Dan Klein is a retired Albuquerque Police Sergeant after 20 years of public service. He has been a small business owner in the private sector now for 15 years. Mr. Klein has been a reporter for both on line news outlets the ALB Free Press and ABQ Reports.
On Sunday, December 15, the Albuquerque Journal published the following guest column written by Dan Klein:
Who’s there for Gisell?
BY DAN KLEIN / RETIRED APD SERGEANT
Sunday, December 15th, 2019
Albuquerque can add 17-year-old Gisell Estrada to a long list of innocent people falsely accused and jailed by inept police work at APD.
It’s a story we have heard before, where the district attorney and judge who approved APD’s arrest warrant either didn’t read the warrant or just rubber-stamped it. In Gisell’s case, her warrant lacked the basics of probable cause. The detective leaves out many important facts and incorrectly states that a witness to the murder identified Gisell as the suspect.
What the witness did do, which is not explained in the warrant, was to identify a Facebook picture as a person who took part in the murder, as “Lexi.” The witness never stated that Lexi was Gisell, but that is not how the APD detective wrote the original arrest warrant. Without question or concern, an assistant district attorney and judge – the check and balance in our system – signed off, therefore ensuring that Gisell would be put into a place (a Dec. 10 Journal editorial) called “the pokey,” but those of us who have worked there call hell on earth.
APD PIO Gilbert Gallegos compounded this mess by stating that if Gisell would have spoken to the detective instead of invoking her constitutional right to silence, she would not have been arrested. Apparently, the DOJ consent decree and all the promises of constitutional policing are just catch phrases for APD. Gallegos doesn’t seem to understand the concept of innocent until proven guilty, and Chief Michael Geier is AWOL.
DA PIO Michael Patrick confirmed what everyone knew when he said the DA’s office just follows APD’s lead, confirming the DA is just a rubber stamp for law enforcement.
It’s not supposed to be. The DA’s office is supposed to be a check and balance to ensure innocent people are not prosecuted. Hasn’t DA Raúl Torrez learned anything from Victoria Martens and Jayden Silver-Chavez, to name just two screwed-up investigations by APD? Where are you Raúl?
The office of the court has not made any statement about why one of its judges signed Gisell’s arrest warrant. This is what we get from public officials? Silence when they screw up.
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller rightfully cried tears of rage at the Mexico/America border camp for the children of detainees who were locked up. Where are his tears for Albuquerque child Gisell Estrada, who his police department wrongfully incarcerated? Can’t you cry for her, mayor?
Kellers’ first term is looking a lot like Richard J. Berry’s second term. Tim, is this what you want?
What is truly stunning about Gisell’s case is the lack of basic human compassion from Geier, Torrez, Keller and the judge who signed the warrant. Why haven’t any of them publicly apologized to her? Is it the fear of bad PR? Are they missing the gene of human caring in their DNA?
If Gisell’s arrest doesn’t spark change, nothing will.
Geier should retire; his missteps are many. From defending APD for not protecting the 7-year-old child with bloody underwear, to not terminating his Internal Affairs commander for tampering with documents, to ignoring the civilian police oversight when it recommended terminating his past spokesman for time-sheet violations, to his inability to reduce crime, his inaccurate crime stats and now Gisell. How many times will Keller stand with Geier at a press conference, only to have to retract it? Why can’t Keller find his inner former-Mayor Marty Chavez and remove him?
Torrez needs a strong challenger at the next election. If attorneys care about Albuquerque, they should step up and run for DA.
The court should immediately open a public investigation into Gisell’s false arrest, identifying who failed and holding them all accountable. Ultimately, it was a judge who placed Gisell in jail; we need to know why.
If no one is held accountable for Gisell’s false arrest, I will guarantee you it will happen again.
Next time it could be you or your child.”
The link to Dan Klein’s Albuquerque Journal guest column is as follows:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Mayor Tim Keller (42) and Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez (43 ) have so much in common, including seeking second terms, they should be referred to as the “BURQUE DOS AMIGOS”. The “Dos Amigos” even like to “tag team” the New Mexico Supreme Court and to take credit for reducing crime.
MAYOR TIM KELLER
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. Mayor Tim Keller has taken photo ops to an all new level by attending protest rallies to speak at, attending marches, attending heavy metal concerts to introduce the band, running in track meets and participating in exhibition football games as the quarterback and enjoying reliving his high school glory days, and posting pictures and videos on his FACEBOOK page.
For two years, every 3 months, Keller tried to take credit for crime rates being on the decline. It turns out the numbers he released were seriously defective. Both the 2019 mid-year statistics and the statistics released at the end of 2018 by Keller had to be revised dramatically to include hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of more incidents than were initially reported. Keller blamed it on antiquated software. Keller now wants $30 million from the New Mexico legislature to “modernize” police records and data department. The request is made 18 months after Keller signed into law a gross receipts tax increase enacted by the City Council that raised taxes by $55 million a year, breaking his promise not to raise taxes without a public vote. The city has recorded 74 homicides in one year, an all-time record and violent crimes are up.
