APD Union Releases Annual Push Poll Survey; Mayor Tim Keller Has Been Duped By Police Union

On July 23, the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association (APOA) released the results of its annual “State of Policing Survey”. True to form, and not at all surprising, the APOA President Shaun Willoughby told the Albuquerque Journal in an interview:

“I think the biggest takeaway is that for this community your police officers that are out there right now, every single day, trying to keep you safe, they’re down in the dumps. Their morale is as low as I’ve seen it and they need support.”

According to Willoughby, the survey was sent out in a department wide email to all 965 sworn police with only 433 participating. This fact is interesting to note in that the 965 sworn police the survey was sent to had to include all sworn personnel when all sworn personnel are not in the police union. The union membership consists of Lieutenants, Sergeants, both part of management, and the rank and file police below that rank. All commanders and up are not part of the union.


The highlights of the survey released are as follows:

80% of APD officers who responded have considered a new line of work in the past couple of months and of those 84% said it was due to the “current view on policing, the increased scrutiny on officers, new reform efforts and job insecurity.”

62% of sworn police officers do not feel they are being supported by Police Chief Michael Geier.

96% of sworn police do not feel supported by the City Council.

83% of sworn police do not feel supported by Mayor Tim Keller.

88% of sworn police are concerned about losing “qualified immunity”. “Qualified Immunity” is where sworn police officers are not personally held liable for anyone they injure or killed on the job. Under “qualified immunity” the city assumes full responsibility for any and all conduct, intentional or negligent, by sworn police.

68% of officers said it was “unlikely or very unlikely” that they would recommend police work as a career choice to others.


Low morale among APD officers isn’t new or novel and has been low for the last six years and since the Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) mandating constitutional policing reforms.

The Union Surveys in 2018 and 2019 reflected sworn police officers criticizing the low pay, under-staffing of the department and officer scrutiny as reasons for their low morale.

In 2018 the union survey found that 70% of officers considered a career change.

In 2019, the number was just below 60%.

Willoughby believes the recent dip moral is coming from the national and local sentiments of the Black Lives Movement which is pushing a national trend to defund the police and ideas of civilians responding to police calls such as mental health welfare checks. Willoughby also said the small uptick in 2019 to the City Council and Keller, who “put their money where their mouth is” and gave APD their first contract in several years.


The Police Union this year added a new twist to its survey. The survey added 405 community members asking their outlooks on local policing, crime and public safety.

The survey of community members revealed the following:

67% believed crime was getting worse.

83% wanted more officers to make the street safer.

11% believed “not enough officers” was a contributing factor to crime in Albuquerque.


APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos responded to the survey results this way:

“Albuquerque’s officers have been through a lot during the pandemic, keeping people safe during two dozen protests and dealing with public criticism that is part of a national debate over policing. … Obviously, we are concerned, and APD’s leadership is working to ensure officers and their families are protected against the COVID virus. The department also stepped up efforts to support officers and address mental health resources for officers who want help.”

Gallegos also criticized the union survey by saying it is:

“tailored to achieve a preconceived goal, so it’s not surprising that every few years the union’s president paints the city and the police department in the worst possible light.”



The results of the police unions 2018 annual survey is worth reviewing for comparison to the 2020 survey. The 2018 survey results were released on April 12, 2018 and once again the survey was released by APOA President Shaun Willoughby.

In 2018, 491 out of the 878 sworn officers took the survey. In 2020, 433 participated out of 965 sworn police.

In 2018, the survey found that morale was definitely low with 70% of the responding officers thinking about leaving APD in the last two years. In 2020 that figure jumped to 80% of APD officers who responded having considered a new line of work.

In 2018, the union gave the officers a multiple-choice question to pick reasons why they were considering going elsewhere and 69% said work conditions, 67% said better pay and 67% said they want a better quality of life.

Specific comments that were revealing were written by officers as to why they had considered leaving APD and include:

• “Fear of media scrutiny and criminal charges.”
• “The (Department of Justice) has no business running a police department.”
• “This town sucks as a whole. Bad schools bad crime bad housing.”
• “Family would be safer outside of ABQ where police are allowed to do their job.”
• “The clowns that get promoted to supervisor.”

