Happiness On Steroids

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/mayor-tim-keller-tackles-citys-most-controversial-topics-during-one-on-one-interview/

This Channel 13 news report is what you got to call “happiness on steroids” to deal with some very serious problems and issues the city is facing . KRQE did not even bother to ask Keller if he agreed with APD Chief Geier’s assessment that “Generally, it’s a safe city” and when Geier said all the crime is being done in certain “pockets” of the city, a bogus claim Geier made a few days before on Channel 4.

What were interesting are Mayor’s comments about the finding a location for the Homeless Shelter and the ART Bus project.

He says he would have no problem putting the homeless shelter close to his own neighborhood, which is the Albuquerque Country Club Area, because the homeless 24 hour, 7 day a week shelter is his idea.

He also says the logical next move is to expand it to Coors and the Sunport much later down the road but for now he’s keeping his focus along Central. Given all the accidents involving the buses and the negligent design of ART, the logical step is to abandon the project and it sure is not logical to expand it.

For a related blog article see:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/01/17/generally-its-a-safe-city-according-to-apd-chief-michael-geier-commentary-like-hell-it-is/

“Generally, It’s A Safe City” According To APD Chief Michael Geier; Commentary: Like Hell It Is!

On January 16, KOB 4’s news anchor Steve Soliz sat down with Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier to see what APD is doing to tackle the city’s crime crisis. The interview is part of an ongoing process by Channel 4 to cover the city’s crime problem and ask our leaders what is being done. The link to the channel 4 interview is here:

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/1-on-1-with-apd-chief-mike-geier/5612682/?cat=500

This is one interview that is a must see by anyone who is concerned about the city’s high crime rates. Instead of expressing any kind of outrage nor showing any kind of real emotion or frustration and saying what he is doing, we have a police chief in a very quiet, meek voice and in a “matter of fact manner” say APD is doing all it can with the resources it has and saying some progress has been made with auto thefts.

The real jaw dropper was when Cheif Geier was asked what he would say to someone who has concerns for the city, who has lived here for some time and who feels the city is no longer the city they once knew. Geier said he would tell them “Generally, its a safe city” and went on to say all the crime is being done in certain “pockets” of the city that are targeted. He said APD is making an effort with the limited resources it has, but saying that is no excuse, but sounding like it was an excuse.

APD Chief Michael Geier noted in the interview he has increased the homicide unit from 5 to 11 detectives. According to APD, this is the most detectives they’ve had in the unit in more than 20 years. Geier did not disclose the fact that homicide unit detectives have solved 38 out of the 82 of the cases from last year, or a dismal 46% clearance rate, even after the homicide unit was given additional training on homicide investigations last year by a former APD Homicide Detective with a national reputation who had a 95% clearance rate upon retirement and who is now a consultant.

The homicide clearance percentage has sat in the 50%-60% range for the past two years, but this is lowest clearance rate in the last decade. According to the proposed 2018-2019 APD City Budget, in 2016 the APD homicide clearance rate was 80%. In 2017 the clearance rate was 70% and the clearance rate for 2018 was 56%. The clearance rate is now below 46%. In other words, APD’s clearance rate has gone from 70% to 46% all under the watch of Chief Michael Geier and Mayor Tim Keller.

LIKE HELL IT’S A SAFE CITY

On December 18, US Attorney General William Barr announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is initiating a major crackdown aimed at driving down violent crime in 7 of the nation’s most violent cities in the country. Not at all surprising is that Albuquerque is one of those cities. The other 6 cities are Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Memphis and Milwaukee. All 7 cities have violent crime rates significantly higher and above the national average.

According to Attorney General William Bar, Albuquerque has a violent crime rate that is 3.7 times the national average per capita , and the cities aggravated assaults are 4 times the national average per capita.

At a news conference in Detroit, Michigan, AG Bar dubbed the initiative “Operation Relentless Pursuit”. The federal agencies that will participate and be involved are the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the U.S. Marshals Service. The DOJ will intensify federal law enforcement resources in the 7 cities by increasing the number of federal law enforcement officers in each of the cities and add additional officers to federal task forces. According to Barr, the DOJ is committing up to $71 million in federal grant funds that can help fund the task forces, be used to hire new police officers, pay overtime and purchase new equipment and technology.

https://www.koat.com/article/feds-albuquerque-one-of-the-most-violent-cities-in-america/30275742

On December 31, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) officially recorded the 82 homicide for the city, an all-time record. On January 1, 2020, APD reported the first homicide of the year. It was on December 9, 2019, the city recorded its 74th homicide breaking the previous record of 72 murders set in 2017. Before 2017, the last time the City had the highest number of homicides in one year was in 1996 with 70 murders that year. In addition to the 82 homicides in 2019, APD Homicide detectives are also working on a back log of active cases from previous years.

Albuquerque’s FBI Uniform Crime statistics for the years 2008 to 2018 reveal just how bad violent crime has increased in Albuquerque over the last 10 years. Violent crimes include murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults and have all increased. The hard numbers for the last 10 years reflect that crime has not declined much and that like a waive on a beach, it had “ebbed and flowed” over the years but have risen none the less to all time highs.

Mayor Keller and Chief Michael Geier have announced 4 separate programs within nine months to combat our city’s violent crime and murder rates. Those programs are: the Shield Unit, Declaring Violent Crime “public health” issue, “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP) and the Metro 15, yet Chief Geier says “Generally, it’s a safe city”.

COMMENTARY AND ANALSIS

No Chief Geier, generally Albuquerque is not a safe city but has become one of the most violent city’s in the country, otherwise “Operation Relentless” pursuit would not include Albuquerque. Your departments own statistics on a crime map, at least the accurate ones, is bright red with dots showing crime scenes virtually all over the city, in every quadrant, a map used by Mayor Tim Keller when making a presentation to the Albuquerque Bar Association.

Try telling “it’s a safe city” to the thousands of people who have been victims of crimes, have had their cars stolen in all parts of the city and the families of the 82 murdered victims, which includes the mother of two law enforcement officers killed in her driveway that you cited in your interview with Channel 4.

Candidate Tim Keller campaigned to be elected mayor on the platform of implementing the U.S. Department of Justice-mandated reforms, increasing the size of the Albuquerque Police Department, returning to community-based policing and promising to bring down skyrocketing crime rates. For two years, Keller tried to take credit for crime rates being on the decline. It turns out the numbers were inflated, with Keller blaming it on antiquated software. The city recorded 82 homicides in 2019, an all-time record.

Mayor Tim Keller and Chief Geier have been given everything they have wanted from city council for public safety – and then some. What is very troubling is that all the increases in APD budget, personnel and new programs are not having any effect on bringing down the violent crime and murder rates and the city is no longer safe on many levels in virtually all quadrants of the city. It is no longer an issue of not having the money, personnel or resources, but of a failed personnel resource management issue.

It is also obvious that the APD command staff Keller handpicked is not getting the job done. Major personnel changes are in order, including asking for more than a few resignations, starting with the APD command staff Keller picked and reorganizing APD. The reorganization would include increasing the number of officers sworn to patrol the streets and increasing the various units, such as the homicide perhaps to 24, and the investigations units.

If Chief Geier sincerely believes that Albuquerque is “generally a safe city”, no doubt because he believes he and Mayor Keller have done such a fantastic job making the city safe, he should declare victory over our crime rates, be thank by Mayor Tim Keller for his service to the City and retire and move on. As for Keller, voters will be deciding in 2021 if he should join his hand picked Chief in retirement from public office.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham Announces Long Anticipated 2020 Legislative Agenda For Session That Begins January 21, 2020; Committee Work Has Already Begun

On January 21, 2020, the 30-day New Mexico legislative session begins. The 30-day session is referred to as the “short session” which are held in even number years while 60-day sessions occur in odd number years. Thirty-day sessions are limited to budgetary matters and issues approved for consideration and placed on what is referred to as the “Governor’s Call” or “Governor’s Message”. Revenue bills, such as taxation, may also be considered during 30-day sessions. Democrats hold a 46-24 edge in the House and a 26-16 majority in the Senate.

On Wednesday January 15, six days before the 2020 legislative session, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced what she has placed on the agenda for the 2020 session. Any time during the session, the governor can add other bills to the legislative agenda, including substitute bills. According to news reports, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham plans to add at least two dozen proposals to this year’s legislative agenda, many which were informally announced by the governor in interviews, events or anticipated by political observers.

GOVERNOR”S ANNOUNCED LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

Following is a listing of the legislation placed on the Governors call:

RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA

On September 10, 2019, the Governor’s task force endorsed and recommended a traditional licensing system for private companies that would grow and sell marijuana. The state would not operate retail stores. The licensing system is the same system as used for the State’s medical cannabis program. The proposal is a complete shift from the legislation that advanced through the state House last session where Democratic lawmakers embraced the idea of state-run cannabis stores as a part of a compromise with Republicans. Confidential sources have said that a number of Republican lawmakers are working on their own version of a recreational marijuana law that has general licensing not pinned to population as are liquor licenses.

One major decision that the New Mexico legislature may decide on is to place the legalization of recreational cannabis on the 2020 general election ballot and let the voters decide the issue. There have been conflicting polls, one poll suggesting overwhelming support by the public of legalization and another poll showing strong opposition to legalization. The only polls that really matter are the ones where people actually vote and not just asked their opinions.

For a related blog blog article see:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/01/08/nm-legislature-should-avoid-traditional-licensing-of-recreational-cannabis-based-on-population-let-supply-and-demand-market-forces-decide/

“RED FLAG” TEMPORARY SEIZURE OF FIREARMS

On January 8, during a press conference held in the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham called upon state lawmakers to pass a “red flag law” during the 2020 legislative session that begins on January 21. The “red flag” legislation is being co-sponsored by State Representatives Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, Joy Garratt, D-Albuquerque and State Senator Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces.
The legislation was pre -filed on January 8 ahead of the 2020 Legislative session. Under the proposed law a law enforcement officer or family member requesting an extreme-risk protection order would provide a sworn affidavit explaining in detail the facts and circumstance as to why the order is needed against a person. A judge could then issue a 15-day emergency order to seize the weapons and ammunition from that person and would schedule a hearing to determine if there was a need for a one-year order. When the court order expires, the guns and ammunition would then be returned to the individual.

CREATING AN EARLY CHILDHOOD TRUST FUND

The Governor is proposing a onetime $320 million new early childhood endowment trust fund that would help pay for early childhood education services. The endowment would increase state spending on prekindergarten, home visiting programs for new parents and other early childhood services. Lujan Grisham has previously described the endowment proposal for early childhood programs as a “prudent way” to expand spending on prekindergarten and reach “universal pre-K” that prepares every child to start school.

ESTABLISHING A NEW COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

The Governor has placed on the call a bill creating a new scholarship program called “New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship” that would benefit an estimated 55,000 college students and expand funding for child-care assistance and pre-Kindergarten programs statewide. The “Opportunity Scholarship” will cover the cost of tuition for students enrolled at New Mexico colleges and universities are expected to cost $25 million to $35 million. The scholarships offered will be aimed at covering the remaining gap for students after other awards and scholarships, including New Mexico’s lottery program scholarships or other sources. This funding will restore the initial promise of the Lottery Scholarship and re-establishing essential career pathways for New Mexicans across the state.

