Measured Finance Committees File 6th Campaign Finance Reports; Examining Each MFC For Purpose And Intent; Commercial TV Ads Produced And Running; In House Poll Showing Keller Wins With No Runoff; Will There Be October Surprise?

The City of Albuquerque municipal election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 2. On the ballot will be the office for Mayor, the 5 odd numbered City Council Districts 1,3,5,7, and 9 seats and a voter bond approval request for $50 million dollars to build a soccer stadium.

Under the City of Albuquerque’s campaign finance laws, a Measure Finance Committee (MFC) is a political action committee (PAC), person or group that supports or opposes a candidate or ballot measure within the City of Albuquerque. Measure Finance Committees are required to register with the City Clerk within five (5) days once they have raised or spent more than $250 towards their purpose.

Measure finance committees are not bound by the individual contribution limits and business bans like candidates. No MFC is supposed to coordinate their activities with the individual candidates they support running for office, but this is a very gray area as to what constitutes coordination of activities and it is difficult to enforce.

According to City Clerk records, 12 measured finance committees have been formed for the 2021 municipal election. Those MFCs are as follows:

“Save Our City” organized to raise money and to promote Sherriff Manny Gonzales
“Retired Law Enforcement for a Better Albuquerque”
“Build Back ‘Burque” is raising money to promote and spend money on behalf of Mayor Tim Keller.
“Abq Firepac” promoting the local fire fighter union interests.
“Albuquerque Ahead” to promote Republican party City Council Candidates
“No Corporate Council” to promote progressive Democrat party City Council Candidates.
“ABQ Workers First” to promote organized labor interests and candidates.
“New Mexico United For All” to promote the $50 million soccer stadium bond issue.
A MFC formed by the New Mexico American Civil Liberties Union.
A MFC formed by “Planned Parenthood” of New Mexico.
A MFC formed by a progressive neighborhood group called “Indivisible Nob Hill”.
A MFC called “Healthy Economies Lead to Progress” with the stated purpose as “Independent Expenditure”.

This blog article reports on the funds raised by the MFC’s, an analysis of their purpose and intent as well as the fundraising of the 3 candidates for Mayor.


On September 13, the MFCs filed their 6th Financial Fundraising reports covering the reporting period of August 3 to September 6 reporting what they have raised, listing donors and expenditures. Following is a breakdown and editor’s analysis of the reports filed.


PURPOSE: Support candidates who support public safety & fire fighter issues.


MAJOR DONORS: ABQ Area PAC Local $1,000.00
MAJOR EXPENDITURE: $350 paid to “Just Yard Signs”

Editor’s Analysis: This is the local firefighters MFC. In the past, the firefighter’s union has expended significant amounts of money supporting Mayor and City Council candidates and have been very involved with the campaigns providing volunteers and spending thousands on TV commercials produced on their own. It appears the local firefighter’s union has significantly pared down their involvement in this year’s Mayor and City Council races.


PURPOSE: To advocate for or against candidates running for mayor and city council.


MAJOR DONOR: New Mexico Federation of Labor ( Total Donation: $30,000 )

Editor’s Analysis: It is clear from the one donation of $30,000 from the New Mexico Federation of Labor, AFL CIO or organized labor in the city has decided to go it alone with raising and spending donations. The New Mexico Federation of Labor in the past has made donations to other measured finance committees or individual candidate campaigns. It is also clear that ABQ WORKERS FIRST fundraising is to defeat Gonzales and Albuquerque City Council candidates Dan Lewis, Renee Grout and Louie Sanchez.


PURPOSE: To support those candidates for city council who will move Albuquerque ahead and oppose those who will not.


Editors Analysis: When you examine the campaign finance reports filed by Albuquerque Ahead, it is easy to figure out that it is a measured finance committee established by the Bernalillo County Republican Party to promote 2 Republican candidates for City Council. The 5th finance report filed by Albuquerque Ahead reflects that on July 7, 2021, the Bernalillo County Republican Party donated $9,000 to this MFC. The two Republican candidates being supported are former Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis who is running in District 5 against incumbent Democrat Cynthia Borrego. Republican Renee Grout is running for the City Council District 9 seat being vacated by long time serving, unknown, ineffective and unaccomplished Republican Don Harris. The one major expenditure of $5,184.00 is to Majority Strategies, a Republican leaning political consulting firm.


The ACLU has filed no finance reports and ostensibly has had no contributions.

PURPOSE: To educate New Mexico voters about the upcoming Albuquerque mayoral race and the various civil liberties issues at stake.

Editors Analysis: This MFC is somewhat of a head scratcher, until you realize Sheriff Manny Gonzales is running for Mayor. Normally, you do not see the American Civil Liberties union get involved in local elections but it’s likely they have done so this election year because Sheriff Manny Gonzales is running. During the past few years, the ACLU has initiated at least 3 lawsuits against the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office for excessive use of force and racial profiling regarding African Americans. The fact no finance reports have been filed as yet likely signals that they view Manny Gonzales no longer a threat to incumbent Democrat and Progressive Mayor Tim Keller.


PURPOSE: Support Mayor Tim Keller’s re-election to a second term for the City of Albuquerque


Editors Analysis: The Chairperson for “Build Back ‘Burque” is Michelle Mayorga. According to the American Association of Political Consultants “Michelle Mayorga has spent nearly 2 decades working on campaigns, progressive issues, and in local and national administrations. She previously served as Western Field Director at the AFL-CIO, Western Political Director at the DCCC, and Coordinated Director for the Democratic Party of New Mexico in 2012.” The Treasurer for “Build Back ‘Burque” is Robert Lara. Mr. Lara is a licensed New Mexico attorney and is the former State Treasurer of the Democratic Party of New Mexico.

The largest donors to the Keller MFC “Build Back ‘Burque” include Ace Metals and Kimberly Rael, the wife of current City Chief Operating Officer (COO) Lawrence Rael, who each gave $5,000. The PAC spent the most money this period on campaign consulting from Maryland-based New Blue Interactive.


PURPOSE: Independent Expenditure


Editor’s Analysis: This MFC is another head scratcher and there is insufficient information to indicate what its purpose is. The Chairperson is identified as SIMON (SCOOTER) T. HAYNES and the Treasurer is identified as JULIA L MACCINI. Both Simon T. “Scooter” Haynes and Julia Maccini are conservative Republicans who ran and lost in June, 2021 for the Board of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD). Haynes is a developer who owns a real estate and construction business based in Albuquerque. Julia L Maccini is believed to be an attorney and believed to be the Development Coordinator at SCM Partners, LLC a limited liability corporation. Simon T. “Scooter” Haynes lost to incumbent Joaquin Baca in the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) board race. Baca’s campaign manager was Neri Holguin, the campaign manager for Mayor Tim Keller.

Links to source material are here:


PURPOSE: Support and or oppose city council, school board and mayoral candidates


There have been no major donors nor expenditures.

Editor’s Analysis: The Indivisible Nob Hill is a very well organized and respected progressive organization that has emerged over the last few years as being very much involved with local community issues. It has a well-read FACEBOOK page “Indivisible Nob Hill – Rants and Discussion Forum” that recently has begun posting “Crooks for Manny” along with photographs of well know mobsters, such as Al Capone, John Gotti, mafia hitman Whitey Bulgar and Carlo Gambino to mention a few. The phrase “I’m a crook, and I’m for Manny!” is next to the gangster photos along with a photo of Sherriff Manny Gonzales. Nasty but effective.


PURPOSE: Support bond issue

Designated Chairperson: David M Carl
Designated Treasurer: Desiree Kim


MAJOR DONOR: New Mexico United Total Donation $35,000

Editor’s Analysis: This measured finance committee has been formed to raise donations to promote the $50 Million bond issue for a multipurpose sports stadium with the New Mexico United Professional Soccer team to be the primary tenant of the city owned facility. To date, no financial disclosure statements have been filed.

New Mexico United Professional Soccer team is the sole donor to this measured finance committee. The committee has already begun an ad campaign to encourage voters to vote and approve the $50 million bond issue. Voters are being asked if the city should issue up to $50 million in bonds to help fund the soccer stadium which is estimated to cost $65 million to $70 million.

It has been reported that according to terms of a “letter of intent to lease”, New Mexico United would contribute $10 million to help construct the proposed multiuse soccer stadium and pay $800,000 annually in base rent to be the venue’s primary tenant. The team would also have to pay the city another $100,000 per year but otherwise get to keep all revenue generated by the stadium outside of specific city-organized events. Voter approval is not technically required for this type of bond and is backed by the city’s gross receipts tax revenue. However, Mayor Tim Keller, a big promoter of the stadium, has said he would not pursue the stadium if the bond fails.


PURPOSE: To support progressive candidates for mayor and city council.


There have been no major donors nor expenditures reported.

Editor’s Analysis: The name of this MFC tips the public off to the intent and purpose of this MFC in that it is a takeoff of the popular slogan “No Corporate Democrats”, a slogan used by progressive democrats to defeat conservative Democrats in primaries. The chair person of No Corporate Council MFC is listed as Melanie Aranda and the Treasurer is listed as Michaela Gallegos who has a “Working Families Party” email address and is believed to work for New Mexico Political Reports. Melanie Aranda is the Chief Operating Officer and Founding Member of the Center for Civic Policy (CCP), a progressive political strategy group, and the Co-Director of the NM Civic Engagement Table.

Michaela Gallegos is believed to work for New Mexico Politcal Reports

The “No Corporate Council” MFC was likely formed to offset the fund-raising activities and efforts of Albuquerque Ahead, the City Council MFC organized and raising donations for Republican City Council candidates Dan Lewis and Renee Grout.


Purpose: Support candidates that support women’s reproductive healthcare and oppose those that don’t.


There have been no major donors nor expenditures.

Editors Analysis: In 2013, Planned Parenthood became actively involved in the municipal election to oppose the “late term abortion” initiative that was successfully place on the ballot by a voter petition initiative. Then Incumbent Mayor Richard Berry supported the initiative and the banning of all late term abortions in the city. Sensing that the issue could derail his re election efforts, the Republican controlled city council declined to place it on the municipal election ballot with the mayor’s race and instead funded a “special election” so as not to interfere with the 2013 mayor’s race. Planned Parenthood is a considered by many as a one issue organization dedicated to preserving a woman’s right to choose. It is more likely than not Planned Parenthood have registered a MFC for over concern that a new Mayor or the City Council will again attempt to ban late term abortions in the city.


PURPOSE: Support Albuquerque mayoral candidate who will improve the quality of life for its citizens as well as oppose candidates that are detrimental to the future growth and safety of Albuquerque.


One in kind contribution from Patrick J. Rogers in the amount of $2,678.00 for legal services rendered.

Editor’s Analysis: The chairperson of the “Retired Law Enforcement for a Better Albuquerque is Jason Katz and the Treasurer is listed as Sistine Jaramillo. Upon information and belief, Jason Katz is a former and retired Chief Deputy of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and is a longtime supporter and has worked for Gonzales. No background information could be located on Sistine Jaramillo. Pat Rogers is a private attorney and is considered by many as a conservative Republican Party-political operative who works on promoting and assisting conservative causes. Mr. Rodgers is a former National Committeeman of the Republican Party and 4 years ago filed ethics complaints against the candidate for Mayor Tim Keller.


PURPOSE: To address the serious crime and leadership problem in Albuquerque


Editor’s Analysis: The Chairperson of this MFC is Sam Vigil, the widower of Jackie Vigil who was shot and killed in her driveway in the early morning hours as she was going to the gym. Sam Vigil has been highly critical of Mayor Keller and known to support Manny Gonzales for Mayor. Given the loss of public financing by Sheriff Manny Gonzales, Save Our City should change its name to “Save Our Manny” in that it appears it is the only lifeline left for the candidate to raise money and to go negative on Keller.

The MFC “Save Our City” received its largest contributions from Don Bassard, Robyn Hendrexson and Richard Luna, each donating $2,000. The “Save Our City” spent $17,850 on media production and ad buys through Three Point Media.

The City Clerk link to the listing of all 12 measured finance committees and the finance reports is here:


Both Mayor Tim Keller and Sheriff Manny Gonzales have filed their 6th Campaign finance reports.


Incumbent Mayor Tim Keller is the only candidate for Mayor that qualified for Public Finance and given $634,179.05 by the city. On August 9, the Keller Campaign filed the 6th Campaign Finance report:


Upon qualifying for Public Finance, the City of Albuquerque advance a single lump sum of $634,179.05 for the campaign.

Editor’s Analysis: The Keller campaign’s largest expense reported in the 6th campaign finance report was $59,331 paid to the Keller campaign manager Neri Holguin’s consulting firm. The 5th campaign finance report revealed that Neri Holguin Campaign Consulting was paid $23,732.50.

The Keller campaign reported $35,470 worth of in-kind services, including $2,500 in private investigator services, $17,970 from lawyer Lauren Keefe and $15,000 worth of rent from Ed Garcia who is a principal in the Garcia Automotive Group and also a principal in the company that purchased the historical Rosenwald Building in downtown Albuquerque for $300,000 in the form a of “lease back” arrangement to the city for a police substation in the Rosenwald Building once it is remodeled into luxury condominiums.