In 2018, Patrol Officer’s First class were making $27.50 an hour, no matter the number of years on the force. Today, in 2020, starting pay for an APD Police Officer immediately out of the APD academy is $29 an hour or $60,320 yearly.

In 2018, when asked what could be done to increase the number of police officers, 77% of the officers said they could pay officers a more competitive salary. Three-fourths of the officers who took the survey said a competitive salary would be between $32 and $36 an hour. Today in 2020, APD police officers are paid between $30 and $35 an hour depending on rank and years of service.

In 2018, whopping 98% of responding officers said APD’s staffing level has compromised officer safety, but that is not at all surprising given that APD had only 878 sworn police with only 458 assigned to field services handling 600,000 calls for service a year. Today in 2020, there are 980 sworn police officers with 116 sworn police added in the last year alone.



As of April 27, 2020, the average hourly wage for a Police Officer in the United States is $27.00 an hour. The range typically falls between $25 and $30. Hourly rates can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years spent as a police officer.


In the 2019 annual listing of the 250 top paid city hall employees, 160 of them were employed by the Albuquerque Police Department. Those sworn police include patrol officers first class, sergeants, lieutenants, commanders the deputy chiefs, and the chief with annual pay ranging from $101,000 a year up to $192,937 a year. Far more Police Officers 1st Class are earning 6 figures under the Keller Administration than under the last year of the Berry Administration. For a comparison of salaries paid by Mayor Tim Keller and his predecessor Mayor Richard Berry see the following blog articles:




Starting pay for an APD Police Officer immediately out of the APD academy is $29 an hour or $60,320 yearly. (40 hour work week X 52 weeks in a year = 2,080 hours worked in a year X $29 paid hourly = $60,320.)

Police officers with 4 to 14 years of experience are paid $30 an hour or $62,400 yearly. (40-hour work weeks in a year X 52 weeks in a year = 2,080 hours worked in a year X $30 paid hourly = $62,400.)

Senior Police Officers with 15 years or more experience are paid $31.50 an hour or $65,520 yearly. (40 hours work in a week X 52 weeks in year = 2,080 hours worked in a year X $31.50 = $65,520.)

The hourly pay rate for APD Sergeants is $35 an hour, or $72,800. (40-hour work week X 52 weeks in a year = 2080 hours worked in a year X $35.0 paid hourly = $72,800.)

The hourly pay rate for APD Lieutenants is $40.00 an hour or $83,200. (40 hour work week X 52 weeks in a year = 2080 hours worked in a year X $40.00 = $83,200.)


In addition to the base pay rates, APD police officers are also paid longevity bonus pay added to their pay at the end of the year as follows:

For 5 years of experience: $100 are paid bi-weekly, or $2,600 yearly.

For 6 years of experience: $125 are paid bi-weekly, or $3,250 yearly.

For 7 to 9 years of experience: $225 are paid bi-weekly, or $5,800 yearly.

For 10 to 12 years of experience: $300 are paid bi-weekly, or $7,800 yearly.

For 13 to 15 years o experience: $350 are paid bi-weekly, or $9,100 yearly.

For 16 to 17 years or more: $450 are paid bi-weekly, or $11,700 yearly.

For 18 or more years of experience: $600 are paid bi-weekly, 15,600 yearly.


A push poll or survey is loosely defined as an ostensible opinion poll in which the true objective is to sway those who take it using loaded or manipulative questions. The motivation for such a poll is use the results to gain an advantage or to support an argument needed to prevail in any discussions or negotiations. The union survey was nothing more than a push poll to be used in up coming union contract negotiations.

APOA President Shaun Willoughby told the Journal in an interview releasing the survey:

“I think the biggest takeaway is that for this community your police officers that are out there right now, every single day, trying to keep you safe, they’re down in the dumps. Their morale is as low as I’ve seen it and they need support.”