PERA OVERHAUL AND SOLVENCY MEASURES

The Governor’s call includes financing to shore up the finances of the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) with a $76 million allocation for PERA.

For the 2020 legislative session, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has endorsed a complex proposal to overhaul New Mexico’s chronically underfunded PERA proposed by Democratic legislative leaders. The proposal builds on the work of a PERA task force established by the governor with some major changes. The most controversial recommendations by her task force involved the 2% cost of living (COLA) currently guaranteed to all retirees.

According to media reports, the legislation will establish a “profit-sharing” model for the annual cost-of-living adjustments that most retirees now receive. Rather than an automatic 2% increase in their pensions each year, the actual amount would fluctuate, anywhere from 0.5% to 3%, depending on investment returns.

Under the proposed legislation, government employers and employees will pay more into the system with a schedule that phases in higher contributions. Other changes will help retirees who are older than 75, disabled or receiving pensions of less than $25,000 a year, despite 25 years of service.

With respect to annual cost-of-living adjustments, they would be increased by half a percentage point to 2.5% for retirees who are 75 or older. This was a change made after requested by Governor Lujan Grisham.

Under the proposed legislation, many retirees would receive a temporary reduction in their cost-of-living increases. For 3 years, retirees would get an extra check equal to 2% of their pension. Such a “one lump” sum payment in one check would eliminate the compounding effect of having each 2% build on the previous 2% increase.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM

The Governors call includes her 2020 proposed Executive Budget containing funding to continue the successful investments made using the LEDA program of $40 million. $10 million will be used for rural infrastructure projects. The LEDA program has successfully encouraged businesses to come to New Mexico to stimulate economic growth in the state and leveraged $2.3 billion in private investments over the last six years. The FY20 goal is to create 2,500 jobs, and the addition of the rural fund will allow greater flexibility and opportunity for projects located in non-metro communities.

PUBLIC SAFETY

The Governors call includes legislation increasing penalties for use of a firearm in some felonies and racketeering, toughening criminal penalties for human trafficking and creating criminal offenses and penalties for threats that disrupt schools. The Governors Executive Budget includes funding for the Department of Public Safety budget at $163.9 million, which will provide for a total of 60 new State Police officers, including equipment and training. Additional funding is included for ten new staff for forensic labs, including six new forensic scientists and a new data-sharing system that will address gaps in inter-agency communication, as well as $6.3 million for state police recruitment and retention initiatives.

MANDATING IN STATE RESIDENCY FOR PEOPLE ENROLLED IN STATE MEDICAL CANNABIS PROGRAM

This bill is intended to address a State District Court ruling that New Mexico must allow non-residents to participate in its medical cannabis program.

There are over 76,000 people enrolled statewide in New Mexico’s medical cannabis program which became law in 2007. The 2019 New Mexico Legislature made amendments to the medical cannabis law and Governor Lujan Grisham signed them into law. The legislature changed the definition of “qualified patient” by removing a requirement that an enrolled member of the medical cannabis program must be a New Mexico resident. The changes took effect on July 1, 2019.

Ultra Health LLC, an Arizona licensed medical marijuana producer whose President and CEO Duke Rodriguez, a former NM Department of Health Secretary, file suite to challenge the New Mexico residency requirement. The Plaintiff’s Ultra Health LLC and Duke Rodriguez were represented by Speaker of the House Brian Egolf who opposed the State but who voted for the amendments enacted in the 2019 legislative session.

On August 29, 2019, Santa Fe District Judge Bryan Biedscheid ruled that New Mexico must allow non-residents to participate in its medical cannabis program.

According to the court’s ruling the language of the amended medical cannabis statute is clear:

“This statute, plainly and unambiguously, does away with the requirement of residence of the state of New Mexico … Continuing to insist on a showing of residence for eligibility in the program, when that has been taken out by the Legislature, is not appropriate. … it does not allow the Department of Health to withhold identification cards to qualifying patients who live outside of New Mexico. …”

Governor Michelle Lujan strongly objected to the Court ruling and said at the time:

“We remain of the opinion that New Mexico’s medical cannabis program should not be bulldozed by an out-of-state litigant operating with his own financial interests at heart rather than those of the state’s medical program or of the many New Mexicans who depend upon it … [The ruling] contradicts both the intent of the legislative sponsor and the interpretation of the New Mexico Department of Health … .”

Initially the Governor said her administration would appeal the decision, but such an appeal was never reported upon and the legislation appears to be the route that is now been taken.

A major issue that no doubt be raised is to what extent Speaker Egolf will be involved with the legislation, if he will allow it to advance through the House and if he intends to vote for or against or abstain from the proposed law that an enrolled member of the New Mexico medical cannabis program must be a New Mexico resident.

OTHER LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES ANNOUNCED

According to a news report, other legislation placed on the Governor’s call include:

Putting parts of the Affordable Care Act into state law.

Health legislation to reduce medicine costs by importing drugs from Canada and creating a new regulatory system for tobacco products.

Proposing a new tax incentive for renewable energy.

Increasing the financial amount on how much the state can invest in New Mexico based businesses through the severance tax permanent fund.

Expanding the state’s sex-offender registration rules to include sex offenders who visit New Mexico from out of state.

Establishing a $25 million trust fund to address the needs of seniors, veterans and adults with disabilities.

Approving tax credits for electric vehicles and solar energy projects.

Creating an office to work on importing medicine from Canada to help reduce drug costs.

Make structural changes to the Public Regulation Commission.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1410221/lujan-grisham-sets-session-agenda.html

REPUBLICAN SPONSORED BILLS ON THE GOVERNORS CALL

A few of the bills on the Governors Call include legislation sponsored by Republican law makers, indicating the Governors willingness to work with Republicans.

A bill sponsored by Republican Rep. William “Bill” Rehm of Albuquerque centers on increasing penalties on the use of a gun in a non-capital felony offenses.

Bills on the governor’s agenda include bills being co-sponsored by Republicans include legislation for an electric vehicle tax credit, financial incentives for transmission lines and an overhaul of the pension system for government employees.

GOVERNOR’S STATEMENT

In a statement announcing the 2020 Legislative agenda, the Governor had this to say:

“My call for this legislative session underscores the work we are undertaking on two fronts: addressing urgent needs and strategically investing in sustainable improvements over the long term. These proposals are investments in the present well-being and future success of students, workers, kids and parents all across New Mexico. … These are quality-of-life initiatives I am proud to introduce and support.”

ACCELERATED COMMITTEE SCHEDULE

Because the legislative session is the 30 day short session, as usual the New Mexico legislature is on an accelerated schedule and legislative committees, especially those that deal with the $7.7 billion dollar budget being proposed, are already holding hearings before the session. The House Appropriations and Finance Committee is conducting hearings for more than 50 state agencies.

Adoption of the final budget by reaching a consensus between the Governors proposed budget and the Legislatures proposed budget is the number one priority for the session. The two budget recommendations overlap and contain similar spending priorities. The governor is recommending $7.7 billion budget with an increase of about 8.4% while the Legislative Finance Committee is recommending $7.5 billion budget. The work to reconcile the budget differences has already begun in the House where the budget is the first item of business.

Four Cabinet secretaries and State Police Chief Tim Johnson are up for confirmation votes this session. They are Ryan Stewart of Public Education, Elizabeth Groginsky of Early Childhood Education and Care, Katrina Hotrum-Lopez of Aging and Long-Term Services, and Alisha Tafoya Lucero of Corrections. They are running their departments on an interim bases, and if they are not confirmed, they must step down and a new person nominated by the Governor.

The Senate Rules Committee, Chaired by State Senator Linda, has already held confirmation hearings for more a dozen new appointees to state boards and commissions. The Senate Rules Committee makes recommendations to the full Senate who has a final vote to approve or reject the appointment.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1409723/before-opening-day-lawmakers-already-at-work.html

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

The fact that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has placed on her call legislation either sponsored or co-sponsored by Republicans indicates a willingness to work with Republicans, which is a dramatic departure from the way her Republican predecessor operated and interacted with Democrats and even members of her own party. Gone is Republican Governor “SHE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED” that for the full 8 years she was in office was vindictive, mean spirited and condescending to legislators, both Democrats and Republicans. Republican Governor “SHE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED” lacked all ability and had no background to work with the New Mexico legislature to get things done and soon lost credibility with her zealous use of the veto pen, even on legislation that would pass overwhelmingly with bi partisan support.

One thing is for certain, the Governor Michelle Lujan’s job of promoting her programs during the 2020 legislative session will be made much easier because of the oil boom that has propelled New Mexico’s government revenue to record highs with debate now over how to spend the windfall. The surplus should allow the Governor to virtually fund all the education programs she wants, invest in capital projects and infrastructure as well as shore up the PERA pension funds, but only if the legislature allows her.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham needs to exercise great caution with the 3 issues of PERA Solvency, recreational marijuana and a red flag Law. The Governor should not expend precious political capital on legislation that is doomed for failure in either the New Mexico House or Senate. It’s a simple issue of math, securing a majority consensus and counting votes. Too much is at stake on all three issues that has the potential of alienating many of her base supporters and resulting in nothing getting accomplished and causing more damage than good.

There is always the 2021 sixty-day session and for that matter, special sessions to deal with major issues such as recreational marijuana, red flag laws and PERA solvency issues.

For related blog articles see:

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham Proposes $7.68 Billion Dollar Budget; LFC Releases Own Budget; Children And Education Once Again Biggest Priorities

Governor Lujan Grisham’s 2020 Legislative Agenda: Education, Recreational Pot, PERA Solvency, Public Safety, “Red Flag” Law; No Tax Code Overhaul

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham Seeks “Red Flag” Law Enactment In 2020 Legislative Session; Other Gun Control Measures Should Be Consider, Including Repeal Of New Mexico’s Open Carry

Disconnect From Reality: A City Bloated With Cash Asking For $30 Million From Legislature For Public Safety And Setting Up Charitable Foundation For City Initiatives

On January 21, 2020, the 30-day New Mexico legislative session begins. The 30-day session is referred to as the “short session” which are held in even number years while 60-day sessions occur in odd number years. Thirty-day sessions are limited to budgetary matters and issues approved for consideration and placed on what is referred to as the Governor’s call.

MAYOR TIM KELLER’S LEGISLATIVE WISH LIST

On December 2, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller revealed his legislative priorities for the upcoming 2020 New Mexico Legislative session that starts on January, 21. Keller said his top priority will again be public safety. His requests include $10 million for his violence intervention programs and $20 million for modernizing crime fighting technology and to “modernize” APD’s data reporting system. Keller said $20 million dollars will go to changing the way police file reports and produce crime stats and how they connect all the crime-fighting data into one.

Mayor Keller’s request in funding was made within days after it was revealed Keller released statistics and crime rates that were seriously flawed and inflated showing dramatic reductions in crime not at all accurate. The crime rate fiasco was attributed to antiquated data collection systems.