The Mayor Tim Keller campaign has already produced television ads and is now running those ads. The link to review the first Keller ad is here:


The City has qualified Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales to appear on the November municipal ballot finding he gathered the 3,000 qualifying signatures. However, the City Clerk denied Manny Gonzales the public financing finding impropriety in the collection of his qualifying $5 donations Gonzales is continuing as a privately finance candidate.


Editor’s Analysis: The Gonzales campaign’s largest expense was $12,277 paid to Republican political operative and political media strategist Jay McClesky. The Gonzales campaign spent $3,750 with a Missouri-based firm for a “research report on Mayor Timothy M. Keller.”

Despite 3 months of litigation over public campaign financing, Gonzales reported for the second straight month no spending on attorneys or receiving any in-kind legal services. It has been reported the Gonzales campaign has not yet received legal bills but will report the expenditures for legal services.



Editor’s Analysis: Eddy Aragon’s largest contributor was Matthew Monte, who gave $2,000. His largest expenditures were two T-shirt orders totaling $10,713.


Both Mayor Tim Keller and Sheriff Manny Gonzales sought to run on public financing, but only Keller was given the public financing. City Clerk Ethan Watson twice denied to certify Gonzales for public financing after finding that the Gonzales campaign had submitted forged signatures in the $5.00 qualifying donation collection process. Gonzales appealed the city clerk’s denial of public finance twice, but his efforts failed in both the state District Court and Supreme court. Gonzales is now running as a privately finance candidate.

Third-party fundraising for Sheriff Manuel Gonzales’ Albuquerque mayoral candidacy has essentially come to a standstill in the last month as a result the negative publicity over his loss of public financing while political action committee contributions for incumbent Tim Keller’s reelection bid accelerated.

The measured finance committee (MFC) Save Our City backing Manny Gonzales still has more cash on hand, $92,003, than the MFC “Build Back ‘Burque” committee backing to keep Keller in office, $51,770. However, the 6th campaign finance report shows the Keller MFC raised more during the reporting period. The Keller MFC Build Back ‘Burque raised $42,408 compared to $12,672 raised by the MFC Save Our City that supports Gonzales.

According to the 6th campaign finance reports, Gonzales has $20,830 in his campaign account compared to Keller’s $524,710. Republican radio station owner and talk show host Eddy Aragonis running a privately funded campaign. Aragon reported that he raised $31,936 in the most recent reporting period and has $13,360 remaining after expenses, according to his report.


Complicating things for Gonzales is that confidential sources are saying that a poll is circulating showing Tim Keller with 57.3 % support, Manny Gonzales at 23.2% and Eddy Aragon at 16.1% and 3.4% undecided. There are no details as to how many were polled, when the poll was taken, how it was taken nor of the margin of error.

Notwithstanding, on September 12, 2020, the Albuquerque Journal published a poll it commissioned that showed nearly three years into his first term as Albuquerque’s mayor, Tim Keller had nearly the same high level of support that he had less than one year after he took office. Among likely city voters, 60% approve of Keller’s performance, 22% disapproved of his performance and 19% had mixed feeling or did not know. That is close to the results of a 2018 Journal Poll that found Keller had a 61% approval rating after his first nine months in office, when many officeholders still experience “honeymoon” ratings. A link to the Journal article is here:

A word of caution is in order as to polling. Four weeks in a political campaign with a low voter turnout, which is expected, is an eternity in politics and anything can happen. Keller is sitting on $524,709 in funding and will be unleashing a relentless media ad campaign spending the lion’s share of that in 4 weeks. Unless Gonzales and Aragon can raise upwards of $300,000 each for a reasonable TV buy, it’s likely the Tim Keller will be elected to a second 4-year term on November 2, unless there is an October surprise that changes the outcome of the election and forces a runoff.


The election is Tuesday November 2. Please vote.

Links to quoted source material are here:

Marching to the Beat of a Different Drummer: Homelessness, the Candidates and Augie’s Ideas

Below is a column written by Rudolfo Carrillo submitted for publication on this blog.

Rudolfo Carrillo is a native New Mexican and was the news and music editor at Weekly Alibi from August 2015 until March 2020, where he used the pen name “August March” to write about Albuquerque culture, history and politics. He is a graduate of the University of New Mexico’s fine arts program. His award-winning writing and analysis have been featured at international academic conferences, in notable literary journals as well as in local media outlets like the Albuquerque Journal. His latest work can be read at Infinity Report with the link here:

EDITOR’S DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this article are those of Rudolfo Carrillo and do not necessarily reflect those of the political blog Rudolfo Carrillo was not compensated for the guest column.


—How’s the write-in campaign for mayor doing? I asked Augie March the other day, when he stopped by to noodle on the piano we keep in the living room. It’s a decent instrument and somehow ended up there in the corner after spending most of its professional life at a place called Interlochen. Serio. But that’s another story altogether.

In reply to my simple question, March embarked on one of his trademark discourses and began by tossing me a frajo, telling me to go ahead and light the damn thing up because I was old and it couldn’t do much harm at this point anyway.

—I think a good thing for all the current mayoral candidates to do would involve having all three men—and maybe me, too, if they can stand being in such close quarters with someone who still wears English Leather religiously—drive in a fancy motorcade through different parts of the city, winding their way from neighborhood to neighborhood as cameras recorded the whole shebang. Of course, there would be a cameraman in the main limousine, too.

—Well, what would be the point of that? I asked Augie. After all and so far, the candidates have indeed met in public and in virtual forums here in the city. Though there have in fact been a few such events, as I rightly pointed out to March, I had to add the following qualifier: There hadn’t been too much news about the actual issues in the race; in fact, most of the news being reported on this year’s contest focuses on accusations, ethics violations, and PR stunts designed to improve likability.

In fact, in a mayoral forum held Monday night and sponsored by the New Mexico Black Voters Collaborative, Keller used his closing statement, according to local political columnist Joe Monahan:

“to unload publicly on Gonzales for the first time, to tell the audience that, “The Sheriff has been over-policing people of color and doing photo ops.” That statement, of course, comes with its own heap of irony, as Monahan pointed out. But it is worth mentioning that, besides being the king of photo ops in this town, Keller’s administration has had to face its own accusations of discrimination, systemic racism and ageism.

“Keller Jousts With Mayoral Foes; Lands First Public Blows On Gonzales; Starts Making Case For Second Term”, by Joe Monahan, September 27, 2021, in Joe Monahan’s New Mexico.”

“Past city official files whistleblower suit”, by Jessica Dyer, Wednesday, January 27, 2021 in The Albuquerque Journal:


March pointed his finger toward me accusingly, widened his normally sleepy eyes and with a grave intonation, continued.

—That’s precisely why they need to parade around town with a motorcycle unit, flags, heck, maybe even a high school band on some kinda float or something vaguely resembling our journey into the future. Besides being good for citizen and police morale, it would be a great way to familiarize those three with one of our city’s most dire problems, problems which Gonzales referred to as part of “a crossroads of total anarchy.”

“Mayoral hopefuls face off at forum”, by Jessica Dyer, Monday, September 27, 2021 in The Albuquerque Journal:]

—It’s true, Mr. March. I’ve been thinking so much about all those stories about fines in the thousands, pictures of the mayor cuddling shelter dogs and that other fellow bellowing like some sort of follower of the Glimmer Twins that I’ve almost forgotten about the sadness, violence, economic despair and homelessness that continue to haunt our fair burg. The thing is, it isn’t total anarchy: it’s just a whole lot of sad and displaced human beings doing what humans do best, which is being fragile and in need of help from others.

—See, if they started just north of Downtown, they could take a long look at the scores of homeless encampments that are just about everywhere, stretching from just about every freeway overpass to the sidewalks on main thoroughfares and on the edges of industrial parks, too. Maybe they could even talk with ’em. That ought to change some perceptions, by gum!

—Now wait a minute, Augie, the incumbent says he has a plan to get that fixed pronto!

—I wish that were the case, but look in the daily newspaper. It says there that the whole deal is being held up in the planning department by objections from neighbors of Keller’s proposed shelter at the former Lovelace Hospital on Gibson Boulevard. The place is in District 6—the Council district of the notorious Pat Davis—and the folks that live up there reckon they have already had to face an overwhelming homeless population and all the negative things they say go along with that.

“Neighbors object to ABQ shelter proposal” By Jessica Dyer in The Albuquerque Journal, Tuesday, September 21, 2021:


—How does Davis figure into this; and why does his involvement rate the epithet “notorious”? That’s a pretty strong word, Mr. March!

—Well, back in May, Davis apparently caved to business and real estate interests in the area, proposing that the shelter limit itself to only 30 beds. Before that, he called for public input on the project to be extended again, keeping the whole project in limbo. The editorial board at the Journal called all of that “bait and switch at its worst,” and they’re right. Citizens voted on investing $14 million on the project in the hope of giving some hope to a good number of the city’s homeless. Davis’ move seems craven, period. The project just isn’t going to work in Davis’ scaled-down version. The homeless problem has grown way beyond 30 beds. Come to think of it, maybe Davis ought to ride in the motorcade with those three candidates!

“Editorial: Hey ABQ voters, did you OK $14M for just 30 shelter beds?” By the Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board, in The Albuquerque Journal, Tuesday, May 25, 2021:

—And how is driving the candidates—and Councilor Davis, for that matter—around town, through its worst bits, going to help? How is it going to change things for the better?

—If they stick to the 30-bed scenario that Davis is working for, he should definitely tag along. He could be the one that hand-selects the 30 homeless citizens who get to experience life at the new shelter. But in general terms, his inclusion supports the idea that there is a stigma against the homeless among certain other groups of people.

They frighten many folks in the middle- and upper-classes. In fact, another fellow named Grilley that’s running for City Council in District 9 sorta sums up the weird and inappropriate cognitive dissonance and privilege a lot of these objectors to Keller’s plan are demonstrating. Right on his main page, it says this: “Homelessness in our district poses a threat to public health, compromises our security, and costs the city money.” His main focus here seems to be on saving money: the bottom line. Wealth management is big with these white privilege sorts. With outright capitalists, it’s always ‘mercy be damned.’

Rob Grilley for Albuquerque City Council, District 9:


—And …

—Well, maybe if they get it into their heads that these are real flesh and blood human beings with their own stories, their own dignity—and their own frailties—maybe they’d get off their behinds and start doing something proactive to solve this tragic problem; you know, help train them, provide and staff for comprehensive mental health services, get ’em ready to work or learn and contribute to the city. Don’t get me wrong, Keller’s got the right idea on this one; it’s a rarity, I know it.

But he needs to talk about this issue in public more, he needs to be a role model, for Crissakes! If we do the motorcade thing, I’d expect him to be the first one out of the car, shaking hands with and giving out hugs to all those homeless folks wandering through every part of our town. That PR strategy has worked for shelter pets, after all.

—Whoa. What about Manny … and the other guy?

—Of course, Gonzales shouldn’t wear his uniform during the procession. I reckon he’ll stay in the car, because he won’t want to get his hands dirty. Some of those folks coulda been the ones his handlers used to get fake signatures, you know?

And that third candidate, the Republican just plumb doesn’t matter. He’s a ghost of the airwaves and nothing more: I gotta base that opinion on what ol’ Aragon represents. He’s just a disenfranchised former Dem who probably didn’t feel too comfortable with the ascension of women and the consequent progress in the state party and so latched on to Satan himself—represented, in his case, I might add, by that awful criminal nihilist, number 45 who’s constantly mentioned in that man’s radio diatribes.

Anyway, Keller needs to show some real leadership in this matter. For one thing, it’s about time he reins in Davis; Pat is beginning to look like he’s gone rogue. It’s not good for the Democratic Party, even in a supposed non-partisan local governance deal. Then, Hizzonor needs to address the concerns of citizens near the Gibson site as soon and as thoroughly as possible—while he personally weighs in via one of his own famous photo ops—on why this city absolutely needs to take better care of its disadvantaged and marginalized citizens.

—That’s very interesting, August, but I doubt anyone could get all those guys in a limousine at the same time; there’s just not enough head room plus you never told me about your candidacy …

—Well, it goes something like this: I figure some of the politicians I just talked about will read this, consider my words, the proposals therein … And then wake the heck up to what this town really needs in its next mayor. They really ought to drive around town, though, even if it is solito in their personal gasoline-powered transportation device. I guarantee that will have an effect.

If none of that happens—and I ain’t saying it will or it won’t—come election time, folks really will have to start considering the value of voting for a fictive trans-dimensional Situationist instead of what is being officially offered. I’ve always wanted to apply my painting and pizza-making skills to local governance, you know, and this is a great fail-safe—hot, fresh outta the oven with brilliant colors, too.

An Open Letter To Mayor Tim Keller And Chief Harold Medina From Margaret Smith; Proposed Officer Retention Program

Albuquerque resident Margaret Smith submitted the following guest column in the form of an open letter to Mayor Tim Keller and Chief Harold Medina for publication on this blog.

