The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) issued a recruiting status report giving statistics summarizing APDs recruiting efforts to increase the number of sworn police.
APD’s has aggressively recruited more than 60 sworn police officers from other law enforcement agencies in the State in order to “grow” the size of the department by 100 officers in the 2018-2019 fiscal year that began July 1, 2018.
APD is projecting that by the summer of 2019, it will be staffed with 973 sworn police.
As of October 1, 2018, APD has 853 full time sworn police officers.
In December, 2018, the APD Academy is expected to graduate 34 police officers.
On October 16, 2018 the APD Police Academy graduated a lateral class of 29 officers recruited from other departments.
The January, 2019 the APD Academy expects to graduate another lateral class of 30.
In 2019, the APD Academy is projecting that there will be 47 new police officers and lateral hires to complete the Spring academy.
APD has projected that there will be a loss of 20 police officers to retirements.
The Keller Administration and the APD Union negotiated and agreed to a 2-year contract.
The approved contract provides that the pay rate for officers with zero to four years of experience went from $28 to $29 an hour.
Under the contract, officers with 4 to 14 years of experience are paid $30 an hour.
The new contract will also raise the pay of more senior officers to between $30 to $31.50 an hour.
Officers with 15 years of more are now paid $31.50 an hour.
The rate for sergeants has gone from $32 to $35 an hour, and lieutenants pay has gone up from $36.70 to $40.00 an hour.
The approved longevity pay scale became effective August 1, 2018 for the 2018-2019 fiscal year is as follows:
For 5 to 9 years of experience: $100 will be paid bi-weekly, or $2,600 yearly
For 10 to 14 years of experience: $150 will be paid bi-weekly, or $3,900 yearly
For 15 to 17 years of experience: $200 will be paid bi-weekly, or $5,200 yearly
For 1 to 19 years of experience: $300 will be paid bi-weekly, or $7,800 yearly
For 10 to 20 years or more: $500 will be paid bi-weekly, or $13,000 yearly
Specialty pay and longevity bonuses offered by APD can add $100 to $600 to an officer’s paycheck.
Time employed by lateral hires recruited from other law enforcement agencies qualify for the longevity bonuses.
IMPACT ON OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
The Albuquerque Police Department’s new pay structure and increased longevity pay incentive bonuses are allowing APD to recruit experienced police officers from other New Mexico law enforcement agencies.
It is reported that police officers who are leaving other agencies to join APD are some of the more experienced and highly trained officers at the agencies they are leaving.
Starting pay for an APD officer right out of the APD academy is $29 an hour.
APD’s hourly pay is significantly higher than what officers and deputies make in other law enforcement agencies in the state and for example include:
Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office deputies make $27.03 an hour.
Rio Rancho police officers start out making $20.30 an hour.
Santa Fe police officers make $19 an hour.
According to the statistics released, 59 lateral hires will be made and with the regular academy classes added, the Keller Administration hopes to have 973 sworn police by the summer of 2019.
CITY’S CRIME RATE STATISTICS
Albuquerque’s violent crime and property crime rates are more than triple the national crime rates.
Since 2010, violent felony crime rates and property crime rates have steadily increased in Albuquerque.
On Monday, September 24, 2018 the FBI released its “Crime in the United States” report providing the statistics on all the crimes reportedly committed in Albuquerque and comparing the statistics to other cities and states and providing national rankings.
In 2016 and again in 2017, New Mexico had the country’s highest per capita rate of property crime and the second-highest per capita rate of violent crime.
According to the annual report released, the number of violent crimes in the specific categories of murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, in Albuquerque increased by 23% in 2017 even though the City’s population remained essentially the same.
The 23% overall all increase in Albuquerque’s violent crime for 2017 is larger than the 2016 increase when violent crime rose 15.5 percent.
In 2016, there were a reported 6,245 violent crimes in Albuquerque, for a rate of 1,112 per 100,000 residents.
In 2017, the number of violent crimes in Albuquerque jumped to 7,686, for a rate of 1,369 per 100,000.
The property crimes of burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft increased by 7 percent from 38,528 to 41,350, for a rate of 7,366 per 100,000 residents.