Willoughby’s motivation is strictly political by virtue of the fact that he did not disclose that the very lucrative 2-year union contract negotiated by the Keller Administration expired June 30. All police contract negotiations have been placed on hold. What this means is that all the terms and conditions of the expired contract governing union membership, hourly wage, time and a half wages for overtime pay, longevity pay bonuses, all remain in place and must continue to be paid until a new union contract is negotiated. Reports are that police union contract negotiations may start up again in mid-August, but there is no guarantee that union negotiations will start up only to be suspended again because of falling city gross receipts tax revenues.

What Willoughby said is simply not true when it comes to low morale and he knows it. It was Republican Mayor Berry for a full 8 years and his Republican hacks Darren White and CAO Rob Perry who destroyed one of the finest police departments in the country. It was the Republican Berry Administration that ushered in the Department of Justice (DOJ) after it found a culture of aggression and the use of excessive force and deadly force by APD costing the city upwards of $61 million in settlements. In 2009 when Berry took office, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) was the best trained, best equipped, best funded department in its history and was fully staffed with 1,100 sworn police officers.

When Berry left office in 2017, APD had only 850 sworn police and police moral was probably the lowest in its history. Mayor Berry abolished the longevity program that kept experienced police officers from retiring, unilaterally decided not to pay a 5% negotiated pay raise, abolished the APD take home car policy, eliminated sign on bonuses and mortgage down payments for new recruits and implemented a college education requirement for new recruits but did not pay college wages. Moral within APD plummeted and the mass exodus of experienced police officers began as a result of Berry’s full 8 years of gross mismanagement of APD by Chiefs Ray Scultz and Gordon Eden and Chief Public Safety Officer Darren White and CAO Rob Perry.


It was on September 28, 2017 that the Albuquerque Journal reported that the Albuquerque Police Union endorsed Tim Keller for Mayor. Keller actively sought the endorsement no doubt wanting the vote of rank and file police officers and to be able to say APD had his back and he their back and he would take care of APD rank and file once elected.


What all the candidates for Mayor did not fully understand was that APD was and still is operating under a Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree and mandated reforms. Under normal circumstances, union endorsements are common place, but when it comes to APD, it was and still is a department in crisis and for the first time in its history is under a Department of Justice consent decree. None of the candidates for Mayor in 2017 attended any of the Federal Court hearing on the consent decree.

In 2017, the police union went into overdrive and did everything it could to get Tim Keller elected. After the election, the union secured essentially everything it wanted from Keller and then some. The Keller Administration quickly negotiated a new police union contract increasing significantly hourly wages, increasing longevity pay, increasing benefits to the highest ever level, and increasing APD overtime budget. Today, APD because of all the raises and concessions made by the Keller Administration in the past several years, APD sworn police are the highest paid officers in the region.

The lucrative union contract Keller signed off on is not the end of it. Mayor Tim Keller, within a few months after being elected, broke a major campaign promise not to increase taxes, even for public safety, without a public vote. Keller agreed to and signed off on a city council initiated gross receipts tax for “public safety” that generates $55 million a year with the Police Union successfully lobbying the Albuquerque City Council to dedicate 70% of the new tax revenue to public safety. Keller also implemented a police department growth plan where APD is spending $88 million dollars to expand APD to 1,200 officers with another $35 million in none recurring expenditures.

Now that the police union survey that says 83% of sworn police do not feel they are supported by Mayor Tim Keller, and 62% of sworn police officers do not feel they are being supported by Keller’s appointed Police Chief Michael Geier, you got to wonder how anxious he will be to seek the union endorsement as he seeks a second term in 2021 and what concessions the union will want from him. One thing is for certain, Mayor Keller no doubt feels he has been taken advantaged of by the Police Union. In other words Mayor Keller, you have been duped. If you do not feel that way, go ahead and knock yourself out and try to get the Police Union endorsement once again, but please, please do not make any more financial concessions because the last time you did that, it cost taxpayers millions for an ungrateful police department union.

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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.