In a Channel 7 interview the Governor signaled her support of Mayor Keller’s request for the funding in the 2020 legislative session and said:

“I want the mayor to be unabashed. He needs to have the tools and the resources, and we all need to be accountable.”

You can review related news reports here:

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/metro-surge-report-reveals-evidence-not-filed-in-time-for-36-of-cases/5576514/

https://www.koat.com/article/governor-lays-out-latest-plans-in-crime-fight/30289751

REQUESTED UPGRADE INCLUDES GPS FOR DISPATCH

The $20 million in upgrades in the city’s existing crime-fighting technology being requested by the Mayor Keller from the New Mexico Legislature includes upgrades to the Albuquerque Police Departments (APD) computer and records systems. The systems are used by APD police in their assigned squad cars and the mobile crime scene units. It also includes funding for new technology in gunshot detection devices and license plate scanners.

Major upgrade funding is being sought for APD’s 911 dispatching capabilities to include Global Positioning System (GPS). As it exists today, when a call is made to 911, the answering dispatcher will dispatch a police officer usually based on availability regardless of how far away the officer is.

Each time a 911 call is answered by dispatch, the call can get routed through the Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) where upon RTCC analysts work through different records systems to find out as much background about who the call is made about so that the information can be relayed to the dispatched police officer. Such background information is critical to the police officer to know what they may be dealing with, including identifying a violent offender or a person who is mentally ill.

APD Commander Chris George of the Scientific Evidence Division explained it this way:

“Right now, the [911] dispatcher says ‘OK, this officer is not on a call, we’ll use him or her. They’ll be on the way over.”

The goal of APD is to improve existing software and purchase new software, where APD’s various systems will be integrated and will be able to quickly compile information on an address or a call before an officer heads out to take the call.

According to Commander George, police departments across the country have GPS integrated into to their computer dispatch systems so the officer closest to a call is the police officer sent to an emergency call.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1407597/mayor-offers-more-detail-on-apds-plan-to-modernize.html

ONE ALBUQUERQUE FOUNDATION

Last year on January 7, 2019, Mayor Tim Keller announced the creation of the One Albuquerque Foundation. It’s a foundation formed by the city to collect donations from the general public to support city initiatives. According to the city’s website page:

“… the endowment Fund raises funds in support of and to supplement measurable city priorities, including the housing voucher program for people experiencing homelessness, recruiting and retaining public safety officers, expanding opportunities for young people in Albuquerque, and equipping our workforce with the skills they need to succeed. Additional funding for these priorities will accelerate progress and help scale significant investments the City is already making go much farther, much faster.”

The web page described the fund as akin to the Mayor’s Charity Ball which raised money to be distributed to charitable efforts. It really is not, because with the Mayor’s Charity ball, money was raised and then given to charitable causes, while the One Albuquerque Fund collects donations for the city and gives it to city priorities.

On August 13, 2019, it was reported that the One Albuquerque Foundation had raised $17,000 and paid housing vouchers to help the homeless.

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/one-albuquerque-fund-raises-17000-to-help-the-homeless/

On January 6, 2020, a year from the date it was created, Mayor Tim Keller held a press conference at a Downtown restaurant attended by city officials and members of the business community to formally launch the “One Albuquerque Fund”. Mayor Keller announced that since the One Albuquerque Fund was announced, the fund has raised $200,000. According to Charles Ashley III, the One Albuquerque Foundation president, none of the money currently in the fund came from diverting money from existing city programs.

During the press conference, the foundation presented checks of $5,000 to fund APD police recruitment efforts and $20,000 to provide additional housing vouchers for the homeless. The foundation’s board of directors has identified four areas that it wants to provide funding to:

1. Police recruitment
2. Job training
3. Homeless and
4. Youth initiatives

During the press conference Mayor Tim Keller had this to say about the One Albuquerque Foundation:

“[This is] the best way for the city to partner with businesses, individuals, nonprofits and foundations, because we’re all in this together as One Albuquerque. [It allows the city to better] facilitate public-private partnerships to deal with some of our biggest issues.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1407588/new-foundation-will-support-city-initiatives.html

CITY “BLOATED WITH CASH”

In May, 2018, 5 months after he assumed office, Mayor Tim Keller signed into law a gross receipt sales tax increase enacted by the City Council. 70% of the tax was dedicated to public safety. The tax raises $55 million a year in revenue. Keller broke a campaign promise not to raise taxes, even for public safety, without a public vote. The rational for the tax increase was that the city was faced with a $40 million dollar deficit. The deficit never materialized and the tax increase was not repealed.

The City of Albuquerque has an operating budget of $1.1 billion for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2019 and ends on June 30, 2020. It was the first time in city history that the city operating budget exceed the $1 Billion figure. The 2019-2020 budget represented an overall 11% increase in spending over the previous year.

In April, 2019 a onetime $34.4 million dollar windfall to the city was reported from what was called an “orphan month”. The $34.3 million “one-time, lifetime” boost in revenues could not be applied by the city toward recurring costs. $29 million of the $34.3 million was applied to numerous one-time investments the Keller Administration felt important, including $6 million for public safety vehicles such as police cars for new police cadets, $2.3 million for park security, $2 million for the business recruitment and growth and $2 million for housing vouchers and related programs.

https://www.petedinelli.com/2019/04/04/orphan-month-windfall-of-34-million-used-for-1-1-billion-city-budget-no-new-taxes-city-to-charge-for-car-crash-clean-ups-and-vehicle-fires/

On October 7, 2019 the City Council approved a $30.5 million “Sports -Tourism” lodger tax package on a unanimous vote submitted Mayor Keller to upgrade and build sports facilities throughout the city. Revenue generated by the lodger’s tax will be used to pay off the $30.5 million bond debt. Lodger tax revenues are supposed to be used to promote tourism and tourism functions and facilities; not general sports venues used by the general public.

http://documents.cabq.gov/budget/fy-20-proposed-budget.pdf

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

There is no doubt that the dispatch and computer upgrades are necessary. Recruiting police officers for and understaffed department is also very important. The real question is why should the New Mexico Legislature fund them given the way the city is so bloated with money?

Albuquerque Police Department has a total operating budget of $209,852,000. Mayor Keller’s Administration is to spending $88 million dollars starting last year in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, over a four-year period, with $32 million dollars of recurring expenditures, which includes recruitment funding, to hire 322 sworn officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers.

The massive investment in APD is being done in order to full fill Mayor Tim Keller’s 2017 campaign promise to increase the size of APD and return to community-based policing as a means of reducing the city’s high crime rates. Last year’s 2018-2019 fiscal year budget provided for increasing APD funding from 1,000 sworn police to 1,040. This year’s 2019-2020 fiscal year budget has funding for 1,040 sworn police.

Mayor Keller has been given everything he has wanted for public safety and then some by the Albuquerque City Council, including money for equipment and recruitment. It is difficult to understand and justify Mayor Keller seeking $20 million more from the Governor and the New Mexico legislature to “modernize” the police department records keeping and 911 dispatch. The funding should come from the city’s general fund, and the $55 million dollar a year gross receipts tax enacted less than 2 years ago that dedicates 70% to public safety. The communication upgrades need to be included in the 2020-2021 budget that Keller will be submitting on April 1 for approval by the City Council with new budget to go into effect on July 1, 2020.

THE FAMILY AND COMMUNITY SERVICE DIVISION

The Family and Community Service Division of the City of Albuquerque has an annual approved operating budget of $79.7 million. The city spends $8 million a year to provide 775 vouchers for rental assistance and to move homeless people from the street into housing. In the 2019-2020 approved city budget, an additional $2 million was added to the fund which allowed another 125 to 150 people to get into housing.

https://www.petedinelli.com/2019/10/29/compromise-consensus-and-concessions-needed-for-city-homeless-shelter-vote-yes-on-bond-question-2/

Highlights to the increases in social services provided by the Family and Community Service Division contained in the 2019-2020 approved budget include:

$15 million in affordable housing contracts.
$8.2 million in homeless services.
$5.7 million in mental health and substance abuse contracts.
$18.2 million for homeless and behavioral health programs. Prior to the enactment of the gross receipts tax increase, these programs were originally projected to be cut by $2 million.
$1 million and over in funding of early intervention and prevention programs, domestic violence shelters, domestic violence services, sexual assault services, services to abused and for neglected and abandoned youth

https://www.petedinelli.com/2018/04/02/billion-dollar-budget-reflects-dramatic-change-in-city-priorities/

ONE ALBUQUERQUE FOUNDATION

The biggest argument that is being made for the creation of the One Albuquerque Fund by the city is that institutions such as the Albuquerque Public Schools, Central New Mexico Community College and the University of New Mexico all have their own foundations to support those entities and the City of Albuquerque should have its own foundation. The argument is bogus. The City has unilateral taxing authority that can be enacted by the City Council whenever it chooses while all the other institutions must rely upon the New Mexico Legislature for their funding.

It is difficult to understand Mayor Keller’s motivation with One Albuquerque Foundation when he says “[This is] the best way for the city to partner with businesses, individuals, nonprofits and foundations … .” No its not. The Albuquerque Community Foundation has been in existence for decades that is doing many of the things being suggested for One Albuquerque. Charitable donations from the general public are difficult enough as it is for private charitable organizations such as the United Way and the Albuquerque Community Foundation and now they have to compete with the Mayor’s One Albuquerque Foundation so he can say “we are all in this together”. The “United Way” charitable foundation sends the very same message and at one time city hall employees were allowed to participate in “United Way” fundraising and it was discontinued by Keller’s predecessor.

Contained in Mayor Keller’s $88 million-dollar APD expansion program with the $32 million dollars of recurring expenditures is funding for officer recruitment. It is difficult to understand why the One Albuquerque Foundation feels the need to make any donation, even as small as $5,000 for police recruitment given the millions being dedicated to APD. Further, $20,000 to provide additional housing vouchers for the homeless no doubt is an amount that again should have been absorbed by the Family and Community Services Department.

CONCLUSION

It is a pathetic practice for any government entity to solicit donations from the public to carry out is duties and responsibilities to the public, especially when it has already allocated millions to specific causes. The City of Albuquerque is bloated with a $1.1 Billion Budget, a $55 Million Tax Increase revenues, $35 Million Orphan Month Windfall as well as $30.5 million in lodger tax bond revenues, yet Mayor Keller’s budget and financial management approach to ask for even more funding from the New Mexico legislature and for a charitable foundation. Such a request reflects a total disconnect from reality. It reflects management negligence and an inability to live within one means and always demanding more.

The creation, purpose and intent of the One Albuquerque Foundation is a noble cause so long as the foundation money is not utilized for essential services and government functions that are already covered and paid for in the city’s $1.1 billion dollar budget and that are arguably charitable in nature, such as vouchers and housing for homeless and youth initiatives. Police recruitment, job training and vouchers for the homeless are among those priorities already budgeted for by the city and contributions have already been made in a sense in the form of the taxes we pay. The Albuquerque One Foundation with the $200,000 collected is not going to have much of an impact on the needs of a city that has a $1.1 Billion dollar budget.

