Readers On Community Policing Councils React To Police Union Tactics And Excuses Made For Not Making Misdemeanor Arrests; Both APD Felony Arrests And Misdemeanor Arrests Down Dramatically In One Year

In the aftermath of the 4 APD offers who were shot by a violent felon on probation out of California, APOA Union President Shaun Willoughby was interviewed by virtually all the local news stations and the Albuquerque Journal and asked why he felt the shooting happened. On Friday, August 20, Willoughby was quoted as saying:

“It’s officers that are hesitating to do their job because they don’t want to get in trouble … It’s the brazen acts of criminals that know that Albuquerque police officers are handcuffed … We have stepped away and de-policed this city. From the very beginning our officers are carrying a card of misdemeanors that they’re not supposed to arrest on.”

The link to the quoted news source material is here:

In an interview with KOB 4, Police Union President Shaun Willoughby said increases in deadly situations involving police, such as what happened to the 4 APD officers, is frustrating and angers his union membership. He also increased his false political rhetoric laying blame for the violent crime in the city and said:

“We’ve been telling this community that this was going to happen. … I believe that the violent crime and the uptick of violent crime is directly related to this police department being de-policed and having policies where they are not able to do their job. … We have de-policed the city of Albuquerque to the extent where officers carry around a little card with a list of misdemeanors that they can’t even arrest people on.”

Willoughby added that over the years laws passed through the legislature have prevented officers from not only doing their jobs but have led to dozens of officers quitting.


When Willoughby claims “officers carry around a little card with a list of misdemeanors that they can’t even arrest people on” he ostensibly is referring to a May 10, 2018 Special Order 17-53 as well as SOP 2-80. (Standard Operating Procedure)

On May 10, 2018, in a memo addressed to all sworn APD personnel by then APD Chief Gorden Eden issued Department Special Order 17-53. The Special-Order states that

“[A]ll officers shall issue citations when appropriate in lieu of arrests on non-violent misdemeanor offenses. … “officers shall issue citations when appropriate in lieu of arrest on non-violent misdemeanor offenses when there are no circumstances necessitating an arrest.”

Special Order 17-53 was then made into SOP 2-80 that deals with arrests of “Felony Arrest Authority” and “Misdemeanor Arrest Authority” SOP 2-80 is very succinct and provides as follows:


2-80-1 Policy Department policy is to arrest a felony violator of laws which its officers are empowered to enforce. Officers shall issue citations when appropriate in lieu of arrest on non-violent misdemeanor offenses (not to include DWIs) when there are no circumstances necessitating an arrest. In all cases, officers shall follow correct legal procedures required in arresting, booking, and filing charges against such violators.

2-80-2 Rules Procedures

A. Felony Arrest Authority.

1. Felony arrests may be made through the authority of a warrant, or on probable cause when there are exigent circumstances preventing the officer from obtaining a warrant. (State v. Panaanan, 2015 NMSC 031, 357 P.3d 958)

2. Probable cause arrests may be made for all felonies when there are exigent circumstances preventing the officer from obtaining a warrant.

3. Exigent circumstances include emergency situations requiring swift action:

a. to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property; or

b. to forestall the imminent escape of a suspect; or

c. to forestall potential destruction of evidence; or

d. an exigency may also exist where it is not reasonably practical to secure a warrant under the circumstances, such as where the additional time to obtain a warrant makes it impractical.

4. The New Mexico Supreme Court has held that “exigency will be presumed” where an officer observes the commission of a felony, without reference to imminent danger, escape, or destruction of evidence, and that an on-the-scene arrest supported by probable cause will usually supply the requisite exigency.

a. However, an officer must obtain a felony arrest warrant if there is ample time to do so before making the arrest, provided that there is no concern that the additional time to secure an arrest warrant may result in failing to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property, forestalling the imminent escape of a suspect, or the potential destruction of evidence.

b. Examples of situations when felony arrests require an arrest warrant include:

6. For those felony offenses that do not fall within the above listed categories, an officer when deciding whether to effect an arrest or to merely submit the case for indictment consideration may make a probable cause felony arrest when probable cause clearly exists, under the following circumstances:

a. When the offender has no community ties to the Albuquerque metropolitan area, e.g. transient, out of town resident, etc.; or

b. When one or more prior felonies or multiple offenses have been committed by the offender; or

c. When the arrest is approved by a supervisor based on extenuating circumstances; and d. One or more exigent circumstance as described under A. 3 (1) through (4) above must be present.

