardless of mode or duration or an ECW application for longer than 15 seconds, whether continuous or consecutive; four or more strikes with a baton; any strike, blow, kick, ECW application, or similar use of force against a handcuffed subject; and uses of force resulting in a loss of consciousness.

MULTI-AGENCY TASK FORCE

APD shall continue to participate in the Multi-Agency Task Force, pursuant to its Memorandum of Understanding, in order to conduct criminal investigations of at least the following types of force or incidents:

1. Officer-involved shootings;
2. Serious uses of force as defined by the Memorandum of Understanding;
3. In-custody deaths; and iv. other incidents resulting in death at the discretion of the Chief.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The Federal Monitor’s 14th Independent Federal Monitor’s report is due to be filed in November, 2021. When it is filed it will mark a 7 full years that the City and APD have been operating under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement and have been struggling to implement the 271 reforms. As has been the case with all what the Keller Administration does, public relations reigns supreme over reporting bad news. Only until the 14th Federal monitors’ report is filed will the court and public actually know for sure if the “14th Progress and Status Summary Report” prepared by the APD Compliance and Oversight Division was written more to make APD look better than it really is when it comes to the reforms.

The link to a related blog article is here:

US Attorney General Garland Announces New Rules For Federal Monitoring Of Consent Decrees; City And APD React; Police Union President Shoots Off Big Mouth

City Proposes Accommodating 100 individuals and 25 families At New Gibson Gateway Homeless Shelter; Opposition Continues To Emerge

During the first two years of his term, Mayor Tim Keller said addressing the city’s homeless crisis was a priority by providing emergency shelter and services to an ever-increasing homeless population. Initially, Keller made it a top priority to build a 300-person, 24-7 centralized homeless shelter to to replace the existing West Side Emergency Housing Center, the former jail on the far West Side. In 2019, voters approved $14 million for the project as part of a the general obligation bond package.

Three preferred sites emerged for the centralized emergency shelter:

1. University of New Mexico property near Lomas and Interstate 25
2. The old Lovelace hospital facility on Gibson
3. The Wells Park area near Second and Interstate 40

Strong and organized opposition emerged for a 300-bed centralized facility emerge at all 3 locations. The University of New Mexico Hospital employees, UNM faculty and students made it clear they did not want its land north of Lomas Boulevard to be used for the shelter and the UNM regents agreed. Neighborhood Associations and businesses in the vicinity around Wells Park were particularly vocal given the high number of homeless that congregate daily at Wells Park. Criticism for all 3 locations included that a 300 bed centralized facility would negatively impact the surrounding neighborhood and businesses.

On Wednesday, May 7, 2020, Mayor Tim Keller announced that the city was abandoning the development of a single, 300-bed homeless shelter. In his announcement, Keller said the city would be proceeding with a “multi-site approach” to the city’s homelessness crisis. Mayor Tim Keller went so far as to state that the 300 bed Gateway Center was “off the table”.

On Tuesday, April 6, 2021, the city officially announced it had bought the massive 572,000-square-foot complex for $15 million and will transform it into a Gateway Center for the homeless. It was announced that the complex would be only 1 of the multisite homeless shelters and not the 300-bed shelter originally planned. The complex has a 201-bed capacity, but remodeling could likely increase capacity significantly.

After Keller’s April 6 press conference announcing the city has bought the Lovelace Gibson facility, neighborhood protests erupted. Mayor Keller came under severe criticism for his failure to reach a consensus and take community input before the Gibson Medical Center was purchased. Other neighborhood resident complaints included that the shelter will only cause more problems for the area, that the Gibson facility will in fact be converted to a 300 person “mega-shelter” as Keller originally wanted, and that the Gibson Medical Center does not fit the certain criteria announced for the Gateway project, including walkability, access to employment, and a central location. Some residents felt that a 75-to-100-person shelter is way too big and that it should be capped at 30 residents

CONDITIONAL USE APPLICATION AND PENDING ZONING HEARING

The zoning for the Gibson Medical Center facility allows for an “overnight shelter” but only as a “conditional use” that must be applied for by the city. The city is now applying for the conditional use arguing there is a strong need for it to enhance Albuquerque’s demand for homeless services to an ever-expanding homeless population. A zoning hearing is scheduled for September 21, 2021.

In anticipation of the zoning application hearing, the City prepared an operations plan for the Gibson site and posted it on its website in mid-August. The “Gateway Center at Gibson Health Hub Operations Plan” is an 11 page draft. the topics it covers include the services to be provided, transportation and dining, security and related topics.