Margaret Smith is a recent transplant here to Albuquerque. She began a full-time real estate career in 2002. She has been devoted to helping hundreds of families achieve their goals. Growing up in a military family and moving multiple times during her childhood helped forge the awareness, understanding and compassion needed during a home sale process. Margaret is a certified Military Relocation Professional, educated in the challenges of military moves as well as the resources families will require once they arrive. Margaret discovered the remarkable ABQ charitable foundation Paws and Stripes. As a volunteer, she has been able to combine her commitment to re-homing shelter dogs with her deep gratitude to all of our service men and women.

EDITOR’S DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this article are those of Margaret Smith and do not necessarily reflect those of the political blog Margaret Smith was not compensated for the guest column.

Dear Mayor Keller and APD Chief Harold Medina:

I am, like many in our community, deeply concerned about the level of sworn APD officers patrolling our streets. This letter is being sent to discuss the subject and make a specific recommendation on one solution. I have requested that it be published on with the hopes that it generates fundamental, challenging questions that are directed to you and all council members.

According to recent news reports, as of September 18, 2021, the city has only 913 sworn officers, from chief to patrol officer’s 2nd class. Excluding supervisors, 404 patrol officers are working the streets in uniform. The 404 patrol officers consist of 369 patrol officers and 35 problem response team officers.

There are 7 area commands in the city. Based on the figures cited, there are approximately 60 uniformed officers per area command. There are three shifts daily, equaling about 20 officers per shift. Factor in sick time, vacation, special assignments – each shift may average 10-15 officers on a given day. Which leaves about 70 uniformed police officers on duty throughout the entire city each shift. The lack of manpower dictates that our police force cannot be proactive, only reactive.

The metrics are unacceptable for the taxpayers of ABQ and most certainly for the uniformed police officers that don’t feel supported by either the APD, the City Council nor their community.


When I look at Mayor Keller’s page, there are a number of statements that strike me in particular. Those comments include:

“Crime is the most pressing issue in Albuquerque and I have made public safety my top priority.

As to Community Policing, Mayor Keller says:

“The idea is simple. Build relationships and work with communities to address their concerns and problems.”

As to Community Partnerships, Mayor Keller says:

“Partnerships between law enforcement and the individuals and organizations they serve to develop solutions to problems and increase trust in police.”


It was early in 2020 that a meeting was called in the Mayor’s office to discuss a proposal for an Officer Retention Program that was submitted as a potential solution to the ongoing recruitment, retirement and critical understaffing issues within the APD. A retired APD Sargent submitted the proposal in 2020.

Mayor Keller was not in attendance. However, Chief Operations Officer Lawrence Rael, then Deputy Chief Harold Medina and Constituent Services Director Alan Armijo attended.

The following brief outline of an Officer Retention Program was presented:

● The City contracts with private security firms as liaisons for the Community Policing and Partnerships. The caveat for security firms under contract is that any private security officer must be retired APD.

● These hires would be paid by the security companies, not the City. The security officers would be uniformed and drive clearly identified vehicles that differentiate them from APD/BCSO.

● They would legally be private security officers with the ability to undertake any APD community- based policing programs in areas such as Nob Hill, Old Town, Downtown etc. The public would interact with seasoned, veteran officers. Who, in turn, could foster respect with a consistent presence and interaction within our communities. A continued presence would obviously be a deterrent to the criminal activity that is rampant in all of our neighborhoods.

● Working with APD, the 242-COPS and 911 calls could be “triaged” – dispatching the private security officers which could respond to the 3rd, 4th and 5th tier calls, allowing the APD to concentrate on the critical threats to human life and property.

The way the Officer Retention Program could be jumped started would be:

● Initially, open the program to all interested retired law enforcement officers from APD, BCSO and State Police.

● Offer lateral classes to all NM police departments which might encourage current LEO’s working in other departments to transfer to APD – upon which they would be required to work a minimum of 3 years to qualify for the Officer Retention Program.

● After the initial launch, it would only become available to current APD officers upon their retirement.

At the conclusion of the meeting with COO Lawrence Rael and then Deputy Chief Harold Medina, it was stated that this plan had “merit”. With all due respect, what happened to this proposal? Was another, better solution implemented?

Utilizing retired officers in community policing roles through private business opportunities allows for greater economic efficiency while maintaining a higher level of training standards and oversight.


Let me make this clear, I certainly do not hold myself to be an expert in law enforcement nor do I have the expertise to implement this or any other strategy. However, I choose to educate myself as much as possible on issues affecting my community and – I vote.

To all of my fellow neighbors – it’s time. We have the power to utilize a united voice to create change. I am as equally concerned about the continuum of crime in our city as you – we are entitled to a concrete, committed plan moving forward to address the critical shortfall of basic services. We deserve to live in, at the very least, a safer city. And in a city that works more diligently to inform us of hard facts so that we can make better informed decisions as citizens. We must work for this – step up as a community and hold our elected officials accountable. I feel it is a duty not only to myself, but to each other as a society.

I am posting it with the hopes that it generates fundamental, challenging questions that are directed to our City Council members.


Margaret Smith

It’s Not A “Broken Criminal Justice System”, But The Failure Of Stakeholders To Do Their Jobs; “Metro Crime Initiative” Announces 40 Point Action Plan To Reduce Crime; Nothing New Announced

On Sunday, September 26, the Albuquerque Journal published a guest opinion column by Mayor Tim Keller that gave a summation of the “40 action plans” that were identified by his “Metro Crime Initiative.” The opinion column headline was “Now ABQ has 40 concrete actions to turn tide on crime”. The first paragraph makes a number of claims that reflect an astonishing level of ignorance by an elected official of the criminal justice system and for that reason merits quoting in full:

Violent crime in the metro area and across America has soared during the pandemic, but in Albuquerque we know it simply cannot be treated as an outlier. Our criminal justice system is broken, and we must reach much further to change the way our region addresses crime. For too long, violence has brought tragedy to the doorstep of families in our community as violent criminals’ cycle in and out of jail. At the same time, the systems that address the most common root causes of crime, like behavioral health, are treated like an afterthought. Today, our criminal justice system does not have the capacity to keep dangerous offenders behind bars or get help to those in need.”

The link to the full guest column is here:


On Thursday, September 23, Mayor Tim Keller and his Administration concluded a series of meetings with law enforcement and community partners to address what all participants called the “broken criminal justice” system. The conference was dubbed the “Metro Crime Initiative.” It concluded with a news conference at the Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD) Real Time Crime Center to announce the results of the meetings.

A total of 5 meetings were conducted over 2 months. The participants included the Governor office, the Attorney General office, the District Attorney, the Chief Public Defender, Senate and House members, the Mayor, City Council members, Bernalillo County Commissioners, APD, NM State Police, Metro and District Courts and many others. Not at all surprising, Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales did not attend. He did not send anyone to represent his office. Gonzales is running for Mayor against Keller and said he didn’t have time between his constitutional duties and campaigning, and he thought it was all just “smoke and mirrors.”

The program consisted of 5 sessions, each lasting upwards of two hours. Panel discussions with law enforcement, court officials, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and representatives from higher education addressed opportunities for early intervention, detention, diversion and hearings, resources for victims’ advocates and offender reentry, and career pipelines.


The topics of discussion were broken down into 6 major categories. During the September 23 concluding press conference, local leaders admitted they have not been providing enough protection and resources to keep people safe. A list of 40 action items were revealed with the hope that once implemented they will lower Albuquerque’s crime efficiently and quickly. More than 20 departments statewide developed the checklist.

Following are the action items announce in each of the 6 categories:


1. Fully fund public safety agencies
2. Hire more officers
3. Create retention programs for officers
4. Expand crime-fighting technology
5. Crack down on chop shops by enacting a law that makes owning, operating or doing business with a “chop shop” a crime.
6. Extend anti-auto theft & felony warrant partnerships
7. Fund dashboard to track criminal cases
8. Support security infrastructure for businesses
9. Coordinate to identify violent criminals
10. Invest in mobile speed enforcement


11. Strengthen gun storage laws
12. Detain gun offenders until trial
13. Strengthen gun crime penalties
14. Close loopholes in Red Flag law
15. Urge gun owners to self- record serial numbers
16. Study gun violence as public health issue


17. Fix 24/7 ankle monitoring
18. Increase staffing in courts
19. Use grand juries to protect victims & clear backlogs
20. Limit case management orders to detainees


21. Expand court ordered treatment
22. Increase pre-arrest diversion offers
23. Lower cost barriers to diversion programs
24. Increase number of diversion agreements
25. Increase funding and capacity for specialty courts


26. Incentivize new provider services
27. Build peer support programs
28. Create 24/7 sobering center
29. Expand Turquoise Lodge
30. Increase addiction treatment services
31. Develop behavioral health career paths
32. Career training for underserved youth


33. Fund CABQ Violence Intervention Program
34. Expand Violence Intervention Program statewide
35. Bring restorative justice to schools


Identified items added to the to-do list were the following:

36. Bail bond reform with a pre-trial presumption of dangerousness when an offender uses, brandishes, or is in possession of a firearm during a violent, drug or property crime.
37. Invest in “mobile speed enforcement” to free up officers while combating the scourge of dangerous driving”
38. Create a task force to examine officer retention and lateral recruitment programs for all police agencies in New Mexico”
39. Create restorative justice programs in schools”
40. City funding for indigent copays for drug testing for pre-prosecution diversion programs”

One of the major goals of the check list announced is to hold each other accountable. State legislators and city leaders will prepare initiatives, bills and ordinances against each action item on the list and then and only then will the action item get checked off. No set timeline was given complete the items and that is left to each individual agency. The city intends to hold “check-ins” on policy and implementation.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A very detail “check list” pamphlet was produces containing details of each action plan and can be found here:

Links to quoted source material are here:


Mayor Keller proclaims in his guest column “Violent crime in the metro area and across America has soared during the pandemic … “ as if the pandemic had anything to do with the city’s violent crime rates. On March 11, 2020, the Corona Virus was declared a worldwide pandemic and the country began to shut down and people began to quarantine and businesses began to close. During his first full 3 years in office, in response to the city’s spiking violent crime rates, Mayor Keller initiated numerous crime-fighting initiatives. All were initiated before the pandemic hit the city hard in February, 2020.


In 2020, FBI statistics reveal that Albuquerque has the dubious distinction of having a crime rate about 194% higher than the national average.


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.
In 2020, there were 76 homicides in Albuquerque.
As of September 19, 2021 there have been 84 homicides in the city, a new all-time record high.


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.

In 2020 during Keller’s third full year in office, Crimes Against Persons went from 14,971 in 2019 to 15,262 in 2020.


“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.
In 2020 during Keller’s third full year in office Crimes Against Society, had 61% increase weapons law violations.


In 2019, Mayor Tim Keller reacting to the spiking violent crime rates, announced 4 programs in 9 months to deal with and bring down the city’s high violent crime rates. The 4 initiatives involve early intervention and partnership with other agencies and are:

1. The Shield Unit

In February 2018 the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) created the “Shield Unit”. The Shield Unit assists APD Police Officers to prepare cases for trial and prosecution by the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office.

2. Declaring Violent Crime “Public Health” issue

On April 8, 2019, Mayor Keller and APD announced efforts that will deal with “violent crime” in the context of it being a “public health issue” and dealing with crimes involving guns in an effort to bring down violent crime in Albuquerque.

3. The “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP program)

On November 22, 2019 Mayor Tim Keller announced what he called a “new initiative” to target violent offenders called “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP) . Mayor Keller proclaimed the VIP is a “partnership system” that includes law enforcement, prosecutors and social service and community provides to reduce violent crime. Mayor Keller stated:

“… This is about trying to get these people not to shoot each other. …This is about understanding who they are and why they are engaged in violent crime. … And so, this actually in some ways, in that respect, this is the opposite of data. This is action. This is actually doing something with people. …”

4. The Metro 15 Operation program.

On Tuesday, November 26, 2019 Mayor Tim Keller held a press conference to announce a 4th program within 9 months to deal with the city’s violent crime and murder rates. At the time of the press conference, the city’s homicide count was at 72, matching the city’s record in 2017.

Simply put, all 4 programs can be described as failures as not having any real statistical impact on reducing crime. The blunt truth is that for a good 3 years before the COVID pandemic hit the city hard in 2020 under Keller’s watch, violent crime rates were spiking, so much so that 4 years ago then candidate for Mayor Tim Keller made reducing the city’s crime rates a cornerstone to his campaign. He proclaimed himself to be uniquely qualified to be Mayor and went so far as to promise that he would hire 300 sworn police officers and grow the department to 1,200 sworn police offices by the end of his first term. Today, the department has 960 sworn police and the police academy cannot keep up with retirements.


It was in 2016 that New Mexico voters approved a constitutional amendment that largely eliminated the former system of money bail bonds. The change was made to prevent low-level defendants from being kept in jail because they lacked money to post bail. The bond reform also authorizes judges to order defendants held without bail pending trial if prosecutors present evidence at a hearing showing that the charged defendant is an immediate danger to the public and there are no reasonable means to prevent the charged defendant from committing a crime while released pending trial.

In August, District Attorney Raul Torrez, Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Medina, severely criticized judges after a homicide suspect escaped from a halfway house by cutting off his ankle bracelet. He was later arrested without incident. All 3 have been joined by the Governor to support a “rebuttable presumption against release” in crimes including first degree and second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and sexual exploitation of children.

