On Monday, October 21, 2018, Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) announced that it is launching its own Law Enforcement Academy next year.
The first graduating class will head to the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).
Growing the ranks of the Albuquerque Police Department has been extremely difficult for the past 9 years.
On December 1, 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.
For a full 8 years under the previous Republican City Administration, the number of APD officers declined from 1,100 sworn police to 850, or by 250 sworn police officers.
Currently, APD has about 880 sworn officers as a result of graduating a lateral class of 29 officers in October recruited from other police departments.
APD at the beginning of 2018 fiscal year had 878 sworn police notwithstanding the approved funding for 1,040 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.
CNM’s LAW ENFORCEMENT ACADEMY
In announcing the CNM Law Enforcement Academy, CNM President Katharine Winograd said “As a community college, we are here to support the educational and workforce needs of our community.”
Winograd also announced that in addition to Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, the Village of Corrales, Los Lunas, Moriarty, and the Pueblos of Laguna and Isleta police departments plan on using the CNM Law Enforcement Academy, as do sheriff’s offices in Sandoval, Valencia and Torrance counties, and the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Law enforcement departments can hire cadets for a CNM academy that starts next fall.
Law enforcement cadets who graduate from the academy will earn 32 college credits which is particularly important for APD employment.
Albuquerque police are required to eventually obtain at least 60 college credits.
The 17-week academy will be available to officers who have already been hired by any police agency.
In APD’s case, the academy will be an alternative to the six-month academy that APD uses to train and certify their officers.
After graduating from CNM, APD’s cadets will have to take another 11-week training course at Albuquerque police before they are ready to hit the streets.
According to APD Officials, cadets in the CNM academy will already be city employees and will be paid while they are in the academy.
The city will also pay for the cadet’s tuition, though the details of how much that will cost are still being negotiated.
APD officials said they are relying on CNM to teach some of APD’s cadets the core law enforcement courses that are required of all police officers throughout the state.
CNM’s HISTORY OF COMMITMENT TO ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE
CNM already has an exceptional Criminal Justice program that can be relied on and that will no doubt “dove tail” into the new Law Enforcement Academy by offering courses to police academy cadets.
The extent of Criminal Justice courses already offered by CNM are worth noting and inlcude:
• Introduction to Criminal Justice
• Criminal Law
• Criminal Procedure
• Juvenile Law and Procedure
• Introduction to Security Services
• Report Writing
• Patrol Practices
• Probation and Parole
• Rules of Criminal Evidence
• White Collar Crimes
• Organized Crime and Terrorism
• Management for Criminal Justice Professionals
• Community-Oriented Policing
• Correctional Services
• Juvenile Corrections
• Institutional Corrections
• Introduction to Homeland Security
• Criminal Investigation
• Transportation and Border Security
• Intelligence Analysis and Security Management
• Criminal Investigation Laboratory
It is likely that significantly more courses will be added to the CNM Law Enforcement Academy to teach and provide training in “constitutional policing practices” mandated by the federal court settlement agreement.
You can read the extent of law enforcement courses offered by CNM in its course catalog at the below link:
APD POLICE ACADEMY DIRECTOR TURNOVER AND ONE MELTDOWN
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.
Since May, 2015, the APD Academy has had 5 Directors with 4 directors forced out for one reason or another.
The APD Academy Directors beginning since May 15, 2015 have been Joseph Wolf, Lt. Michael Archibeque, Commander Jessica Tyler, Commander John Sullivan and the current Director is Commander Angela R. Byrd.
The most disturbing departure was that of John Sullivan who resigned on July 21, 2018 and replaced by Commander Angela R. Byrd.
John Sullivan claimed he was forced to retire by Police Chief Michael Geier a month after Sullivan testified before the federal court judge overseeing the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) mandating APD reforms.
Sullivan testified that he had ended what he called a “good-ol’-boy” testing practice at the APD Academy where cadets were told what questions would be on their tests, where cadets were allowed to take tests in a group and where passed with a 95 percent score.