EDITORS NOTE: The postscript to this blog article provides the major highlights the Gateway Operations Plan and the link to the 11 page “Gateway Center at Gibson Health Hub Operations Plan”

The single most glaring shortcoming of the Gibson Gateway Operations Plan is that it avoided answering the most contentious questions of: 1) the number of beds the shelter will have and 2) the number of homeless it will accommodate on a nightly basis once the remodeling is complete. At the time the operations plan was released, city officials said they planned to have that information by the end of August.

CITY FINALLY REVEALS OCCUPANCY LEVELS

City officials said earlier this year they were contemplating incorporating 150 to 175 emergency shelter beds into what they are now calling the Gateway Center at Gibson Health Hub. Neighbor’ living along the Gibson corridor have objected to that number and have gone so far as to had advocate for a cap of 30.

On September 3, the Albuquerque Journal reported that it made inquiries on the Gibson Gateway Center shelter occupancy in anticipation of the September 21 zoning permit hearing. The city said in a statement that it is now considering an operation that gradually ramps up to 100 individuals and 25 families on-site.

Family and Community Services Department planning manager Bobby Sisneros said in a written statement:

“We are still meeting with neighborhood groups and various stakeholders on the best scenario for bed capacity at Gibson Gateway Center. The scenario that seems to be getting the most traction is a phased approach which would accommodate about 25 families and 100 individuals when fully phased in. The phased approach will allow us to evaluate effectiveness and efficiency so we can adjust as needed.”

NEIGHBORHOOD REACTION

Rachel Conger Baca, president of the nearby Siesta Hills Neighborhood Association, said the term “family” is not clear-cut, as it could mean anything from a single mother with one child to extended family units that would push the shelter’s total capacity to 200-plus. Baca said the scale does not seem to jibe with the city’s goal of having a “trauma-informed” and said:

“That still doesn’t sound too far off from a 300-bed facility. … We are convinced that the City keeps taking steps that will ensure trauma will be inflicted on the people using the shelter and those who live, work and go to school near it.”

The link to the full Albuquerque Journal is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2426131/shelter-could-hold-25-families-100-individuals.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It is downright pathetic that the Keller Administration has never been willing to be up front with the public on the occupancy level of the shelter. What is just as pathetic is that the city said it would disclose the plans by the end of August to the public, but it never did. It took the Albuquerque Journal to hound the Keller Administration on disclosing the information.

The single most egregious shortcoming of the Gibson Gateway Operations Plan is that it avoided answering the most contentious question of the number of beds the shelter will have and the number of homeless it will accommodate on a nightly basis once the remodeling is complete. The Gibson Gateway facility already has a 201-bed capacity and the massive 572,000-square-foot complex could easily be remodeled to accommodate 99 more bed capacity to reach the original 300 facility Mayor Keller wanted.

According to Family and Community Service Director Carol Pearce, the Gibson Gateway shelter will ultimately be just “a slice” of the facility. Pearce has noted that existing mental health care and counseling provider tenants are already on the property that currently occupy about a quarter of the square footage with the city is looking to recruit more.

Lisa Huval, Albuquerque’s deputy director for housing and homelessness said the city should have a number by the time of the conditional use hearing and said the city is still reviewing a consultant’s report and continuing their own research.

Huval has said:

“We know we owe the community an answer on [how many homeless will be sheltered] … we are still in the process of evaluating what the right bed capacity is for the Gateway Center” .

https://www.abqjournal.com/2416213/city-releases-draft-operating-plan-for-gateway-center.html

A failure to disclose the number of beds the shelter will have and sticking with that number after the conditional use is granted will likely result in mistrust and resentment by the surrounding neighborhood and cause extreme hostility.

You can expect that the September 21 Conditional Use Application hearing will be contentious, mainly because Mayor Keller has given mixed messages on what he really wants ultimately as he failed to work with the surrounding neighborhoods.
______________________________________

POSTSCRIPT

HIGHLIGHTS OF GATEWAY OPERATIONS PLAN

The City of Albuquerque posted on its internet web site an 11 page draft of the “Gateway Center at Gibson Health Hub Operations Plan” for the homeless shelter that will be inside the Lovelace Hospital complex the city. The “draft” of the operations plan is dated August, 2021.