Prosecutors and law enforcement officials across the state repeatedly slam judges and the court system for letting out those accused of violent felonies, particularly when they re-offend. They know damn well that judges are bound by the Code of Judicial conduct and no judge can comment and defend themselves on any pending case or even make any kind of an attempt to publicly defend themselves in the court of public opinion.

On September 15, the Administrative Office of the Courts issued the results of a report to take sharp issue with recent proposals to change the bail bond system. The study was conducted by the University of New Mexico (UNM). The report supports the proposition that the existing system does not endanger the public. The UNM study reviewed 10,289 Bernalillo County felony cases from July 2017 to March 2020 in which defendants were released from jail while awaiting trial. The statistical findings were decisive and reported as follows:

Of the cases analyzed, only 13 were arrested for a first-degree felony while on pretrial release, or about 0.1% of the total.

19% of felony defendants released from jail pending trial, 1,951 of 10,289, were arrested for new criminal activity during the pretrial period. Most of those arrests were for fourth-degree felonies and misdemeanors, including property, drug and violent crimes.

Fewer than 5% of defendants, or up to 480, released pretrial were arrested for new violent crimes. Of the cases analyzed, 95.3% were not arrested for violent crimes during the pretrial period.

Artie Pepin, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, had this to say about the study:

“The evidence from research clearly shows that the great majority of people released pending trial are not committing new crimes. … Objective research validates the pretrial justice improvements under way in New Mexico. Blaming judges and courts for crimes highlighted in news accounts does nothing to make anyone safer.”

Not at all surprising is that Jennifer Burrill, president-elect of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association had this to say about the “rebuttable presumption against release”:

“That basically means [the Governor, Keller and Torrez] are sacrificing … constitutional rights for their own political career. … We continue to ask the Legislature to make sure whatever decisions are made are based on evidence and not some kind of knee-jerk reaction, because that does not make the problem better. … That’s the same thing that we need to ask of our leaders on this situation.”

The link to quoted source material is here:


Studies suggest that nearly 50% of Bernalillo County residents needing mental health or addiction treatment services are not getting the help they need because of gaps in New Mexico’s behavioral health care. It should come as absolutely no surprise that behavioral health services in New Mexico are limited, but is improving significantly. Bernalillo County residents can give a big thanks and shout out to our the former Republican Governor who was in office for a full 8 years and who almost single handedly destroyed New Mexico’s behavioral health care system.

On February 26, 2015, the Bernalillo County Commission approved a 1/8% gross receipts tax increase on a 3-2 vote to fund new behavioral and mental health services to improve access to mental and behavioral health care services in the county. The tax generates approximately $20 million annually. The 1/8th% gross receipts tax was enacted to be used for the purpose of providing more mental and behavioral health services for adults and children in the Albuquerque and Bernalillo County area. The intent is to provide a safety net system for those in need of mental health not otherwise funded in New Mexico.

According to the Bernalillo County “Public Health Projects” webs site, link provided below, 7 major projects have been approved with committed annual funding of each of those projects are as follows:

1.Transition Planning and Re-entry Resource Center. The project includes funding transition planners at MDC and creating a Re-entry Resource Center (RRC) for an effective front door into a network of services. Initial cost of $1,341,188 in year one; $1,041,188 annually thereafter.

2. Mobile Crisis Teams to respond to individuals experiencing a nonviolent behavioral health crisis that necessitates a 911-response.

3. Expansion of the County’s Community Connections Supportive Housing Program.

4. Community Connections Re-entry Supportive Housing – $1.3 million from Bernalillo County; $503,000 from City of Albuquerque.

5. Community Engagement Teams (CET) to help people and their families voluntarily cope with the effects of mental illness and substance abuse disorders, whether individual or co-occurring, in the comfort and familiarity of their homes and communities.

6. Youth Transitional Living. Funding is provided for youth transitional living services for clients with behavioral health diagnosis who are not currently under any state Children Youth and Families Department.

7. Reduction of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) – not to exceed $3 million

On October 15, 2019 he Bernalillo County Commissioners (BCC) voted and approved funding of up to $10 Million out of the behavioral health tax. In the past, priorities have included mobile crisis teams and programming for at-risk youth. The county is funding 11 of the private providers at varying amounts by contract lasting up to 3 years.

On Oct. 15, 2019 he Bernalillo County Commissioners (BCC) voted and approved funding of up to $10 Million out of the behavioral health tax to 11 providers.


It’s laughable when Tim Keller says “Violent crime in the metro area and across America has soared during the pandemic … . It’s laughable because he talks like he has not been Mayor during the last 4 years. Simply put, all 4 programs Keller has implemented to combat violent crime can be described as failures. The programs have had no real statistical impact on reducing crime. Violent Crime has spiked each of the 6 years before the pandemic and long before the national movement of police scrutiny and accountability.


The blunt truth is that for a good 3 years before the COVID pandemic hit the city hard in 2020 under Keller’s watch, violent crime rates were spiking, so much so that 4 years ago then candidate for Mayor Tim Keller made reducing the city’s crime rates a cornerstone to his campaign. He proclaimed himself to be uniquely qualified to be Mayor and went so far as to promise that he would hire 300 sworn police officers and grow the department to 1,200 sworn police offices by the end of his first term. Today, the department has 960 sworn police and the police academy cannot keep up with retirements.

The words of Mayor Keller in his guest column and his “Metro Crime Initiative” are nothing more than a pathetic attempt to avoid acknowledging that his efforts over the past 4 years, including at least 4 programs he initiated to combat violent crime, have made little or no difference to reduce violent crime.

The entire “Metro Crime Initiative” started with the phony proposition declared by Mayor Keller and all the participants that our criminal justice system is broken. It ended with a press conference with all the participants patting each other on the back for doing such a good job and asserting they have found the solution. It’s a lot simpler to come up with a bumper sticker slogan and say the criminal justice system is broken when you do not know how to explain your inability to do your own job and are contributing to the crisis.


When Keller says “ … the systems that address the most common root causes of crime, like behavioral health, are treated like an afterthought” it is a reflection of just how clueless Keller really is about the city and state’s behavioral health care system and the efforts already being made to correct it. When you examine the “Metro Crime Initiative” 40-point plan, very little was actually proposed regarding mental health initiative and it was treated as an “afterthought” with no mention of the behavioral tax funding nor expansion of those programs funded by the tax.


The criminal justice system in this country and this state has never been perfect, nor will it ever be, but it is not broken as the “Metro Crime Initiative” participants would have all believe, especially those that are running for office such as Tim Keller and Raul Torrez and who have been failures in dealing with the city’s high crime rates. Yes, the criminal justice system does have its flaws and a number of inequities, but to say that it is a broken system is just plain ignorance of the criminal justice system or political opportunism at its worst.

Imbedded in our constitution is how justice is served, to ensure and to protect all of our constitutional rights of presumption of innocence, due process of law and requiring convictions based on evidence. The corner stone of our criminal justice system is requiring prosecutors to prove that a person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before a jury and in a court of law.

The 3 major stakeholders in our criminal justice system that are always signaled out when it’s argued that the criminal justice system is broken are law enforcement, the prosecution and the courts. When you examine these 3 major stakeholders in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, one conclusion that can be arrived at is that they are not doing their jobs. They also have an extensive history of blaming others for their failures.


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 police 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.

Mayor Tim Keller, APD Chief Harold Medina and Police Union President Shaun Willoughby are now on the same page promoting the “big lie” that the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree reforms are the cause of officer shortages, low morale and high crime rates. The Police Union has gone so far as to spend $70,000 on an ad campaign to disparage the reforms and blaming the consent decree for all of APD’s problems.

The Federal Monitor has documented the reform resistance and the negligent personnel management causing the problems they complain. The Federal Court and the Monitor have no management authority over APD. The departments problems are not caused by the reforms but caused by the way Keller, Medina and his 3 Deputies have implemented the reforms and union sergeant and lieutenant membership obstructing the mandated reforms.


A criminal prosecution cannot occur unless the prosecuting agency, usually the District Attorney, actually charges an offender and brings them to justice. When DA Raul Torrez ran for Bernalillo County District Attorney the first time, he said our criminal justice system was broken, it was in dire need of change and he was the guy to fix it. He is now running for Attorney General.

Within six months after being elected the first time, Torrez had his office prepare a report on the statistics regarding the number of felony cases that were being dismissed by the District Court. Torrez accused the District Court for being responsible for the rise in Albuquerque crime rates and releasing violent offenders pending trial. District Attorney Raul Torrez also accused defense attorneys of “gaming the system” in order to get cases dismissed against their clients.

A subsequent report prepared by the District Court revealed that it was the District Attorney’s office that was in fact voluntarily dismissing far more felony cases for various reasons, including his office not being prepared for trial, the office’s failure to meet discovery deadlines, and prosecutor’s failure to turn evidence over to defense counsel as mandated by law and discovery court orders.

The Bernalillo County District Attorney office currently has the highest voluntary dismissal rate in its history and indicts less than half what it would indict 10 years ago. Plea agreements with low penalties are the norm. Data given to the Supreme Court by the District court revealed overcharging and a failure to screen cases by the District Attorney’s Office contributes to a combined whopping 65% mistrial, acquittal and dismissal rate.


The courts are viewed as part of a broken criminal justice system whether they like it or not. That negative perception is aggravated when individual judges appear to be way too lenient in releasing violent felons and not holding them for trial without bond. The District Court Judges assigned to the criminal division point to the New Mexico Supreme Court’s Case Management Order (CMO), as does the District Attorney, that much of the discretion they had before to hold those charged until trial has been taken away.

Bookings at the Bernalillo County jail have plummeted from 38,349 in 2010 to 17,734 in 2020. It’s common knowledge amongst trial attorneys that Judges are concerned about their disqualification rates and appeal reversals and how they are perceived by attorneys and the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission. Judges are reluctant to make decisions and hold off on making the hard decisions to avoid controversy to protect their jobs.

One of the best examples of judges reluctant to make hard decisions was when virtually all the Second Judicial District Court Judge Civil Division recused themselves from hearing Manny Gonzales’ appeal of the City Clerk’s denial of the $661,000 in public finance. The Judges are not required to list their reasons for disqualifying themselves and therefore no one knows the reason why other than the case was politically charged. The New Mexico Supreme Court was forced to appoint a Santa Fe First Judicial District judge to hear the case.


When you examine the “check list” of the 40 different proposals that were the result of the Metro Crime Initiative, the proposals are essentially what all the participants have been working on over the past 2 years and include many programs already announced. The list contains nothing new. The items listed are ones that the participants should have been doing in the first place.

The 40 proposals are essentially an admission by many of the participants that they have not been doing their jobs effectively from the get go. There really is nothing new other than a public relations flyer and the checklist Mayor Tim Keller could hold up during his press conference, a few weeks before an election so he can say “ignore my failures of the past 4 years and see what I have done now to combat violent crime.”


The criminal justice system at all levels is only as good as those who are responsible to make it work and succeed. The participants in the city sponsored “Metro Crime Initiative” know what is wrong with the state’s criminal justice system. They know it is not a “broken system” but a “systems failure” caused by their own failures to act and to do their jobs effectively. It is way too easy to declare the system “broken” when problems identified within the criminal justice system would go away if the stakeholders would just do their own jobs and concentrate on doing their jobs in a competent manner.

Mayor Tim Keller will likely get elected to a second 4 year term, not because he has done such a terrific job, but because his opposition Der Führer Trump candidates Sheriff Manny Gonzales and Eddy Aragon are so weak and would be worse if they were elected. Once Mayor Keller is elected again, what we can expect for another 4 years is more “smoke and mirrors” such was the “Metro Crime Initiative” as described Manny Gonzales.

The election is November 2.

“New Mexico Civil Guard” Sues City Over Onate Statute Protest Detainment; Citizens Militia’s At Center of January 6 US. Capital Insurrection; Outlaw Or Regulate Citizens Militias Before They Kill Someone; Add To 2022 Crime Package Legislation

On September 9, 2021, 8 members of the citizens militia group known as the New Mexico Civil Guard (NMCG) filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). The lawsuit claims the 8 were “targeted” by APD when they showed up on June 15, 2020 at the protest over the “La Jornada” (The Journey) sculpture in front of the Albuquerque Museum. The protest was for the removal of the figures of Juan de Onate de Salazar in the sculpture. A man was shot during the protest.

According to a federal lawsuit, the citizens militia group claim city officials targeted them for no reason. The lawsuit alleges that the city was aware the militia group was going to be there and APD positioned officers near the protest waiting until a Civil Guard member “committed a crime and planned to then arrest them.” The plaintiffs alleged they did nothing wrong and were detained anyway by APD.

The Civil Guard members allege one of them was attacked at the protest and at that point all the civil guard left the crowd. According to the complaint, after they had moved away, 31-year-old Steven Baca pulled a concealed handgun and started shooting, hitting one man. When the shooting began, the guard members returned and ran toward Baca and upon encountering him, one militia member stepped on the gun or “kicked his gun away”.

