On March 2 and 3, respected New Mexico Politcal Blogger Joe Monahan published two articles, along with others, on his political blog “New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan.” Both articles are very insightful as to two major issues: Albuquerque’s Mayor Tim Keller’s and APD Chief Michael Geier’s failure to be forthcoming on recent murders in Albuquerque and “Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolutions” enacted by County Commissions to prevent enforcement of gun control legislation including the “Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act” also known as a “red-flag” gun bill that will allow firearms to be temporarily taken away from those deemed dangerous to themselves or others.
The “Red Flag “ law was enacted by the 2020 New Mexico Legislature and signed into law by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on February 25. Both of Mr. Monahan’s articles are very insightful and contain information from sources throughout the state and city that have made him the number one read New Mexico political commentator. The link to “New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan” is here:
http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/. Mr. Monahan’s email address is here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Following are the excerpts from the March 2 and 3 Monahan articles followed by additional information and commentary regarding both issues:
TUESDAY, MARCH 3, MONAHAN BLOG ARTICLE: “ARE MAYOR KELLER AND CHIEF GEIER “FADING” THE TOUGH CRIME QUESTIONS?
“What’s with all the unanswered questions surrounding the many murders in ABQ? That’s the question [raised by a senior political analysts]
Something is very wrong at APD and City Hall. Possible murders are faded by Mayor Keller and Chief Geier. Clearly they are afraid the murder numbers for 2019 are much higher than they originally reported. They waited until February 2020 to admit that 4 year old James Dunklee was murdered in December. Now we discover that 2 deaths (Adam Perry and Lawson Reeves) who were found dead in November are possibly murders too! And how many times will we see media reports of the murder victims families complaining that APD will not tell them anything, have not solved their case or that APD has arrested an innocent person?
Albuquerque is falling apart because of crime and not one of our elected officials or chief of police are willing to answer hard questions about APD not doing it’s job to protect the citizens. APD’s Homicide Unit has a horrible clearance rate. There are hundreds of APD cold cases that will never be worked. Keller and Geier need to be honest with the citizens. There is a problem at APD Homicide. Geier is going to walk away next year with a pension of over $150,000 per year! He should at least answer some tough questions before he leaves.
Where is the city council? They seem to be ghosts who “know nothing, do nothing and say nothing.” The media needs to start hounding them to do their damn jobs and start overseeing APD.
The council should demand that Geier appear for questions at the next council meeting and demand to know why Geier ignored the Civilian Oversight Commission recommendation to terminate PIO Simon Drobik.
–Demand to know why Geier has not opened an investigation into the false arrest of Gisele Estrada (the 17 year old falsely accused of murder)?
–Demand to know why the Dunklee murder wasn’t reported as a murder until 3 months later?
–Demand to know what the status is of the Perry and Reeves deaths and why APD won’t release information?
–Demand to know why the death at 219 Utah NE (November 2019) was not investigated as a murder and why Chief Geier and his staff were consulted before the decision not to make it a murder investigation was done?
–Demand to know why APD won’t allow BCSO and NMSP to assist in murder investigations? “
MONDAY, MARCH 02, 2020 MONAHAN BLOG ARTICLE: STATE’S RURAL-CITY DIVIDE PUT IN STARK RELIEF BY RED FLAG GUN LAW
EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr. Monahan published a map of the state of New Mexico with the 27 counties colored in red that have enacted “Second Amendment” Sanctuary Resolutions and the 5 counties that have not colored in blue which made a striking contrast of the great divide.
“Here in sharp relief is the immense rural-city divide that represents the New Mexico politics of our time.
The counties colored red have approved “Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolutions which “prohibit the enforcement of certain gun control measures perceived as violative of the Second Amendment such as universal gun background checks, assault weapon bans and red flag laws.”
A novice looking at that map might easily infer that New Mexico is a deep Red state. Of course, the reality is the opposite–NM has gone deep Blue with all executive offices, the legislature and the state’s congressional delegation controlled by Democrats.
While 27 of the 33 counties have approved the sanctuary resolution, five counties have not, and therein lies the rub (Los Alamos County not pictured did not pass a resolution).
Those five counties, Bernalillo, Dona Ana, Santa Fe, Taos, Los Alamos and San Miguel. have a population of of 1,126,000 (according to July 1, 2019 Census estimates). That is 53 percent of the state’s estimated population of 2.1 million.