The Gateway Operations Plan highlights include the following:

The Gibson Health Hub (GHH) is to be an anchor facility to fill healthcare and social service gaps. The Gateway Center will comprise a portion of the facility to provide shelter and services to the homeless. The mission of the Gateway Center will be to “provide a safe and welcoming place that provides a low-barrier, trauma-informed shelter along with services to the homeless using a client-centered approach.”

SECURITY AND PUBLIC SAFETY DISTRICT

The Gateway Center Shelter will be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Gateway Center Shelter will have a secured entrance that will be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure the safety of those sheltered, staff, volunteers, service provider partner agency staff and volunteers. Only enrolled Gateway Center Shelter guests, staff, program staff and volunteers, and registered partner agency staff and volunteers will be allowed to enter the Gateway Center shelter.

Personal visitors will not be allowed at the Gateway Center Shelter, except under limited conditions with express permission. Residents can come and go as needed while following a curfew policy, with exceptions to include work and personal needs and unanticipated issues such as family crisis. Weapons will not be allowed at the Gateway Center. There will be a weapons policy & procedure to address weapons brought on site. Clients will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they are aware of the weapons policy & procedure.

The City intends to establish a public safety district around the Gateway Center, which will be a concentrated, coordinated effort between City Departments that address public safety, including Albuquerque Community Safety, APD, Albuquerque Fire and Rescue, Family and Community Services, Parks and Recreation and Solid Waste. The purpose of the Public Safety District will be to better coordinate existing resources and efforts. Community policing will be included.

CRITICAL INCIDENCE RESPONSE AT FACILITY

The City of Albuquerque will work with the organizations operating the Gateway Center to establish procedures for critical incident response. Threats and assaults to staff and clients will not be tolerated. A 9 policy and procedure addressing threats and assaults to client and staff will be established. Any guest who threatens or assault staff or clients will be exited from the Gateway Center, and will receive transportation to their exit destination. De-escalation procedures will be established. All Gateway Center staff will receive training in conflict resolution and de-escalation techniques. The procedures will address appropriate use of APD to resolve safety issues at the Gateway Center.

SERVICES TO BE PROVIDED

The Gateway Center service staff will conduct a general assessment with individuals and families to verify that the Gateway Center is an appropriate option. As part of this assessment, Gateway Center staff will assess whether the presenting individual or family can be safely diverted to a non-shelter alternative. The Gateway Shelter will establish a referral process for community organizations, including other homeless assistance providers and other local service agencies. Gateway Center staff will conduct an assessment that will address any immediate issues that need to be resolved, including physical or medical health issues that may require a triage to more appropriate options. This may include, medical respite, detox or recovery programs. The Gateway Center programming will incorporate a trauma-informed approach that is equitable, culturally and spiritually accommodating, and supportive of LGBTQ+, people of color and people living with disabilities.

“The Gateway Center will be a low barrier shelter that follows the Housing First principles to address immediate and long-term housing needs. As a low-barrier and inclusive shelter, the Gateway Center will accept unhoused people who may have complex histories, including a criminal history. The Gateway Center will leverage existing services and develop partnerships for referrals into the community to foster collaboration and not competition. This includes creating space within the Gateway Center for other community partners to connect with guests and provide services, such as satellite office space. The Gateway Center will operate with a harm reduction philosophy to address substance use disorders. Guests do not need to be clean and sober to access the Engagement Center or Shelter, but they cannot use drugs on site.”

TWO MAJOR COMPONENTS

The Gateway Center will have two major components: an Engagement Center and the Shelter. The Engagement Center will serve as a “warm and welcoming access point to services”, while also helping to meet the most immediate needs of unhoused people coming to the Shelter. The Shelter will provide low barrier, trauma-informed shelter that meets people where they are at with a client-centered approach to develop a plan to achieve housing stability. Through the “Engagement Center”, the Gateway Center will provide person-centered services that “meet people where they are at” to achieve housing and behavioral health stability. Intake to services will be staged according to client need and interests. “Programs will embody a person-centered approach to support connections to community, and attain housing and behavioral health stability so that homelessness is a brief, rare, one-time experience.”

ADMINISTRATION

The City will have an onsite Gateway Center Administrator to oversee operations. One onsite Community Outreach Coordinator and a Gateways Systems Analyst will report to the Administrator. The Gateway Center Administration will be responsible for overseeing all Gateway Center Operations. The Systems Analyst will be responsible for ensuring systems are place to implement and evaluate effective service delivery, including data systems. The Community Outreach Coordinator will be responsible for coordinating day-to-day operations with the organizations selected to operate the Gateway Center.