B. Petty Misdemeanor/Misdemeanor Arrest Authority

1. Officers shall issue citations when appropriate in lieu of arrest on non-violent misdemeanor offenses (not to include DWIs) when there are no circumstances necessitating an arrest. Whether or not the person has a permanent address may not be the sole factor in determining to arrest the person rather than issuing a citation. If the officer issues a non-traffic citation, the officer must complete an incident report. If an arrest is necessary, the officer will include the reason in the narrative of the corresponding incident report.

2. When exigent circumstances justify the arrest.

C. Use of the Metropolitan Court Bonding Window

1. Officers will use the bonding window at Metropolitan Court located at 401 Lomas Blvd. NW to post a bond, pay a fine, or to resolve or quash a warrant in lieu of taking an arrested person to the Prisoner Transport Center (PTC) or the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) when feasible.

2. The outdoor walk-up bonding window is located on the building’s south side. The bonding window closes for a brief time at the end of each shift (currently, from 6:00 a.m.-7:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.)

3. Officers can take an arrested person to the bonding window whenever they are arresting such individual for lower-level warrants, such as for traffic or petty misdemeanor charges. This allows the person to pay fines or post a bond without having to be booked into MDC.

4. The bonding window will accept all misdemeanor warrants including out-of-county warrants.

5. The bonding window does not deal with felony charges or cases.

6. The bonding window accepts cash only – credit cards, debit cards or checks are not accepted.

7. The person will be required to pay the full amount of a cash or surety bond at the bonding window. This means that the person cannot go through a bonding agency to pay ten percent (10%) of the bond at the bonding window.

8. Officers should check to see if the person has cash before taking that person to the bonding window. Officers should not wait for the person to get money from a friend, relative or acquaintance.

9. Metropolitan Court requests officers to have their agencies fax the warrant to the bonding window prior to arriving with the person.

10.Once the person completes the transaction at the bonding window, the officer may take that person back to their previous location if time or the situation permits.”

APD publishes on line all the departments Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). The link is here:

The misdemeanor offenses affected by the special order include criminal trespass, criminal damage to property under $1,000, shoplifting under $500, shoplifting under $250, prostitution, and receiving or possessing stolen property under $100. Because of the court order, the policy remains in place to this day.

The SOP 2-80 makes it clear that any APD officer may make an arrest if it is necessary, but will have to include the reasons why in an incident report. SOP 2-80 also makes it clear officers can take offenders wanted for non-violent misdemeanor offenses to Metropolitan Court to resolve warrants or fines instead of hauling them off to jail. A caveat is that the arrested individual must have the full amount of the fine or bond in cash. Those arrested also cannot go through a bonding agency.

At the time the Special Order was issued, City and police officials pointed out that it made no changes to police policy. APD Chief Jerry Galvin in 2001 issued a similar order, and since then department policy has been to advise officers to issue citations for such crimes where they deem it appropriate, and officers have discretion in deciding when to arrest someone. According to then City Attorney Jessica Hernandez:

“If there is any part of a situation that makes an officer think an arrest is warranted, they’ll make the arrest.”

At the time the special order was issued, then Assistant Chief Robert Huntsman also issued a statement to clarify the policy and said:

“This order in no way restricts officers’ discretion to make arrests when necessary to protect the public. Citations have always been an available option for certain non-violent misdemeanor offenses. This special order and video remind officers to issue citations ‘when appropriate’ and ‘when there are no circumstances necessitating an arrest.’ We are still aggressively pursuing repeat offenders, and this order does not change an officer’s ability to arrest.”

APD further made it clear the order would not affect DWI arrests. The special order has enabled APD to dedicate resources to more serious felony offenses and violent crimes.
When the special order was first issued, Willoughby falsely proclaimed:

“The word ‘shall’ scares me a lot. In the past we could use our discretion when dealing with misdemeanor offenses. You’re basically telling the entire criminal element that police officers are further handcuffed. … It’s a weak policy. It’s bad for public safety and we’re all going to suffer from it. … [The special order] is the last thing Albuquerque and the community needs right now.

The link to quoted source material is here:


The new Special Order 17-53 and 2-80 were a result of the 20-plus year McClendon Lawsuit that was settled by United States Federal Judge. That lawsuit, filed against the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County by an inmate arrested for a non-violent misdemeanor, primarily focused on the conditions within the City/County lockup.