On April 1, 2020 Mayor Tim Keller will be submitting the administration’s annual budget. It anticipated that the $1.1 billion city hall budget will increase even more. One thing to look for is funding for the updating of the city’s computer dispatch center and the funding being provided to the causes the One Albuquerque Foundation has made contributions to.

Police Union Politicizes APD, Claims Credit For CASA Reforms; Sergeants And Lieutenants Part Of Management And Need To Be Removed From Police Union

There is a line between Politics and Law Enforcement that should never be stepped over. The APD Police Union has stepped over that line repeatedly over the last 3 years. Recently, it was revealed just how bad the relationship between Mayor Tim Keller and the police union have fallen when Keller announced programs to reduce crime and when false crime rates were reported. The Police Union President also did a FACEBOOK video endorsing a City Council Candidate in a runoff election supporting a Republican candidate for City Council when the Mayor was supporting the Democratic candidate running.

METRO 15 ANNOUNCEMENT

On Tuesday, November 26, Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Michael Geier held a press conference to announce a 4th program within 9 months to deal with the city’s violent crime and murder rates. At the time of the press conference, the city’s homicide count was at 72, matching the cities record in 2017. It is now at 82 murders for 2019, a historical high.

Keller dubbed the new program “Metro 15 Operation” and it’s part of the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) program Keller announced the week before. According to Keller and Geier the new program targets the top 15 most violent offenders in Albuquerque. In other words, it’s the city’s version of the FBI’s 10 most wanted list. According to Keller, the top 15 will be identified by the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office. Once a violent offender is caught, another violent offender will be added to the list.

Under the “Metro 15 Operation” program, APD is supposedly partnering with the Attorney General’s Office, the Bernalillo County District’s Office, the New Mexico Office of Superintendent of Insurance, and the state’s Probation and Parole Division. The multi-agency effort will also work with the FBI and the U.S. Marshal’s Office.

During the press conference, Keller had this to say about Metro 15:

“Today isn’t about data, or technology, or planning. It is about bringing all hands-on deck for a crackdown on the worst perpetrators of violent crimes in our city. It’s about going after someone at the right time, with the right set of information so that we can arrest them, keep them in jail, and bring justice to what they have done to our community. … I want to remind everyone the Metro 15 is not about necessarily data or technology; this is about going after the most … we think perpetrators of violence in the Albuquerque area.”

According to APD Chief Geier, the Metro 15 the operation is different from similar tactics because the agencies, including the Attorney General’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the Office of Superintendent of Insurance, and state Probation and Parole, have narrowed their focus to where they believe they’ll have the most impact.

APD Chief Geier had this to say about the Metro 15 Operation:

“We have all had enough. It’s time to take back our city. … We’re working with the District Attorney to put more thought into this in terms of the violent offenders we should be targeting. … We don’t want to use our precious resources and manpower just to organize short-term tactical plans or warrant roundups and put a Band-Aid on the problem.”

APD UNION REACTION TO METRO 15

In a Channel 4 News Report, Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association president Shaun Willoughby was quick with sarcastic and sharp criticism of the Metro 15 Operation and said:

“This Metro 15 – it’s a great concept. It’s a re-branding of a concept we’ve been doing for years … We work well with the DA’s office and I find it good and powerful that all of these entities are coming together because they just told everybody that their credibility is on the line too. … We need to focus on that. Less PR (public relations), less puff, more actual, basic police work. [Community policing is] a great thing for the community. We love taking a group of kids to see a Frozen movie. We want to have relations with this community and we want to build and focus on community policing but the number one attribute of community policing is policing.”

In response to Willoughby’s comments a spokesperson for Mayor Keller told KOB 4:

“Despite resistance from the union leadership, APD has made great strides in meeting the requirements of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement [CASA] and we continue to restore public trust in our officers.”

The Keller Administration also felt it necessary to issue the following statement:

“The first thing Mayor Keller did when he took office was overhaul the police department to more effectively fight crime and invest in officer salaries to make APD recruitment more competitive. We inherited the smallest police force in recent memory at fewer than 850 officers, and we are on track to meet our goal of hiring 100 new officers a year for 4 years. The additional officers allowed APD to more than double the number of homicide detectives, while providing investigative training for all detectives. We created Problem Response Teams in every Area Command, brought back bike patrols, created the Downtown Public Safety District, re-opened community substations, tackled the rape kit backlog, resulting in the prosecution of serial rapists, and created the Violence Intervention Program that has officers who are dedicated to reducing violent crime. Our focus on recruiting is unrelenting.”

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/police-union-wants-more-officers-less-press-conferences/5564651/?cat=500

THE CRIME RATE FIASCO

On Sunday, December 1, 2019, the Albuquerque Journal ran a front-page story that all the crime rate reductions Mayor Tim Keller reported in his July 1, 2019 press conference were in fact seriously flawed and false. According to the report, both the 2019 mid-year statistics and the statistics released at the end of 2018 were revised dramatically to include hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of more incidents than were initially reported. The final numbers for all of 2018 showed violent crime actually increased, and in many categories the crime rates only dropped in single digits and not the double digits reported by Keller. Keller had been conducting quarterly reports for the last two years and had announce double digit reductions in crime rates.

Shaun Willoughby, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, said he was worried that the revelation that the decreases are far less significant and will make it harder for the public to trust the Police Department’s briefings in the future:

“I don’t think this was done intentionally, but I think the public is going to have a credibility issue with the Police Department, and this administration [in particular], and we need to work together as a team to prevent this from ever happening again.”

Hold the thought “we need to work together as a team to prevent this from ever happening again.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1397614/city-to-review-two-years-of-crime-data-after-recent-discrepancies.html

POLICE UNION CLAIMS MAYOR TIM KELLER “DISHONORABLE”

On December 6, 2017, just 5 days after being sworn in as Mayor, Tim Keller did a press conference along with his newly appointed Police Chief Michael Geier. The APD command staff stood alongside Mayor Keller to talk about the work ahead of them to reform the Albuquerque Police Department. Mayor Keller said at the press conference:

“I’m a believer in community policing, and that includes one of the pillars of community policing, which is about truthfulness with the public. And in that spirit, I want to start by offering an apology on behalf of City Hall to our community. Our community deserves an apology for its historical tone at the top of the department and a culture of excessive force that has hurt our community. I also want to tell the victims of families who have been hurt by unnecessary use of force that I am sorry, and that we are sorry as your city government. We will work every day to restore trust in our community.Secondly, we also need to apologize for our skyrocketing crime rates. I have heard from hundreds of folks who don’t feel safe and who worry about their families every day. And I want to acknowledge to all the victims of crime in this city and to all the families who have fallen victim to crime that we have let you down in many ways. Public safety is a critical function of government, and we must do better and it starts with owning up to that today.”

A few days after the Mayor’s December 6, 2017 press conference, Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) President Shaun Willoughby claimed his membership were “upset” that Mayor Keller apologized to the citizens’ of Albuquerque for APD’s “culture of excessive use of force” and claimed his phone had been “ringing non-stop from angry cops since the apology” and that the Police union was ‘disappointed’ with mayor’s apologies during his first week in office. Willoughby went on to say that the Mayor’s apology was a “global apology” or a blanket apology for all use of force by the rank-and-file police officers. Willoughby was not even at the press conference and did not hear the words spoken by the Mayor, yet he made his accusation.

Willoughby also claimed that the rank and filed felt “discredited” by the new Mayor and he said on camera:

“It’s important to understand that the APOA is not a political organization. I’m actually employed by the cops that we serve. … I don’t think that the APOA having discontent is wrong or reminding anybody that we felt that, that was dishonorable to apologize for a group of police officers.”

Willoughby actually said with a straight face “APOA is not a political organization.” Least anyone forget, during the 2017 Mayoral race, the APOA Union strongly endorsed Tim Keller to be elected Mayor. If APOA is not a political organization as Police Union President Willoughby claimed, it had absolutely no business endorsing anyone for Mayor, yet in 2017 it interviewed candidates and made an endorsement of Keller.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1104351/keller-misstep-irks-apd-officers.html

POLICE UNION STICKS NOSE INTO 2019 DISTRICT 4 CITY COUNCIL RUNOFF RACE

The Albuquerque City Council plays a crucial oversight role of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), including controlling its budget, approving staffing levels, budgeting for equipment and training and approving overtime pay funding. Because of this reason, it was no surprise that the Police Union got actively involved with the District 4 City Council runoff race between Republican Brook Bassan and Democrat Ane Romero to replace longtime Republican City Councilor Brad Winters.

APOA President Sean Willoughby did a video FACEBOOK endorsement of Brook Bassan for City Council that was unequivocal. Willoughby says Bassan understands what police go through, she is committed to fully funding APD, staffing and resources. The endorsement was a little over the top and a highly embellished promotion of a candidate that has never been in public service, elected or appointed, and who has no law enforcement background. You can review the video endorsement here:

https://www.facebook.com/Brook4District4/videos/2602500676499389/

Republican Brook Bassan was elected over Democrat Ane Romero in the runoff by a 54% to 46% of the vote in former Republican City Councillor Brad Winters’ District.

POLICE UNION MEMBERS PART OF APD MANAGEMENT

On September 10, 2018, Federal Court appointed monitor Dr. James Ginger reported to the federal judge overseeing the Department of Justice reforms that a group of “high-ranking APD officers” within the department were trying to thwart the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) reforms. The federal monitor referred to the group as the “counter-CASA effect”. He revealed that the group of “high-ranking APD officers” were APD Sergeants and Lieutenants. Because Sergeants and Lieutenants are part of the police union they remained in their positions and could not be removed by the APD management command staff.

On November 1, 2019 the Federal Court Appointed Monitor filed his 10th compliance report of the APD reforms mandated under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement. The following major finding stood out:

“Sergeants and lieutenants, at times, go to extreme lengths to excuse officer behaviors that clearly violate established and trained APD policy, using excuses, deflective verbiage, de minimis comments and unsupported assertions to avoid calling out subordinates’ failures to adhere to established policies and expected practice. Supervisors (sergeants) and mid-level managers (lieutenants) routinely ignore serious violations, fail to note minor infractions, and instead, consider a given case “complete”.

CHAIN OF COMMAND VITAL TO CASA REFORM ENFORCEMENT

There is a definite “chain of command” when it comes to APD. All Commanders, Deputy Chiefs and the Chief are “at will” employee positions that serve at the pleasure of the Administration, either the Mayor or Chief. APD has a clear line of authority that separates management from rank and file sworn police officers that must be preserved and honored.

APD police sergeants and lieutenants are on the front line to enforce personnel rules and regulations, standard operating procedures, approve and review work performed and assist in implementing DOJ reforms and standard operating procedures policies. This point was repeatedly made by the Federal Monitor during an August 20, 2019 hearing when he said “until the sergeants are in harness and pulling in the same direction as the chief, things won’t get done as quickly”.

NEW FEDERAL JUDGE, OLD UNION RESISTANCE TO REFORMS

On Tuesday, August 20, 2019, a day long status conference was convened by Federal Judge James Browning to listen to Federal Court Appointed Monitor James Ginger’s third “Outcome and Measures and Analysis Report” on the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). Judge James Browning took over the case from Judge Robert Brack who retired and went on Senior Status. It had been more than a year since the last public status conference was held.