Mayor Keller has announced 4 separate programs within 9 months to combat our city’s violent crime and murder rates. Keller is looking desperate to portray himself as being proactive. Keller also looks foolish when he holds press conference, after press conference, after press conference within days of each other to announce new programs that are nothing more than rebranding or renaming of existing programs.
DISRICT ATTORNEY RAUL TORREZ
In 2016, Raul Torrez campaigned for District Attorney on a platform of reducing crime arguing that crime rates were too high, our criminal justice system was broken and that he was the guy to fix it. District Attorney Raul Torrez, like Mayor Tim Keller, has also taken public relations to an all-time high with repeated press conferences and with front-page coverage by the Albuquerque Journal.
Torrez during his first year in office blamed judges for our high crime rates because of reduced sentences given to violent criminals and dismissal of cases. It was then revealed that his office voluntarily dismissed cases at much higher rates than the courts. Torrez accused the District Court and the Supreme Court’s case management order (CMO) for being the root cause for the dramatic increase in crime and the dismissal of cases.
The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office under Raul Torrez’ was seriously discredited by a District Court report to the New Mexico Supreme Court reviewing all dismissals and it showed it was the DA’s office that was dismissing the overwhelming majority of cases on its own. In May, 2019, it was revealed that the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office under Raul Torrez has a 65% combined dismissal, acquittal and mistrial rate with cases charge by grand juries. The data presented showed in part how overcharging and a failure to screen cases by the District Attorney’s Office is contributing to the high mistrial and acquittal rates.
The most nefarious conduct to attack the court’s and our criminal justice system is when Torrez promoted a Constitutional Amendment to shift the burden of proof by the prosecution of dangerousness of a defendant to a presumption of dangerousness based on an “alleged” yet to be proven crime. What Torrez wants is a system of “presumption of dangerousness” where a defendant is charged with a violent felony and the person charge be held in custody pending trial. Time and time again, defendants are held in jail for months, at times years, because they are unable to make bond, only to have the charges dismissed.
In 2017, Torrez was able to secure millions more from the legislature to hire more prosecutors and he now has a $21.5 million dollar budget. Torrez has failed to fill over 50 vacant positions within his office, including vacant “at will” attorney, assistant trial attorney, senior trial attorney and trial attorney positions and Secretarial and Legal Secretary positions.
Like Mayor Keller, Raul Torrez has attempted to repeatedly take credit for declining crime rates before business groups, yet since the APD statistics fiasco, Torrez is nowhere to be found to retract his previous claims of reduced crime.
TAG TEAMING THE NEW MEXICO SUPREME COURT
On May 10, 2019, “Burque’s Dos Amigos” Mayor Tim Keller and DA Raul Torrez wrote a joint letter to the New Mexico Supreme Court requesting it to intervene and stop the plans of 2nd Judicial District Court (SJDC) to shift away from the use of grand jury system to a preliminary hearing system. The shift to a preliminary system from a grand jury system had been going on for 3 years. The joint letter included the following claims:
“We write to you with an urgent request that the New Mexico Supreme Court take immediate action to prevent further elimination of existing grand jury panels in the Second Judicial [District Court].
“Together, we have worked to achieve the longest sustained drop in crime in this community in more than a decade, but we are very concerned that these hard fought gains will be reversed if the [District Court] continues to make unilateral decisions which further stress the resources constraints of our respective institutions and causes a potential threat to public safety that may result from the change to our criminal justice system.”
On May 31, 2019, Chief Justice Judith Nakamura politely responded to the Torrez-Keller letter declining to intervene with the District court urging District Attorney Torrez to work with the Bernalillo County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (BCCJCC) to resolve his concerns about ongoing cuts to the grand jury system.
As the shootings, assaults and murders continue to rise, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller are increasingly focused on the gun violence and the city’s murder rates. Time is running out for both of them despite their efforts and their public relations campaigns and press conferences. Both DA Torrez and Mayor Keller have initiated programs in an effort to bring down violent crime rates and gun violence and simply put, the programs are not working. What is becoming increasingly concerning for the City residents is that all the increases in APD budget and personnel and increases and new programs at the DA’s Office are not having any effect on be bringing down the violent crime and murder rates.
Voters are very fickle and unforgiving when politicians make promises they do not or cannot keep. The Bernalillo County District Attorney’ s Office is now Torrez’s full responsibility and he cannot blame his predecessor for continuing increases in our crime rates and bungled prosecutions. APD is now fully in the hands of Mayor Tim Keller and his appointed command staff, and he cannot blame his predecessor for continuing increases in our crime rates.
No doubt DA Raul Torrez and Mayor Tim Keller have high hopes that their efforts will bring down gun violent crime and the murder rates as they seek second terms. But “high hopes” do not get one elected to a second term. The only thing that will likely get them both elected to second terms is if they buckle down, work more on doing their jobs of law enforcement, arrests and prosecutions and less on public relations, press conferences and nuance programs that are not working.
When it’s all said and done, both District Attorney Raul Torrez and Mayor Tim Keller may wake up the day after their next election bids to read headlines that they have lost their election for a second term.
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