At the time the lawsuit was filed, the then Bernalillo County detention center had a maximum capacity of 800, but the jail was repeatedly overcrowded with as many as 1,400 inmates who were often doubled up and living conditions were abhorrent. The overcrowding became to bad that the federal court would hold weekly and monthly status conferences and order the release of none violent defendants to reduce the overcrowding.


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).

You can read the entire report here.

The DOJ investigation included a comprehensive review of APD’s operations and the City’s oversight systems of APD. The DOJ investigation “determined that structural and systemic deficiencies — including insufficient oversight, inadequate training, and ineffective policies … .”

It was in November 2014, that the City and the Department of Justice entered into the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). The link to the CASA is here:

The federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) contains 271 mandated reforms. One of the deficiencies addressed was APD’s failure to interact with the community stakeholders. The CASA mandated the creation of Community Policing Councils in all area commands.

The goal of each Community Policing Council is to engage in candid, detailed and meaningful dialogue between Albuquerque Police and the citizens they serve. Councils are independent from the City and Department. They are encouraged to formally recommend changes to Albuquerque Police Department policies and procedures. They are also asked to make recommendations and identify concerns, problems, successes and opportunities within each area command and for the department as a whole.

Each of the six Community Policing Councils is composed of members from the community and voting members. Voting members must reside within or have businesses within the boundaries of their area command.


The City’s 2022 adopted budget for APD on page 151 contains APD’s arrests statistics for 2019 and 2020. APD’s budget is a peformance based budget and the department is required to submit a number of statistics to justify its budget. Arrest numbers for felonies, misdemeanors as well as DWI are revealed in the budget. APD’s budget also outlines full time personnel and breaks it down between sworn and civilian employees.

The link to the budget is here:

Following is the breakdown of arrest for the years 2019 and 2020:


2019: 10,945
2020: 6,621 (DOWN 39.51%


2019: 19,440
2020: 16,520 (DOWN 15%)


2019: 1,788
2020: 1,230 (DOWN 26%)

(2022 APD Budget, page 151)

DOWN 25%


According to APD’s approved 2021-2022 budget, in 2019 APD had 924 full time police. In 2020 APD had 1,004 sworn police or 80 more sworn in 2020 than in 2019, yet arrests went down during the first year of the pandemic and crime rates continued to rise.


According to APD’s approved 2021-2022 budget, in 2019 APD had 924 full time police. In 2020 APD had 1,004 sworn police or 80 more sworn in 2020 than in 2019, yet arrests went down during the first year of the pandemic.


In 2018 during Mayor Keller’ first full year in office, there were 6,789 violent crimes, 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.


On August 25, 2021, the blog article “APD Police Union President Willoughby “Gaslights” And Falsely Shouts Fire In A Crowded Theater To Promote His Big Lies” was posted

The link to the article is here:

On August 25, 2021, one reader who is a member of a Community Policing Counsel sent an email expressing concern over the blog article’s content. The person addressed the conduct of the police union president. A second email raised the issue that police officers are giving excuses not to make misdemeanor arrests. Following are both emails with identities kept confidential for privacy reasons and to allow publication on this blog article without fear of any reprisal:


“ … I have attended the court hearings both in-person and virtually … My feeling is that there is still a substantial degree of “delay, deny, and deflect” among police brass, with most of that seeming to be located at headquarters.

Of more concern, it seems clear that the APOA [police union] is engaged in a persistent campaign of fear mongering toward any sort of reform. Shawn Willoughby, about 18 months ago, in open court, said (close to word-for-word): “We can’t wait until the Monitors go away and the U.S. Attorney turns attention elsewhere, and the Court closes this matter so we can take back OUR police department.”

That was one of the most disheartening sentences I’ve ever heard in open court. I can’t imagine the turmoil that the APOA campaign is causing among police officers and their families. Our officers want to do their job, they want our communities to be safe for all our residents, they want to return safe-and-sound to their families after each shift, and they must deal with the proper need for reform and the fear-inducing rhetoric of APOA and radical politicians. I despair, still. But, I remain engaged because the alternatives to constitutional policing are just too terrible to contemplate.

Our CPC hears many concerns and issues in the course of our volunteer efforts… but we don’t hear persistent complaints about “cops”. It is situations, conditions, and trends that concern people, and that’s where we place our emphasis – on things that need to be changed and improved to support our police and to make life better in all the neighborhoods of our city.”