The lawsuit alleges that even though police knew the group wasn’t associated with Baca, they “arrested” the plaintiffs anyway, held them for hours for questioning, not allowing them to talk to lawyers or even use the restroom . They were eventually released after interviews.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The allegation that they were arrested is false. No militia member was arrested but they were held for questioning and then released.

At the time of the incident, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez said that the militia members had a right to be at the protest and bear arms. However, the DA made it clear they did not have the right to intervene as “enforcers of the law”. The DA later filed an injunction to prohibit the Civil Guard from acting in any police or military capacity and to declare the group a “nuisance” posing an immediate threat.

A link to the complete news report is here:


The June 15, 2020 protests and shooting was the subject of extensive news coverage. It was reported at the time as follows:

During the protest, there were 6 to 8 heavily armed NMCG members, some dressed in military camouflage, saying they were present to “protect” the sculpture. It was reported that the shooting occurred when at least 3 of the protesters attacked a person identified as Steven Baca who was walking away from them. Steven Baca was struck in the head with a skateboard and Baca drew a gun, shot numerous times, with one shot hitting one of the protesters. The shot protester was rushed to the hospital and was listed in critical but stable condition. The shooting and violence resulted in the City taking the single figure of Onate down and relocating it in an undisclosed location.

Civil Guard members said they took zero responsibility for the shooting and what happened at the June 15 protest. The militia group pointed out that Steven Baca is not a member of their group. They also have said Baca was “justified” in shooting a protester and believe their armed presence stopped more bloodshed.

NMCG Chaplin and Founder Bryce Provance said that after the gunfire, his men set their “scope” on Steven Baca and “would’ve blown his brains out” if he kept shooting. NMCG member John Burks, an Army veteran who served in “quite a few deployments” said that he could not “specifically speak on” his kicking Steven Baca’s gun away to “secure the crime scene“ but did say:

“People said we protected him after he shot. … No, we detained him and formed a perimeter around him so that he didn’t pick that gun back up and shoot more people.”

On June 16, the Albuquerque Police Department released a photo of the 13 guns and 34 magazines taken from militia members at the protest. In the APD photo there are 4 semi-automatic rifles. A controversy is now brewing over the handling of the protest by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).


On Monday, July 14, 2020, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez filed a civil lawsuit to stop the New Mexico Civil Guard private militia from usurping the state’s military and law enforcement authority. The lawsuit was filed against the New Mexico Civil Guard and 14 of its members who “include some individuals associated with white supremacist and neo-Confederate organizations, according to the civil complaint.

The lawsuit argued that the New Mexico Constitution says civilian militias can only be activated by the governor and alleges the New Mexico Civil Guard is acting like law enforcement. According to the lawsuit, the New Mexico Civil Guard are acting like law enforcement by holding training sessions, outfitting themselves with military equipment and gear, and patrolling protests armed and in uniform without any legal authority to act in any kind of law enforcement capacity.

The lawsuit alleges that membership includes people associated with white supremacist and neo-Confederate ideology. According to the lawsuit:

“[NMCG has routinely used paramilitary tactics] at protests, demonstrations, and public gatherings throughout New Mexico, providing wholly unauthorized, heavily armed, and coordinated ‘protection’ from perceived threats.”

The federal civil complaint makes specific allegations that are alarming as to the actions of the New Mexico Civil Guard. Paragraphs 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8 of the complaint are succinct and outlines the “New Mexico Civil Guard” activities and what they are all about:

“2. The so-called “New Mexico Civil Guard” (NMCG) is not an organized police force or an organized part of the military. Nor is it affiliated with or overseen by the Government. Yet this group formed for the claimed purpose of maintaining the peace and both fashions itself and pretends to function as a part of the state military. NMCG’s coordinated, armed, and uniformed presence at public events results in intimidation and creates a chilling effect on the exercise of First Amendment rights to address matters of public concern. NMCG’s attempt to operate as a private police or military unit in Bernalillo County is a per se public nuisance that must be abated to protect public safety, allow the free and open use of public forums, and minimize violent armed confrontations.
… .
5. NMCG has unlawfully exercised and intends to continue to unlawfully exercise the power to maintain public peace reserved to peace officers. NMCG’s membership is not composed of peace officers, and New Mexico law clearly provides that NMCG and its members have no civil or military authority to maintain the public peace.”
… .
“7. This is a case about paramilitary action that threatens public safety and intimidates the public’s exercise of First Amendment rights. It is not a case about gun ownership, gun possession, or self-protection. Importantly, NMCG’s paramilitary activity is not protected by the Second Amendment, and the relief that the State seeks does not run afoul of Defendants’ Second Amendment rights. … .
“8. Nor is this a case about political viewpoints. To the extent NMCG has certain white supremacist ties, their viewpoint heightens the risk of violence at certain public events because of the antipathy they hold for particular groups of protesters. But the threat posed to public safety by paramilitary actions at public demonstrations or gatherings exists regardless of the paramilitary organization’s underlying ideology. Put simply, there is no place in an ordered civil society for private armed groups that seek to impose their collective will on the people in place of the police or the military. … .”

The link to the civil complaint filed is here:


The New Mexico Civil Guard are not law enforcement and are likely violating the laws that govern peace officers with their actions.

The New Mexico statutory law is very clear as to the definition of a “peace officer”. The law is also very clear that only peace officers are authorized to maintain the peace and make arrests.

It is § 30-1-12(C) (1963) of the New Mexico statutes that defines a peace officer as anyone who is elected or appointed and who is:

“vested by law with a duty to maintain public order or to make arrests for crime.”

Under §29-1-9 (2006) of the New Mexico statutes the duties, responsibilities and authority to lawfully maintain the peace are expressly reserved to peace officers. The statute provides:

“[N]o person shall assume or exercise the functions, powers, duties and privileges incident and belonging to the office of special deputy sheriff, marshal, policeman or other peace officer without first having received an appointment in writing from a person authorized by law to appoint special deputy sheriffs, marshals, policemen or other peace officers . . . .”

Section §30-27-2.1 of the New Mexico statutes also defines what a police officer is, what impersonating a police officer is and it illegal for anyone to impersonate a peace officer The statute provides:

… [A] “peace officer” means any public official or public officer vested by law with a duty to maintain public order or to make arrests for crime, whether that duty extends to all crimes or is limited to specific crimes.

Impersonating a peace officer consists of:

(1) without due authority exercising or attempting to exercise the functions of a peace officer; or
(2) pretending to be a peace officer with the intent to deceive another person.
… Whoever commits impersonating a peace officer is guilty of a misdemeanor. Upon a second or subsequent conviction, the offender is guilty of a fourth-degree felony.


Much like doctors, lawyers, and teachers, law enforcement in New Mexico is heavily regulated profession. There are minimum qualification and training requirements for all state certified law enforcement. It is the Law Enforcement Training Act that creates the law-enforcement academy to provide a planned program of basic law enforcement training and in-service law enforcement training for police officers.

The academy requires minimum training requirements for certification, and requirements for continuing training “to constantly upgrade law enforcement within the state.” ( NMSA 1978, §§ 29-7-1 to – 15, passed in 1969, and amended through 2020). The statute provides for suspension and revocation of law-enforcement certification based on dishonesty or fraud, the commission of a felony, or violations of law involving moral turpitude. (§ 29-7-13,) NMSA 1978. During the 2020 legislative session, the New Mexico Legislature amended the Act to require revocation of law-enforcement certification for crimes involving the use or threatened use of force. ( NMSA 1978, § 29-7-15)


The New Mexico Civil Guard is not military and are not authorized under the law to use military force. The New Mexico Civil Guard is likely violating the laws that govern government militias, the National Guard and the New Mexico state defense force.

Under New Mexico statutory law, entities that are authorized to use military force on the State’s behalf are collectively known as the “militia”. It is Section 20-2-1 of the New Mexico Statues that outlines 3 distinct components of the militias:

A. “Militia” means all the military forces of this state, organized and unorganized, whether active or inactive; but excludes the regularly organized police forces of the state or its political subdivisions and excludes the civil air patrol division.

B. “National guard” means the New Mexico army national guard and the New Mexico air national guard. The national guard is federally recognized and has a dual state and federal character and mission. When used in Chapter 20 NMSA 1978 national guard shall refer to the national guard of New Mexico unless otherwise stated.

C. “New Mexico state defense force” means that part of the militia of the state which is not federally recognized. It is exclusively a state entity. Its standing cadre is a component of the organized militia; its ranks are filled upon order of the governor from the unorganized militia. When used in Chapter 20 NMSA 1978, state defense force shall refer to the New Mexico state defense force.

Note that 20-2-1 section A makes it clear that militia does not include organized police forces of the state, counties and municipalities all which are separate political subdivisions. Note also that the New Mexico National Guard is federally recognized and can be called or ordered into active federal service ostensibly by the United States Defense Department or order of the President. The State Defense Force is “exclusively a state entity and not federally recognized as is the National Guard. The ranks of the State Defense Force can be filled by the unorganized militia only by order of the Governor. Absent activation into the State Defense Force by the Governor, any unorganized militia lacks authority to operate as a military force.


It is not the function of the National Guard nor the State Defense Force to exercise the powers and duties of peace officers. It is New Mexico statutes § 20-2-3, dealing with Military Affairs, that designates the Governor as only one who has the power to call out the national guard and the militia and the statute outlines those instances.

§ 20-2-3 provides:

“A. The governor may, in case of insurrection, invasion, riot or breach of the peace or of imminent danger thereof or in case of other emergency, order into active service of the state the militia or any components or parts thereof that have not been called into federal service.  As used in this section, “emergency” includes any man-made or natural disaster causing or threatening widespread physical or economic harm that is beyond local control and requiring the resources of the state.

B. The governor may also order any member of the national guard to active state service … for the following reasons:

(1) to protect critical infrastructure in the state from a cybersecurity threat or security vulnerability;
(2) to protect an information system owned or operated by the state from a cybersecurity threat or security vulnerability;
(3) to protect information that is stored on, processed by or transiting on an information system owned or operated by the state from a cybersecurity threat or security vulnerability;  or
(4) to identify the source of a cybersecurity threat.

C. A member of the national guard called to active service pursuant to … t Subsection B … shall not have any police powers or arrest authority. … .

D. In case of any breach of the peace, tumult, riot or resistance to process of this state or imminent danger thereof, the sheriff of a county may call for aid from the governor as commander-in-chief of the national guard.  If it appears to the governor that the power of the county is insufficient to enable the sheriff to preserve the peace and protect the lives and property of the peaceful residents of the county or to overcome the resistance to process of this state, the governor shall, on application of the sheriff, order out such military force as is necessary.

E. When any portion of the militia is called out for the purpose of suppressing an unlawful or riotous assembly, the commander of the troops shall cooperate with the civil officers to the fullest extent consistent with the accomplishment of the object for which the troops were called. … .

F. When any portion of the militia is ordered into active service pursuant to this section in case of an emergency, the militia may provide those resources and services necessary to avoid or minimize economic or physical harm until a situation becomes stabilized and again under local self-support and control, including the provision, on a temporary, emergency basis, for lodging, sheltering, health care, food and any transportation or shipping necessary to protect lives or public property;  or for any other action necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare.

G. … .


It is §20-2-2 of the New Mexico statutes that defines “organized and unorganized militias” as follows:

“The militia is composed of the organized and the unorganized militia.

A. The organized militia is the national guard and the standing cadre of the state defense force and such parts of the unorganized militia when and as may be activated, enrolled or enlisted into the national guard or into the state defense force.

B. The unorganized militia is comprised of all able-bodied male citizens of the state and all other able-bodied males who have or shall have declared their intentions to become citizens of the United States and are residents of the state who are not less than 18 or more than 45 years of age, but who shall not be more than 64 years of age if they shall have earlier served in or retired from the national guard; subject to … [specific] listed exceptions … .


On the Morning of January 6, 2021 Der Führer and outgoing President Donald Trump spoke to thousands of his upset and angry supporters in Washington, DC in front of the White House before the Congress was to schedule to accept the electoral college vote as mandated by the United States Constitution.

Trump’s speech was inflammatory and full of lies and he said in part:

“We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. … Our country has had enough. We’re not going to take it anymore.”

“And after this, we’re going to walk down there, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down … to the Capitol and we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. … And we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

“You’re the real people. You’re the people that built this nation. You’re not the people that tore down this nation.”

“Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy.”


Soon after Trump spoke, the angry mob walked to the capital building where congress was proceeding to certify the electoral college vote certifying Joe Biden as the new president. Hundreds of pro-Trump protesters pushed through barriers set up along the perimeter of the Capitol, where they engaged with officers in full riot gear, some calling the officers “traitors” for doing their jobs.

Protesters pushed against metal fences and police using the fences to push protesters back, while other officers reached over the top to club people trying to cross their lines. After the building was breached, the Capitol police officer in the House chamber told lawmakers that they may need to duck under their chairs and informed lawmakers that protesters were in the building’s Rotunda. House members were seen wearing gas masks as they move between Capitol buildings.

An armed standoff took place at the House Chamber front door. Capitol police officers had guns drawn. The House floor was evacuated by police. Vice President Mike Pence was evacuated from the chamber. The protesters gained access to the Chamber and a Trump supporter sat in the chair of the Senate President located on the Senate dais. Other protesters gained access to house offices.