TRANSPORTATION AND DINING TO BE PROVIDED

“The Gateway Center will operate a shuttle system. The shuttle system will transport referred guests to the Gateway Center for intake and assessment. The shuttle system will provide transportation to 6 individuals and families exiting the Gateway Center to their exit destination. Some Gateway Center clientele will also utilize public transportation.”
The Gateway Center will have a dining area that will be open daily for three meals per day, and a facility shuttle system will transport referred clients into the shelter and, eventually, to their “exit destination.” The initial anticipated hours for dining will be 7:00am-9:00am; 11:00am1:00pm; 5:00pm-7:00pm, and food donations will be accepted.

NO ENCAMPMENTS ALLOWED

No Encampments will be allowed on the Gibson Gateway Shelter property. The Department of Family and Community Services (DFCS) public outreach team will be responsible for addressing encampments on all public property. Two of the public outreach team members will be based at the Gibson Gateway facility. According to the operation plan, the DFCS public outreach team will monitor the ¼-mile radius from Gibson Gateway Shelter daily for encampments on public or private property. For encampments on public property, DFCS will post notice the same day the encampment is observed. The DFCS outreach team will refer any encampments located on private property to the Planning Department Code Enforcement Division.

The link to the 11 page “Gateway Center at Gibson Health Hub Operations Plan” is here:

https://www.cabq.gov/family/documents/operations-plan-draft-8-21-conditional-use-app.pdf

NM Democrats Announce Crime Package For 2022 NM Legislative Session; Gov. MLG Backs “Rebuttable Presumption of Dangerousness” To Jail Defendants Charged With Violent Crime Until Trial

On August 16, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she had order 35 New Mexico State Police (NMSP) officers to begin “proactive operations” and crime suppression operations in the Albuquerque area to help deal with the rising violent crime rates. During her announcement the Governor took the opportunity to make a pitch for funding from the legislature for the upcoming 2022 legislative session that begins mid January 2022 to hire 1,000 new police officers in the next few years. The Legislature will meet in special session in the fall to deal with redistricting. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has said she will put criminal justice initiatives on the “Governor’s call agenda” for the 30-day session that is confined to budget negotiations.

On August 16, House Republicans urged Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to call a special session focused on crime. Tripp Stelnicki, spokesman for Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, said the governor has no plans to call a special session on crime this year. Stelnicki said:

“The 30-day session is only a few short months away and we’re using the time between now and then to identify which proposals have legs and will make a difference, rather than those that are just talking points and empty demands. ”

DEMOCRATS ANNOUNCE CRIME PACKAGE

On September 3, and in the wake of the killing of 13-year-old, eighth grader Bennie Hargrove being shot and killed at Washington Middle school by another student who took his dad’s gun to school, 4 APD police officers being shot while trying to arrest a violent criminal, and Albuquerque breaking the all-time homicide record with 86 murders, specific crime measures are being proposed for the upcoming 30-day legislative session.

Seventeen House Democrats, including majority floor leader Javier Martinez and Representatives Antonio “Moe” Maestas of Albuquerque, announced a lengthy list of goals for next regular legislative session that begins January 18, 2022. The legislation is being offered to address the he increase in violent crime in Albuquerque which is seen by the rest of the state as the center of violent crime. Last year, CBS News rated Albuquerque ninth among the top 50 most violent cities in the country. There have been 86 victims of homicide this year in Albuquerque.

Proposals for the session comes as legislators are preparing for two legislative sessions: a special redistricting session later this year and a 30-day regular session starting January 18, 2022. From January 4, 2022 to January 14 legislation may be prefilled by legislators for he session beginning on January 18 at noon and ending February 2 at noon.

The “crime-fighting” package proposed includes expanded mental health treatment programs and increased criminal penalties. As presented, the proposed legislation includes 16 proposals. Some of the proposed legislation is being drafted but it is anticipated that much of it will be finalized and profiled from January 4 to January 14.

https://www.nmlegis.gov/Publications/Session_Dates.pdf

Major highlights of the legislation outlined by the Albuquerque area Democrats include the following:

1. Major changes to the state’s pretrial detention system to keep certain individuals charged with violent crimes in jail until trial.

2. Extending prosecutors’ time limit for filing second-degree murder charges.

3. Increasing the criminal penalties for violent crime such as second degree murder. The current penalty for second degree murder is an 18 year basic sentence and is 12 years with mitigating circumstance and 24 years with aggravating circumstances.