At the August 20, 2019 hearing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the City of Albuquerque, APD upper command, the police union and the many stakeholders testified. Overall, the consensus throughout the all-day hearing was that APD had improved dramatically. All seem to agree that there is a lot more left to be done with the police reforms. All of the participants said they are committed to seeing the reform through.

During the August 20, 2019 hearing, District Court Judge Browning asked APOA Union President Shawn Willoughby point blank what he and the union rank and file felt about the CASA. Willoughby’s responses were a quick condemnation of the CASA when he said “we hate it”, “we’re frustrated”, the reforms and mandates are “a hard pill to swallow”, that “all [the] change is hard”.

According to Willoughby, police officers are afraid to do their jobs for fear of being investigated, fired or disciplined. In the same breath, Willoughby went on to brag about how his union, unlike other police unions in city’s with consent decrees, actually worked and cooperated with the city and the DOJ.

UNION CLAIMS TO SPEAK THE TRUTH

On December 18, KRQE News 13 reported that Albuquerque Republican State Senator Sander Rue went on record saying he wants the New Mexico State Police to have a larger presence in Albuquerque for at least a year to help the understaffed Albuquerque Police Department (APD) tackle crime. Rue wants 30 more State Police officers in Albuquerque as early as next summer.

Instead of going to Mayor Tim Keller or APD Chief Michael Geier for an interview to respond to the proposal made Senator Rue, Channel 13 went to APO President Willoughby who once again expressed his resentment towards the DOJ consent decree and the reforms by saying:

“I think we are past our pride at this point. … I think it is time for the community to know it is not about pride. It is actually the truth. Your police officers are handcuffed, and we are not going to get the city back under control until they take those cuffs off, and if State Police can come in here without the handcuffs and make an impact on violent crime, I am all about it.”

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/state-lawmaker-proposes-adding-30-state-police-officers-in-albuquerque/

UNION TAKES CREDIT FOR DOJ REFORM EFFORTS

On Friday, January 10, the City of Albuquerque filed a Motion to have certain portions of the federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) suspended and placed into “sustained compliance” and “suspend monitoring” of those requirements by the Federal Court approved monitor. Under the CASA there are 276 mandated reforms requiring auditing by the Federal Monitor.

For full story see: https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/01/13/city-moves-to-be-released-from-portions-doj-consent-decree-and-monitoring-commentary-intent-and-purpose-of-decree-accomplished-dismiss-case/

In the most recent and 10th Independent Monitoring Report, the Federal Monitor reported APD met 100% of CASA-established primary compliance requirements, 81% percent Secondary Compliance requirements and 64% Operational Compliance requirements of the CASA during the reporting period. When all 3 compliance areas reach 95% compliance and maintained for 2 years, the case can be dismissed

The city’s Motion highlights the progress made by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) in implementing the court mandated reforms under the CASA. According to the Motion, the Albuquerque Police Officer’s Association, the sole intervenor in the case, agrees with the relief being sought by the City.

On January 11, Mayor Tim Keller made the filing of the motion public for the first time in his State of the City Address, and proclaimed that in the event the Federal Court grants the motion, nearly a quarter, or 67 of the requirements, would be placed in compliance and allow “self-monitoring” and free up sworn police to do police work. Currently, 61 sworn police are assigned to investigate other APD officers to make sure they are meeting the CASA requirements. It has been APD management over the past 5 years that have been primarily responsible for implementation of the reforms, not the police union.

On January 13, in a news interview, police union President Shawn Willoughby proclaimed that the all parties had earned the right to have the Motion granted because of all the progress made with the reforms. Willoughby acted as if he and the union were responsible for the reforms, despite their actual opposition and resistance to the reforms. It also appeared he was speaking for the Keller Administration. The Mayor and the Chief were never interviewed on the motion.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/city-officials-file-motion-to-release-the-albuquerque-police-dept-from-some-doj-requirements/5607985/?cat=500

https://www.koat.com/article/city-hopes-some-doj-compliance-requirements-will-soon-be-lifted/30490440

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

What is “actually the truth” to use Willoughby’s words, is it that he and his union have done everything possible to undercut the goals and objectives of the DOJ reforms and the consent decree. It is so damn laughable when union President Willoughby actually said about the recent crime rate statistics fiasco:

“I think the public is going to have a credibility issue with the Police Department, and this administration and we need to work together as a team to prevent this from ever happening again.”

The “actual truth” is the APD Union has never been a “team player” with APD management and never will be. Further, the union credibility with the general public is highly questionable given the past performance of APD and its union membership.

What is very problematic is that no one knows for certain to what extent the union is influencing the actions of the Sergeants and Lieutenants to resist the implementation of the CASA reforms that the union opposes. Union President Willoughby made it clear the union membership “hates” the CASA, feels the reforms are “a hard pill to swallow” and that they believe “all change is hard”.

UNION HAS POLITICIZED APD

In 2013, a Department of Justice investigation found a “pattern and practice of excessive force” and a “culture of aggression” within the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). In the last ten (10 ) years, there has been 43 police officer involved shootings, and the city has paid out $62 million dollars in settlements for police misconduct cases. Virtually all those cases of use of force or deadly force were by union officers, not management, something no one wants to talk about or even mention.

The single biggest crisis the Mayor and the City Council are dealing with even today is staffing APD, reforming the Albuquerque Police Department and reducing our high crime rates.

City Council plays a crucial oversight role of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) including controlling its budget. Union President Sean Willoughby just had to stick his nose into the City Council District 4 race, no doubt expecting something in return. Under normal circumstances, city union endorsements are common place. However, when it comes to the Albuquerque Police Department, it is a law enforcement department still in crisis. APD for the first time in its history is under a Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree. The police union has fully politicized the department with its endorsement of candidates for Mayor and City Council.

The police union opposing many of the reforms mandated by the DOJ consent decree complicates the oversight authority of the Mayor and the City council and with the civilian oversight mandated. The APOA has made it clear that it does not like the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree nor the mandated reforms. The police union has repeatedly said the mandated reforms under the consent decree are interfering with rank and file officer’s ability to performing their jobs, yet never giving any sort of examples of exactly how that is the case.

The Police Union understands the Department of Justice consent decree in that the police union leadership attended and has sat at counsel table during court hearings and Federal Monitor presentations. The union leadership was at the negotiating table for the full year in the drafting of the “use of force” and “deadly use of force” policy.

No doubt Willoughby and the union membership believe prohibiting APD from using “choke holds”, “shooting at fleeing cars”, getting rid of lapel cameras and “escalating confrontations” will allow APD Officers to do their jobs more effectively, and they would like to be free to ignore people’s civil and constitutional rights under the guise of law enforcement.

WILLOUGHBY AND POLICE UNION ARE THE LASTS ONES TO TALK ABOUT CREDIBILITY

Willoughby is the same union President who had no problem with the union paying $2,000 to police officers who were placed on administrative leave after police involved use of deadly force incident and before the killing was determined “justified”.

Willoughby did not like the fact that the Bernalillo County District Attorney brought criminal charges against police officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez for the shooting of homeless camper James Boyd. Willoughby has said in the past that Perez was acquitted of the murder of James Boyd which was not the case seeing as that the jury could not reach a verdict, a hung jury resulting in a mistrial declared, and the District Attorney decided not to retry the case.

Officer Willoughby ostensibly feels the citizens who pay his salary are not entitled to any sort of apology for the actions of his members of the union who are found to use unreasonable force, or unjustified excessive use of force or unjustified deadly force nor when taxpayer’s payout millions for police misconduct.

The Union’s credibility has been in short supply for some time now. The police union has done very little to improve it, especially with its opposition to the Department of Justice reforms. The APOA union has never issued an apology when one of its own members has broken the law or has used unreasonable or unnecessary force or unnecessary deadly force even after large judgments have been paid out for the police misconduct. Yet, when the Mayor issues an apology, as was his right, the union calls it “dishonorable”.

When Mayor Keller and Chief Geier take steps to try and address a crisis in homicides, what they get from the Union leadership is “what have you done for us lately” attitude and nasty sarcasm of:

“We need to focus … less [on] PR (public relations), less puff, more actual, basic police work. [Community policing is] a great thing for the community. We love taking a group of kids to see a Frozen movie. … .”

One small way the Police Union President could help restore credibility is to stop his news interviews and stop acting like he speaks for the Keller administration and management of the department under the guise of first amendment rights. At a minimum, he needs to decline all interviews and comments on the reforms and other matters unless the Administration has been spoken to first for comment to get its take.

REMOVE APD SERGEANTS AND LIEUTENANTS FROM UNION

If the police union and its President Willoughby want to genuinely be a “team player” and help restore credibility to APD, he and his union should agree to remove the Sergeants and Lieutenants from the bargaining unit. Police sergeants and lieutenants by virtue of their titles, responsibilities, management and supervisory authority over sworn police officers are part of the “chain of command” management team of the police department. Including APD police sergeants and lieutenants who are part of management in the union bargaining unit creates a clear conflict within management and sends mixed messages to rank and file sworn police officers.

All APD police sergeants and lieutenants are clearly part of police management and chain of command and should not be a part of the union. The police union refuses to acknowledge or agree to removal of the sergeants and lieutenants from the bargaining unit knowing it will eliminate the unions ability to influence them in management and it will reduce the size of the dues paying union membership.

Sergeants and lieutenants need to be made at will employees and removed from the union bargaining unit in order to get a real buy in to management’s goals of police reform and the CASA. APD Police sergeants and lieutenants cannot serve two masters of Administration Management and Union priorities that are in conflict when it comes to the CASA reforms.

Perhaps when the Sergeants and Lieutenants are removed for the Union, the union will get back some semblance of credibility with the voting public and the average citizens who are victims of our high crime rates. More importantly, it would signal that the Police Union is fully committed to police oversight by management. Another way the Union could regain trust with the Mayor and the Chief is to offer to take them to see “Frozen”.

City Moves To Be Released From Portions Of DOJ Consent Decree And Monitoring; Commentary: Intent And Purpose Of CASA Accomplished, Dismiss Case

On Friday, January 10, the City of Albuquerque filed a Motion to have certain portions of the federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) suspended and placed into “sustained compliance” and “suspend monitoring” of those requirements by the Federal Court approved monitor. The city’s Motion highlights the progress made by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) in implementing the court mandated reforms under the CASA. You can read the entire 25-page e-filed Motion on the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico docket Case 1:14-cv-01025-JB-SMV, Document 503 Filed 01/10/20, United States of America, Plaintiff v. The City of Albuquerque, Defendant v. The Albuquerque Police Officer’s Association, Intervenor

According to the Motion, the Albuquerque Police Officer’s Association, the sole intervenor in the case, agrees with the relief being sought by the City. However, the court appoint federal monitor takes no position on the City’s motion. The DOJ and the monitoring team have been working with the City and APD on a “self-assessment” plan to determine to what extent APD has in fact come into compliance with all the reforms and the extent of the need for further monitoring.