Another reader wrote, quoted and took issue with the following blog commentary:

“It was simply false and misleading for Willoughby to say that officers lost the discretion when dealing with misdemeanor offenses. The truth is and has always been APD police officers have the discretion to make arrests when they deem it necessary. For the past 4 years, the special order has enabled APD to dedicate resources to more serious felony offenses and violent crimes.”

The reader wrote:

“I don’t believe this is entirely true for misdemeanors since every police officer on the beat MUST call his supervisor for approval before making a non-threatening or life-concerning arrest on the street.

I talked to 4 beat officers [in an area command] … even the Lieutenant [and they] say they must have approval from their supervisor before making a misdemeanor arrest without threat of bodily harm. I’m just telling you what they are saying they do currently (as of 2 weeks ago). Maybe someone should tell them that that is NOT the policy or the protocol.”


The comments offered by both readers are very disturbing and are a reflection of a police depart that many rank and file do not want to do their jobs and that excuses are being made by them to members of the CPCs.

In a revealing March 28, 2021 letter to the Albuquerque Journal a decade long retired APD Area Commander had this to say in part:

“Crime is up and directly related to the settlement agreement, an absurd use-of-force policy and the required investigations. These decrees can last for a decade or more. Seattle and Portland have been under one since 2012, Detroit since 2003. Crime escalates wherever they are implemented. The monitor has every financial reason to prolong this decree while he drains our coffers.

I believe I can speak for an overwhelming number of retired/former officers when I say this entire mess, settlement agreement/dual leadership is an unmitigated disaster that was preventable. We arrived here by the political inactions and lack of courage by our mayors and councils. They should have been the oversight when the chain of command faltered.”

The comments written by the former commander are nothing more than a pathetic attempt to undercut and discredit the need for the reforms and deflect the blame where it belongs: APD management, the union and rank and file police.

Based on the statistics for the budget years of 2019 and 2020, a very strong argument can be made is that crime is up because APD is not doing its job and arresting people as reflected in the statistics that arrests for both felony and misdemeanor offenses are down dramatically. APD statistics for the budget years of 2019 and 2020 reflect the department is not doing its job of investigating and arresting people. APD felony arrests went down from 2019 to 2020 by 39.51% going down from 10,945 to 6,621. Misdemeanor arrests went down by 15% going down from 19,440 to 16,520. DWI arrests went down from 1,788 in 2019 to 1,230 in 2020, down 26%. The total number of all arrests went down from 32,173 in 2019 to 24,371 in 2020 or by 25%. In 2019 APD had 924 full time police. In 2020, APD had 1,004 sworn police or 80 more sworn in 2020 than in 2019, yet arrests went down during the first year of the pandemic. APD’s homicide unit has an anemic clearance rate of 36%. The police union falsely proclaims officer’s hands are tied by the DOJ reforms and are afraid of doing their jobs for fear of being disciplined.

The Court Approved Settlement Agreement was indeed preventable had APD in fact followed constitutional policing practices in the first place. It had nothing to do with “politically correct politicians” throwing APD under the bus. It was APD that brought the DOJ here in the first place and mandated the Federal Court to come down on it.


It is totally unacceptable that any APD police officer would ever give the excuse that they cannot make a misdemeanor arrest that occurs in their presence. It also unacceptable that any police officer would say they need get authorization from a superior to make a misdemeanor arrest. A confidential source within APD reveals that there are no written policies that police officers below the rank Sergeant must get authorization to make a misdemeanor arrest. The source did say that police are simply no longer making misdemeanor arrests. What is disturbing is that the police union president repeatedly parrots that APD officers feel their hands are tied and they are afraid to do their job for fear of being disciplined or that the DOJ reforms are the cause of the city’s high crime rates and officers being shot.

To be blunt, if any police officer does not want to do their job, refuse to make misdemeanor arrests, and for that matter violent crime arrests, committed in their presence and or follow SOP 2-80, they are derelict in performing their jobs and are part of the problem and need to leave APD or find another line of work. Same goes for police officers who do not want to follow constitutional policing practices as mandated by the consent decree.

The problem always has been and continues to be that APD management, the police union and its membership have not fully embraced the reforms. In fact, 3 Chiefs have resisted the reforms from time to time, at different times, as has been repeatedly documented by the federal monitor in at least 4 reports over the last 3 years.

Mayor Tim Keller and his second appointed Chief Harold Medina are also in dereliction of their duty to protect the community if they allow any police officer to give the excuse not to make misdemeanor arrest, say their hands are tied or saying they are afraid to make an arrest and that they need to get the permission of a superior.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.