4. Create new criminal penalty for failing to safely store firearms out of children’s reach.

5. To address gun violence, the legislators want establish state office of gun violence protection.

6. Place new restrictions or the sale or reduce high-capacity ammunition magazines for automatic weapons.

7. Increase pay levels and provide retention bonuses for law enforcement officers and provide recruitment and retention money and policies for police officers.

8. Crack down on those who own or operate chop shops that sell stolen vehicle parts such catalytic converters in automobiles and a crackdown on property damage in the theft of copper. an

9. Extend statute of limitations for certain violent crimes.

10. Increase funding for crime prevention grant program for local communities for street lighting .

11. Expand youth substance abuse and detox centers and increase the workforce that provides service for mental health and addiction..

In recent years the legislature has passed tougher penalties for drunken driving and distributing child pornography and have been signed into law.

Representative Moe Maestas, D-Albuquerque, said lawmakers are offering the legislation now because they want to get the governor’s attention so she and her staff can start looking at the proposal and “make decisions on where we are going.” Maestas said it’s time for lawmakers to “start pricing out the proposals.” He also said momentum has been building among lawmakers to do something about crime and said “We’re part of the community that feels the sorrow and pain our constituents do.”

Representative Meredith Dixon, D-Albuquerque, said that she is hopeful some crime-related proposals, including a bill dealing with penalties for stealing copper materials, can win bipartisan support.

Representative Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, the chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the proposed crime package is supported by all 18 House Democrats from Albuquerque. According to Chasey, the legislation is taking a “multi-faceted approach” to addressing violent crime across the state and had this to say:

“What’s become evident is that while we have been increasing our investments in long-term solutions like education, families, and mental and behavioral health, much more needs to be done to address the violence happening today.”

Links to quoted news source and articles are here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2425749/nm-lawmakers-eye-fixes-to-surge-in-violent-crime.html

https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/legislature/albuquerque-based-house-democrats-push-anti-crime-package/article_efbae2dc-0c14-11ec-ad13-b3e6c68daacc.html

https://apnews.com/article/new-mexico-f9c38247476a14cf517297d8931892f5

GOV.MLG BACKS CHANGES IN PRE-TRIAL DETENTION SYSTEM

It was in 2016 that New Mexico voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that did away with the money bail bond system. The change in the law resulted in doing away with defendants charge with low level nonviolent crimes being held simply because they lacked the ability to post a bond. It further authorized judges to order defendants charged with violent crimes held in custody without bond jailed until trial only if prosecutors can show the accused represents a danger to the community and that there are no conditions of release that will protect the community.

On August 28, Governor Lujan Grisham made it known now that she wants to see changes in the state’s pretrial detention system now viewed as too lenient in releasing violent criminals pending trial. According to the Governor, she wants to shift the burden of proof so that people charged with violent offenses are required to show they can safely be released into the community pending trial. In a statement, Lujan Grisham had this to say:

“I believe a rebuttable presumption for individuals accused of violent crimes can be a wedge in the revolving door of repeat violent offenses that have characterized the worst aspects of the crime our state continues to experience.”

The Governor’s change of heart relating to pre-trial detention and jailing those who are charged with violent crimes until trial should sound familiar. Since being elected to his first term as Bernalillo County District Attorney in 2016, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez has pushed for such changes claiming that judges were requiring prosecutors to prove that there were no conditions of release pending trial that would insure the public’s safety and that a defendant posed an immediate threat to the public. Now that he is running for Attorney General, expect Torrez to push it even harder so he can claim credit if it passes the legislature.

Not at all surprising is that Chief Public Defender Bennett Baur opposes the shift in the burden of proof making it the burden of the accused to establish they are not a danger to the community and should be released pending trial. Such a rebuttable presumption of dangerousness and holding an accused until trial shifts the burden of proof to a defendant and is contrary to the constitutional right of presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution. According to Bauer, only 3% of people released prior to trial commit a violent crime after their release pending trial and said:

“I’m extremely concerned about allowing the government to hold people in jail for months just because someone said you did something.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/2424184/pretrial-detention-to-be-reviewed-violent-offenders-should-be-in-jail-before-trial-governor-says.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham along with statewide offices for governor, attorney general and secretary of state and all 70 members of the New Mexico House are up for re-election in 2022 and this explain in part why crime is now emerging as a priority.

