$56 Million Sought For City Road Projects; City To Tap General Fund To Pay $4 million Shortfall In Lodger’s Tax Revenues Used For “Tourism Sports Facilities”

On September 6, it was reported that Mayor Tim Keller was seeking and secured city council approval of $56 million in funding for transportation projects by issuance and sale of municipal bonds. The issuance sale of municipal bonds is the standard approach to funding such projects. No increases in taxes will result from the funding. According to City Officials, getting the money immediately from a bond sale securing low interest debt will allow certain road projects to move forward faster than if the city waited for dollars to accumulate.

Mayor Keller had this to say:

“We’ve got decades-old traffic and infrastructure problems, and they won’t pay to fix themselves. … But help is on the way, and we’re getting it done without raising taxes.”
The list of projects could change. The city council will approve the specific projects before the end of the year.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/mayor-keller-proposes-56-investment-to-improve-roads-in-albuquerque/5849316/?cat=500

According to Municipal Affairs Spokesperson Johnny Chandler, the $56 million in funding for the transportation projects will come from the issue and sale of bonds secured by the ¼ cent Transportation Tax revenue, which voters approved for the third time at the ballot box last fall. The ordinance if passed by the City Council will allow the Department of Municipal Development (DMD) to bond $56 million for roadway specific infrastructure projects. Later in the year, the City Council will vote to approve the specific list of projects the Keller Administration is proposing for use of the funds.

According to the city news release:

“The initial list of proposed roadway infrastructure projects includes increasing road safety on East and West Central, Marquette, Rio Grande, San Pedro, Alameda, Wyoming and other major roads; adding lanes to Paseo Del Norte west of Calle Norteña; adding streetlights to major arterials; and upgrading ADA access throughout the City. This investment will also help jump start our COVID economy by bringing construction jobs and additional gross receipts tax revenue.”

City voters first passed the ¼ cent transportation tax in 1999 and renewed it in 2009. Unlike previous versions of the tax, voters in 2019 approved the tax without a 10-year expiration date which created a new opportunity to borrow against future revenues by issuing 15-year bonds. According to Albuquerque Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Rael, the tax is part of the gross receipts tax that brings in about $38 million to $40 million annually, but only about $19 million is dedicated to road improvements. The rest goes to public transit, trails and bikeways. Under the current bond proposal, the city will use about $4.5 million of the annual tax revenue to pay the debt for 15 years.

https://www.kob.com/kobtvimages/repository/cs/files/RELEASE%20-%20Citywide%20Transportation%20Investment.pdf

PROJECTS TO BE FUNDED

The city intends to fund $56 million in construction projects under the newly conceived financing proposal meant to accelerate key roadwork and stimulate the pandemic-battered economy. Those projects include:

1. Begin widening the western end of Paseo del Norte and to improve sidewalks and other infrastructure in the Wells Park neighborhood.

2. The Wells Park area would get $4 million for “complete streets” work, such as lighting, sidewalks and bicycle lanes.

3. A new grade-level railroad crossing on Marquette, helping link Albuquerque Convention Center users and others in the city center to developments east of the tracks.

4. Construction of an interior roadway at Los Altos Park, upgrading San Pedro near Alameda, and adding streetlights on the West Mesa and elsewhere in the city.

5. A $12 million dollar expansion of Paseo del Norte on the West Side to widen the road from two to four lanes between Kimmick and Rainbow. The city has already accumulated $5 million for the project with help from the New Mexico legislators. The $12 million of new money means the two-phase project is about 75% funded. The city has already hired a consultant and begun the design process.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1492852/city-planning-56m-in-road-improvements.html

TAPPING GENERAL FUND $4 MILLION TO PAY FOR SHORTFALL IN LODGER’S TAX REVENUES USED FOR “SPORTS FACILITIES”

Last year on September 6, 2019, Mayor Tim Keller submitted a $29 million infrastructure bond tax package to the Albuquerque City Council to be financed by the City’s Lodger’s Tax. The Keller Administration labeled the lodger tax bond package as a “Sports – Tourism Lodger Tax ” because it was to be used for a number of projects around the city labeled as “sports tourism opportunities.” The tax is paid by those staying at hotels and vacation rentals in the city.

Originally, the Keller Administration said all the projects would be funded through savings achieved by refinancing existing lodgers’ tax bonds. The Keller Administration then backtracked and said the city would issue $29 million in new bonds and use the lodger’s tax. The final lodger tax bond funding enacted by the Albuquerque City Council was increased from $29 million to $31 and includes $4.8 million in surplus funding for the projects. The additional funds come from the sale of vehicles and other city property.

On October 7, 2019 the City Council approved a $30.5 million “Sports -Tourism” lodger tax package on a unanimous vote to upgrade and build sports facilities throughout the city. Revenue generated by the lodgers tax will be used to pay off the $30.5 million bond debt.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1375946/city-council-approves-new-lodgers-tax-bonds.html

Following are the projects that were listed to be funded by the lodger tax revenues:

• $10 million to improve Los Altos Park, including new softball fields, a BMX pump track and concession improvements. Los Altos Park is the busiest park in the city and the Keller Administration argues that improvements will help attract tournaments.

• $3.5 million for a soccer complex at an unidentified site with locker rooms that could host tournaments. According to the Keller Administration, the multi-use soccer facility would be available for use by Albuquerque Public Schools, the New Mexico Activities Association championships and other tournaments, and would serve as a practice field for New Mexico United.

• $3.5 million for the Jennifer Riordan Spark Kindness Complex (a West Side baseball venue formerly known as the Albuquerque Regional Sports Complex).

• $4.5 million to upgrade the Albuquerque Convention Center, including adding outdoor message boards, and potentially having the Kiva Auditorium host a larger range of events. The city council increased the amount by $1.5 million. There have been recent reports that the convention center roof is leaking, but no money is being set aside for roof repair.

• $2.5 million to buy property for balloon landing sites.

• $2.5 million to replace the city’s 16-year-old indoor track currently used by the University of New Mexico and for track and field competitions.

• $2 million for a “multiuse trail” linking East Downtown to Downtown.

• $1 million for the forthcoming Route 66 Visitors Center at Central and 136th Street. The visitors center will be for both tourists and locals and plans include a museum, taproom and large event space for social and event gatherings.

• $1 million for Isotopes Park upgrades, such as netting and field improvements. The Isotopes Park upgrades include nets to protect young children and families during games and field improvements to provide for an easier transition from baseball to other uses including concerts. The professional soccer team United New Mexico currently uses Isotopes Park for their professional games.

• $500,000 for a “Northwest Mesa gateway.”

BACKLASH RECALLED

Keller’s “Sports – Tourism Lodger Tax ” drew severe backlash from Albuquerque’s Hotel Industry and it questioned the tourism value of several of the included projects. The industry representative said the projects were unlikely to boost visitation and, therefore, offer a return on the investment of lodger’s tax dollars.

At the time, Charlie Gray, the executive director of the Greater Albuquerque Hotel & Lodging Association (GAHLA), said the 120-member hotel association were only told of the $30 million lodger tax proposal when Mayor Tim Keller issued a news release about it to the public.

Members of the city’s Lodgers Tax Advisory Board (LTBA) said they knew absolutely nothing about the lodger’s tax plan until Mayor Tim Keller announced it on Sept. 7 in a press release. Board members complained they learned about it through media reports and were not requested to provide input. The proposal went to the City Council’s Finance and Government Operations Committee two days after the Keller announcement and the final City Council vote occurred on Oct. 7.

A link to a related blog article is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2019/10/15/sneaky-sports-tourism-lodger-tax-raid-is-invitation-to-litigate-and-investigate-by-lodger-industry-and-nm-state-auditor/

LODGERS TAX CAN ONLY BE USED FOR ADVERTISING, PUBLICIZING AND PROMOTING” TOURISM

A year ago, when Mayor Tim Keller announced the series of planned “sports tourism” projects around the city, the Keller Administration said they were relying on the sustained success of the local hospitality industry to pay for them.

When you examine all the projects that were to be finance by the “Sports Tourism Lodger” tax bonds, it is no doubt the projects are for the building of facilities and infrastructure. The glaring problem is the plain language of the lodger tax ordinance. It provides that at least one half of revenue generated from the lodger’s tax must be used “for the purpose of advertising, publicizing and promoting tourist-related attractions, facilities and events.”

The operable words in the city ordinance are “advertising, publicizing and promoting”. The debt of $31.5 million generated by the bonds will be paid by tax revenues that should be first applied to advertising, publicizing and promoting tourist-related attractions, facilities and events. Only after that is done can the funding be used to build, upgrade or make improvements to infrastructure and acquire or build facilities related to tourism.

It is a really big stretch to say that most of the projects are “tourist” and “tourism promotion” when they are obviously for general public use and not for tourism or promotion of tourism. To be perfectly blunt, 7 of the 10 projects are not tourism related and are used overwhelming by the general public and not the tourist industry nor by the hotel or lodger tax industry. It is a real stretch of the imagination to say the projects will attract tourism.

LODGER’S TAX REVENUE SHORTFALL

The city’s general fund, which is used for basic essential services such as police protection, fire and rescue and street maintenance is supported primarily by gross receipts tax revenues. The pandemic has had a major impact on the city’s hospitality industry to the point that the Lodger’s Tax revenues have plummeted.

The city finished the 2020 fiscal year on June 30 with $13.4 million in lodgers tax and hospitality fee revenue which is nearly $4 million less than it received in 2019. The Keller administration is budgeting for an even steeper decline this year, forecasting total revenue of $8.5 million. Because of a significant shortfall in the lodger tax revenues, the Keller administration is now turning to the general fund to pay the almost $8 million in debt service owed this year on the bonds.

Keller’s Chief Financial Officer Sanjay Bhakta called the lodgers tax debt payment one of the “unavoidable” general fund costs the city will incur this year given the pandemic’s impact on the economy. Bhakta had this to say:

“If that sector comes up and the revenues are higher than expected, we may not need the $3.5 million, but that’s what we’re budgeting right now.”

Bhakta added that the unforeseen events of this year do not necessarily change the value of last year’s bond sale and said:

“At that time, it made sense that we had that money, and I believe eventually it will work out. … Once the industry comes back, they will be able to reap the reward of that investment”.

In addition to buying new bonds, the city refinanced older bonds at lower interest rates to help cut the debt service costs. The city owes upwards of $7.8 million in lodgers tax debt service for fiscal year 2020-2021 which began July 1. Last year, the debt service was $7.7 million last year.

The Keller Administration reported that year to year increases gave way to year to year declines. Because of the pandemic, revenue crashed in March, coming in 61% less than March of 2019, a trend that continued through the spring and likely continue through the end of 2020.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1496056/city-may-tap-general-fund-to-pay-lodgers-tax-debt.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Both city and state revenues are plummeting. Both the city and state are facing deficits mainly because of the impact of the corona virus is having on the economy. The $56 million dollars sought for city road project can only be considered a small “life line” to the city’s overall economy and in particular the construction industry. Nonetheless, the road projects are definitely needed.

However, Keller’s labeling the $31.5 million lodgers’ tax as a “sports tourism” tax was downright sneaky. Without any financial analysis or actual proof to back him up, Mayor Keller and his administration simply argue that the projects will attract conventions or other sports-related tourism and events to Albuquerque.

ABQ Journal Poll Finds Pandemic #1 Concern of Voters, Crime #6 Concern; Handling of Pandemic Gives Governor And Mayor High Marks For Now

On Sunday, September 13, the Albuquerque Journal published the results of a statewide poll asking voters their top concerns that are facing New Mexico families. The poll also asked about voter’s approval or disapproval of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s job performance with a subsample for voter’s approval or disapproval Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller’s job. This blog article is an in-depth analysis of the 3 poll results and the effects the pandemic has had the on the approval ratings of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller.