Under the Federal Court Rules, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is required to file a response to the Motion. The DOJ response will be filed only after the “self-assessment” plan is completed and filed with the court. The intent of the DOJ is to have the assessment completed and filed with the Court before the public hearing that is scheduled for Tuesday, February 11, 2020 at 9:00 am. (Location: Vermejo Courtroom, U.S. Courthouse, 333 Lomas Blvd. NW, Albuquerque.) This is the very first time in over 5 years that the City has filed any kind of Motion in an attempt to dismiss the CASA and the monitoring by the Federal Monitor.

This blog article is a deep dive into the contents of the motion, what the city is asking for and what it may mean in the long term for the City and APD. It is anticipated another blog article will be published on the DOJ’s response to the Motion once filed.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: A history of the federal litigation, a summary of the contents of Federal Monitors 8th, 9th and 10th reports are contained in the postscript to this blog article.)

SUSPENSION AND TERMINATION PROVISIONS OF THE CASA

As a backdrop to what is being requested in the motion, certain provisions of the settlement need to be reviewed. The CASA contains the following suspension and termination provisions:

“Termination of the Agreement

342. The City will endeavor to reach full and effective compliance with this Agreement within four years of its Effective Date. The Parties agree to jointly ask the Court to terminate this Agreement after this date, provided that the City has been in full and effective compliance with this Agreement for two years. “Full and Effective Compliance” shall be defined to require sustained compliance with all material requirements of this Agreement or sustained and continuing improvement in constitutional policing, as demonstrated pursuant to the Agreement’s outcome measures.

343. If after six years from the Effective Date the Parties disagree whether the City has been in full and effective compliance for two years, either Party may seek to terminate this Agreement. In the case of termination sought by the City, prior to filing a motion to terminate, the City agrees to notify DOJ in writing when the City has determined that it is in full and effective compliance with this Agreement and that such compliance has been maintained for no less than two years.”

The CASA does have a provision that allows suspension of the monitoring. Specifically, Paragraph 302 of the CASA provides:

“302. Where the Parties agree, the Monitor shall refrain from conducting a compliance review of a requirement previously found by the Monitor to be in sustained compliance for at least two years pursuant to audits or reviews, or where outcome assessments or other information indicate that the outcome intended by the requirement has been achieved.”

The link to the full 106-page CASA containing 276 mandated reforms can be read here:

https://www.cabq.gov/mental-health-response-advisory-committee/documents/court-approved-settlement-agreement-final.pdf

Under the CASA, the federal monitor evaluates compliance in three specific areas:

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 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 should be operational artifacts (reports, disciplinary records, remands to retraining, follow-up, and even 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.

The CASA was negotiated to be fully implemented over a four-year period. However, because of the previous Republican City Administration’s “delay, do little and deflect” tactics, which was found by the Federal Monitor in his second report, it has taken much longer to implement the agreed to and mandated reforms.

http://documents.cabq.gov/police/reports/department-of-justice/independent-monitors-second-report.pdf

It has now been over 5 full five years since the CASA was signed. Under the terms and conditions of the CASA, once APD achieves a 95% compliance rate in all 3 of the compliance areas, and maintains compliance for 2 years, the case can be dismissed.

WHAT THE CITY IS SEEKING IN THE MOTION

The city wants the federal court to suspend the monitoring activity with respect to “certain requirements” of the CASA and to put other requirements into the two-year “sustained compliance” phase. There are 3 primary areas the city is seeking that sustained compliance be found suspending further monitoring:

1. Behavioral health training of APD officers
2. APD recruitment and
3. APD specialized units.

According to the motion, APD will take steps to remain “vigilant” in preserving the progress that has already be made under the CASA. The “center piece of these efforts is that APD shall conduct regular self-assessments of compliance and shall file self-assessment reports with the court every 6 months.” (Page 3 of Motion.)

If the federal court grants the motion and allows suspension of the monitoring in the identified areas, and after the city files a separate motion to allow self-assessment, the federal monitor will suspend the monitoring in those areas but will review APD’s self-assessment reports for compliance. The federal monitor will also evaluate whether the self-assessment reports reveal any significant concerns threatening continuing compliance with the requirements of the CASA. Further, the monitor will continue reviewing media accounts and other evidence provided to the monitor to determine whether there has been any substantial and significant lapse in compliance with the requirements of the CASA. (Page 3 and 4 of Motion.)

SPECIFIC AREAS OF COMPLIANCE IDENTIFIED BY CITY IN MOTION AS NO LONGER NEEDING MONITORING

The City’s Motion seeks suspension from federal monitoring of identified paragraphs and mandated reforms of the CASA. The specific areas are summarized as follows:

1.SELF-ASSESSMENT COMPLIANCE:

According to the motion, these paragraphs have been in compliance since July, 2017. APD will self-assess compliance and wants the federal monitor to suspend the compliance audits but monitor APD’s self-compliance reports for accuracy. The parties are developing a plan to be approved by the court defining the format and requirements of the self-assessment reports. (Page 6 of Motion)

2. MULTI-AGENCY TASK FORCE COMPLIANCE:

The CASA requires APD to participate in a Multi-Agency Task Force (MATF) under a “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) with other law enforcement agencies to investigate APD officer involved shootings, serious use of force incidents and in custody deaths, and to provide final reports to prosecuting agencies with jurisdiction over any allege criminal conduct by police officers. New use of force “standard operating procedures” will become operative in early 2020. APD Internal Affairs Force Division (IAFD) will be assuming responsibility for investigation Level 3 uses of force. The city is proposing that APD only investigate APD officer involved shootings, in custody deaths and alleged criminal conduct. The MATF and MOU are currently being revised. The Monitor found operational compliance by APD with the MATF and MOU. (Page 7 of Motion)

3.MENTAL HEALTH RESPONSE ADVISORY COMMITTEE (MHRAC):

The CASA requires the City and APD to establish a Mental Health Response Advisory Committee (MHRA) comprising of certain members and representatives from various entities or stakeholders including the UNM Psychiatric Department and providers to the homeless and to those who experience mental health crisis. In the 9th Independent Monitors Report (IMR), the Monitor found that the MHRAC continued to be one of the biggest success stories of APD’s community outreach under the CASA. The 10th IMR found operational compliance. (Page 8 of Motion)

4. BEHAVIORAL HEALTH TRAINING:

Under the CASA, the city and APD agreed to ensure that all APD Academy cadets, field officers and 911 emergency operators received behavioral health and crisis intervention training, including initial training of 40 hours and biannual update training. All such training has been completed. The 9th Independent Monitors report found that APD has continued to appropriately and effectively utilize training curricula that addresses field assessment, identification, suicide intervention, crisis de-escalation, community mental health participation and scenario-based exercise and role-playing exercises. The 10th Monitor’s Report found operational compliance with the behavioral health training mandates of the CASA. (Page 9 of Motion)

Not identified or even mentioned in the City’s motion are 3 major programs that have been implemented to deal with the Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD) interactions with the mentally ill and substance abuse defendants. All 3 programs involve the training of police officers. All 3 programs have the potential to reduce or have reduced the use of excessive force and deadly force by APD.

The 3 APD programs are:

CIT-ECHO Project:

CIT stands for Crisis Intervention Training and ECHO stands for Extension for Community Healthcare Options. In 2014, the CIT-ECHO project was launched by the city with a grant from the Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Assistance to raise awareness of how law enforcement should deal effectively with those struggling with mental health issues. The CIT-ECHO Program consists of weekly video conference workshops with APD and CIT officials.

The EPIC Program:

The acronym “EPIC” stands for “Ethical Policing Is Courageous.” The EPIC program aims to stem police officer misconduct and use of force and deadly force by police officers. The program uses “hands-on scenarios” and role-playing enactments and demonstrations to teach police officers on how to defuse calls for service that start escalating and that could easily result in the use of excessive force or deadly force.

EPIC focuses on proactively preventing uses of force, rather than just punishing officers when damage is already done, including the killing of a suspect. The primary purpose of the EPIC program is to provide police officers with effective and proper training to learn just how and when to intervene when they themselves see other police officer misconduct. The EPIC program is designed to show police officers how to recognize problematic behavior in fellow officers that may trigger a fellow officer to engage in misconduct.

The “LEAD” Program:

LEAD stands for “law enforcement assisted diversion” program. The LEAD Program allows APD officers to determine whether the person they’ve arrested needs to go to jail or would better benefit from a trip to a detox facility or a meeting with a case manager who can help them plug into services such as Medicaid, housing vouchers and substance abuse treatment. APD officers are given full discretion to decide to arrest people on low level charges or to rely on the LEAD diversion program. The main goal of the LEAD program is to send people to services before charges are ever filed which is unlike other court diversion efforts such as the Drug Court.

5.FIELD TRAINING OFFICER PROGRAM:

The CASA requires APD to provide academy graduates with 16 weeks of field training following the academy. The Casa also states requirements for the training of field training officers and the training provided to cadets. The 9th and the 10th Independent Monitors Reports found 100% compliance with requiring cadets to complete 16 weeks of field officer training ensuring that the recruits are trained in multiple area commands, on different shifts and establishing a mechanism for confidential feedback. The motion seeks that the mandate be found in substantial compliance. (Page 10 of Motion)

6.STAFFING STUDY:

The CASA originally required APD to conduct a staffing study to determine what level of sworn officers were required to carry out its functions. On December 11, 2015, the 62 page “Albuquerque Police Department Comprehensive Staffing Assessment and Resource Study” was released by the Alexander Weiss Consulting, LLC. The 10th Independent Monitor’s Report found that the staffing study analysis has become less relevant because of the sure passage of time. The parties have agreed that it is premature to conduct another staffing study and therefore the motion seeks that the mandate for a staffing report be suspended. (Page 11 and 12 of motion.) Notwithstanding, the Police Union President has advocated in news interviews the need for yet another staffing report, even though APD is undertaking an aggressive expansion of the Department to recruite 100 officers a year with the goal of having 1,200 sworn police. You can review the 2015 staffing report at this link:

https://www.cabq.gov/police/documents/monthly-reports/comprehensive-staffing-assessment-and-resource-study.pdf

7. RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION:

The CASA has mandates relating to the recruitment of new cadets and lateral hires from other law enforcement departments. Under the CASA, APD was required to develop a comprehensive recruitment and hiring program and a strategic recruitment plan that clearly identified goals of recruitment efforts. The recruitment plan had to include specific strategies for attracting a diverse group of applicants.

According to the CASA, APD’s hiring and selection process must be based on objective minimum standards that comport with best practices and applicable anti-discrimination laws. Further under the CASA, all APD recruits must undergo psychological, medical, polygraph, and drug testing and be subject to background investigations dealing with credit history, employment history, prior use of lethal force and less lethal force and force training and complaint history. An annual recruitment report is also mandated under the CASA. Independent Monitor Reports 9 and 10 found that APD has been in operational compliance with the recruitment and selection requirements of the CASA and therefore the motion is seeking the monitoring be suspended because of operational compliance. (Page 13 of Motion)

8. PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS AND PROMOTIONAL POLICIES:

The CASA has requirements for APD’s performance evaluation and promotional policies. The requirements are that:

“APD shall develop a fair and consistent performance evaluation system that reviews particular areas relating to constitutional policing, community policing and more.”