DER FÜHRER REPUBLICAN PARTY RHETORIC

In the past, Democratic lawmakers blocked many Republicans backed crime bills from advancing including a push to bring back the death penalty for those convicted of certain violent offenses. It is not at all likely that the death penalty will ever be reinstated in the state in that Democrats hold a commanding 45-24 advantage over Republican’s and that is not likely to change.

When asked if crime is going to be an issue for lawmakers to contend with in next year’s 2022 general election, Representative Maestas said:

“Sadly, the rhetoric of last few months has made it a political issue, and I’m sure next fall it will become a political issue again.”

True to form, Republicans are already trying to make crime an issue. House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, sent out an email responding to the Albuquerque Democrats’ proposal and said in his email:

“We hope they are as serious about addressing crime as they have been about coddling criminals throughout our communities. We also hope they start to give law enforcement the credit and respect they deserve. The disregard Democrat legislators have for our officers is simply not conducive to turning things around.”

When the New Mexico Der Führer Republican Party had the majority in the New Mexico house not more than 6 years ago, Der Führer Republicans and the likes of Republican James Townsend, R-Artesia had no problem with the heavy-handed approach they took against all Democrat House members. Republicans blocked all Democrat sponsored legislation and went along with the “all crime all the time” sessions promoted by former Governor “She Who Shall Not Be Named”. New Mexico Der Führer Republican Party legislators have always had the “lock em up and throw away the key” crime philosophy. They believe no one can be rehabilitated and warehousing those convicted of crimes at all levels, including non violent crimes and white collar crimes, and be damned the cost and the overcrowding. It was that philosophy which lead to the Bernalillo County Jail becoming so severely overcrowded that a federal lawsuit was filed that lasted 20 years and court supervision of the jail with millions spent to build a new jail.

The truth is the only thing that would be conducive to turning things around in New Mexico is for Der Führer Republicans such as Townsend to knock it off with their inflammatory and false accusations and blaming Democrats for being “soft on crime”. If not, they should move to Texas and run for the legislature where they would likely feel far more comfortable. What you can expect from the likes of Townsend is an attempt to reinstate the death penalty, making a woman’s right to choose an abortion in the state illegal, eliminating mental health care and drug treatment programs and believing the only way to bring down crime is to warehouse and jail people for any and all crimes believing that once a criminal, always a criminal.

CALL SPECIAL SESSION ON CRIME AND GUN CONTROL

Thirty-day legislative sessions, also known as a short session, are supposed to be limited to budget and tax legislation, proposed constitutional amendments and previously vetoed bills. The “crime-fighting” package outlined on August 2 by Albuquerque area democrats is a very good start but much more can be done. It would be a major mistake for the New Mexico Legislature to even attempt to tackle enactment in a 30 day session of so much crime legislation.

Despite whatever misgivings the Governor may have, she should consider a Special Legislative Session to immediately follow the 30 days session to deal exclusively with crime and responsible gun control legislation.

A special legislature should consider the following:

1.Enact legislation making it a crime to fail to secure a firearm. Gun owners would have to keep their firearms in a locked container or otherwise make them inaccessible to anyone but the owner or other authorized users.

2.Review additional bail bond reforms and statutorily empower judges with more authority and more discretion to hold and jail those pending trial who have prior violent crime convictions.

3. Prohibit in New Mexico the sale of “ghost guns” parts. Ghost guns are guns that are manufactured and sold in parts without any serial numbers to be assembled by the purchaser and that can be sold to anyone.

4. Requiring in New Mexico the mandatory purchase of “liability insurance” with each gun sold as is required for all operable vehicles bought and driven in New Mexico.

5. Enact a gun violence restraining order and extreme risk protection process to temporarily prohibit an individual deemed by a judge to pose a danger to self or others, from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition and allow law local law enforcement to remove any firearms or ammunition already in the individual’s possession.

6. Restrict and penalize firearm possession by or transfer to a person subject to a domestic violence protection order or a person, including dating partners, convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor.

7. Mandate and fund public school systems and higher education institutions to “harden” their facilities with more security doors, security windows, security measures, including metal detectors at single entrances designated and alarm systems and security cameras tied directly to law enforcement 911 emergency operations centers.

8. Repeal the New Mexico Constitutional provision that allows the “open carry” of firearms. This would require a public vote and no doubt generate heated discussion given New Mexico’s high percentage of gun ownership for hunting, sport or hobby.

FINAL COMMENT

Without reasonable and responsible gun control legislation, and aggressive law enforcement and prosecution of violent criminals, New Mexico and Albuquerque will continue have spiking violent crime and such rates will be the new normal and not the exception.