As usual, the Albuquerque Journal poll was conducted by Research & Polling Inc., New Mexico’s largest full-service market research and public opinion research company. Founded in 1986, the company today serves a wide variety of prominent national and New Mexico clients. A link to the web page is here: https://www.rpinc.com/ When it comes to polling in New Mexico political races, Research and Polling has a decades history of accurate predictions and is considered the “gold standard” of polling in New Mexico politics.

The Albuquerque Journal poll was conducted from August 26 through September 2. It was based on a statewide sample of 457 likely general election voters who voted in either the 2016 and 2018 general elections, or both. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points. A subsample poll was conducted for the approval rating of Mayor Tim Keller with a margin of error of 5.3%.

CRIME ALL THE TIME BEFORE, NOW PANDEMIC ALL THE TIME

During the last two years, New Mexico has posted the nation’s first or second-highest violent crime rates in the country and some of the highest property crime rates in the country driven by high violent and property crime rates in Albuquerque. FBI statistics reveal that Albuquerque has the dubious distinction of having a crime rate about 194% higher than the national average. Albuquerque is one of the 7 cities involved with Operation Legend, a federal program targeting violent criminals for arrest and prosecution. All 7 cities have violent crime rates significantly higher and above the national average. A link to a related blog articles is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2019/11/04/nm-and-abq-still-violent-gov-mlg-creates-fugitive-apprehension-unit-crime-rates-will-be-defining-issue-in-2021-mayors-race/

HEALTH SAFETY CONCERNS REPLACES CRIME AS #1 CONCERN IN VOTER’S MINDS

For the past 8 years, crime has dominated as the number one issue voters have been identified as being problematic. The Journal poll reflects there has been a dramatic change ostensibly since February when the pandemic hit the nation and state hard. Voters now list health and safety related to COVID-19 as their number one concern with 40% of all those polled state wide. Concerns about crime has dropping like a rock to 6th place in voters mind to an anemic 4%. Below are the results of the poll:

40% percent of voters listed health and safety related to COVID-19 as the biggest concern
23% of voters cited economic uncertainty as their biggest concern
13% of voters cited loss of jobs and unemployment as their biggest concern
12% of cited education and back-to-school challenges as their biggest concern
7% of voters cited return to “usual activities” before COVID-19
4% of voters mentioned crime as their biggest concern
3% of listed travel restrictions as their biggest concern
2% of voters listed the direction of the country and future of America, leadership of the country and the election .

According to the Journal poll report:

“Democrats were more likely than Republicans to identify COVID-19 health and safety concerns as their family’s biggest issue. In the survey, 49% of Democrats listed it as the top concern, while just 30% of Republicans and 31% of independents did. …
All told, voters’ responses fell into about 50 categories. After travel concerns, the concerns most listed were the direction of the country and future of America, leadership of the country and the election. Each were listed by 2% of voters. Less-common answers included inability to access health care, taxes and food insecurity. Four people – fewer than 1% – mentioned the governor and Democrats in office as their family’s biggest concern. …
The percentages add up to more than 100 because some respondents identified more than one issue. About 9% said “nothing in particular.”

The link to the full Albuquerque Journal story with graphs reflecting the poll results and methodology is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1495902/voters-list-virus-impacts-as-biggest-concern-ndash-by-far.html

GOVERNOR’S APPROVAL RATING

According to the Albuquerque Journal poll, Governor Michell Lujan Grisham has a 59% approval rating, a 33% disapproval rating with 8% of those polled expressed mixed feelings about the Governor or saying they did not know. The link to the Albuquerque Journal full report with pie charts and graphs is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1495900/most-nm-voters-give-governor-good-marks.html

According to the Journal report:

“[Governor Lujan Grishams] aggressive response to the COVID-19 outbreak – including a face covering mandate and broad travel quarantine order – has been met with approval by most New Mexico voters, though it’s also generated criticism [and resistance] …

Among Democrats, 86% said they approved of the governor’s job performance. In contrast, only 23% of Republicans surveyed said they approved of the job the governor is doing.”

Among voters who cited the coronavirus pandemic and related health concerns as the biggest issue facing their families [a separate question was asked and in] the Journal Poll, 74% said they approved of Lujan Grisham’s job performance as governor while just 20% said they disapproved [her handling of the pandemic] .”

METHODOLOGY AND TIMING OF KELLER POLL

The Journal Poll asked one question when it came to Mayor Tim Keller:

“Do you approve or disapprove of the way Tim Keller is handling his job as the mayor of Albuquerque.”

The poll was conducted from August 26 through September 2. The poll was based on a scientific sample of 342 likely general election voters in Albuquerque who also voted in either the 2016 or 2018 general elections or both. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.3 percentage points, though it is higher for subsamples.

The Albuquerque Journal poll was also taken prior to Mayor Keller announcing the retirement of APD Chief Michael Geier on September 10, and with Keller citing the City’s rising crime, implementation of the Department of Justice reforms stalling out, and various internal affairs investigations involving APD.

The link to the Albuquerque Journal report on the poll is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1495901/mayor-keller-maintains-his-high-approval-rating.html

MAYOR KELLER’S APPROVAL RATING

In 2017, Democrat Tim Keller was elected Mayor in a runoff with a 62.2% vote against Republican Dan Lewis at 37.8%. Mayor Keller made it known election night in November that he intends to run for a second 4-year term in 2021. On Sunday, September 13, the Albuquerque Journal reported that its poll revealed that Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller has a 60% approval rating close to 3 years into his term. Such an approval makes Keller the automatic front runner as he seeks a second term.

However, cautionary statements were made by the pollster. In the Journal report on the poll taken, Pollster Brian Sanderoff, the President of Research and Polling, said it “is unknown whether Keller’s approval dropped at any point in the past two years and then climbed back up.” According to Sanderoff, it appears that the public perception of Keller improved during the COVID-19 pandemic and said that may be partly because the virus has temporarily supplanted crime as voters’ top concern. The poll was clear that the public’s focus has clearly shifted from crime to COVID-19 for now, but Sanderoff said Keller’s legacy is still tied to the city’s response to crime and he put it this way:

“Crime is still lurking as the biggest issue facing the city, and whether people ultimately will continue to approve of the mayor’s performance will ultimately be determined by how he’s perceived as handling crime.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It is truly amazing that voters concern over the corona virus has now eclipsed crime as the number one concern given the City and States crime statistics. It is fascinating to reflect on what the effects the pandemic is having on New Mexico’s most visible elected officials, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller.

GOVERNOR MITCHELL LUJAN GRISHAM

Governor Lujan Grisham has been in office less than two years of her 4 year term. It has been a remarkable roller coaster for her and the people of New Mexico. On January 1, 2019 when she was sworn into office, the state was on the rebound from the 10-year great recession. The Governor had one of the most productive 60 day legislative sessions in recent memory with the enactment of the largest budget in state history. As the year progressed, the New Mexico’s economy continued to improve with record revenues and surplus achieved as a result of an oil and gas production boom.

2020 also began with real promise of increased revenues. In 2020, the state was hit with two gut punches: the CORONA Virus and the oil industry went bust with revenues plummeting. State revenues were slashed with a vengeance to the point that the Governor was forced to call a special session to adjust and cut the 2020-2021 budget enacted.

Notwithstanding the impact the corona virus has had on the state, the voters it turns out elected the right person at the right time to be Governor with her background and experience during a pandemic. Her handling of the pandemic crisis and the states response under her leadership has likely saved many lives.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has been appointed to be on Joe Biden’s transition team, and if he is elected President it is likely she may not be here come January 1, 2021. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham could be offered a cabinet position. Lujan Grisham has said her main focus is New Mexico. However, according to the New York Times, should Biden win the election, Lujan Grisham has expressed interest in becoming Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. She served as the Secretary of the State Health Department under former Governor Bill Richardson.

https://www.krqe.com/news/latest-news/gov-lujan-grisham-shows-interest-in-possible-cabinet-seat-under-biden/

MAYOR TIM KELLER

Ever since Mayor Tim Keller assumed office on December 1, 2017, he has taken political showmanship to all new levels. Keller is known for his photo ops and press conferences, 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, press conferences and “fluff” videos on his FACEBOOK page all to the delight of his hard core supporters who heap praises on him.

Keller increased his public relations activities once the corona virus hit hard in February. Keller held daily news conferences as if competing with the Governor’s daily press conferences. He also took his public relations to another level and holds telephone “town halls meetings”. The “town hall” meetings are especially effective and consist of calling upwards of 13,000 people at one time on city compiled call lists likely prepared by the city’s 911 call center.

Keller’s 60% approval rating close to 3 years into his term makes him the automatic front runner as he seeks a second term. However, the cautionary statements made by the pollster that crime is still lurking as the biggest issue facing the city is compelling. In other words, Keller’s public relations actions have paid off for him for now, but that may be short lived.

At this point, the pandemic crisis has become a clear distraction from the city’s high crime rates. It is only a matter of time that crime will once again pushes aside all other concerns, especially if a vaccine is found for the Corona Virus. Today what is on people’s minds is the health threat from the pandemic, tomorrow it will be their concern for their safety living in a very violent city.

CONCLUSION

A Chinese curse is “May you live in interesting times.” 2021 will be an interesting year. It may be a year that there are seismic changes in our leaders from the highest office in the land of President, to the State with the departure of our Governor to the possible election of a new Mayor of Albuquerque. The are indeed interesting times in the political world of New Mexico politics.

GOP Senate Liars Club: A Power Grab That Will Last Generations And Destroy A Democracy

Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell within hours after the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg on September 19, vowed that President Donald Trump’s as-yet unnamed nominee to replace her will receive a full vote on the Senate floor “this year,” but he has been careful not to say exactly when that will happen. Democrats are accusing “Moscow Mitch” of blatant hypocrisy after McConnell refused to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, a full eight months before the 2016 election.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor Monday to remind McConnell of his own words hours after the February 2016 death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia when McConnell said: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

https://apnews.com/bb9932748b199f793cb2ccbefa713a5f

Moscow Mitch was not the only Republican to resist and oppose President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, a full eight months before the 2016 election. Following are comments made by the GOP Senate Liar’s Club 4 years ago:

In 2016, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas): “It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year.”

In 2016, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): “I don’t think we should be moving on a nominee in the last year of this president’s term – I would say that if it was a Republican president.”

In 2016, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.): “The very balance of our nation’s highest court is in serious jeopardy. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will do everything in my power to encourage the president and Senate leadership not to start this process until we hear from the American people.”

In 2016, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa): “A lifetime appointment that could dramatically impact individual freedoms and change the direction of the court for at least a generation is too important to get bogged down in politics. The American people shouldn’t be denied a voice.”

In 2016, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.): “The campaign is already under way. It is essential to the institution of the Senate and to the very health of our republic to not launch our nation into a partisan, divisive confirmation battle during the very same time the American people are casting their ballots to elect our next president.”

In 2016, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.): “In this election year, the American people will have an opportunity to have their say in the future direction of our country. For this reason, I believe the vacancy left open by Justice Antonin Scalia should not be filled until there is a new president.”

In 2016, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.): “The Senate should not confirm a new Supreme Court justice until we have a new president.”

2016, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Col.): “I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision.”

In 2016, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio): “I believe the best thing for the country is to trust the American people to weigh in on who should make a lifetime appointment that could reshape the Supreme Court for generations. This wouldn’t be unusual. It is common practice for the Senate to stop acting on lifetime appointments during the last year of a presidential term, and it’s been nearly 80 years since any president was permitted to immediately fill a vacancy that arose in a presidential election year.”

In 2016, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.): “I strongly agree that the American people should decide the future direction of the Supreme Court by their votes for president and the majority party in the U.S. Senate.”

BIGGEST LIAR OF THEM ALL

Then there is the biggest lair and hypocrite of them all, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham when he said in 2018:

“If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait to the next election.”