In 2016, the spike property crimes was significantly higher with a whopping 41.8 percent increase.
All the statistics for Albuquerque are in sharp contrast with national trends that crime is going down in the United States as a whole.
According to the FBI report summary, in 2015 and 2016, violent crime had been increasing across the United States but in 2017, violent crime decreased 0.2% with the overall rate falling 0.9% percent.
In response to the rising crime rates, the Keller Administration is proposing to spend $88 million dollars, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures, to hire 322 sworn officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers in order to return to community-based policing.
For the first fiscal year of the four-year plan, the 2018-2019 budget provides for increasing funding from 1,000 sworn police to 1,040.
ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
The hiring of fifty-nine lateral hires from other agencies is a significant number.
The major problems that APD must avoid is to make sure APD is not hiring police officers from other agencies that are not fully committed to the Department of Justice agreed to mandated reforms and that APD not hire police officers that were a problem to the other department they are leaving.
It’s not the first time that APD has grown in size by increasing salaries, offering bonuses and incentive pay to recruit new and lateral hires from other departments.
From 2005 to 2010, the department hired a significant number of officers from outside agencies and conducted an advertising campaign to recruit.
By late 2009, APD was fully staffed at 1,100 police officers, and APD was the best trained, best staffed and best equipped agency in the state and fully committed to community-based policing.
In 2009, APD had 1,100 police officers and for 8 years under the previous administration the number of APD officers declined to 850, or by 250 sworn police officers.
APD at the beginning of 2018 fiscal year had 878 sworn police notwithstanding the approved funding for 1,040 sworn police.
One major lesson learned from growing APD too quickly before is that lateral hires can result in hiring personnel from other departments that have a history of disciplinary problems and individuals not fully trained in constitutional policing practices.
A major problem with hiring “laterals” is that lateral hires contributed to the “culture of aggression” and that very argument was alleged in a civil lawsuit against APD that resulted in a $900,000 judgment against the city.
According to a lawsuit brought by the family of Alan Gomez, who was killed by a police officer in 2011, the city hired police officers by lowering standards and minimum qualifications in the hiring of laterals.
One cadet class in particular had an inordinate number of police officer involved shootings that were part of the original 18 deadly use of force cases that brought the Department of Justice to Albuquerque in the first place.
The Keller Administration and APD officials said they are closely vetting all lateral hires during the current hiring push claiming all lateral hires are vetted just as stringently as the new hires.
According to APD Police Academy Commander Angela Byrd, lateral hires must pass a psychological evaluation and a polygraph test, even if they already had completed those at their other departments.
Further, lateral hires are put through a nine-week police academy that covers Albuquerque police firearms and use-of-force training.
The lateral APD academy also covers training that is required as part of the city’s settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
From 2010 to 2013, APD had a major spike in excessive use of force and deadly force cases which resulted in a federal investigation of APD and the finding of a culture of aggression within APD.
The primary goal of the Department of Justice Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) is to correct a pattern of excessive force found during a review of 20 police shootings from 2009 to 2012, and other use-of-force cases that happened from 2009 to early 2013.
From 2010 to 2017, there were 42 police officer involved shooting and the city has paid $62 million in settlements in excessive use of force and deadly force cases and civil rights cases.
Notwithstanding the claims of a strict vetting process, the prospect of even a few officers being hired when they should not be hired looms large.
Old law enforcement bad habits, attitudes and philosophy and past training are difficult to overcomer, even with new training for lateral hires.
There is no doubt Albuquerque needs to hire experienced laterals that will help with rising crime rates in that they have special skills that you do not get with a young officer in their mid-twenties who has recently graduated from the academy.
However, working as a police officer in “small town” New Mexico where you have the time to get to know everyone is dramatically different than working as a police officer and patrolling the streets of one of the most violent cities in the country and having to work extensive overtime to keep up with calls for service.
APD needs to curb its efforts on hiring more lateral hires and concentrate now on hiring younger new generation of police officer to begin their law enforcement career and to rebuild APD from the ground up.
With that said, congratulations and welcome to the recently hired laterals, the city is glad to have you, and get home safe after your shifts. Best wishes and be safe.