This is a deeply frustrating map for anti-gun control advocates as well as the Republican Party which supports their cause. It clearly shows why the Red Flag gun law was approved by the legislature this session. No doubt the matter will head to court to determine the legality of the resolutions and also if a county sheriff refuses to enforce the new law.
Rural New Mexico has been slammed this century by anemic economic conditions and an inexorable population move to the cities here and out of state. That trend shows no signs of abating. The state’s Blue standing seems likely to stay as national Republicans have announced no plans to target the open US Senate seat or seriously contest the presidential race (although Trump, as he did for a short while in 2016, continues to tease the prospect of vying for NM).
One thing this map probably doesn’t mean, however, is that MLG and the legislature will aggressively pursue more restrictive gun laws. They have passed backed background checks for gun buyers and the Red Flag law that have enraged tens of thousands. While the new laws command strong majorities in the cities, rural New Mexico has been good at provoking intense opposition that could impact voter turnout and make life uncomfortable for Democrats in legislative districts they control only narrowly.
That’s some comfort for the Second Amendment crowd but when it comes to gun control the horse has left the barn. While that horse roams the meadows of only a narrow patch of New Mexico that’s where the political power resides.”
APD HOMICIDE CLEARANCE RATE DROPS FROM 80% TO 52%, A HISTORICAL LOW
On Sunday, February 23rd, 2020, it was reported that there has been a dramatic surge in the number of homicides and the percentage of those solved by arrest has dropped dramatically. In 2019, the city had a historical high of 82 homicides in one year with a 52% solve rate. From January 1, to February 01, the city had 8 homicides, the same number of homicides as in January, 2019. On February 22 and 22, three more homicides were reported in the city with arrests yet to be made. On Sunday, March 1, the Albuquerque Journal editorialized on the homicide clearance rate. You can read the full editorial here:
93% INCREASE IN APD 911 RESPONSE TIMES SINCE 2011: 48 MINUTES IS AVERAGE TIME OF ARRIVAL
On February 20th KOAT TV Target 7 reported on an investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD’s) response times. The report revealed an alarming level of time it takes APD to respond to 911 emergency calls. The time it takes for APD to respond to priority 1 calls in all likely has a major impact on increasing physical injury to victims or callers. It was reported that it takes APD 23 minutes longer to get to an emergency call than it did 8 years ago. There has been an astonishing 93% increase since 2011 with response times getting worse every year since. In 2011, the average response time to all calls, whether it was a life or death emergency or a minor traffic crash was 25 minutes. In 2019, that time period spiked to 48 minutes in the average response time.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
“FADING” THE NEWS ON MURDERS
A major promise and commitment Mayor Tim Keller made to the voters of Albuquerque from day one of being sworn in as Mayor was to be transparent and make full disclosure of all things city hall. When it came to the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), Mayor Keller proclaimed an new day had arrived and that his APD Administration and management would admit and recognize mistakes, learn from those mistakes and adjust and be fully committed to implementing the Department of Justice mandated reforms. Today, Mayor Keller and APD Chief Michael Geier have reverted back to APD’s old tricks of not being forthcoming with information on the city’s murders and are in fact attempting to “fade” the news of the murders as much as they can, no doubt because Keller is seeking reelection.
The Keller administration is spending $88 million dollars, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures to hire 350 officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers in order to return to community-based policing. According to recent pay stubs, APD has 950 sworn police or 250 short of what was promised. The Keller Admiration also negotiated with the police union significant APD pay raises and bonuses and an aggressive hiring and recruitment program offering incentives to join or return to APD.
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. 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 are not getting the job done.
NEW MEXICO’S RED FLAG LAW
On February 25 Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham sign into law the “Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act” also known as a “red-flag” gun bill that will allow firearms to be temporarily taken away from those deemed dangerous to themselves or others. The Governor had placed the “red flag gun bill” on the 30-day legislative agenda thereby making it one of her top initiatives during the session. The new law will take effect May 20, which is 90 days after the 2020 New Mexico legislative session ended. New Mexico is now the 18th state to adopt such a “red flag” law.
The “Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act” signed by the Governor is a natural progression of the 2019 New Mexico Legislature passage of legislation which prohibits gun possession by someone who’s subject to an order of protection under the Family Violence Protection Act. Under the enacted legislation domestic abusers must surrender their firearms to law enforcement. The gun possession prohibition also applies to people convicted of other crimes.
