On January 16, Bernalillo County Sheriff (BCSO) deputies were dispatched to a “down and out” in the Pajarito Mesa, a sprawling area southwest of the city. The deputies found 30-year-old Yahaira Rodriguez dead and a murder victim.
On Sunday, February 21, at approximately 3 a.m. in the morning, 3 vehicles pulled into an empty Albertsons parking lot in the South Valley. Four men got out of the vehicles and began talking. Gunfire soon erupted, leaving Jose Garcia dead and another man shot in the head and arm. Although BCSO did not notify the media or public about Garcia’s homicide more than six weeks ago, it did issue a news release announcing the arrest and booking of Kristopher Gonzalez, 27, on an open count of murder for the killing of Garcia.
On April 8, the Albuquerque Journal reported that BCSO waited until the week of April 5 to report on the 2 homicides that occurred in the county and being investigated by the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office. Further, the BCSO waited until April to report that the December 2020 death of Francine Gonzales, 36, on the West Side was ruled a homicide after an autopsy in late March.
The link to the full report is here:
According to the Journal report, in previous years, including 2020, BCSO regularly sent out email and Twitter alerts when BCSO detectives opened a homicide investigation. BCSO usually gave details on the incident and solicited tips from the public. Until April 7, BCSO had been silent on the 2021 cases, yet increased email and Twitter notifications for warrant roundup operations and “repeat offender” arrests often criticizing the actions of courts for previously releasing the suspects.
BCSO Transparency and Public Information Coordinator Jayme Fuller explained the delay in reporting on the 2 homicides as not always told about homicides, or other incidents, until reporters ask about them and they confirm them with supervisors.
The most troubling fact in the Journal report was glossed over. Buried in the article is the statement:
“Last year, BCSO’s crime statistics were not included in the annual FBI report because the agency didn’t meet the March deadline to report them, and they couldn’t be certified in time.”
The problem is that the yearly FBI statistics are the best measure as to performance measures of BCSO. Further, Bernalillo County and BCSO rely upon those statistics to secure federal grant funding.
MAYOR TIM KELLER AND APD REDACT PERFORMANCE MEASURES
BCSO and Sheriff Manny Gonzales are not the only elected official and law enforcement agency that has failed recently to be transparent when it comes to statistics used to gauge performance. On April 1, 2021, the Keller administration released the 2021-2022 Proposed Operating Budget for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1, 2021 and end June 31, 2022.
When it comes to the Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD), budget, statistics are compiled in areas that reflect performance and outcomes aimed at influencing the larger outcomes and goals that APD is striving to achieve. The performance measures capture APD’s ability to perform the services at the highest level achieved from the previous year and the “target” level for the new fiscal year. Target levels and percentages are merely goals that may or may not be achieved.
The performance measures are absolutely critical in order for the City Council to understand fully the shortcomings and strengths of APD and make critical budget decisions. Without such statics, budget review and decisions are done in the dark and in a real sense become useless, become an exercise in futility and the city council is relegated to rubber stamping whatever budget is presented to them.
For purposes of the proposed 2021-2022 budget, the Keller Administration made the decision to “reimagine how the City looks at performance and progress measures for services to the Albuquerque community. To kick off this work, APD is one of six departments piloting this new approach. As such, the performance measures section will look different from the rest of the departments in this document.”
(2022 Proposed APD Budget, page 149, INNOVATION introduction)
The result of the “reimagining” is a total absence of many statics from the previous fiscal years of 2019, 2020 and 2021. Because of the so called “reimagining”, actual performance statistics from previous years are deleted in the proposed budget and only “targeted statistics” for the 2022 fiscal year are provided. “Targeted” statistics or goals are provided but may never materialize.
When you look at the performance measures contained in APD’s budget, what appears is an actual “redacting” of critical statistics that renders the other statistics meaningless. APD is the one city department that is under a Department of Justice Consent decree with a Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) mandating 271 reforms. The CASA mandates 3 performance measures to be audited by a Federal Monitor.
The link to a related blog article entitled “Keller Administration “Redacts” APD’s Performance Measures In 2022 Budget; Gives Lame Excuse Of “Reimagining”; Failure To Disclose Material Facts Is Fraud” is here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The April 8 Albuquerque Journal article essentially calls out Sheriff Manny Gonzales for his office’s failure in transparency. To quote the report:
“In a May 2018 Journal candidate questionnaire for his reelection, Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said “providing high level transparency and accountability” was first on his list of “most important action(s)” in his career with BCSO.
“Empowering deputies has enhanced our community outreach and improved communication with citizens,” he said.
Since his reelection, Gonzales – who is contemplating a run for mayor of Albuquerque this year – has regularly emphasized a tough on crime approach in news releases, briefings and interviews but doesn’t often talk about transparency.
“Our community is living in fear as violent crime rises. We need to reform our justice system to keep our streets safe and protect the law-abiding majority,” Gonzales said in a statement in a March email spotlighting the release of a repeat offender”
BCSO’s crime statistics not being included in the annual FBI report was likely no mistake. BCSO Sheriff Manny Gonzales has notified the City Clerk that he is running for Mayor. No doubt Gonzales wants to hide the statistics that show our out-of-control high crime rates are just as bad in the county as in the city.
Sheriff Gonzales and his BCSO are just as hapless in dealing with spiking crime rates as Mayor Keller and APD.