Smoke grenades were used on the Senate side of the Capitol as police worked to clear the building of rioters. Windows on the west side of the Senate were broken, and hundreds of officers amassed on the first floor of the building.

Congressional leaders were evacuated from the Capitol complex and taken to Fort McNair, a nearby Army base in Washington. The display of insurrection was the first time the US Capitol had been overrun since the British attacked and burned the US Capital building during the War of 1812.


On January 19, 2021, the Washington Post reported that according to court documents filed, self-styled militia members from Virginia, Ohio and other states made plans to storm the U.S. Capitol days in advance of the January 6 attack. They communicated in real time as they breached the capital building on opposite sides and talked about hunting for lawmakers.

Federal authorities have charged more than 100 individuals in the riot. The FBI have made arrests of people with alleged ties to far-right extremist groups, including the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters in connection with the January 6 storming of the United States Capital. The arrest suggest that the riot was not an entirely impulsive outburst of violence but an event instigated or exploited by organized groups. Hours of video posted on social media and pored over by investigators have focused on individuals in military-style gear moving together.

The link to the full article is here:

According to the Washington Post article, 3 United States military veterans have been charged in connection with the riot. Those veterans are Thomas Edward Caldwell, 66, of Berryville, Va., an apparent leader of the Oath Keepers extremist group, former U.S. Marine Donovan Crowl, 50, and Jessica Watkins, 38, an Army veteran. The three are charged with 5 federal counts of conspiracy against the United States, obstructing an official government proceeding, impeding or injuring government officers and destroying U.S. property, entering restricted grounds and disorderly conduct at the Capitol.

It is alleged that Caldwell and others coordinated in advance to disrupt Congress to disrupt the confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college victory. The criminal defendants are charged with scouting for lodging and recruiting Oath Keepers members from North Carolina and like-minded groups from the Shenandoah Valley. The Oath Keepers claims thousands of members who assert the right to defy government orders they deem improper. The plotters both anticipated violence and continued to act in concert after the break-in, investigators alleged in court documents. FBI papers also say that Caldwell suggested a similar event at the local level after the attack, saying in a message: “Lets storm the capitol in Ohio. Tell me when!”

“In charging papers, the FBI allege that during the Capitol riot, Caldwell received Facebook messages from unspecified senders updating him of the location of lawmakers. When he posted a one-word message, “Inside, he received exhortations and directions describing tunnels, doors and hallways. … Some messages, according to the FBI, included, “Tom all legislators are down in the Tunnels 3floors down,” and “Go through back house chamber doors facing left down hallway down steps.” Another message read: “All members are in the tunnels under capital seal them in. Turn on gas,” the FBI added.”


“Private Militias”, more commonly known by the general public as “Citizen Militias” are loosely defined as “armed military groups that are composed of private citizens and not recognized by the United State Government or state governments.” Upwards of half the states maintain laws regulating private militias. Generally, these laws prohibit the parading and exercising of armed private militias in public, but do not forbid the formation of private militias.

“Legal and political scholars have argued that citizen militias are driven by what is known as the insurrection theory of the Second Amendment. Under this view, the Second Amendment grants an unconditional right to bear arms for self-defense and for “rebellion against a tyrannical government” defined as when a government turns oppressive and private citizens have a duty to “insurrect” or take up arms against their own government.

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a qualified rejection of the insurrection theory. According to the Court in Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494, 71 S. Ct. 857, 95 L. Ed. 1137 (1951):

“[W]hatever theoretical merit there may be to the argument that there is a ‘right’ to rebellion against dictatorial governments is without force where the existing structure of the government provides for peaceful and orderly change.”

Legal scholars have interpreted this to mean that as long as the government provides for free elections and trials by jury, private citizens have no right to take up arms against the government. In states that do not outlaw them, private militias are limited only by the criminal laws applicable to all. In other words, if an armed private militia seeks to parade and exercise in a public area, its members will be subject to arrest on a variety of laws, including disturbing-the-peace, firearms, or even riot statutes.

Links to quoted sources are here:


On September 3, seventeen House Democrats, including majority floor leader Javier Martinez and Representatives Antonio “Moe” Maestas of Albuquerque, announced a lengthy list of goals for next regular legislative session that begins January 18, 2022. The legislation is being offered to address the he increase in violent crime in Albuquerque which is seen by the rest of the state as the center of violent crime. Last year, CBS News rated Albuquerque ninth among the top 50 most violent cities in the country. There have been 86 victims of homicide this year in Albuquerque.

Major highlights of the legislation outlined by the Albuquerque area Democrats include the following:

1. Major changes to the state’s pretrial detention system to keep certain individuals charged with violent crimes in jail until trial.
2. Extending prosecutors’ time limit for filing second-degree murder charges.
3. Increasing the criminal penalties for violent crime such as second degree murder. The current penalty for second degree murder is an 18 year basic sentence and is 12 years with mitigating circumstance and 24 years with aggravating circumstances.
4. Create new criminal penalty for failing to safely store firearms out of children’s reach.
5. To address gun violence, the legislators want establish state office of gun violence protection.
6. Place new restrictions or the sale or reduce high-capacity ammunition magazines for automatic weapons.
7. Increase pay levels and provide retention bonuses for law enforcement officers and provide recruitment and retention money and policies for police officers.
8. Crack down on those who own or operate chop shops that sell stolen vehicle parts such catalytic converters in automobiles and a crackdown on property damage in the theft of copper. an
9. Extend statute of limitations for certain violent crimes.
10. Increase funding for crime prevention grant program for local communities for street lighting .
11. Expand youth substance abuse and detox centers and increase the workforce that provides service for mental health and addiction..


The “New Mexico Civil Guard” citizen’s militia suing the city for APD’s detention of them over the Onate statute protest detainment can only be described as an effort to intimate and usurp the legitimate exercise of law enforcement powers of APD, the city of Albuquerque and the state of New Mexico. It likely the group views the city as an easy mark they can secure concessions from and perhaps make a quick buck.

Simply put, the New Mexico Civil Guard are nothing more than vigilantes looking for trouble and who actually want a confrontation with law enforcement. Those who take it upon themselves to associate and bear arms calling themselves “citizen militias” take it to the extreme when they attend protests fully armed in military attire proclaiming they are there to assume the responsibility law enforcement to protect people and property. Such actions amount to vigilantism at its very worst.


On September 3, New Mexico House Representatives from the Albuquerque area announced a comprehensive “crime-fighting” package that would include expanded mental health treatment programs and increased criminal penalties. As presented, the proposed legislation includes 16 proposals.

Citizen Militias are not regulated in the State of New Mexico. As part of the “crime fighting package”, the Governor and the legislature should include for consideration the outlawing or regulating citizens militias in the state There is no comprehensive federal law that regulates them under the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

Those who take it upon themselves to associate and bear arms calling themselves “citizen militias” take it to the extreme when they attend protests fully armed in military attire proclaiming they are there to assume the responsibility law enforcement to protect people and property. Such attendance amounts to nothing but vigilantism.

As things escalate with mass murders and protests, the State of New Mexico and the United State Congress need to enact legislation that defines with more particularity what a “citizen miltia” is and either ban them entirely or regulate all citizens militias.

If the United States Congress, and for that matter New Mexico, does not ban citizen militia’s, a Citizen’s Militia Registration Act needs to be enacted. Citizen militias need to be defined along similar lines of how “gangs” are defined under federal criminal law.

A “citizens militia” needs to be defined as:

“An association of three or more individuals, whose members collectively identify themselves by adopting a group identity employing one or more of the following: a common name, slogan, identifying sign, symbol, flag, uniforms or military apparel or other physical identifying marking, style or color of clothing, whose purpose in part is to engage in the protection of private property and other people. A registered citizens militia may employ rules for joining and operating within the militia and members may meet on a recurring basis.”

A Citizen Militia Registration Act would require citizen militias to:

Allow only American Citizens to be members of a citizen militia.
Register with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATFE) within the United States Department of Justice or in New Mexico with the New Mexico Homeland Security Office.
Require members to register their firearms with the ATFE or State.
Pay yearly regulation fees and firearm certification fees and carry liability insurance.
Identify all their members by name, address and contact information.
Prohibit felons from joining.
Limit their authority and powers so as to prevent militias to engage in law enforcement activities.
Require members to pass criminal background checks and psychological testing.
Mandate training and instructions on firearm use and safety.
Require all militias and its members to agree to follow all local, state and federal laws and apply for permits to attend functions sponsored by others.
Failure to register as mandated would be a felony.


The fact that the New Mexico Civil Guard has now sued the City and APD for detaining them regarding their interference with the June 15, 2020 protest is clear warning they have no intentions of stopping their interference with law enforcement.

Under absolutely no circumstances should the city attempt to settle the case and do everything it can to aggressively defend against such a frivolous law suit. Until something is done with the enactment of citizen militia prohibitions or regulations, citizen militias will be nothing more than vigilantes on the hunt using armed intimidation tactics to interfere with people’s first amendment rights as they attempt to assume law enforcement duties and responsibilities and act like military.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham should add to her call of the 2022 legislative session legislation that will outlaw or regulate citizens militias before they kill someone with their vigilantism.

APD Command Staff Fail To Get Job Done With $227 Million Budget; Police Union Responsible For Failures Implementing DOJ Reforms

On November 12, 2014, the city of Albuquerque and the Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into a Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) after the DOJ investigation found a “culture of aggression” within APD and the use of excessive force and deadly force. The settlement mandates 271 APD reforms. The Postscript to this article lists in detail what has been implemented of the reforms over the last 7 years.

On Sunday, September 12 , in two front-page stories in the Albuquerque Journal, APD Chief Harold Medina and the Albuquerque Police Officers Union expressed strong objections and criticisms against the shortages of APD sworn officers, low morale and the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) mandated reforms. Not surprising on September 19, the Journal Editor’s followed up with and editorial entitled “DOJ REFORM PROCESS READY FOR A DOEOVER”; Albuquerque Needs constitutional policing and more officers on the streets.”

The titles and links to both of the Albuquerque Journal articles are here:

“APD’s thin blue line stretched thinner”

“APD officers leaving force cite DOJ settlement”

The link to the Journal editorial entitled “DOJ REFORM PROCESS READY FOR A DOEOVER”; Albuquerque Needs constitutional policing and more officers on the streets is here:


The highlights of the data reported by the Journal in its stories can be summarized as follows:

The city budget authorizes up to 1,140 sworn officers. APD Police Chief Harold Medina says the needs 1,200 sworn. As of late July, APD sworn police numbered 939, leaving about 200 positions vacant. Forty-eight cadets are expected to join the ranks by the end of October. The new cadet class will bring the number of vacancies down to 152 vacancies of sworn police.

Excluding supervisors, 404 patrol officers are working the streets in uniform, which is referred to as “field services”. The 404 patrol officers consist of 369 patrol officers and 35 problem response team officers. The 404 is 74 fewer patrol officers than in May 2016. according to an APD staffing plan. The percentage of patrol officers on the streets is less than half of the force, compared with 57% five years ago in 2016.

During the first 8 months of this year, 101 officers have left APD. That compares with 82 departures in 2020 and 58 officers leaving in 2019.

Response times in getting officers to the most life-threatening 911 calls increased over last year. A Priority One call is taking nearly an average of 12 minutes for police to arrive on the scene, which is nearly two minutes longer than in 2020.


The September 20 editorial states in pertinent part to this blog article:

“The police union says too many officers face discipline for minor infractions. Medina says too many are tied up for hours on investigations for even minor use of force. He said a major reason cited in exit interviews by officers who leave before retirement is they are “very fearful of the DOJ and the discipline that has come down through the DOJ process.”

Officers who could be on patrol or working property crimes are assigned to internal affairs. Despite bonuses and other efforts, APD is at least 200 officers short of its budgeted level of 1,140. APD had 369 patrol officers in July – down 74 from 2016.

The argument Medina and Keller are making now boils down to this: Seven years and more than $26 million into the DOJ monitoring process, we have made significant progress and need to modify the oversight in a way that both guards against the kinds of abuses outlined above and lets us put enough officers on the street to respond to crime and empower them to discourage criminal activity.”


Both Journal articles and the editorial completely fail to provide any information on the extent of interference and tactics used by the police union to disrupt and impede the implementation of the DOJ reforms mandated by the Court Approved Settlement Agreement. Absent is any reporting on the recent steps taken by APD to change the disciplinary process of sworn police that are causing low morale nor improvements to the use of force investigation.


In the Journal article “APD’s thin blue line stretched thinner” Chief Medina said that he is contending with officer vacancies throughout the department and that it’s not as easy as just adding more officers to patrol. Medina said:

“The field is short. I wish I had more people for investigations, but we don’t have them. … We still don’t have a property crimes division [in terms of staffing] like we had in 2012. …”

Reacting to officers leaving the department midway through their careers, Medina had this to say:

“We literally had one officer who left to be a security consultant. … I was shocked. He had eight or 10 years in, and [I said] ‘You’re giving all that up?’ He said, ‘Yeah, my family doesn’t want me in law enforcement anymore.’ 