The performance evaluation system under the CASA must be formal and supervisors must be held accountable for failing to timely complete performance evaluations. Supervisors are required to meet with reporting officers, discuss the evaluations and develop work plans. Independent Monitor Reports 9 and 10 found that APD has been in operational compliance for the past two years with the performance evaluations and promotional policies of the CASA. The motion seeks to have the performance evaluations and promotional policies be found in operational compliance and the monitoring suspended. (Page 13 of Motion)

REQUEST FOR SUSTAINED COMPLIANCE FINDING BY COURT IN SPECIFIED DIVISIONS

According to the Motion, there are 5 APD Divisions that have now been in operational compliance for the past two years. The motion asserts that APD has demonstrated the outcome intended by the requirements under the CASA and has achieved and demonstrated sustained and continuing improvement in constitutional policing. The Motion requests that the divisions be placed in sustained operational compliance and that FEDERAL monitoring suspended.

Following are the APD Divisions:

1.SPECIAL OPERATIONS DIVISION:

APD’s Special Operations Division (SOD) consists of 4 tactical units: Special Weapons and Tactics Unit (SWAT), Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit, and the K-9 Unit. The CASA mandates reforms and policies for all 3 divisions as follows:

A. Specialized and enumerated training for the divisions.

B. Policies that address enumerated criteria, including for use of force, force reporting and investigation.

C. Personnel and retention criteria.

D. Annual review of policies including consideration of legal developments and evaluations of after-action reviews.

E. Detail documentation of all call-outs and deployments.

F. Briefings prior to deployment.

G. Annual review of personnel to ensure they meet eligibility criteria.

H. Tracking canine deployments, apprehensions, and dog bite ratios and inclusion of bite ratios in the Early Intervention System.

I. Tracking and analyzing specific data for deployment of tactical units.

(Page 16 of Motion)

According to the motion, with the exception of Force Review Board reviews, all 3 Divisions have been in operational compliance for more than 2 years. Independent Monitor Reports 9 and 10 noted the quality of the documents prepared by the tactical units. The 9th IMR report noted:

“… reports show that members from the tactical units are displaying exemplary work in constitutional policing, integrity, community policing, and critical policing functions.”
The 10th IMR noted that the Special Operations Division improved its operations and exhibiting a culture of “continuous growth and quality improvement.”

2.SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS DIVISION (SID)

The CASA includes mandates for the management and supervision of functions within the Special Investigations Division (SID). The CASA mandates include the following:

A. Each specialized investigation unit must have policies that incorporate APD’s agency-wide policies on use of force.

B. The specialized investigative units must have protocols to address coordination with specialized tactical units when high risk situations occur.

C. Annual inspections of the weapons used by specialized investigations unit to ensure that they are consistent with the unit’s training mission.

D. Tracking and reporting regarding APD’s specialized investigative unit responses.

(Page 18 of Motion)

The 9th and 10th Monitors Reports states that SID has been in operational compliance for the past 2 years justifying the suspension of monitoring.

3.PUBLIC INFORMATION ON CIVILIAN COMPLAINTS

The CASA mandates the establishment of the “Civilian Police Oversight Agency” (CPOA) by the city. The CPOA is charged with investigating civilian complaints against APD sworn personnel and to disseminate information on how complaints can be filed. The CASA mandates that when a civilian informs an officer that they wish to file a complaint the officer must inform their supervisor. The supervisor must respond and go to the scene and provide to the civilian complaint forms and accept the complaint. The officer that is the subject of the complaint must provide their name and badge number upon request by the civilian. (Page 19 of Motion)

The Civilian Police Oversight Agency has been created, fully funded and staffed with a full time director hired. The CASA requirements for the CPOA have been in full operational compliance for two years. The motion requests that the CPOA mandate be placed in sustained compliance.

4.PROMOTIONS

The CASA requires APD to adopt and implement promotional practices that are lawful and consistent with best practices. Promotions must be based on police officers’ skills, knowledge, and abilities to promote management duties in core, substantive areas and must consider an officer’s disciplinary history in making promotions. APD has revised its promotional policies that have been approved by the Federal Court. APD has been in operational compliance with the Promotion mandated reforms for two years. The motion seeks to place the CASA requirements on Promotions into sustained compliance. (Page 20 of Motion)

5.OFFICER ASSISTANCE AND SUPPORT

The CASA requires that APD provide confidential, comprehensive mental health services to police officers that comport with best practices and current professional standards. The CASA requires that APD must provide training to personnel regarding officer support protocols to ensure such services. APD now requires a mental health evaluation before allowing a police officer to return to full duty following traumatic incidents, including officer involved shootings, officer involved accidents, and involvement in uses of force resulting in death. All but two of the mandates involving Officer Assistance and Support have been in operational compliance for two years. The Motion requests the officer assistance and support mandates be placed in sustained compliance.

(Page 21 of Motion)

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It was in November 2014, that the City and the Department of Justice entered into the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). The link to the CASA is here:

https://www.cabq.gov/mental-health-response-advisory-committee/documents/court-approved-settlement-agreement-final.pdf

As of November, 2019, a full 5 years has expired since the city entered into the CASA with the DOJ. From all appearances and practical purposes, and from review of the Federal Monitor’s reports, the City and APD have completed the following mandated reforms under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement:

1. After a full year of negotiations, new “use of force” and “use of deadly force” policies have been written, implemented and all APD sworn have received training on the policies.

2. All sworn police officers have received crisis management intervention training.

3. APD has created a “Use of Force Review Board” that oversees all internal affairs investigations of use of force and deadly force.

4. The Internal Affairs Unit has been divided into two sections, one dealing with general complaints and the other dealing with use of force incidents.

5. Sweeping changes ranging from APD’s SWAT team protocols, to banning choke-holds, to auditing the use of every Taser carried by officers and re-writing and implementation of new use of force and deadly force policies have been completed.

6. “Constitutional policing” practices and methods, and mandatory crisis intervention techniques an de-escalation tactics with the mentally ill have been implemented at the APD police academy with all sworn police having received training.

7. APD has adopted a new system to hold officers and supervisors accountable for all use of force incidents with personnel procedures implemented detailing how use of force cases are investigated.

8. APD has revised and updated its policies on the mandatory use of lapel cameras by all sworn police officers.

9. The Repeat Offenders Project, known as ROP, has been abolished.

10. Civilian Police Oversight Agency has been created, funded, fully staffed and a director hired.

11. The Community Policing Counsels (CPCs) have been created in all area commands and the CPCs meet monthly.

12. The Mental Health Advisory Committee has been implemented.

13. The CASA identified that APD was understaffed. The City and APD are in the process of spending $88 million dollars, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures, to hire 322 sworn officers and grow the department to 1,200 officers. As of January 1, 2020, APD has 949 full time police officers, up from 878 sworn police. The expansion thus far is attributed primarily to hiring from other departments and returning to work APD retirees.

14. In November, 2018 APD achieved 99.6% compliance with primary tasks, 75.4% secondary compliance and 59.5% operational compliance with APD making significant progress in overall compliance.

15. According to the Use of Force Report for the years 2017 and 2018, APD’s “use of force” and “deadly force” is down dramatically , which was one of the primary objectives of the CASA reforms.

CONCLUSION

After over five years of implementing the mandating DOJ reforms, APD has finally made significant progress in implementing the reforms. The city is to be commended for filing the motion. The motion should be considered precursory to dismissal of the entire case sooner rather than later.

After review of the city’s motion, the DOJ investigation report, the 276 CASA mandates, the 10 Independent Monitors Reports and the reforms implemented, the only conclusion that can be reached is the spirit and intent of the CASA has been fully attained. The City’s “…Motion to Move CASA PARAGRAPHS INTO SUSTAINED COMPLIANCE OR SUSPENDED MONITORING” should be agreed to by the Department of Justice and granted by the Federal Judge. The parties to the case should go even further with a full stipulated dismissal of the case.

The biggest complaint of all the DOJ consent decrees in the country is implementation and enforcement “go on and on” for years, costing millions in taxpayer dollars. With expected, continued implementation of the DOJ reforms a 95% to 100% compliance with all the CASA primary, secondary and operational compliance goals should be achievable within 12 months, if not much sooner. The role of the federal monitor should be reduced, as is being requested in the motion, as well as the continued costs of the monitoring team reduced.

The city should commence negotiations immediately with the DOJ for a stipulated “Order of Complete Compliance and Dismissal” of the CASA, and all causes of action the DOJ has against the city and APD. Otherwise, the city and taxpayers will be sucked into “year after year” of expenses and costs associated with a consent decree whose primary objective has been achieved and whose federal monitor wants another $4 million to audit progress.

All documents related to APD’s settlement agreement can be downloaded and reviewed at this city web site link:

https://www.cabq.gov/police/documents-related-to-apds-settlement-agreement

The documents include:

The Settlement Agreement between City and the DOJ
APD Progress Reports
Independent Monitor’s Reports
Compliance Reports
Use of Force Annual Reports
Use of Force Reports
Studies
Audits

_____________________________

POSTSCRIPT

Following is a history of the federal litigation and a summary of the contents of Federal Monitors 8th, 9th and 10th reports:

DOJ INVESTIGATION

On April 10, 2014, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Rights Division, submitted a scathing 46-page investigation report on an 18-month civil rights investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).

The investigation was conducted jointly by the DOJ’s Washington Office Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico.

You can read the entire report here.

https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/crt/legacy/2014/04/10/apd_findings_4-10-14.pdf

The DOJ investigation included a comprehensive review of APD’s operations and the City’s oversight systems of APD. The DOJ investigation “determined that structural and systemic deficiencies — including insufficient oversight, inadequate training, and ineffective policies — contribute to the use of unreasonable force.”

Based on the investigation and the review of excessive use of force and deadly force cases, the DOJ found “reasonable cause to believe that APD engage[d] in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment … . and [the] investigation included a comprehensive review of APD’s operations and the City’s oversight systems.”

Federal civil rights laws make it unlawful for government entities, such as the City of Albuquerque and APD, to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives individuals of rights, privileges, or imunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

The investigative report found a pattern or practice of use of “deadly force” or “excessive use of force” in 4 major areas:

1. The DOJ reviewed all fatal shootings by officers between 2009 and 2012 and found that officers were not justified under federal law in using deadly force in the majority of those incidents. Albuquerque police officers too often used deadly force in an unconstitutional manner in their use of firearms. Officers used deadly force against people who posed a minimal threat, including individuals who posed a threat only to themselves or who were unarmed. Officers also used deadly force in situations where the conduct of the officers heightened the danger and contributed to the need to use force.

2. Albuquerque police officers often used less lethal force in an unconstitutional manner, often used unreasonable physical force without regard for the subject’s safety or the level of threat encountered. The investigation found APD Officers frequently used take-down procedures in ways that unnecessarily increased the harm to the person. Finally, APD officers escalated situations in which force could have been avoided had they instead used de-escalation measures.

3. A significant number of the use of force cases reviewed involved persons suffering from acute mental illness and who were in crisis. The investigation found APD’s policies, training, and supervision were insufficient to ensure that officers encountering people with mental illness or in distress do so in a manner that respected their rights and in a manner that was safe for all involved.