SAFEGUARDING CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
The “Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act” or red flag law does contain significant safe guard provisions that protect a citizen’s 2nd, 4th and 14th Amendment Rights. The court proceeding and the process under the new red flag law and how it works is summarized as follows:
“A law enforcement officer, or a prosecutor in cases involving a law enforcement officer, are allowed to file a petition in State District Court for an order to prohibit someone from possessing firearms.
The petitions can be filed upon request from a spouse, ex-spouse, parent, child, grandparent, school administrator or employer.
If a law enforcement officer declines to file a petition upon request, the officer will have to file a notice of the decision with the county sheriff.
A District Judge can enter an emergency 10-day risk protection order if “probable cause” is found that an individual poses a danger of causing “imminent” injury to themselves or others.
The individual is then required to surrender all their firearms within 48 hours of a judge’s order or sooner.
A one-year order can be imposed after a court hearing, although such an order requires a higher evidence threshold.
One-year risk protection orders are subject to appeal.
All firearms are required to be returned to their owner within 10 days after an order’s expiration.”
Exclusive authority is given to law enforcement to make the decision to file a petition and the petition must be based on whether there’s “probable cause” to believe the individual “poses a significant danger of causing imminent personal injury to self or others.” Law enforcement officials will have to explain their decision with the filing of a court notice if they decide not to seek a judge’s order after receiving a report and evidence in support of the petition.
COUNTY COMMISSIONS THAT ENACT “SECOND AMENDMENT SANCTUARY RESOLUTIONS” EXCEED AUTHORITY
The fact that 27 out of 33 Counties have enacted “Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolutions” should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone given New Mexico’s gun culture. The blunt truth is that the County Commissions, and for that matter municipalities, who have enacted “Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolutions” to circumvent the New Mexico gun restriction laws enacted by the legislature have exceeded their authority. Such resolutions are “null and void” upon enactment making them meaningless. It is highly likely that any county that attempts to enforce such resolutions will wind up in court and the court’s will set aside the resolutions.
Many elected sheriffs opposed the red flag law and some are saying they will refuse to enforce it. County Commissions that enact “Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolutions” thinking that gives their County Sheriffs authority to not enforce the “red flag law” show a serious ignorance of how the Bill of Rights and United States Constitution work. They also show a serious ignorance of the law. They have a warped interpretation of constitutional rights that have rotted out all of their common sense and prevent any reasoning with them which is the mentality of gun rights fanatics and the National Rifle Association.
The 2nd, 4th and 14th Amendments are not absolute rights and are often cited by gun fanatics and the National Rifle Association (NRA) to oppose any and all kind of reasonable gun control legislation. Each separately and together have limitations and exceptions, are subject to court interpretations and are not black and white restrictions with no exceptions.
The reality is that there are many limitations under the law and to our constitutional rights guaranteed by the 2nd, 4th and 14th amendments. Convicted and violent federal felons, who are still citizens of the United States, lose the “right to keep and bear arms” provided by the 2nd Amendment and in fact are given enhanced sentences for gun possession and use of a gun in the commission of a crime. Search warrants based on “probable cause” used by law enforcement for the seizure of personal property, including guns, are not “unreasonable searches and seizure” prohibited by the 4th Amendment. Despite what some sheriff’s say that property will be taken from people who have committed no crime, it is likely that those very departments and deputy sheriff officers over the years have secured search warrants and taken property based on “probable cause” from people who have not committed a crime. Court orders and injunction relief secured with supporting sworn affidavits, evidence and testimony in civil petitions to the court provide for due process of law and do not violate the 14th Amendment.
The elected sheriffs who oppose the meaningful gun control legislation that the red flag law represents ignore their duty and responsibilities “to serve and protect the general public” that elected them. They choose to promote their own fanatical “pro-gun” political philosophy and their own personal interpretation of the law and constitutional rights. Elected County Sheriffs have an ethical and legal obligation to honor their oaths of office. They cannot pick and choose what laws the agree with and want to enforce. Elected County Sheriffs who refuse to enforce the law are also asking taxpayers to assume the financial risk of their decision to impose their personal views over the law.
Any elected County Sheriff who refuses to enforce the new red flag law should resign immediately and allow elected county commissions to appoint law enforcement who will respect their oath of office and set aside political philosophy and political agendas. A refusal by sheriffs to enforce the law should justify the Attorney General to send letters suspending a sheriff’s law enforcement certification.
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