Medina was also critical of the criminal justice system, the so called “revolving door”, of releasing criminals and mandated police use of force investigations under the consent decree. Medina said:

“What also hurts us, is have you ever thought about the fact that we arrest people over and over, like auto theft. Those cases take a half or whole shift to process the case. Imagine if we had a criminal justice system where we arrested somebody once, maybe even twice and they stayed incarcerated? … So we’re not only losing officer time by having to investigate something a subsequent time [but] we’re also losing officer time through use-of-force investigations related to that hardened criminal we have to use force on.”

In the Journal article “APD officers leaving force cite DOJ settlement”, Medina said that exit interviews with APD officers who leave before they reach retirement show a primary reason for their departures is that:

“They’re very fearful of the DOJ and the discipline that has come down through the DOJ process. … [discipline concerns were] valid for a period of time because discipline was really high. … I didn’t agree with how [the new disciplinary policy] was rolled out [when the disciplinary policy was revised in July.]


In one article, Medina noted that APD adjusted the way it disciplines officers for minor infractions that distinguishes misconduct from mistakes. The Journal failed to report the extent the disciplinary process has been changed.

On September 2, 2021, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) Compliance and Oversight Division filed its “14th Progress and Status Summary Report”. The report is APD’s version on the progress made in the 3 compliance levels of the settlement. The 14th Progress report covers the period February 1 to July 31, 2021.

SOP 3-46 is a CASA-related policy that APD recognizes as having a significant impact on personnel, establishing requirements for progressive discipline and the use of abeyance as recommended. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 3-46 Discipline System was revised and published in July 2021. On multiple occasions, APD worked with both the Independent Monitoring Team and DOJ in this policy’s revision, accepting feedback and making the necessary changes to develop a stronger policy.

According to APD’s report, it has worked diligently on an early intervention system since 2018 and believes the department has come a long way in the development of an in-house system while APD continues with an outside vendor to tailor an early intervention system to meet the department’s needs and requirements. The “Pareto Principle Method”, or 80/20 Rule, which means that 80% of successes or failures are caused by the actions of 20% of employees.

In February 2021 the method was approved by the monitoring team as the statistical application that will be used to measure both acceptable and unacceptable behaviors from officers as outlined in the CASA. The Performance Evaluation and Management System (PEMS) training plan was approved by the Independent Monitoring Team and the DOJ. Training began in August 2021, and is scheduled to be completed in December 2021.


In one article, Medina said the settlement agreement is impacting the amount of time officers can spend fighting crime on the streets and said it requires time-consuming use-of-force investigative processes and staffing for Internal Affairs force investigations. Medina noted that even a show of force, such as an officer pulling out a Taser to try to get a suspect to comply, triggers nearly as lengthy an internal investigation even if the Taser is never fired. Medina put it this way:

“I think the community would be very upset to know [that relatively minor use of force incidents such as forcing a suspect’s hand behind his back can trigger an investigation] … And just imagine, we just lost that officer, the backup officer and a supervisor for five hours while they do a level one force investigation. … It kills me that I had to assign six more individuals to [use of] force investigations but the settlement agreement said we had to.”

A major problem area identified by the monitor in the 13th monitor’s report was failed progress in Use of Force Investigations. According to APD, it has made significant progress with Use of Force investigations. APD reported that In April 2021, it continued to improve the process of tracking policy violations relating to use of force investigations. To ensure use of force reviews are consistently factored into supervisor’s performance evaluations, APD included an additional evaluation process. Based on available data, the process includes the verification of employee performance documents reviews by commanders to confirm any violations related to Use of Force standard operating procedures.

Review and investigation by department personnel are documented within officer performance evaluations. This is needed to ensure the quality of supervisory work is evaluated and documented. APD expressed to the Court and the Independent Monitoring Team the need to clarify the use of progressive discipline and abeyance. Because of that concern, APD took major steps clarify the use of progressive discipline during the 14th monitoring period.


The Journal article “APD’s thin blue line stretched thinner” provides data in 3 major areas without reporting the historical background and the astronomical cost to the city. Following is a review of those statistics, the background, and the accuracy of what the Journal reported:


It was in 2016 under Republican Mayor Richard Berry that APD hit an all-time low of 821 sworn police. In 2014, and in response to the dramatic decline, the Republican Berry Administration lobbied the New Mexico legislature to change the Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA) to allow APD police to retire and then to return to work and collect both their pensions and new salaries, which is referred to as “double dipping”. Berry’s efforts failed and the APD Academy continued to struggle in its recruiting and hiring of new sworn police.

On September 12, the Albuquerque Journal reported the following number of Albuquerque police officers by fiscal year without reporting pay.

2016: 833
2017: 870
2018: 941
2019: 924
2020: 1,004
2021: 939 (As of July 30)

Source: Fiscal Year 2022 Approved City Budget

The number of police officers in 2021 has declined even further. As of September 18, 2021, a review of APD payroll reflected only 913 sworn officers, from chief to patrol officer’s 2nd class. APD has lost 85 officers since April.


Tim Keller was sworn in as Mayor on December 1, 2017. Within 5 months the Keller Administration negotiated a two-year police union contract giving lucrative hourly pay increases and large police longevity bonuses. The pay rates negotiated in 2018 remain in place today and the highest police pay in the city’s history. The pay rates are as follows:

Starting pay for an APD Police Officer immediately out of the APD academy is $29 an hour or $60,320 yearly.
Police officers with 4 to 14 years of experience are paid $30 an hour or $62,400 yearly.
Senior Police Officers with 15 years or more experience are paid $31.50 an hour or $65,520 yearly.
The hourly pay rate for APD Sergeants is $35 an hour, or $72,800 yearly.
The hourly pay rate for APD Lieutenants is $40.00 an hour or $83,200 yearly.


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

For 5 years of experience: $100 are paid bi-weekly, or $2,600 yearly
For 6 years of experience: $125 are paid bi-weekly, or $3,250 yearly
For 7 to 9 years of experience: $225 are paid bi-weekly, or $5,800 yearly
For 10 to 12 years of experience: $300 are paid bi-weekly, or $7,800 yearly
For 13 to 15 years o experience: $350 are paid bi-weekly, or $9,100 yearly
For 16 to 17 years or more: $450 are paid bi-weekly, or $11,700 yearly
For 18 or more years of experience: $600 are paid bi-weekly, 15,600 yearly

In 2018, APD under the leadership of former Chief Michael began an aggressive recruitment of “lateral hires” of experienced officers from across New Mexico with upwards of 75 officers hired, with a lion’s share coming from Rio Rancho where Geier had retired. Most, if not all, of those lateral hires have since retired having boosted their high 3 years for retirement purposes. Mayor Keller referred to the recruitment plan as “poaching.”

Recruitment of new officers has been difficult to the point that APD is now offering hiring bonuses worth thousands of dollars. According to an August 2 KOAT TV news report, the bonuses are:

$15,000 for lateral police officers (officers from other departments)
$5,000 for cadets or new recruits
$1,500 for police service aides


At the beginning of each calendar year, City Hall releases the top 250 wage earners for the previous year. The list of 250 top city hall wages earners is what is paid for the full calendar year of January 1, to December 31 of any given year.

In 2019, there were 70 APD patrol officers in the list of 250 top paid employees earning pay ranging from $108,167 to $188,844. There were 32 APD lieutenants and 32 APD sergeants in the list of 250 top paid employees earning pay ranging from $108,031 to $164,722 because of overtime.

In 2020, there were 69 patrol officers paid between $110,680 to $176,709, 28 APD Lieutenants and 32 APD Sergeants who were paid between $110,698 to $199,001 in the list of the 250 top paid city hall employees paid between.


The city employs upwards of 6,400 full time employees to provide the essential services city wide. The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) is the largest budget department in the city out of 27 departments. The 2021-2022 APD Budget provides funding for 1,100 sworn positions and 592 civilian support positions for a total of 1,692 full-time positions or approximately one fourth of the city’s total of 6,400 employees. It also includes funding for new positions, including 11 investigators to support internal affairs and the department’s reform obligations under the Federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement.

On May 17, the Albuquerque City Council voted unanimously to approve the 2021-2022 APD budget of over $227 million city budget. Last year’s budget also had funding for 1,100 officers, but APD has failed over the last 7 years to reach budgeted staffing levels.

A major failure identified by the Federal Monitor was that APD’s Internal Affairs (IA) was not properly investigating serious use of force instances by APD police officers. On February 26, 2021 a stipulated order creating the new EFIT unit was entered into by the parties. The EFIT is an additional layer of review of uses of force cases by APD sworn. The EFIT team will train APD Internal Affairs (IA) investigators on how to properly investigate uses of force instances by APD police officers. The City agreed that at least 25 force investigators would be assigned to the APD Internal Affairs until APD demonstrates that fewer investigators are necessary to timely investigate uses of force by APD Officers.

Notwithstanding the approved funding for 1,100 sworn police the number of police officers patrolling the streets of Albuquerque is dangerously low. As of July 24, 2021, APD has 940 sworn police according to city personnel records, but only 369 are actually patrolling the streets of the city. The 369 filed service officers are divided into 6 area commands and 3 separate shifts.

According to an August 2 KOAT TV news report, APD patrol staffing is as follows:

369 patrol officers, for six area commands and 3 shifts
59 patrol sergeants
18 lieutenants
18 – 22 bike officers


The Journal reported APD retirements, resignations and terminations as follows:

2018: 47
2019: 58
2020: 82
2021: 101 (As of August 1)

SOURCE: APD Human Resources.

Over the last 20 years, APD’s attrition has been a consistent 60 police officers a year. That includes terminations, transfers and police officers who have decided they do not want to be a police officer anymore. Recruitment of new officers has been difficult to the point that APD is now offering “hiring bonuses” worth thousands of dollars as reported above, including $15,000 for lateral hires and $5,000 for new recruits.


According to the Albuquerque Journal Albuquerque September 12 article “APD’s thin blue line stretched thinner”, response times for 911 priority 1 and 2 calls, the most serious, were:

2018: 12 minutes, 37 seconds
2019: 10 minutes, 30 seconds
2020: 10 minutes, 1 second
2021: 11 minutes, 50 seconds

The response times were provided to the Journal by APD.

The response times reported by the Albuquerque Journal are contrary to investigation reports by KOAT- TV 7 and KOB TV 4 reports.

A February 20th KOAT TV Target 7 investigation into APD’s response times revealed an alarming level of time it takes APD to respond to 911 emergency calls. The longer the time it takes for APD to respond to priority 1 and 2 calls increases the likelihood of physical injury and even death.

It was reported that it takes APD 23 minutes longer to get to an emergency call than it did 8 years ago. According to the report, there has been an astonishing 93% increase since 2011 with response times getting worse every year since. In 2011, the average response time to all calls, whether it was a life-or-death emergency or a minor traffic crash was 25 minutes. In 2019, that time period spiked to 48 minutes in the average response time.

The link to the full KOAT TV Target 7 report is here:

On August 11, 2021, KOB 4 did a report on APD response times. KOB 4 requested the response times from APD management for Priority 1 calls over the last few years. Priority 1 calls are calls made to 911 and include shootings, stabbings, armed robberies, sexual and aggravated assaults, domestic violence with weapons involved and home invasions. According to the data reviewed the time it takes a dispatch APD officer to get to a crime scene stayed relatively consistent between January 2018 to May 2021.

The response time data obtained by KOB 4 revealed some drastic differences in recent years. In 2018, clearing a crime scene ranged from an hour to 1 hour and 12 minutes. Fast forward to 2021 and APD is averaging more than 2 hours to write reports, gather evidence and interview witnesses, or a full 1 hour longer than three years ago.
The link to the full KOB 4 report is here:


For decades APD had a 3 priority 911 dispatch system. On March 7, 2019, APD announced a major change in the way it was dispatching police officers to 911 calls and expanded priority the list from 3 to 5 categories. Call priorities on the scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the highest or most important type of call. A major goal of the 5-priority call system is to determine what calls do and do not require a police officer. The goal was to reduce the number of 911emergency calls for service responded to by APD sworn police. The addition of 2 new priority call types did in fact result in the desired just goal of reducing the number of sworn dispatch but also resulted in fewer Felony, Misdemeanor and DWI arrests.

For the Fiscal Years of F/Y 14 to F/Y 20 the total number of 911 calls for service were:

FY/14 # of Calls for service: 518,553
FY/15 # of Calls for service: 518,751
FY/16 # of Calls for service: 547,854
FY/17 # of Calls for service: 564,610
FY/18 # of Calls for service: 580,303
FY/19 # of Calls for service: 543,574
FY/20 # of Calls for service: 524,286

The sure volume of calls for service are staggering and always cited by APD upper command, but are easily misinterpreted. Without clarification, the raw statistics imply that sworn police were sent to every single call or that arrests were made. The numbers must be tempered with the actual number of dispatches of police, the number of sworn and that in turn ultimately result in arrests in 3 major categories of felony, misdemeanor and DWI.