4. The investigation found the use of excessive force by APD officers was not isolated or sporadic. The pattern or practice of excessive force stemmed from systemic deficiencies in oversight, training, and policy. Chief among these deficiencies was the department’s failure to implement an objective and rigorous internal accountability system. Force incidents were not properly investigated, documented, or addressed with corrective measures by the command staff.

What differentiates the DOJ’s investigation of APD from the other federal investigations of police departments and consent decrees is that the other consent decrees involve in one form or another the finding of “racial profiling” and use of excessive force or deadly force against minorities. The DOJ’s finding of a “culture of aggression” within APD dealt with APD’s interactions and responses to suspects that were mentally ill and that were having psychotic episodes.

COURT APPROVED SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (CASA)

The DOJ Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) was negotiated over a 6-month period after the DOJ released its investigation report finding that APD engaged in a “pattern and practice” of unconstitutional “use of force” and “deadly force.”

The City retained outside counsel paying two individual’s considered national experts $1 Million with the contract not awarded by the customary Request for Proposals (RFP) process. The Republican Berry administration considered it a “sole source contract”, meaning the services could not be provided by anyone else, which was highly disputed with the contract awarded by the Berry Administration after recommendations made to it.

The 106-page negotiated CASA agreement was filed on November 10, 2014. Under the CASA, the assigned Federal Judge is given the power to enforce terms of the agreement and issue orders for compliance and issue sanctions for noncompliance.

Major reform mandates under the settlement include:

1. Sweeping changes ranging from APD’s SWAT team protocols, to banning choke-holds, to auditing the use of every Taser carried by officers and re writing and implement new use of force and deadly force policies.

2. The CASA mandates the teaching of “constitutional policing” practices and methods as well as mandatory crisis intervention techniques and de-escalation tactics with the mentally ill.

3. The City agreed that APD would overhaul and rewrite all of its “use of force policies” and “deadly force” policies, recruitment procedures, training, internal affairs procedures and implement field supervision of officers.

4. Stricter training and restrictions on the use of nonlethal force is required under the CASA, and it requires more training and controls over the use of Tasers by officers along with quarterly audits of their use.

5. The city agreed to the creation of a Police Oversight Board (POB) as a civilian review agency that independently reviews citizen complaints, serious uses of force and officer-involved shootings by APD. The civilian agency also monitors, reviews and make recommended changes to APD policy on use of force.

6. Under the CASA, the city agreed to the creation of Police Civilian Advisory Councils (CPCs), one in each of the 6 APD area commands, designed to increase community interaction.

7. The CASA broadens and removes obstacles to the types of civilian complaints Internal Affairs and the civilian oversight agency can review.

8. The CASA provides for the appointment of a Federal Court Monitor selected by agreement of the parties with the City to pay for the auditing services of the federal monitor. The primary duties and responsibilities of the federal monitor is to report directly to the federal judge on APD’s compliance with the mandatory reforms.

9. The agreement mandates that APD adopt a new system to hold officers and supervisors accountable for all use of force incidents with personnel procedures implemented and outlining details how use of force cases would be investigated. It requires far more reporting by officers and field supervisors and also requires detailed reviews of those reports up the chain of command within the department. Sergeants and lieutenants are required to be much more involved in field supervision and review of use of force by officers.

10. Under the agreement, officers who point their firearms at a person, but don’t fire, must fill out a use of force report that will be reviewed by field supervisors. That review is separate from a city civilian police oversight agency that will be independent of the department and will review police use of force incidents as well as civilian complaints.

11. The City agreed to create a new “Use of Force Review Board” to oversee all internal affairs investigations of use of force and deadly force. A new chain of command for the review of Internal Affairs reports of officer-involved shootings was created that reviews the Internal Affairs Reports and makes recommendations on discipline or asks for further investigation of an incident, and the board makes recommendations on discipline to the APD Chief. The Use of Force Board is required to make quarterly reports after reviewing all use of force reports to identify trends and policy changes.

12. APD agreed to revise and update its policies on the mandatory use of lapel cameras by all police officers.

13. Under the CASA, the City agreed to abolish the Repeat Offenders Project, known as ROP, within three months of signing the agreement for the reason that members of the unit were involved in a number of the controversial shootings investigated by the DOJ.

14. The agreement provides that if the city fails to implement the reforms or shows bad faith in the implementation of the CASA, the DOJ has the option of filing a federal lawsuit against the city over the city’s unconstitutional policing practices found by the DOJ investigation.

15. Certain types of hand-to-hand techniques are barred under the CASA unless the officer is in a situation that require the use of lethal force if it were available. Neck holds, sometimes called choke-holds, are explicitly forbidden to be used by officers except in situations where lethal force would be authorized.

16. A major change in the CASA bans APD officers from firing their weapons at moving vehicles in all but life-threatening situations.

The CASA provides that it is “designed to ensure police integrity, protect officer safety, and prevent use of excessive force, including unreasonable use of deadly force, by APD.” The settlement agreement requires APD to strive and use its best efforts to come in compliance with all requirements within four years, and if that were to occur, the case would be dismissed.

https://www.cabq.gov/mental-health-response-advisory-committee/documents/court-approved-settlement-agreement-final.pdf

FEDERAL COURT APPOINTED MONITOR

The CASA mandated the appointment of a Federal Court Monitor agreed to by the parties who would report directly to the Federal Court. On April 14, 2015 the city entered into a 4-year contract negotiated by the former Republican Berry Administration to pay a federal monitor $4.5 million over 4 years and the city agreed to assume all costs for the auditing services of the Monitor. The contract in fact hired an entire team of experts not just one person. The federal monitors contract had to be extended after the expiration of the original 4 years and the extension was for $1.5 million more in taxpayer funding.

A misconception is that the Federal Court took over APD and that the Federal Monitor has management and control over APD which is not remotely near the truth. No “special master” appointed by the court that took over APD nor its management. Under the settlement, the Federal Court Monitor does not have any management, authority nor control over APD, its employees and is not in the “chain of command”. The Federal monitor was not given any authority to give orders to APD personnel and has no authority to impose discipline on APD personnel. Under the CASA, the primary responsibility of the Federal Monitor is to gather statistical data, audit performance of APD and report the Federal Court on APD’s progress on implementing the mandated reforms.

Since his selection and appointment, the Federal Monitor has submitted to the Federal Court 10 auditing reports on the status and progress APD has made with the reforms. Five of the first six federal monitor reports were severely critical of APD’s compliance with the CASA.

In his second report to the federal court, Federal Monitor James Ginger accused the City Attorney of what he called, “delay, do little and deflect” tactics saying his relationship with her was “a little rougher than most” compared with attorneys in other cities where he has overseen police reform.

In the July 1, 2016 third progress report the federal monitor found “Across the board … the components in APD’s system for overseeing and holding officers accountable for the use of force, for the most part, has failed … the serious deficiencies revealed point to a deeply-rooted systemic problem. … The deficiencies, in part, indicate a culture [of] low accountability is at work within APD, particularly in chain-of-command reviews.”

In November 1, 2016 fourth progress report, the federal monitor found that when “excessive use of force” incidents are investigated by the APD Critical Incident Team, it “[deploys] carefully worded excuses, apparently designed not to find fault with officer actions” and “[uses] language and terminology apparently designed to absolve officers and supervisors of their responsibility to follow certain CASA related provisions”.

On March 15, 2018, a little over 3 months after Mayor Tim Keller was sworn into office and appointment a new APD Chief, a status conference was held with the Federal Court on the progress made in implementing the DOJ mandated reforms.

The March 15, 2018 status conference was in very sharp contrast to the one held a few months earlier in November, 2017 where Federal Judge Brack eviscerated and admonished the former Administration and the former City Attorney and Assistant APD Chief for secretly recording the Federal Monitor in order to show bias and have him removed as the monitor.

Three major changes to the DOJ consent decree were reported during the March 15, 2018 federal court hearing:

1. A compliance bureau had been established within APD, something the Federal Monitor had recommended from day one and that was totally opposed to and resisted by the prior administration.

2. The new “use of force” policy was finalized to streamline the investigative process defining 3 separate levels of use of force and the process how they would be investigated.

3. The Federal Monitor suspended preparing six-month reports and the monitor’s consulting firm instead provided “technical assistance” to APD as opposed to performing audits and gathering data.

To complete the reforms, APD must reach and maintain 95% compliance in three categories: Primary Tasks, Secondary Task Compliance and Operational Compliance.

FEDERAL MONITORS 8th, 9th, 10th REPORTS

On November 7, 2018, the Federal Monitor’s 8th Report on the compliance levels of APD and the City with Court-Approved Settlement Agreement was filed with the federal court.
You can read the full report here:

https://www.justice.gov/usao-nm/page/file/1107721/download

In the 8th report, the Federal Monitor gave the Keller Administration high marks, “calling it exceptional” regarding APD’s compliance with a settlement agreement. According to the 8th report, APD was in a far different position in the reform project than it was the year before under the previous Republican Mayor Berry and APD Police Chief Gordon Eden administration.

In the November 14, 2018 8th monitor’s report, the monitor reported APD was in “Operational Compliance” with the settlement agreement 59.2% of the time meaning officers followed policies outlined in the settlement agreement and when they did not, supervisors identified and corrected the behavior.

Statistics in the report used to track progress showed that APD:

Achieved 99.6% compliance with primary tasks;
Achieved 75.4% secondary compliance and
Achieved 59.5% operational compliance.

According to the 8th report, it was the first time APD achieved above 50% operational compliance.

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

In the 9th audit report that covered the time period of August 1, 2018 to January 14, 2019 the federal monitor found APD was 99.6% in primary compliance, 79% in secondary compliance and 63% in operational compliance. This was up slightly from the 8th audit report when the department was in 75.4% secondary compliance and 59.2% in operational compliance. Primary compliance remained the same between the two periods at 99.6% compliance.

In the 10th Federal Monitor’s Audit report, the monitor reported APD met 100% of CASA-established primary compliance requirements during the reporting period. According to the audit “This means, in effect, that policy requiring compliance actions and processes are complete, and are reasonably designed to achieve the articulated goals of the CASA.” Secondary compliance rates (training) were reported at 81%, up from 79% and overall compliance rates are at 63%, the same as the 9th audit report.

Following is the “Overall Status Assessment” contained in the 10th Federal Audit report:

“As of the end of the tenth reporting period, APD continues to make progress overall, having achieved primary compliance in 100% of the applicable paragraphs of the CASA. Primary Compliance relates mostly to development and implementation of acceptable policies (conforming to national practices).”

“APD is in 81% percent Secondary Compliance as of this reporting period, which means that effective follow-up mechanisms have been taken to ensure that APD personnel understand the requirements of promulgated policies, e.g., 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 64% Operational Compliance with the requirements of the CASA, which means that 64% 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.”

For related blog articles see:

City And APD Should Commence Negotiations To Terminate CASA

APD Reforms On Tract; Save Millions, Drop Case

10th Federal Monitor’s Compliance Report: “Counter Casa Effect” Alive and Well Within APD; Move To Dismiss Union From Case; Remove Sergeants and Lieutenants From Police Union