On September 21, Senator Lindsey Graham, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, said that Republicans have the votes to confirm a nominee to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat before the election:

“We got the votes to confirm Justice Ginsburg’s replacement before the election. We are going to move forward in the committee. We’re going to report the nomination out of the committee to the floor of the United States Senate so we can vote before the election. That’s the constitutional process. … The nominee is going to be supported by every Republican in the Judiciary Committee. “We’ve got the votes to confirm the justice on the floor of the Senate before the election and that’s what’s coming.”

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/graham-says-we-got-the-votes-to-confirm-scotus-nominee-before-election/

FOUR REPUBLCIAN VOTES NEEDED

Republicans hold slime 53-47 majority in the Senate and can confirm a justice by a simple majority. At least four Republicans would have break with the party to prevent a vote from coming to the floor because in case of a tie, Republican Vice President Mike Pence would vote.

Republican Main Senator Susan Collins said the day after Ginsburg’s death, said she does not support a vote before the election and said:

“Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election,” In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd.”

Republican Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said on Friday, September 18, before Ginsburg’s death was announced:

“I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50-some days away from an election.”

Murkowski followed up on Sunday, September 20 with a statement that she is opposed to voting and said:

“For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election. Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed. I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice Scalia. We are now even closer to the 2020 election — less than two months out — and I believe the same standard must apply.”

On Tuesday, September 22, Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said he supports voting to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court. Romney issued the following statement saying he would support moving forward.

“If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications.”

Romney’s announcement all but ensures President Trump has the backing needed to push the nomination over any Democratic objections.

TRUMP’S CHOICE

Trump said he intends to announce his choice to replace the late Justice Ginsburg on Saturday, September 26. Trump met with conservative Judge Federal Amy Coney Barrett who he appointed to the bench. On Monday, September 2, Trump told reporters he would interview other candidates and said he might meet with Judge when he travels to Florida. Without winning Florida, its likely Trump will lose the election. Both Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa are considered reliable conservatives who would be likely to set aside Roe v. Wade and rule the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional.

Trump expressed a preference for holding a vote on the nominee before the election and told reporters at the White House on Monday, September 21, before leaving for events in Ohio:

“I’d much rather have a vote before the election because there’s a lot of work to be done, and I’d much rather have it. … And we have plenty of time to do it.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Virtually ever single Republican Senator who successfully succeeded in blocking and preventing any vote to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland in the 2016 election year has now reversed themselves. All of them are falling all over themselves proclaiming it is their “duty to fill the vacancy” as soon as possible and before the November election and even before the President is sworn in on January 8.

No doubt the Republican Senate wants to make sure they create a super majority of conservatives on the 9 member Supreme Court to make sure it can rule that the 2020 election was rigged if Trump is not reelected to allow him to stay in power and to set aside the affordable care act when a case is presented in October. With a far-right conservative Supreme Court its likely Rowe v. Wade will be reversed abolishing a woman’s “right to choose”, any hope of setting aside and reversing Citizens United allowing billions to be spent in dark, corporate money to influence elections is gone and the Republican party, the minority party, will dominate the national agenda for generations.

This is nothing a power grab, pure, plain and simple. The only way to stop it is to vote straight Democrat and remove Trump and the entire GOP Liars Club from office.

APD Chief Medina Says In 2010 Interview He Authorized Use Of Deadly Force In Shooting Of Mentally ILL Ken Ellis; Interview Reveals Medina Is Part Of The Problem; APD Spokesman Gallegos Issues False Statements; Both Need To Go

This blog article is disclosure and an in-depth commentary and analysis of a January 13, 2010 interview of then APD Lieutenant Harold Medina regarding the shooting of 25-year-old veteran Ken Ellis who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and who was shot and killed by APD. The Ellis family sued the city for wrongful death. A jury returned a verdict finding the City and the officer who shot him liable for Ellis’ death and awarded more than $10 million in damages.

This blog article also reports on false statements and denials made by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos for the Keller Administration to discredit an opinion column of a former member of the Police Oversight Board in order to avoid public scrutiny of Internal Affairs files or the scrutiny of the homicide investigation file related to the Ken Ellis shooting.

Mayor Tim Keller has announced after appointing Harold Medina Interim APD Chief that he intends to conduct a national search for a new APD Chief. Keller has not announced if he intends to submit the appointment of Medina as Interim Chief to the City Council for their approval as he did with APD Chief Geier before he was made permanent after a national search.

JIM LARSON GUEST OPINION COLUMN

EDITOR’S NOTE: The policy of this blog is to first report on the news with sources and research material or to publish opinion columns written by others and provide COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS. Links to the blog posts are separately emailed to anyone who is mentioned or who may be interested in the column to allow people to freely challenge and question the accuracy of the blog article or disagree with what is published.

On September 16, the blog posted the guest opinion column authored and submitted by Jim Larson entitled “JIM LARSON GUEST COLUMN: “Mayor Keller Makes Major Mistake Appointing Interim Chief Who Created The Problem”; Do Authentic National Search And Allow New Chief To Replace Any Poorly Functioning Command Staff”.
The link to the Larson guest opinion column is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/09/16/jim-larson-guest-column-mayor-keller-makes-major-mistake-appointing-interim-chief-who-created-the-problem-do-authentic-national-search-and-allow-new-chief-to-replace-any-poor/

Mr. Larson in his lengthy opinion column opined in part:

“Harold Medina is the wrong person at the wrong time for the job of Interim Chief and Chief. Medina has no business being in charge of a police department that is still under a federal court approved settlement after the Department of Justice found a “culture of aggression” and a pattern of use of “deadly force”. Harold Medina was part of the problem then and with his negligent management he actually helped create, participated in, or at a minimum, did not stop the “culture of aggression”.

Mr. Larson’s opinion column went on to discuss Interim Chief’s Harold Medina’s past actions. It highlighted Medina’s involvement with the January 2010, killing of Kenneth Ellis, III. Underlying facts of the Ken Ellis officer involved shooting (OIS) include that APD suspected Ellis of vehicle theft and pulled him over in a parking lot. Ellis exited the vehicle holding a gun pointed to his head. Ellis continued to hold the gun to his head as he made several cell phone calls to others as police officers pleaded with him to put the gun down. After several minutes, an officer shot Ellis one time in the neck and killed him.

FIRST REPONSE FROM KELLER ADMINISTRATION

On September 16, at 2: 35 pm, the Larson guest column was published. The link to the Larson’s guest column was emailed to Mayor Tim Keller, Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair, Interim Chief Harold Medina and APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos. It was also sent to others in the Keller Administration as well as the Albuquerque City Council.

On September 16 , almost 3 hours later at 5:31 pm, the following email was sent by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos correcting the Larson guest opinion column as follows:

Pete,

Acting Chief Medina was never a lieutenant in SWAT and he was a Commander for tactical for 19 months, not 4 years. He was an LT with Property Crimes at the time of the 2010 OIS [officer involved shooting]. He was later Commander for Tactical, Southwest AC and Property before he retired.

Gilbert

CORRECTIONS MADE TO LARSON OPINION COLUMN

During the evening of September 16, in response to the information provided by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos, the blog article was corrected by author Jim Larson containing the information regarding Interim Chief Harold Medina’s work history and time period as an APD Lieutenant and Commander. The blog article corrections were then published the morning of September 17 at 9:00 am with the Editor’s Note pointing out the corrections. The Keller Administration was notified of the blog article changes by another email.

REQUEST FOR MEDINA INTERNAL AFFAIRS FILE

On September 16, at 10:18 am, the following email memo was sent to APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos:

TO: APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos
From: Pete Dinelli, Attorney at Law
CC: Mayor Tim Keller, CAO Sarita Nair, Interim Chief Harold Medina

Re: Corrected paragraphs to blog article; Request for release of Internal Affairs Investigations of Acting Chief Harold Medina regarding Kenneth Ellis Case; Request for confirmation of disciplinary action taken.

Mr. Gallegos:

Thank you for your email. I take your email as a request for a correction to the blog article published. To that end, your email was discussed with Mr. Larson and he made corrections.

Following is how Jim Larson’s original article read and now deleted paragraphs from the original published article:

MEDINA TAKES CHARGE OF SWAT

Records reflect that Lt. Medina was promoted to Commander and responsible for SWAT from 2011 to 2014. Harold Media was a either a Lieutenant in SWAT or Commander of SWAT from 2011 through 2014. Acting Chief Harold Medina was employed by APD for all five of the years of the DOJ review, and at least three of the five, in a supervisory or command level.

SWAT units are generally among the most highly trained in a police department. SWAT units are called upon to handle the most dangerous situations that police encounter and officers assigned to SWAT units typically operate under strict protocols and carry out operations in a highly planned and organized fashion.

However, in addition to the Kenneth Ellis shooting and killing, it was during the time Harold Medina was a SWAT Lieutenant or later as Commander of SWAT, that DOJ’s investigation also found: ….

Following are the amended paragraphs by Mr. Larson published based on your email:

MEDINA BECOMES APD COMMANDER

Acting Chief Harold Medina was employed by APD for all five of the years of the DOJ review, and at least four of the five, in a supervisory or command level. In January 2010, he was a lieutenant with Property Crimes and the officer in charge at the scene after officers suspected Kenneth Ellis of vehicle theft and pulled him over in a parking lot and later fatally shot him.

Acting Chief Medina later became the Commander for Tactical, which is identified by APD sources as the SWAT unit, where he served 19 months. He later served in the Southwest Area Command and Property Crimes before he retired from APD in 2014.

The DOJ’s investigation found:

“Other instances of officer recklessness that led to unreasonable uses of deadly force involved officers from the department’s SWAT unit who acted without proper discipline or control. In force incidents the DOJ reviewed, they found instances in which the SWAT unit did not operate with the discipline and control that would be expected of them, and this lack of discipline contributed to unreasonable uses of deadly force.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The original Larson opinion paragraphs were removed and the new paragraphs inserted on the blog. The Larson article published with corrected paragraphs can now be reviewed on the blog with the changes. In addition, the following request was made in the email:

REQUEST FOR INTERNAL AFFAIRS INVESTIGATION FILE

The purpose of this email is also to request information regarding Interim Chief Harold Medina. Please advise if Chief Medina was disciplined for any actions or inaction over the Kenneth Ellis shooting.

To that end, it is requested that Chief Medina and APD release the Internal Affairs investigation of the Kenneth Ellis officer involved shooting and disclose disciplinary action taken, if any, against Interim Chief Harold Medina. As the Interim Chief of APD, it is my belief that the information being requested needs to be disclosed to the public and the City Council in the event Mayor submits Chief Medina to the city council for approval as was Interim Chief Michael Geier before he was named permanent Chief.

Thank you for your attention. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Respectfully yours,

Pete Dinelli, Attorney at Law

SECOND RESPONSE FROM KELLER ADMINISTRATION

On September 17, at 5:19 pm, he following email was sent by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos:

In a message dated 9/17/2020 5:19:30 PM Mountain Standard Time, gilbertgallegos@cabq.gov writes:

Pete,

The opinion column you ran by Jim Larson is based on factually incorrect information. It’s pretty clear where he is getting that information, but that doesn’t make it accurate. The original and updated versions build a case primarily on one shooting. It’s appalling that Larson would assume Medina was a lieutenant with SWAT during that incident without attempting to verify the information. It wasn’t a mistake. He made that assumption because it fit the narrative Larson wants to convey. But it’s wrong. Even when I pointed out that it was wrong (you referred to it as a correction in the below email to me, but a clarification in your updated post), Larson attempts to lump Medina in with the “SWAT commanding officers” mentioned in the DOJ report. As I pointed out, Medina was not a SWAT commanding officer during that incident. So Larson’s answer to that factually incorrect information was to make a new assumption, when he says “Then Lieutenant Harold Medina was likely the ranking officer on the scene who should have been giving commands or approving the actions of the APD officers.” So, Larson replaces one assumption with another assumption, which allows him to continue with his narrative that Medina was somehow responsible. The fact is Medina was the lieutenant with Property Crimes. The operation that led to the traffic stop was a Field Services Bureau operation, not property crimes, and several officers and supervisors from FSB were already on scene. Then-Lt. Medina was not in charge of the scene. He was not in charge of FSB. He was not in charge of SWAT. He was not investigated, nor was he interviewed as part of the investigation into the shooting. I’m happy to ask Internal Affairs to track down a 10-year-old investigation. (Emphasis added with bold print.)