Sullivan testified that the independent monitor found an unusually high rate of passing grades for the academy’s cadets by saying:
“… [The Federal monitor’s team] found it interesting that everybody received a 95 percent or higher …. And when I looked at that, I found it kind of interesting, too. And being a police officer now for almost 20 years with the Albuquerque Police Department, I knew in my mind exactly why it was happening; however, I chose to create a completed staff work to address that issue. I did some research, looked at some of the best practices nation-wide and found out what I think we all knew already, but the Academy wasn’t doing testing correctly. … We were doing the good-ol’-boy testing. The instructor would say, ‘This could be something you might see later,’ and everybody was allowed to kind of sit there and do the testing with each other and a group test environment took place.”
Sullivan submitted a two-sentence retirement letter to Geier that said, “Per your directive, I am involuntarily retiring from the City of Albuquerque without waiving rights to any legal action I may pursue in the future.”
On September 6, 2018 it was reported that former commander John Sullivan filed a “whistleblower lawsuit” suing the city, claiming he was demoted and forced into retirement by Mayor Tim Keller’s administration after he reported to the Federal court on the police academy’s secrets and training practices.
Newly appointed Angela R. Byrd apparently is having a very difficult time in carrying out her job duties.
Sources at the APD Police Academy as well as an APD watchdog group report that recently an incident occurred at the police academy during a cadet training session.
The training session involved the discussion of a “use of force” hypothetical scenario where APD Police Academy Director Byrd was at the podium.
A previous “use of force” expert and trainer had given a totally opposite opinion to the hypothetical scenario that was give by Commander Byrd.
Sources report that while at the podium, a cadet officer took strong issue with Commander Angela R. Byrd’s recommended police response and challenged her in front of the group.
The officer claimed how wrong she was and that her suggested answer for a police response endangered officer safety whereupon she began crying at the podium and excused herself to compose herself.
ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
The creation of a CNM Law Enforcement Academy is great news for APD and a city plagued with skyrocketing crime rates.
The creation of a CNM Law Enforcement Academy is long overdue and a welcome development.
The APD Academy has a 9-year record of being very ineffective and a record of failure in keeping up with APD retirements.
A revolving door has apparently been installed at the APD Police Academy to accommodate all the departures of APD Academy Directors.
Four years ago, on October 31, 2014 the City of Albuquerque entered into a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice after the Department of Justice (DOJ) found the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) displayed a “pattern and practice” in the use of excessive use of force and deadly force.
With the forced retirement of APD Academy Director John Sullivan, it is painfully obvious that Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Michael Geier see no need for a stable APD Police Academy dedicated to the Court Approved Settlement reforms.
Keeping up with APD retirements and having a competent Academy Director with the skills to make sure the APD Academy gets it right with training and screening is more critical now than ever before in APD’s history given the financial commitment 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.
During the last 4 years, under the Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) the City of Albuquerque and APD are mandated to implement new training in constitutional policing and crisis intervention of all sworn police officers.
The mandated training is aimed at correcting a pattern of excessive force within APD that the DOJ announced it had found in 2014.
Excessive use of force and deadly force training is where the rubber hits the road when it comes to constitutional policing
The CNM Law Enforcement Academy will allow APD and the other agencies to recruit people who might not otherwise be interested in law enforcement.
What is also important is that CNM has a proven track record of educating and certifying people far better than the APD Academy.
The CNM Law Enforcement Academy will give APD a major opportunity to recruit enough sworn police officers to rebuild the department, get them trained and on the street to patrol and give the city hope of getting out from under the DOJ consent decree.
What is truly pathetic is that taxpayers are paying millions a year to operate and fully staff and operational APD Police Academy that now has to rely on a State higher education institution to train its police cadets.
With the creation of the CNM Law Enforcement Academy, just maybe the city will be able to expand and grow APD with a new, younger generation of police officer fully committed and trained in constitutional policing with less reliance on lateral hires.
For more on growing APD see: