APD’s Gone “Poaching”

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) intends to spend $88 million dollars, over the next 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.

The 2018-2019 fiscal year budget provides for increasing funding from 1,000 sworn police to 1,040.

The massive investment 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 to reduce the city’s high crime rates.

The APD recruiting plan to grow the size of the department includes the city increasing police officer hourly pay and increasing longevity pay.


APD is projecting that it will have 980 officers by next summer by growing the ranks with both new cadets and lateral hires from other departments, including APD retirees.

APD has recruited 59 sworn police officers as “lateral hires” from other law enforcement agencies in the State of New Mexico.

In October, APD graduated a lateral academy with 29 officers.

Another lateral academy with about 30 officers is expecting to graduate in December.

The 59 “lateral hires” from other law enforcement agencies include:

11 from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office
11 from the Santa Fe Police Department
8 from Rio Rancho Police Department
2 from the Farmington Police Department
2 from the Isleta Pueblo Police Department
2 from the Valencia County Sheriff’s Department
11 from other law enforcement agencies, including other Sheriff Departments, the Attorney General’s Office and the NM Corrections Department.
10 previously retired APD officers have been recruited to returned to work.
2 retirees from other departments have recruited to returned to work.


APD Chief Michael Geier is a retired APD Police officer and is the former Rio Rancho Police Chief that Mayor Keller recruited for APD.

Rio Rancho Police Officers start at $20.30 an hour while APD officers’ start at $29 an hour.

The Rio Rancho Police Department (RRPD) is authorized for 135 officers.

Currently, the RRPD has 16 vacancies and they have lost 11 officers to Albuquerque Police Department this year.


In early November, 7 Rio Rancho police officers announced resignations to join the Albuquerque Police Department.

Including the 7 officers who recently resigned, 11 Rio Rancho officers have left the Rio Rancho Police Department to join APD.

Eight former Rio Rancho police have either graduated or are currently seated in the APD Police Academy.



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.

Starting pay for an APD officer right out of the APD academy is $29 an hour.

Under the new contract, officers with 4 to 14 years of experience are paid $30 an hour.

The new contract pays senior officers to between $30 to $31.50 an hour.

Officers with 15 years or more experience are paid $31.50 an hour.

The rate for sergeants went from $32 to $35 an hour, and lieutenants pay went up from $36.70 to $40.00 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.

The approved longevity pay scale 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 18 to 19 years of experience: $300 will be paid bi-weekly, or $7,800 yearly
For 19 to 20 years or more: $500 will be paid bi-weekly, or $13,000 yearly

The approved longevity pay scale effective the first full pay period following July 1, 2019, and that will replace the 2018-2019 is as follows:

For 5 years of experience: $100 will be paid bi-weekly, or $2,600 yearly
For 6 years of experience: $125 will be paid bi-weekly, or $3,250 yearly
For 7 to 9 years of experience: $225 will be paid bi-weekly, or $5,800 yearly
For 10 to 12 years of experience: $300 will be paid bi-weekly, or $7,800 yearly
For 13 to 15 years o experience: $350 will be paid bi-weekly, or $9,100 yearly
For 16 to 17 years or more: $450 will be paid bi-weekly, or $11,700 yearly
For 18 or more years of experience: $600 will be paid bi-weekly, 15,600 yearly

Specialty pay and longevity bonuses offered by APD can add $100 to $600 to an officer’s paycheck.

Time employed by lateral at other law enforcement agencies qualify for the APD longevity bonuses.

APD announced in October that officers from other departments can get credit for up to 10 years of experience they have had with other law enforcement agencies which means $3,900 longevity pay after working for APD for only 1 year.

In the past, lateral hires were given credit for only half of their previous work experience.

That work experience directly increases an officer’s pay in the form of yearly incentive retention bonuses.


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.

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.

Mayor Tim Keller has said he has heard concerns from nearby local governments about Albuquerque taking officers from other departments.

Keller proclaims that fixing Albuquerque’s crime problem is his main priority, as it should be, but it is also at the expense of other municipal police departments and communities.


Keller and APD hiring so many police officers from other agencies should come as absolutely no surprise.

On January 27, 2017, then New Mexico State Auditor and Albuquerque Mayor candidate Tim Keller was interviewed by the on line and now defunct Albuquerque Free Press.

Keller told the Albuquerque Free Press that the solution to APD’s shortage of sworn officers is that “you poach” them from other law enforcement agencies.

The term “poaching” although somewhat insulting as an illegal hunting term, is an accurate description of what Keller and APD Chief Geier are doing now.

Geier is the former Chief of Rio Rancho Police Department which explains to a degree why so many lateral hires are coming from Rio Rancho.

The problem with “poaching” is that it increases the risk of hiring problem officers from other agencies as lateral transfers, which is what caused in part APDs problems in the first place.

Keller and Geier need to realize that APD needs to recruit a new generation of young, committed police officers to start their careers who are fully trained in constitutional policing practices.

Keller and Geier are also hiring and returning to work APD retirees and the danger with that is APD may be hiring back cops that created, contributed or who did not stop the culture of aggression found by the DOJ.

APD needs to curb its efforts on hiring more lateral hires and concentrate on hiring younger new generation of police officer to begin their law enforcement career and to rebuild APD from the ground up.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.