REQUEST FOR CONFIRMATION OF TRUTH FROM APD WITH NO REPONSE

On September 18, at 8:42 am, the following email was sent to APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos and copied to the Mayor and the CAO:

Date: 9/18/2020 8:41:52 AM Mountain Standard Time

September 18, 2020
To: APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos
From: Pete Dinelli, Attorney at Law
CC: Mayor Tim Keller, CAO Sarita Nair, Interim Chief Harold Medina, Jim Larson

Re: Request for Confirmation of statement made

Thank you for your Sept 17 email to me and your analysis and position on Mr. Larson’s opinion column. You state that Mr. Larson’s opinion column is “based on factually incorrect information” and proceed to provide a detailed analysis and rebuttal of the Larson opinion column.

I take the contents of your email as the position of the Keller Administration. For that reason, I am asking you to please attest and confirm the truthfulness of your own statements in your email to me where you say at the end “… Then Lt. Medina was not in charge of the scene. … He was not investigated, nor was he interviewed as part of the investigation into the shooting. … ”. I need your response to decide what follow up is in order on the blog, if any, to Mr. Larson’s column. Please respond as soon as possible.

By copy of this email I am advising the Mayor, the CAO and Mr. Larson of my request.

Respectfully yours,

Pete Dinelli, Attorney at Law

As of September 21, no response has been provided by the Keller Administration to the email requesting confirmation of the truthfulness of statements made by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos in the email sent.

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERIM APD CHIEF HAROLD MEDINA

A confidential source provided a copy of a 12-page transcribed interview taken on January 13, 2010 of then APD Lieutenant Harold Medina regarding his involvement in the officer involved shooting (OIS) and killing of Ken Ellis. The interview at the time was conducted by Homicide Detective Kevin Morant. Then APD Lieutenant Harold Medina was at the scene of the shooting, became in charge upon arrival and became “involved” with the attempted apprehension of the Kenneth Ellis. The APD Case number is AP 10 – 0041334.

The transcribed interview of Harold Median directly contradicts and establishes as false the statements made by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos that “… Then Lt. Medina was not in charge of the scene. … He was not investigated, nor was he interviewed as part of the investigation into the shooting. … ”

THE HAROLD MEDINA INTERVIEW

Following are the transcribed statements made by Harold Medina contained in his January 13, 2010 interview:

DETECTIVE MORANT: This is Detective Kevin Morant with the Albuquerque Homicide Unit. Today’s date [is] January 13th, 2010. The time is 1221 hours We are present at the intersection of Constitution and Westerfield. This is in reference to case number AP 10-0004134. This is an interview with — can you state your name for the record, please?

HAROLD MEDINA: Lieutenant Harold Medina.

…[ Personal information, date of birth redacted.]

DETECTIVE MORANT: … And what substation do you work out of?

HAROLD MEDINA: CIB … Property Crimes

DETECTIVE MORANT: So your out of the main [downtown headquarters]?

HAROLD MEDINA: Yes.

DETECTIVE MORANT: … All right. Just kind of start from the beginning, what you heard, what you observed, what you did, what you saw, … the whole spiel.

HAROLD MEDINA: “Early today, when the incident started, I was around 4ht street and I-40. I was headed to the northeast due to a joint tac plan between the impact teams, Southeast, Northeast and Foothills, where we were pursuing leads on property crime offenders. Also involved were my burglary unit and members of my auto theft unit and members of my burglary unit.

I was on my way up here when I heard the call come out. I was getting on the freeway … when I heard officers say that they needed backup reference a subject who was armed with a gun and holding the gun to his head … .

[At] this time they advised they needed a unit with a rifle. I did have a rifle with me, so I proceeded running code eastbound on I-40. … when I was getting off on Eubank, I heard 701, Lieutenant [officer named redacted] from the tactical section, advise they were monitoring the situation. And at this time I advised that it would probably be best if they went ahead and started units rolling our way, due to the fact that we did have a subject armed with a gun and that there was a situation that would probably best if we had tactical en route to immediately.

As I was going almost on scene, I asked where they needed me with the rifle. I don’t know if they ever answered, but at that information was coming out that they were at the 7-Eleven. As I pulled up, I saw the subject up against the east wall on the south end, holding a handgun to his head. I did notice that several officers were covering him. I did come up with my rifle because most of the officers were in the close proximity to the male subject with their hand guns. … I took up a position of cover behind the cream-colored Ford Taurus that’s parked just in front of my slick top unit.

I was back there with [officer named redacted] and I was trying to – me and [name redacted] were trying to ask Detective [named redacted] to see how we could get him back a little bit from the subject. But he didn’t have any cover to be able to get back … and give some space to the individual because he had just – – it was too dangerous to try and move him back.

So I moved forward to the rear end of the pickup truck. I was covering the subject from the back of the truck. … I was covering the subject from the rear of the truck. … I tried to get better cover, so I went down to the ground. I tried to take a – – get a good position of cover from there, but it still left me too exposed.

So when I was too exposed, I came back up, and as I was coming back up, I saw that the individual had taken the gun away from his head for a brief second. And at that point I would have utilized deadly force, but I was in a position of moving. By the time I came up, the subject was — had already put the gun back to his head.

And the reason I say I would have used deadly force is because, when the gun came down, there was officers all around and at that point, when the gun came away from his head, he easily was covering somebody at that point with all the officers around.

I realized that a lot of the officers were in that close proximity and if that happened again, that deadly force would be justified. … I started to move towards the front of the truck and told [officer name redacted] that if the gun came away from the subject’s head again and that in any – and it veered towards any of the officers, that we needed to use deadly force.

At that time, I heard a single gunshot. The subject fell to the ground. Initially, at first, we thought the subject had taken his own life. Then as we were clearing the subject, I walked up to the subject, covering him, and I got blood on my boots, when I was trying to just scoot the gun away from him. But I was trying to scoot it carefully because I could see that the hammer was cocked and the gun was loaded, so I was trying to make sure that we didn’t have an accidental discharge as we were getting it away from his body.

As soon as we got it away from his body an unknown officer came up and said, “Hey, one of us may have fired a round.” And at that point somebody showed me a .45 shell casing next to a truck in front of the Fina on the rear passenger tire.

I asked an officer to secure and remain with that until the scene was secure and we started dividing, trying to get witnesses secured and securing the scene. And as soon as acting- Commander [named redacted] arrived on the scene, he assumed the role of incident commander due to the fact that I had involvement, and at that point it was turned over to everybody else.

There was a dialogue between the subject and officers were trying to talk with him. But I – from where I was, I couldn’t see exactly what they were talking about.

No [I could not hear what they were saying]. It was, I mean, a lot of people yelling back and forth. Like I said, I was trying to move into position. And I heard officers tell him several time, you know, “Put down the gun. We can talk about this. Put the gun down. We can talk about this.” And the subject was refusing to obey the officers’ commands.

Like I stated, like probably about less than ten seconds before the shot was fired, the gun did come away from his head, which was a potential deadly threat to the officers on the scene.

… [The .45 casing found] … was on the other side of a truck that’s in front of the Fina and it was laying right next to the tire.


He had a handgun. It appeared to be a single action of some sort, or he had cocked it. I could just – I could see that the hammer was cocked back. Black handgun with a wooden gripe.

[I am pretty sure that the .45 casing did not come from his gun because] It’s too far. … There’s no way it could have been ejected and landed where it landed.

… Yeah [as to being asked if any of the officers had fired] … And at one point, they told me that it was possible [named redacted] had fired. And then he was with a buddy officer already. And then he was secured in the vehicle. I secured my firearm, my rifle in the back seat of my car until criminalistics took it.”
No [there is nothing else I can think of.]

DETECTIVE MORANT: … So at least on one occasion you saw the guy take the gun away from his head, kind of scan over where the officers were and then you gave the command that if he did that again, deadly force was authorized?

HAROLD MEDINA: I gave it to [officer name redacted]. I didn’t want to yell the information out. … And if the guy was potentially contemplating – thinking suicide by cop, I didn’t want to give him the out and let him know hey, just pull the gun away and then kind of veer in the direction of the officers, and then we’re forced to shoot him. So that’s why I came to up [officer name redacted] and I told him, “Look, [officer named redacted] if he takes the gun away from his head and it’s going in the direction of an officer, deadly force would be authorized.

DETECTIVE MORANT: … So you just told this to [officer name redacted]? … You didn’t say that over the air?

HAROLD MEDINA: No, I didn’t say that over the air. Because I didn’t want the guy to hear it and then all of a sudden have an out as to well, this is how I could kill myself.

DETECTIVE MORANT: Okay. So he was actually close enough to to the officers where he could hear their radios, their radio broadcasts? … Because you said that he — you said earlier that the officers were in proximity to him.

HAROLD MEDINA: Yeah. They were on the other side of the truck. So probably about 20, 25 feet. I don’t know if people’s radio were on or not. … I wasn’t paying attention to the radio. I was trying to focus on what we had going on there.

DETECTIVE MORANT: … when you went up to the body, to secure the gun and to look at this guy, did you happen to see where he had been shot?

HAROLD MEDINA: No. When he got hit, I saw when he got hit and it appeared he may have gotten hit in the head. … And it seemed like that’s where the blood initially sprung from. That’s what it appeared like.

DETECTIVE MORANT: … Anything else that you can think of?

HAROLD MEDINA: No, nothing else.

DETECTIVE MORANT: … This concludes the interview. The time is 12:31.

NOT THE FIRST TIME MEDINA HAS HAD TRAGIC INTERACTION WITH MENTALLY ILL

Interim Chief Harold Medina has the tragic distinction of shooting and killing a 14-year-old Cibola High School student in 2004 when Medina was an APD field officer. At the time of the shooting, Harold Medina was 30 years old and was a seven-and-a-half-year veteran of APD.

According to news accounts, 14-year-old Dominic Montoya went to Taylor Ranch Baptist Church looking to pray. Montoya was reported as saying he was possessed by demons and went to church for help. Some one noticed the teenager was concealing a weapon and APD was called.

It turned out it Dominic Montoya had a BB gun and when APD showed up, the 14-year-old was fatally shot by police after pointing the BB gun at the officers. It was APD Officer Harold Medina who fired 3 shots at the 14-year-old, Cibola High School Student, with two hitting the juvenile in the abdomen. It was reported that the BB gun was indistinguishable from a real gun. Officer Harold Medina said he was in fear for his life.

https://apnews.com/41e13a7f6393b3ea5b92ccfadae5ccd6″>https://apnews.com/41e13a7f6393b3ea5b92ccfadae5ccd6″>https://apnews.com/41e13a7f6393b3ea5b92ccfadae5ccd6

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE INVESTIGATION

On April 10, 2014, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Rights Division, submitted a scathing 46-page investigation report on an 18-month civil rights investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). The investigation was conducted jointly by the DOJ’s Washington Office Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico.
The link to the DOJ investigation report is here.

https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/crt/legacy/2014/04/10/apd_findings_4-10-14.pdf

The DOJ reviewed all fatal shootings by officers between 2009 and 2012, including the Ken Ellis case, and found that officers were not justified under federal law in using deadly force in the majority of those incidents. The DOJ found APD failed to use deescalating tactics when encountering the mentally ill. The DOJ found APD police officers too often used deadly force in an unconstitutional manner in their use of firearms. Officers used deadly force against people who posed a minimal threat, including individuals who posed a threat only to themselves or who were unarmed. Officers also used deadly force in situations where the conduct of the officers heightened the danger and contributed to the need to use force.

A significant number of the use of force cases reviewed involved persons suffering from acute mental illness and who were having a mental health crisis, such as Ken Ellis. The investigation found APD’s policies, training, and supervision were insufficient to ensure that officers encountering people with mental illness or in distress do so in a manner that respected their rights and in a manner that was safe for all involved.

What differentiates the DOJ’s investigation of APD from the 17 other federal investigations of police departments and consent decrees is that the other consent decrees involve in one form or another the finding of “racial profiling” and use of excessive force or deadly force against minorities. The DOJ’s finding of a “culture of aggression” within APD dealt with APD’s interactions and responses to suspects that were mentally ill and that were having psychotic episodes.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The January 13, 2010 interview of Harold Medina occurred within hours and at the scene of the shooting on the day of the killing of Ken Ellis. The time of the interview substantially increases the accuracy of Medina’s recollection of what happened that tragic day for Ken Ellis.

Medina inserted himself into the Ken Ellis encounter by APD. At the beginning of the interview, Medina makes it clear he worked at the downtown headquarters, he left the station and was heading to a “tact” plan involving his “burglary unit and members of [his] auto theft unit and members of [his] burglary unit.” and his impact teams he supervised. However, he was not part of the personnel assigned to implement the “tact” plan but it was the units he supervised that were implementing the “tact” plan. When Medina heard the call over the police radio scanner, he was not being dispatched to the call. Medina took it upon himself to go to the scene and to provide a rifle and his assistance.

As a Lieutenant, his role should have been observation and command, not giving orders as he did to subordinates. Lieutenant Harold Medina on his way to the scene called out the SWAT unit when he communicated with the SWAT Lieutenant over the radio and asked that SWAT be sent to the scene. Medina did not wait for SWAT to arrive. Instead, he escalated the incident by participating and acting essentially as a sniper when he took a position on the ground armed with his rifle.

Harold Medina establishes in his interview that he took charge of the scene upon his arrival as the ranking office by giving commands to officers. Once Medina arrived on the scene, he became the highest-ranking officer and under APD standard operating procedure he had the authority to assume control and give orders which he did. Towards the end of the interview, Median says “I asked an officer to secure and remain with that until the scene was secure and we started dividing, trying to get witnesses secured and securing the scene.” This statement alone establishes that Medina assumed the role of being in charge of the scene.

Medina also had the authority to authorize the use of deadly force to the sworn officers’ present, which he admitted he did to at least one officer. According to Medina, tensions were high at the scene and he says he did not want to broadcast information or orders over the radio to those under his command. What is clear is that Lieutenant Harold Medina himself was willing and able to use deadly force by use of his rifle, taking a position on the ground and “covering the subject” in order to fire his rifle when he felt it was necessary. Medina authorized at least one officer to use deadly force. Medina also makes it clear he was prepared to use deadly force himself on Ken Ellis.

The most critical fact is that it was Medina who authorized the use of deadly force by the officers who were under his command resulting in the killing of Ken Ellis. Medina did not order the use of de-escalation tactics. Medina did not order that his officers stand down. Medina did not order the officers to take safe cover. Medina did not order that the officers back up and secure the area. Medina did not order the use of anything less than deadly force. Medina did not order those under his command interacting with Ken Ellis to wait for a crisis unit to arrive at the scene or the SWAT unit he had requested.

After Ken Ellis was shot dead, police officers at the scene approached Lieutenant Medina to tell him that they thought a specifically identified officer had fired the shot that killed Ellis. Further Medina noted the location of the shell. Both facts in part show that Medina believed he was the officer in charge of the scene.

As soon as the Acting Area Commander for the NE Heights Area Command arrived on the scene, and Ken Ellis was already dead, Medina quickly relinquished the scene to the arriving Area Commander which Medina was required to do under standard operating procedures. The Acting Area commander assumed Medina’s role of incident commander. Medina in his own words gave the excuse that he “had involvement” with the shooting and “at that point it was turned over to everybody else.” The actions by Medina at the scene of the shooting before the Acting Area Commander arrived was a failure of leadership.

Medina’s was clearly the highest ranking officer at the scene once he arrived and he was giving commands, which escalated the situation. His actions of deploying his rifle and “covering the subject” crossed the line making him into a player, or participant, while at the same time he was a supervisor. The fallacy is that there is a denial he was in charge of the scene as the incident was evolving and in the interview he admits he was in charge. Turning over command to another after the killing does not absolve Medina for his conduct and he needs to be held responsible for his actions or failure to act. Turning command over to another after the killing of Ken Ellis does not mean he can avoid being held responsible for the orders he gave, or did not give, that resulted in the shooting death of Ken Ellis.

A jury returned a verdict finding the City and the officer who shot and killed Ken Ellis was liable for Ellis’ death and awarded more than $10 million in damages. Negligent supervision of the officer and training was likely a contributing factor in the case for the jury to make such a large award.

It is unknown if any disciplinary action was taken against Lieutenant Harold Medina for his actions, or his failure to act, during the Kenneth Ellis Officer involved shooting case.

MEDINA PART OF THE PROBLEM

The Kenneth Ellis shooting was among several APD officer involved shooting cases that contributed to the launch of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) into whether APD had a pattern of violating people’s civil rights, specifically through the use of force and deadly force involving the mentally ill. APD SWAT was involved with many of the police shootings investigated by the DOJ. The City and APD entered into a Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) that mandated 270 reforms. Among those reforms included training in de escalation tactics when dealing with the mentally ill in crisis such as Ken Ellis.

Interim Chief Harold Medina is part of the very problem that brought the Department of Justice (DOJ) here in the first place. It was the past APD management practices that resulted in the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice that lead to the federal consent decree after 18 police officer involved shootings and the findings of excessive use of force and deadly force by APD. The litany of cases includes 4 Cases where $21.7 Million was paid for APD’s excessive use of force and deadly force and $64 Million for 42 police officer shootings in 10 years. A link to a related blog is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2019/06/18/four-cases-21-7-million-paid-for-apds-excessive-use-of-force-and-deadly-force-64-million-for-42-police-officer-shootings-in-10-years-apd-evolves-with-casa-reforms-training-and-incre/

Any one in APD command staff who may have assisted, contributed or who did not stop the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice and who have resisted the reform process has no business being APD Chief or Deputy for that matter. It is not at all likely, despite whatever public comments he makes, that Interim APD Chief Medina will ever get behind the Federal mandated reforms which should disqualify him from being the interim APD Chief and for that matter the new permanent Chief.

Recently it was reported that the number of policies violated at the Albuquerque Police Department skyrocketed by 275% and suspensions jumped more than 350%. Interim police chief Harold Medina said the Albuquerque Police Department is now holding officers accountable when they need to be held accountable. Harold Medina himself, now that he is Chief, is the very last one that should be holding people accountable for failed leadership given his involvement with the killing of Ken Ellis.

https://www.koat.com/article/five-times-more-apd-employees-have-been-fired-in-the-past-year/34064416

https://www.abqjournal.com/1497888/report-albuquerque-police-misconduct-cases-skyrocket.html

REMOVE GILBERT GALLEGOS AS APD SPOKESMAN

Another person who needs to be held accountable for his false and misleading statements is APD Spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos. When Gallegos said in his email “… Then Lt. Medina was not in charge of the scene. … He was not investigated, nor was he interviewed as part of the investigation into the shooting. … ” it fair to assume as APD Spokesman Gallegos cleared his response with either Interim Chief Harold Medina, CAO Sarita Nair, Mayor Tim Keller or all three. No one knows for sure who wrote the response other than them.

When APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos sent the email giving an analysis and position on Mr. Larson’s opinion column and ending it with the sarcastic comment “I’m happy to ask Internal Affairs to track down a 10-year-old investigation” it reflects that Gallegos is just plain lazy or failed to do his job by finding out the truth or was lying or he had already been told by Medina about what happened or read Medina’s interview and he already knew Medina’s involvement with the Ellis shooting.

The remark also confirms Mr. Gallego’s reputation for distraction, delay, and misleading the general public and just being an arrogant and disrespectful smart ass given the fact that the Internal Affairs investigation file had already been requested and he was only offering to find someone else to find it. The Keller Administration has failed to turn over Internal Affairs files regarding any recommended and imposed disciplinary action against Lt. Medina for his actions at the Ken Ellis shooting.

Least anyone forget, it was APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos who was at the center of the controversy in which APD deleted a TWEET from its official account that quoted Chief Geier calling the police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where and African American was shot in the back 7 times by a police officer, as “senseless.” Chief Geier later claimed he was not aware of the shooting and said he would not have issued the statement without knowing all the facts surrounding the shooting.

Department Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos later admitted he was the one who wrote and sent the TWEET without Geier’s approval. When a city councilor asked CAO Sarita Nair about the TWEET at a council meeting, Nair said that it was “uncommon” to quote officials without their permission. Nair said that APD Spokesman Gallegos had “stepped up to take accountability for that very human mistake.” Gallegos was never disciplined for his nefarious conduct. One thing is for certain, Gallegos lacks credibility and should be removed as a spokesperson for APD.

CLEAN SWEEP OF APD HIGH COMMAND REQUIRED

When candidate Keller was running for Mayor, he promised sweeping changes with APD, a national search for a new APD Chief and a return to Community based policing. During Mayor Tim Keller’s first 8 months in office, Keller did not make the dramatic management changes he promised. Keller appointed APD retired past management of the department and past practices. The appointed Chief and Deputy Chiefs are not outsiders at all but have been with APD for a number of years and are eligible for retirement.

APD leadership and management is crumbling around Mayor Tim Keller who is failing to keep his campaign promises of reducing high crime rates, returning to community-based policing, increasing the size of APD and implementing the DOJ reforms. The abrupt departure of Chief Geier no doubt will have an impact on implementing the DOJ mandated reforms as will the appointment of Harold Medina as interim Chief.

Mayor Keller is now faced with the very difficult task of finding and hiring a new APD Chief 14 months before the election for Mayor. That may not happen because of the possibility that person may also be out of a job if Keller is not reelected. APD needs a clean sweep in management and philosophy to remove anyone who may have assisted, contributed or who did not stop the culture of aggression found by the Department of Justice and who have resisted the reform process during the last 3 years of the consent decree, including Harold Medina.

Keller’s “new” and installed APD Deputies are a reflection of APD’s past and all have been with APD for some time. APD’s current command staff are not a new generation of police officer fully committed and trained in constitutional policing practices and they should be removed. Mayor Keller also needs to remove APD spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos before he is caught again for lying or misleading the public. Then again, Keller’s leadership reaction time is as slow as watching paint dry seeing as he waited 2 years and 9 months into his 4-year term to replace Chief Geier.

Perhaps the time has come for voters to also change Mayor because his job performance with APD management is just not cutting it.

“Operation Legend” Update; $9.7 Million Grant Is Reimbursement Grant, Not Allocation Grant; US Attorney Anderson: “Albuquerque, We Have a problem!”

On August 28, U.S. Attorney for New Mexico John Anderson reported that in a little over a month since federal agents arrived in Albuquerque as part of Operation Legend, 19 violent felons have been arrested on federal charges. According to Anderson, it is just a small number of people driving the majority of violent crime in Albuquerque, and their goal is to get those people off the streets. The Department of Justice (DOJ), including the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), is targeting people with lengthy and violent criminal histories and convicted felons accused of crimes like carjacking, illegally shooting guns and drug dealing.

U.S. Attorney for New Mexico John Anderson had this to say:

“Operation Legend is about combating dangerous crime and gun crime in our cities. … It’s not about policing any kind of protest in our city. It’s not about immigration enforcement. … We are really looking at the people who are driving the violent crime epidemic in Albuquerque. … We are looking to remove the most violent folks from communities, not simply rack up arrest numbers of people who do not have serious criminal histories. … There are more cases on which prosecution has been initiated, but I can’t say more about them because they are under [court] seal. … More than anything, I hope to see reduction in violent crime and people feeling safer living and working in the city.”

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE NEWS RELEASE

On September 4, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), issued a press release giving an update on the number of people charged since Operation Legend was deployed in Albuquerque in July.

The DOJ news release reports that between July 22 and August 31, at least 35 people have been charged predominantly largely on gun and drug-related offenses. U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson identified 16 of the 35 people arrested and had this to say in the DOJ press release:

“By coordinating federal resources with state and local law enforcement, we’ve been able to identify, apprehend and prosecute individuals driving dangerous crime in the city. We can see from the charges brought under Operation Legend that we have been effective in meeting our objectives and we intend to continue this trend.”

According to the DOJ press release, the number of suspects and charged include:

19 charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
16 charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
10 charged with being in possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.
9 charged with distribution of controlled substances.
8 charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
5 charged with Hobbs Act violations.
4 charged with being in possession of a stolen firearm.
3 charged with brandishing of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime.
One each charged with carjacking, reentry of a removed alien; discharging a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime; and maintaining a drug-involved premises.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1493124/feds-reveal-slew-of-charges-related-to-operation-legend.html

OPERATION LENGEND $9.7 MILLION GRANT IS REIMBURSEMENT GRANT

Included in Operation Legend is $9.7 million to the city to hire 40 police officers and pay entry level salaries for a 3-year period. The grant money is from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and was offered to the city after DOJ announced Operation Relentless Pursuit. The grant pays for entry-level salaries for 40 police officers for three years after which the city must find funding to continue paying for the entry level positions.

A big catch to the grant money is that it is not advanced in single lump sum to the city to pay for police officers’ salaries. In a September 8 presentation to the H. Vern Payne Inn of Court, United State Attorney John Anderson said the grant is a “reimbursement grant” meaning that the city will be “reimbursed” for money spent only after the entry level officers are hired. The downside to reimbursement is that the city first must recruit entry level police officers and only after those officers actually go to work will the federal grant money be advanced to reimburse the City.

The city is having difficulty recruiting police officers with money that is already in the city budget. Last year’s 2018-2019 fiscal year budget provided for increasing APD funding from 1,000 sworn police to 1,040. This year’s 2019-2020 fiscal year budget had funding for 1,040 sworn police and the same amount is being earmarked in the 2020-2021 fiscal year budget. Notwithstanding all the money spent, APD is struggling to grow to the department personnel levels promised by Mayor Tim Keller to 1,200 sworn police, crime is still spiking and APD is under the DOJ consent decree where 61 sworn police are assigned to the the compliance bureau deal with the DOJ mandated reforms. As of August 18, APD has 984 sworn police officers but only 532 of those officers are assigned to the field services, divided between 3 separate shifts, in the six Area Commands to patrol the entire city and take calls for service.

APD STILL UNDER DOJ CONSENT DECREE

Another matter that must be worked out is a memorandum of understanding as to what role and under what restraints will APD Officers assigned to Operation Legend be allowed to work. APD is one of 18 police departments in the country under a federal court consent degree that imposes restrictions on police officer practices and mandates constitutional policing practices. According to the enacted city council resolution, the grant will pay 100% of entry-level salaries and benefits of newly hired or re-hired full-time sworn career officers over a period of 3 years but more experienced officers would then join the Operation Legend Federal task force.

Law enforcement participants with Operation Legend in Albuquerque include the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) , and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and perhaps United States Customs. None of these law enforcement agencies are required to follow the DOJ consent decree when arrests are made as is APD. Any memorandum of understanding should include specific duties and responsibilities of assigned APD officers to avoid any confusion as to the DOJ Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

CITY APPLIES FOR GRANT

On September 3, it was reported that Albuquerque’s “immigrant-friendly” policies will not block the city’s application for $9.7 million in federal grant money to hire 40 new officers and pay their salaries for three years. Mayor Tim Keller said there is not an issue in the city applying for the grant money. APD city has 984 sworn officers on duty with 60 cadets in the APD academy that should graduate by the end of the year. Mayor Keller wants to meet a goal of 1,100 officers by the end of the year and that may not happen. The problem is that the number of APD Officers retiring at the end of the year will also have to be replaced by the APD Academy graduating cadet class. The APD Academy has a history of not graduating enough to keep up with retirements.

Initially, Mayor Keller said the city would reject the $9.7 million grant taking issue with a number of the provisions within the grant and the “memorandum of understanding” needed for the award of the grant money. Sections of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the city and the Department of Justice deal with immigration status.

The MOU the city is required to sign allows for an audit of city employee forms to determine whether the workers are legally in the United States. Another section requires the city to share immigration information collected by city departments, including APD, but the city does not collect immigration information. Further, there is no requirement in the grant application that APD officers inquire about a person’s immigration status during the normal course of their duties.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1492420/city-to-seek-federal-help-in-boosting-apd.html

COUNCIL VOTES TO ACCEPT GRANT MONEY, QUESTIONS REMAIN

On Wednesday, September 9, the Albuquerque City Council voted to accept the $9.7 grant money from Operation Legend. The Keller administration will now proceed with plans to finalize approval of the grant with a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

But Albuquerque still may not get the money any time soon due to its status as an immigrant-friendly city.

In February, the U.S. Attorney for New Mexico, John Anderson, pointed out that one of the conditions of the grant funding is that the city complies with a provision in federal law that bars municipalities from prohibiting employees from sharing information about an individual’s immigration status with federal law enforcement. Anderson said at the time in order to receive the $9.7 million, the city has to certify that it complies with that law and if the city is a “Sanctuary City” it would not qualify for the grant money.

SANCTUARY CITY VERSUS SYMBOLIC IMMIGRANT FRIENDLY CITY

The award and acceptance of the $9.7 Million Federal grant has been politicized by those that falsely claim that Albuquerque is a “Sanctuary City”. The truth is, Albuquerque has never been a “Sanctuary City”. In 2001, the Albuquerque City Council enacted a resolution that declared Albuquerque an “immigrant friendly” city. The designation as an “immigrant friendly city” is largely symbolic.

A “sanctuary city” denies cooperation with federal immigration officials and does not use city law enforcement resources to identify or apprehend illegal immigrants and does not use city law enforcement resources to enforce immigration laws.

An “immigrant friendly” city is one that implements “welcoming city” policies and does not provide for city enforcement of federal immigration laws and addresses only city services including licensing and housing and the focus is to create inclusive, immigrant friendly and welcoming policies. and is largely symbolic.

In February, 2017, the City Council enacted a symbolic memorial that reaffirmed that Albuquerque’s “immigrant friendly” status, but it did not make Albuquerque a “sanctuary city”. Many who are in the United States without legal immigration status and who do not engage in criminal conduct are often preyed upon by others and do not report they have been victimized to avoid deportation. As a memorial, the legislation is not law, but an expression of support to extend city services to those who are afraid to ask for help out of fear of being reported to immigration authorities for deportation.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/money-offered-to-albuquerque-for-operation-legend-in-limbo/5843251/

COURT ACTIONS AND RULINGS

The city has not signed the grant funding agreement. The city attorney’s office takes the position that Albuquerque is not a “sanctuary city” as defined under the federal law, and that the city’s immigrant-friendly resolution does not violate the law in question. The city is prepared to go to court if it becomes an issue with the DOJ.

Recent Federal court rulings support that the city is on solid ground and would likely prevail once it accepts the grant money and if the DOJ challenges the award and demands reimbursement. A Federal District Judge in a recent court ruling in California sided with the city of San Francisco against U.S. Attorney General William Barr on the same issue, as well as other court rulings and legal interpretations of the federal law and the city’s resolution.

Albuquerque Assistant City Attorney had this to say:

“When you look at 8 U.S.C. § 1373, it says, notwithstanding any provision of law, the local government entity or official may not prohibit or restrict any government entity or official from sending to or receiving from the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or the immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual. … It’s solely those two things: citizenship or immigration status. … The court said California’s policy did not prohibit sending to or receiving from the Immigration and Naturalization Service citizenship or immigration status. It prohibited other things, like place of birth, or national origin. That is consistent with how our ordinance is written.”

The City also is taking the position that because the city does not ask for or collect individuals’ immigration or citizenship status, it has nothing to share with the federal government.

In 2019, a Federal Judge in Illinois ruled against U.S. Attorney General Barr, finding he cannot require compliance with statutes related to immigration law as a condition of a different federal grant. That case was filed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, of which Albuquerque is part, and the city has received money from a grant in relation to that ruling.

In 2018, the Albuquerque was awarded a federal grant of $452,108 for a Crime Gun Intelligence center to improve its ability to investigate shootings. The City has not received the grant money due to the same conditions attached to the $9.7 million COPS office grant. In April, the city filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Barr asking a judge to declare the immigration conditions attached to the Gun Intelligence Center grant unlawful and to give the city the money and the case is still pending.

A link to news coverage is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1495632/council-signs-off-on-cops-grant-but-questions-remain.html

DOJ POSITION

In March, U.S. Attorney John Anderson wrote then APD Chief Michael Geir and said his office could not include a provision the city wanted to insert in a memorandum of understanding that stated its policies comply with the federal immigration law. Anderson wrote:

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is not in a position to offer [APD] or the City an advisory legal opinion with respect to the scope and meaning of City policies and resolutions, or their compliance with federal law. ”

When asked directly whether the Department of Justice (DOJ) believes the city’s immigrant-friendly ordinance clashes with the grant’s conditions, Anderson had this to say:

“The City’s April 24, 2018, resolution provides that nothing in the ‘resolution shall be construed or implemented to conflict with any valid and enforceable duty or obligation imposed by … any federal … law.’ Title 8 U.S.C. § 1373 is a valid federal law and the DOJ obviously views it as such.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1495632/council-signs-off-on-cops-grant-but-questions-remain.html

ALBUQUERQUE, WE HAVE A METH PROBLEM

According to United State Attorney John Anderson, the 35 federal agents assigned to Albuquerque under Operation Legend will remain until at least the end of September. At that point, the DOJ will re-evaluate violent crime rates and stay longer if needed.

Anderson is saying the drug battle on the border is shifting and New Mexico’s growing meth problem is being fueled by criminal operations in Mexico. Anderson credits the rise in cheap and available meth for driving Albuquerque’s crime crisis and had this to say:

“For many areas [in] our country including New Mexico, I see meth as being the number one public safety threat in that respect as a driver of violent crime. … This is not a soft drug. … It’s a drug that’s associated with violence both in the use of it and the trafficking. I think it’s the cost and it’s also a function that the fact that tremendously greater amounts of it are being produced in what we call the super labs in Mexico. I think for many years our meth was made locally, was made in much smaller quantities. That has largely been eclipsed by the mass production and cheap production that we’re seeing coming from Mexico.”

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) , New Mexico’s meth problem is getting worse with federal authorities seizing larger amounts of drugs in the state. In New Mexico, 2020 is on track to surpass 2019 and 2018 for total meth seizures coming from Mexico. Anderson said his office is working closely with the DEA to intercept drugs being funneled into the country. They’re also working with Mexican authorities to shut down super labs.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/us-attorney-general-blames-mexican-lsquosuperlabsrsquo-for-new-mexicorsquos-growing-violent-crime/5846804/?cat=500

CITY’S CRIME RATES

Operation Legend is a major crackdown aimed at driving down violent crime in 7 of the nation’s most violent cities in the country. Not at all surprising, Albuquerque is one of those cities. The other 6 cities are Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Memphis and Milwaukee. All 7 cities have violent crime rates significantly higher and above the national average. FBI statistics reveal that Albuquerque has the dubious distinction of having a crime rate about 194% higher than the national average. The fact that Albuquerque is one of the 7 cities involved with Operation Legend merits a review of the city’s spiking crime rates.

On Thursday, July 2, 2020, APD officials held a press conference to release the Albuquerque crime statistics for 2019. A report on the city’s crime statistics had not occurred for over a year because it was discovered that Mayor Keller during his first 18 months in office had disseminated false statistics as a result of a change in computer software categories to comply with FBI crime reporting.

ABQ’S CRIME STATISTICS UNDER MAYOR KELLER

A synopsis of the statics during Mayor Tim Keller’s tenure is in order. It must be noted the categories were changed in 2018 to comply with new FBI crime reporting categories.

HOMICIDES

In 2018, during Mayor Keller’s first full year in office, there were 69 homicides.
In 2019, during Mayor Keller’s second full year in office, there were 82 homicides. Albuquerque had more homicides in 2019 than in any other year in the city’s history. The previous high was 72, in 2017 under Mayor RJ Berry. Another high mark was in 1996, when the city had 70 homicides. On September 3, it was reported that the city had its 53 homicide in 2020

https://www.abqjournal.com/1405615/apd-reports-record-82-homicides-for-2019.html#:~:text=Gilbert%20Gallegos%2C%20a%20police%20spokesman,high%20was%2072%2C%20in%202017.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1491404/state-city-leaders-play-politics-with-public-safety.html

VIOLENT CRIMES

In 2017, during Mayor RJ Berry’s last full year in office, there were 7,686 VIOLENT CRIMES. There were 4,213 Aggravated Assaults and 470 Non-Fatal Shootings.

In 2018 during Mayor Keller’ first full year in office, there were 6,789 violent crimes There were 3,885 Aggravated Assaults and 491 Non-Fatal Shootings.

https://www.petedinelli.com/2019/11/21/city-matches-homicide-record-high-of-72-murders-mayor-keller-forced-to-defend-policies-makes-more-promises-asks-for-more-money/

In 2019, the category of “Violent Crimes” was replaced with the category of “Crimes Against Persons” and the category includes homicide, human trafficking, kidnapping and assault.
In 2019 during Keller’s second full year in office, Crimes Against Persons increased from 14,845 to 14,971, or a 1% increase. The Crimes Against Person category had the biggest rises in Aggravated Assaults increasing from 5,179 to 5,397.

DRUG OFFENSES

“Crimes Against Society” include drug offenses, prostitution and animal cruelty.

In 2018 During Keller’s first full year in office, total Crimes Against Society were 3,365.

In 2019 during Keller’s second full year in office, total Crimes Against Society increased to 3,711 for a total increase of 346 more crimes or a 9% increase.

AUTO THEFTS

On June 26, 2019 the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) released its annual list of cities with the most stolen vehicles reported. Despite a 28% reduction in auto thefts over a two-year period, Albuquerque ranked No. 1 in the nation for vehicle thefts per capita for the third year in a row.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2019/06/27/these-are-the-cities-with-the-highest-car-theft-rates/#7c42e7d35146

On July 30, 2020, as reported above, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that Albuquerque is now ranked #2 in the nation for auto theft.

OVERALL CRIME

Overall Crime decreased in 2019. The reduction was driven by “Crimes Against Property” which include burglary, fraud, robbery and motor vehicle theft. Between 2018 and 2019, there was a single digit 7% drop, not a double digit drop as reported by Keller, in overall crime, from 75,538 incidents to 70,223.

CRIMES AGAINST PERSONS

Crimes against persons include homicide, human trafficking, kidnapping and assault, remained constant.

Crimes Against Persons increased from 14,845 to 14,971, or a 1% increase. The Crimes Against Person category had the biggest rises of the 3 categories as follows:

Aggravated Assaults increased from 5,179 to 5,397.
In Homicide Offenses, justifiable homicides decreased from 16 to 6
There was a rise in “Negligent Manslaughter” from 3 to 8.
Statutory rape jumped from 1 incident to 10 incidents.

There were 80 murders reported in 2019, compared to 69 to 2018, both years Keller has been in office. As of August 18, there have been 55 homicides in Albquerque with the city on tract to break the all time record once again.

CRIMES AGAINST SOCIETY

Crimes Against Society include drug offenses, prostitution and animal cruelty.
In 2018 During Keller’s first full year in office, total Crimes Against Society were 3,365 and increased 2019 during his second year to 3,711 for a total increase of 346 more crimes or a 9% increase. Crimes Against Society had the biggest jumps in drug offenses, from 2,515 to 2,796. Animal Cruelty Offenses went from 11 to 32. There was a decrease in prostitution offenses from 130 to 70.

CRIMES AGAINST PROPERTY

Total Crimes Against Property in 2018 were 57,328 and in 2019 51, 541 for a total reduction of 5,787 or a 10% reduction. The largest drops in property crime were in Auto Theft, Burglary and Fraud offenses aside from identity theft, which skyrocketed from 7 to a whopping 437.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1472154/property-crime-decreased-in-2019-other-categories-increased.html

VIOLENT CRIME RATES

The city’s violent crime rates continue to increase during Keller’s term. In 2017, during Mayor RJ Berry’s last full year in office, there were 7,686. There were 4,213 Aggravated Assaults and 470 Non-Fatal Shootings. In 2018 during Mayor Keller’ first full year in office, there were 6,789 violent crimes There were 3,885 Aggravated Assaults and 491 Non-Fatal Shootings.

In 2019, the category of “Violent Crimes” was replaced with the category of “Crimes Against Persons” and the category includes homicide, human trafficking, kidnapping and assault. In 2019 during Keller’s second full year in office, Crimes Against Persons increased from 14,845 to 14,971, or a 1% increase. The Crimes Against Person category had the biggest rises in Aggravated Assaults increasing from 5,179 to 5,397.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

For the past 6 years, APD has been struggling to implement 276 police department reforms mandated by the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) agreed to after the Department of Justice found a “culture of aggression” within APD. The city of Albuquerque is spending $88 million dollars over 4 years to grow and expand the APD from 850 sworn officers to 1,200. The city is also spending an additional $35 million for non-recurring expenses for expansion, recruitment and training.

Even with the initial success of Operation Legend, it is very doubtful that the 35 sworn law enforcement brought to the city for Operation Legend as well as the 40 new sworn police paid for by the Operation Legend grant, are going to make that much of difference anytime soon given the city and counties existing law enforcement personnel resources. APD has 984 sworn police and the BCSO has 300 sworn police, for a total of 1,284 sworn police, with city’s crime rates being some of the highest in the country for the last 10 years.

Eight of those high crime years were under Republican Mayor RJ Berry and for 2 years the crime rates haven gotten even worse under Democrat Mayor Keller. Keller himself is saying APD alone needs at least 200 more cops and have a full force of 1,200. United State Attorney John Anderson says that the 35 sworn police already here may be gone at the end of September. It is likely the hiring of the 40 new sworn will take upwards of six months to a year.

United States Attorney for New Mexico John Anderson is now saying that “meth [is] … the number one public safety threat in that respect as a driver of violent crime. … This is not a soft drug. … It’s a drug that’s associated with violence both in the use of it and the trafficking. … .”

If United State Attorney for New Mexico John Anderson is truly committed to bringing down the city’s crime rates, he should seek to expand Operation Legend for a full year and concentrate on arresting and prosecuting those involved with the meth trade. A short-term tactical plan such as Operation Legend in a Presidential election year is not going to accomplish very much long term. The again, come November 3 election day, the priorities of the US Department of Justice are likely to come to a screeching halt if Joe Biden is elected President.

POSTCRIPT NEWS UPDATE

Following is a September 19 KOB, TV news report:

DEA Says Meth Is To Blame For Albuquerque’s Crime Crisis

Officials with the Drug Enforcement Administration claim meth from Mexico is to blame for Albuquerque’s violent crime and homicide rate.

By KOB’s count, there’s been at least 56 murders in 2020.

“Drugs do play a big part in driving violent crime,” said Kyle Williamson, the DEA’s special agent in charge of the El Paso division which oversees New Mexico and parts of west Texas.
Williamson told KOB 4 the DEA has brought in additional agents from El Paso to help combat drug trafficking and reduce violence.

“It’s cartel on cartel violence, it’s gang on gang violence and it leads to people who abuse it who get high and go on a rage and kill somebody,” he said.
Recently, Dakota Briscoe was arrested for allegedly shooting two people in the head then burning their bodies.

According to court documents, both victims and Briscoe had a history of selling methamphetamine.

Police also interviewed a person that claimed Briscoe had smoked meth hours before shooting and killing two people.

Williamson said meth is the biggest drug problem facing New Mexico.

“So six months ago we launched Operation Crystal Shield with the purpose of targeting methamphetamine importation and distribution,” said Williamson.

“As of last week, we have arrested 176 people and seized close to 1,000 pounds of methamphetamine along with seizing $1.1 million in drug proceeds,” he added.

Albuquerque’s violent crime rate is more than three times the national average, according to the FBI.

Williamson said the additional agents from El Paso are part of Operation Legend.

In addition to prosecuting drug traffickers, Williamson said he wants to increase the DEA’s education outreach in the Albuquerque area.

The link to the KOB story is here:

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/dea-says-meth-is-to-blame-for-albuquerquersquos-crime-crisis/5868145/?cat=500

JIM LARSON GUEST COLUMN: “Mayor Keller Makes Major Mistake Appointing Interim Chief Who Created The Problem”; Do Authentic National Search and Allow New Chief To Replace Any Poorly Functioning Command Staff

Jim Larson has been a long-term resident of Albuquerque. Mr. Larson has an extensive and diversified career in law-enforcement both on the Federal and State levels. His law enforcement career includes being a former United States Secret Service Agent, a Dallas Texas Police Officer, and Investigator with the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office and working at Sandia National Laboratories. After retiring from Sandia National Laboratories, Mr. Larson served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children. He has been involved with APD civilian police reform including serving a short period of time on the Civilian Police Oversight Board.

The following guest column was submitted by Mr. Larson for publication on this blog:

“On Thursday morning, September 10, Mayor Tim Keller along with APD Chief Michael Geier, held a press conference to announce that Chief Geier was retiring after 2 years and 9 months as APD Chief. Mayor Keller also announced that First Deputy Chief Harold Medina would be taking over as interim Chief starting Monday, September 14.

Harold Medina is the wrong person at the wrong time for the job of Interim Chief and Chief. Medina has no business being in charge of a police department that is still under a federal court approved settlement after the Department of Justice found a “culture of aggression” and a pattern of use of “deadly force”. Harold Medina was part of the problem then and with his negligent management he actually helped create, participated in, or at a minimum, did not stop the “culture of aggression.

Interim Chief’s Harold Medina’s past actions need to be remembered and highlighted.

THE KEN ELLIS SHOOTING

The January 2010, killing of Kenneth Ellis, III, a 25-year-old veteran who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder by APD was among a string of encounters that contributed to the launch of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) into whether APD had a pattern of violating people’s civil rights, specifically through the use of force and deadly force.

The DOJ findings found it was unreasonable for the officer to have used deadly force on Ellis. Officers suspected Ellis of vehicle theft and pulled him over in a parking lot. Ellis exited the vehicle holding a gun pointed to his head. Ellis continued to hold the gun to his head as he made several phone calls and the officers attempted to negotiate with him. After several minutes, an officer shot Ellis one time in the neck and killed him.

While it is true that Ellis was holding a gun and thus presented a clear threat of harm, there was never any indication from Ellis’ words or actions that he intended to use the gun on anyone but himself. During his encounter with police, he held the gun to his own head and did not point at police or threaten them with harm. It was unreasonable for the officer to have used deadly force on Ellis. In addition, when officers are dealing with suicidal subjects, their failure to try to de-escalate the situation is a relevant factor in evaluating the reasonableness of any force they might use.

The officer who shot and killed Kenneth Ellis was not a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit, but commanding officers within and over SWAT were present when Ellis was shot. Then Lieutenant Harold Medina was likely the ranking officer on the scene who should have been giving commands or approving the actions of the APD officers .

The DOJ’s investigation of the APD shooting used the department’s own reports on the shooting to make it clear what happened when it states:

“The SWAT commanding officers failed to exert control over the scene, such as by making a plan for handling the crisis, determining where officers should be positioned, or deciding what roles each officer would fulfill … The lack of scene control contributed to a chaotic environment and allowed the shooting officer to act on his own accord when he shot and killed Ellis.”

The Elis Family sued the city for wrongful death. A jury returned a verdict finding the City and the officer who shot him liable for Ellis’ death and awarding more than $10 million in damages.

MEDINA BECOMES APD COMMANDER

Acting Chief Harold Medina was employed by APD for all five of the years of the DOJ review, and at least four of the five, in a supervisory or command level. In January 2010, he was a lieutenant with Property Crimes and the officer in charge at the scene after officers suspected Kenneth Ellis of vehicle theft and pulled him over in a parking lot and later fatally shot him.

Acting Chief Medina later became the Commander for Tactical, which is identified by APD sources as the SWAT unit, where he served 19 months. He later served in the Southwest Area Command and Property Crimes before he retired from APD in 2014.

The DOJ’s investigation found:

“Other instances of officer recklessness that led to unreasonable uses of deadly force involved officers from the department’s SWAT unit who acted without proper discipline or control. In force incidents the DOJ reviewed, they found instances in which the SWAT unit did not operate with the discipline and control that would be expected of them, and this lack of discipline contributed to unreasonable uses of deadly force.”

SWAT units are generally among the most highly trained in a police department. SWAT units are called upon to handle the most dangerous situations that police encounter and officers assigned to SWAT units typically operate under strict protocols and carry out operations in a highly planned and organized fashion.

DOJ review of individual [overall] use-of-force complaints and reports informed their investigation into whether a pattern or practice of excessive force exists. The DOJ investigation

“determined that structural and systemic deficiencies—including insufficient oversight, inadequate training, and ineffective policies— contribute to the use of unreasonable force. For too long, Albuquerque officers have faced little scrutiny from their superiors in carrying out this fundamental responsibility.”

COURT APPROVED SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

Former Mayor Richard Berry and APD Chief Gordon Eden were never fully committed to the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) and the 270 mandated reforms that they negotiated with the Department of Justice. They were insincere partners in the development of the CASA, essentially to avoid their reputation being further bludgeoned by a lengthy civil suit they were likely to lose. Once the CASA was negotiated, the Federal Monitor for 4 years found that under Berry and Eden, the APD command staff engaged in a pattern of delay and obstructionists’ tactics and resisted the reforms.

The CASA represented a new strategy with requirements to try to force a cultural shift to achieve it. For all its benefits and blemishes, it is now part of APD’s legacy that remains uniquely APD’s and cannot be traded as if it were a used car. Cultural inclinations are well entrenched, for good or bad. APD leadership for the first three years under the consent decree were a significant obstacle to movement for cultural change with their own resistance to change, continued tolerance of mediocrity, and suspicions of outsiders. Former Chief Michael Geier served as Commander for nearly five years in APD and retired from APD in April 2014. Harold Medina also retired in 2014 after serving as a Lieutenant and a Commander.

It was on April 10, 2014 that the serious and appalling DOJ investigative report conclusions were made public that highlighted the SWAT unit for officer recklessness that led to unreasonable uses of deadly force involved officers from the department’s SWAT unit who acted without proper discipline or control and the SWAT unit did not operate with the discipline and control that would be expected of them, and this lack of discipline contributed to unreasonable uses of deadly force.

The link to the April 10, 2014, forty-six page DOJ investigation report is here:

https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/usao-nm/legacy/2015/01/20/140410%20DOJ-APD%20Findings%20Letter.pdf

Three more years after Berry and Eden, under the leadership of Mayor Tim Keller and with the re-tread APD leadership of former Chief Geier and First Deputy Chief Medina, APD continues to struggle with cultural intransigence to the cultural change in APD envisioned by the Court Approved Settlement Agreement and the City’s newly approved Civilian Police Oversight Agency. The CASA monitoring team’s 11th Report observed examples of some APD personnel still failing to adhere to the requirements of the CASA.

The federal monitor in his 11th Monitors report found instances moving beyond the epicenter of the issue supervision to mid- and upper management levels of the organization. The monitor found:

“Some in APD’s command levels continue to exhibit behaviors that build bulwarks preventing fair and objective discipline, including a case of attempting to delay—in some cases successfully—oversight processes until the timelines for administering discipline have been exceeded, thus preventing an effective remedial response to behavior that is clearly in violation of established policy.”

Chief Geier and Deputy Chief Medina, as well as some other Command Staff, were in leadership positions during the culture that led the DOJ to “determine that structural and systemic deficiencies—including insufficient oversight, inadequate training, and ineffective policies— contribute to the use of unreasonable force (emphasis added) and for too long, Albuquerque officers have faced little scrutiny from their superiors in carrying out this fundamental responsibility.”

Six years into the CASA APD continues to struggle with the DOJ finding that APD engaged in a pattern or practice of using excessive force during the course of arrests and other detentions and officers too often use deadly force in an unconstitutional manner in their use of firearms. All of the 11 Federal Monitor reports lends credence that it is APD’s management and the re-hiring command level department personnel to change the culture that they themselves contributed to, participated in, or turned a blind eye have impeded the reforms .

Mayor Keller needs to find and bring in the best that can be found to take over APD. The city needs to find those with the highest potential and get the right people in the right positions which will mark the difference between success and failure. Yet surprisingly, Mayor Keller after unceremoniously removing Chief Geier, seems unable to meet that challenge, once again reverting to someone that thrived in the old culture, a strategy that failed with the appointment of Chief Michael Geier and that is likely to fail again.

MAYOR KELLER NEEDS TO REMOVE MEDINA AS WELL

In imperfect systems initial mistaken calls by well-meaning, smart, and competent people of general good like Mayor Keller are bound to happen and reconsideration is always difficult at best. An opinion once formed is hard to abandon. A conclusion once broadcast is hard to withdraw. But the open mind has to persist beyond the first call in decisions. One’s understanding of the truth, whether that’s the correctness of a fact or conclusions drawn in an investigation, should never be unalterable.

Keller’s appointment of Harold Medina as interim Chief needs to be reversed while there is still time and before he is made permanent. Keller needs a more careful review of the wisdom of re-hiring someone as Deputy Chief and then cursorily removing the Chief and replacing him with a Deputy Chief whose advancement and actions in leadership positions during culture that led the DOJ to determine that structural and systemic deficiencies—including insufficient oversight, inadequate training, and ineffective policies— contribute to the use of unreasonable force emphasis added and for too long, Albuquerque officers have faced little scrutiny from their superiors in carrying out this fundamental responsibility.

This is all the more important when that person was a leader and commander of a unit that was specially called out as a problem in the DOJ investigation. I would hate to see the incredible changes and improvements that the SWAT unit has made while receiving excellent reviews from the DOJ Monitor negatively impacted.

The length of time to do another “national search”, which many in the community and APD believe a charade, is likely very long given the circumstances and timing of the next mayoral election, so this interim Chief decision has incalculable importance for moving forward. The APD officers and personnel and citizens of Albuquerque deserve a more thoughtful and considered decision for the interim Chief than the default again to re-tread, Deputy Chief Harold Medina, especially given his known history and DOJ findings in the SWAT unit he commanded.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Pursuant to a clarification provided by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos on September 17, the above blog article has been modified by author Jim Larson to clarify the information regarding Interim Chief Harold Medina’s work history and time period as an APD Lieutenant and Commander. The opinions expressed in the above article are those of Jim Larson and do not necessarily reflect those of the political blog www.petedinelli.com. Mr. Larson was not compensated for the column.

DINELLI COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Interim APD Chief Harold Medina was hired by APD in 1995 and retired from APD after 20 years of service. He served with APD until 2014, when he retired and became Chief of the Pueblo of Laguna for three years. Medina returned to APD as a Deputy Chief when Keller took over as Mayor in December, 2017. APD First Deputy Chief Harold Medina went from being paid $136,040.20 in 2019 to being paid $145,017.60 within a few months after repeatedly complaining to Chief Geier and CAO Nair he was paid less than the other Deputy Chiefs. Former APD Chief Michael Geier was paid $183,378.60 a year and it is likely Medina will be paid the same or near that amount as Interim Chief.

Interim APD Chief Harold Medina has the tragic distinction of shooting and killing a 14-year-old Cibola High School student in 2004 when he was an APD field officer. At the time of the shooting, Harold Medina was 30 years old and was a seven-and-a-half-year veteran of APD. According to news accounts, 14-year-old boy Dominic Montoya went to Taylor Ranch Baptist Church looking for prayer. Montoya was reported as saying he was possessed by demons and went to church for help. Some one noticed the teenager was concealing a weapon and APD was called. It turned out it was a BB gun and when APD showed up, the 14-year-old was fatally shot by police after pointing the BB gun at the officers. It was the APD Officer Harold Medina who fired 3 shots at the 14 year old, Cibola High School Student with two hitting the juvenile in the abdomen. It was reported that the BB gun was indistinguishable from a real gun and Medina said he was in fear for his life.

Links to news coverage is here:

https://www.theintelligencer.com/news/article/Police-Kill-Teen-Gunman-in-Church-10499991.php

https://apnews.com/41e13a7f6393b3ea5b92ccfadae5ccd6

APD leadership and management is crumbling around Mayor Tim Keller who is failing to keep his campaign promises of reducing high crime rates, returning to community-based policing, increasing the size of APD and implementing the DOJ reforms. The abrupt departure of Chief Geier no doubt will have a major impact on implementing the DOJ mandated reforms.

Keller appointed Geier after a “national search” and after Geier retired for a 3rd time from law enforcement. The national search was a sham. Appointing First Deputy Chief Harold Medina as Interim Chief confirms insider information that APD is in total disarray and its management in shambles as result of infighting, with much of the infighting created by Harold Medina. Keller has announced that another national search will be conducted to find a new Chief, and if its anything like the search he conducted that resulted in Chief Geier being appointed Chief, it will be sham. The link to a related blog article is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2018/06/14/national-search-for-new-apd-chief-a-sham/

It is no secret at city hall that Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair is very much involved with the day to day management of APD and that Deputy Chief Harold Medina have developed a strong working relationship with CAO Nair. According to sources, Harold Medina will do whatever he is told to do by CAO Nair and Mayor Tim Keller. Confidential APD command staff have been reporting that Harold Medina was making it known to them that he intended to be the next Chief of APD.

CLEAN SWEEP IS NEEDED

When candidate Keller was running for Mayor, he promised sweeping changes with APD, a national search for a new APD Chief and a return to Community based policing. During Mayor Tim Keller’s first 8 months in office, Keller did not make the dramatic management changes he promised, but a relied on past management of the department and past practices. The current Deputy Chiefs are not outsiders at all but have been with APD for years.

APD needs a clean sweep in management and philosophy to remove anyone who may have assisted, contributed or who did not stop the culture of aggression found by the Department of Justice and who have resisted the reform process during the last 3 years of the consent decree, including Harold Medina. Keller’s “new” and present Deputies are a reflection of APD’s past and all have been with APD for some time. APD’s current command staff are not a new generation of police officer fully committed and trained in constitutional policing practices.

Mayor Tim Keller needs to conduct a national search to find a new Chief and Deputy Chiefs who are not already with APD and allow whoever is chosen to run APD free of his interference or the interference of CAO Nair. Interim APD Chief Harold Medina is part of the very problem that brought the Department of Justice here in the first place. It is not at all likely, despite whatever public comments he makes, that Medina will ever get behind the Federal mandated reforms which should disqualify him from being Chief. Harold Medina should also be thanked for his service and move on giving him a good letter of recommendation as he seeks employment elsewhere.