For the Fiscal Years of F/Y 14 to F/Y 20 the total number of calls for service compared to arrests in each of the 3 major categories and the sworn police who were employed in all capacities and positions are as follows:

FY/14 # of Calls for service: 518,553
FY/14: Arrests: Felony 9,507, Misdemeanor 27,127, DWI 2,704,
FY/14: Total Sworn: 913

FY/15 # of Calls for service: 518,751
FY/15 Arrests: Felony 9,049, Misdemeanor 22,639, DWI 2,213,
FY/15 Total Sworn: 879

FY/16 # of Calls for service: 547,854
FY/16 Arrests: Felony 8,744, Misdemeanor 19,857, DWI 1,720
FY/16 Total Sworn: 833

FY/17 # of Calls for service: 564,610
FY/17 Arrests: Felony 9,527, Misdemeanor 18,562, DWI 1,338,
FY/19 Total Sworn: 870

FY/18 # of Calls for service: 580,303
FY/18 Arrests: Felony 11,257, Misdemeanor 19,923, DWI 1,403,
FY/18 Total Sworn: 941

FY/19 # of Calls for service: 543,574)
FY/19 Arrests: Felony 10,945, Misdemeanor 19,440, DWI 1,788,
FY/19Total Sworn: 924

FY/20 # of Calls for service: 524,286
FY/20 Arrests: Felony 6,621, Misdemeanor 16,520, DWI 1,230
FY/20 Total Sworn: 1,004

The links to the approved city budgets from 2007 to 2022 that contain the statistics can be found here:

There was a dramatic decline in the number arrests in 2019 to 2020, the same time when the new priority calls were added. 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 and response times went up.


On September 6, Tryna Verbeck, the wife of one of the 4 APD officers recently shot pursuing a suspect in an armed robbery, held a press conference and in a very emotional and angry statement called out Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Harold Medina as being “equally accountable” for her husband’s shooting.

In response to the Tryna Verbeck Chief Medina issued a very lengthy, convoluted statement. Following are the most pertinent Medina remarks relevant to this blog article:

“There is no doubt that morale among officers was impacted by several issues and events over the past year-and-a-half – from the anti-police protests in 2020, to the challenges of the pandemic and the struggles resulting from mandates by the DOJ settlement. As a result, we have lost officers to retirement or decisions to leave the profession. Those losses compounded the problem of not being fully staffed, even though we have hired hundreds of new officers.

I expressed many of those concerns to the DOJ and the monitors. The pendulum has swung too far in the wrong direction where officers do not feel supported, or that they can do their jobs effectively and safely in all situations. At the same time, we can’t simply move every officer to patrol the streets, as some have suggested. I don’t have the authority to defy a court order. But we have to be honest about the reality we face. My responsibility is to the people of Albuquerque who want us to fight crime while protecting the rights of all individuals.
… . “

The link to quoted source material is here:

In response Tryna Verbeck, Mayor Keller released the following statement:

“APD has been under intense pressure to change as a result of the DOJ settlement agreement, the time pressures from ever-changing court rules, and the shortage of officers that persists despite all of our hiring. Officers feel that pressure every day. We started the Metro Crime Initiative to pull everyone together to fix these system-wide problems. We have also expressed our concerns to the DOJ, the court monitors and the federal delegation because we can’t continue to improve if officers do not feel supported. …”


During the past 7 years Shaun Willoughby and his police union members have done everything they could to undercut the police reforms brought on by the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation that found a “culture of aggression” and repeated use of deadly force and excessive use of force.

The Federal Court Appointed Monitor has labeled the union interference with the reforms as the “County Casa Effect”. The Federal monitor has defined the Counter Casa Effect as a group of “high-ranking APD officers” who are union members and hold the ranks sergeants and lieutenants and who are thwarting the settlement reform efforts.

In his 10th report Federal Monitor Ginger referred to the group as the “Counter-CASA effect” and stated:

“Sergeants and lieutenants, at times, go to extreme lengths to excuse officer behaviors that clearly violate established and trained APD policy, using excuses, deflective verbiage, de minimis comments and unsupported assertions to avoid calling out subordinates’ failures to adhere to established policies and expected practice. Supervisors (sergeants) and mid-level managers (lieutenants) routinely ignore serious violations, fail to note minor infractions, and instead, consider a given case “complete”.

“Some members of APD … resist actively APD’s reform efforts, including using deliberate counter-CASA processes. For example, … Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) disciplinary timelines, appear at times to be manipulated by supervisory, management and command levels at the area commands, letting known violations lie dormant until timelines [mandated by the union contract] for discipline cannot be met.”

In his 12th Monitor’s Report, Dr. Ginger states:

… “[There] are strong under currents of Counter-CASA effects in some critical units on APD’s critical path related to CASA compliance. These include supervision at the field level; mid-level command in both operational and administrative functions, [including] patrol operations, internal affairs practices, disciplinary practices, training, and force review). Supervision, [the] sergeants and lieutenants, and mid-level command, [the commanders] remain one of the most critical weak links in APD’s compliance efforts.

… Many of the instances of non-compliance seen in the field are a matter of “will not,” instead of “cannot”! The Monitor … report[s] … he see actions that transcend innocent errors and instead speak to issues of cultural norms yet to be addressed and changed by APD leadership.”

… Supervision, which includes Lieutenants and Sergeants in the union, need to leave behind its dark traits of myopia, passive resistance, and outright support for, and implementation of, counter-CASA processes.”


On April 27, 2021, it was widely reported that the Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) launched a $70,000 political ad campaign to discredit the Department of Justice (DOJ) mandated reforms saying the police reforms are preventing police officers from doing their jobs and combating crime.

The Police Union political ad campaign consisted of billboards around the city and testimonials on TV, radio and social media from former Albuquerque Police Department officers. The public relations campaign is urging the public to tell city leaders that crime matters more than the Police reforms mandated by the settlement.

The public relations campaign includes providing an email template for people to use and contact civic leaders. The template says APD has made progress with the reforms and says we are “tired of living in a city filled with murder, theft and violence. … I’m urging you to fight for this city, stand up to the DOJ, and help us save the city we love, before it’s too late. ”
APOA Police Union President Shaun Willoughby described the need for the public relations campaign this way:

“You can either have compliance with DOJ reforms or you can have lower crime. You can’t have both. We think it’s time that our city leaders hear from the public that crime matters more because it does. … They want to focus on the growing crime problem, instead of wasting millions of dollars on endless Department of Justice oversight. … This conversation of reform needs to come back to common sense. …

Right now, the City of Albuquerque capitulates to everything the DOJ wants and that might not necessarily be the right direction for the City of Albuquerque. … You don’t need enemies when you have friends like the city attorney. … We believe that our community deserves better from this police department. … We believe our community deserves better from this consent decree process.”
In a February 11 Target 7 news report Shaun Willoughby, President of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association said:

“The whole [reform effort] system is set up to fail and the taxpayers and the people that live in this community like me and my family are the ones that are taking the brunt of [violent crime]. … Really look at this process. … It is absolutely out of control. … The entire department and the processes within it are out of control. Your officers are running out the door. Really look at every single state or agency that’s been involved in this process. … What is happening? Did it bring harmony and trust with the community? I don’t think so.”

On Monday, September 13, when US Attorney General Merrick Garland unveiled new rules governing federal monitors responsible for overseeing police reforms and implementation of court approved settlement reform measures, Shaun Willoughby, the President of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association had this to say:

“They don’t come in here with policies that are considered best practice and a huge blank check book to train police officers … So this whole blue print called the DOJ consent decree and the monitoring process, it’s a joke.”

Links to news sources quotes are here:

On Friday, August 20, Police Union President Shaun 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. … .

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 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.”


On Monday, September 13, during an online speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, United States Attorney General Merrick Garland, unveiled new rules governing federal monitors responsible for overseeing police reforms and implementation of court approved settlement reform measures. The new rules include setting limits on federal court appointed monitor’s tenure, budgets for their services and requiring them to undergo more training.


Since Garland was appointed Attorney General, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has undertaken “pattern or practice” investigations of police departments in Minneapolis, Louisville and Phoenix. It was in 2013 that such an investigation occurred with the Albuquerque Police Department. The DOJ found that APD engaged in a pattern of “excessive use of force” and “deadly force” and a “culture of aggression”. The DOJ investigation of APD resulted in a Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) entered into by the City and the DOJ mandating 271 police reforms.

The biggest and most pervasive complaints involving the settlement agreements are that they go on, and on for on years, they harm police morale and frustrate community residents. Monitoring teams, such as what Albuquerque has, are usually composed of former police officials, lawyers, academics and police-reform consultants. The monitoring teams typically bill local taxpayers between $1 million and $2 million per year. In Albuquerque, Federal Court Appointed Monitor James Ginger has been paid upwards of $8 million over the last 7 years and his team has prepared 13 Independent Monitor’s Report filed with the federal court. Each time a report is release, the Federal Court has an all-day briefing in the case.

The Department of Justice said in a press release:

“The department has found that – while consent decrees and monitors are important tools to increase transparency and accountability – the department can and should do more to improve their efficiency and efficacy. The Associate Attorney General [Vanita Gupta] has recommended – and I have accepted – a set of 19 actions that the department will take to address those concerns.”

Associate Attorney General Gupta for his part had this to say:

“Consent decrees have proven to be vital tools in upholding the rule of law and promoting transformational change in the state and local governmental entities where they are used. … The department must do everything it can to guarantee that they remain so by working to ensure that the monitors who help implement these decrees do so efficiently, consistently and with meaningful input and participation from the communities they serve.”

The 19 actions are outlined in the memo released released by the DOJ. There are 5 principals outlined in Gupta’s memo that will require future monitorships of state and local governmental to meet. Those principals are:

1. Monitorships should be designed to minimize cost to jurisdictions and avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.
2. Monitors must be accountable to the court, the parties and the public.
3. Monitors should assess compliance consistently across jurisdictions.
4. Sustained, meaningful engagement with the community is critical to the success of the monitors.
5. Monitoring must be structured to efficiently move jurisdictions into compliance.

The new rules and principals announced by Attorney General Garland for the federal monitoring of consent decrees are the first time the Department of Justice has taken action to deal with pervasive criticism that consent decrees go on and on indefinitely with no end in sight, cost way too much and have a major impact of local law enforcement.

The Keller Administration made it known it has been meeting with the DOJ over the past few months and is already taken steps and intends to ask the New Mexico Federal Court assigned the case to apply the principles to the City’s consent decree is a major development. It creates the opportunity for the city to move forward and ask for further relief from the court to modify the existing consent decree. The city should ask for a termination hearing and ask for a dismissal of the case or a significant reduction in the monitoring.


All you get from Mayor Keller, APD Chief Medina and Police Union President Shaun Willoughby is perpetual harping and complaining about how shorthanded APD is, how morale is at an all-time low and how the DOJ consent decree is the problem. The complaints are perpetual after the City Council gives APD $227 million dollar budget, virtually every cent of the millions that they have asked for, yet APD has upwards of 200 sworn police vacancies. The lions share of the $227 million dollar budget goes to pay APD sworn police making them some of the best paid in the country with one of the most lucrative retirements in the country.

What makes the Albuquerque Journal articles misleading is that both articles fail to disclose the extent of the financial resources that have been dedicated to APD for the past 4 years. There was absolutely no acknowledgement nor admission in the Journal articles by Mayor Keller, Chief Medina nor the Police Union that many of the problems complained about the Department of Justice reforms fall squarely on the shoulders of Mayor Keller, Keller’s appointed APD Chief Medina and his 3 Deputies and the Police Union leadership and their resistance to the DOJ reforms. It is their actions, failures to act, resistance and negligent personnel management that are the real causes of the problems they complain about, especially with the DOJ reforms. All of the complaints and problems have been going on for the past 7 years, before the pandemic and before the national movement of police scrutiny and accountability of police misconduct.


The police union leadership have said in the past and in open court that the mandated reforms under the consent decree are interfering with rank-and-file officer’s ability to perform their job duties. According to Police Union President Sean Willoughby, police officers are afraid to do their jobs for fear of being investigated, fired or disciplined. The police union has never articulated in open court and in clear terms exactly what it is about the reforms that are keeping rank and file from “doing their” jobs.

What the union has been doing for the last 7 years is disrupting the reform process. Instead of fighting the consent decree, the police union should have embraced the reforms from the get go and helped to implement them.

It’s likely what the police union feels what is interfering with its membership from doing their jobs includes the following mandated reforms:

1. The mandatory use of lapel cameras by APD.
2. APD police can no longer shoot at fleeing cars.
3. APD police can no longer use “choke holds” to subdue suspects.
4. APD police need to use less lethal force and not rely on the SWAT unit.
5. APD police must use de-escalating tactics.
6. All APD officers must be trained in crisis intervention.
7. APD management must now hold all subordinate police officers accountable for all levels of violations of standard operating procedures.
8. Sworn police do not like or oppose the Ethical Policing is Courageous (EPIC) program which trains officers to support peer intervention. The EPIC program has evolved into the Active Bystander for Law Enforcement (ABLE) project, which trains officers to support peer intervention. ABLE aims to create a police culture in which officers routinely intervene to prevent misconduct, avoid police mistakes, and promote officer health and wellness. Old guard police officers likely view the ABLE system as a “snitch” program where officers turn on fellow officers or partners.
9. Subordinate police officers believe that many standard operating procedures (SOPs should not be enforced as being to petty or serving no useful function. Examples would be SOPs on grooming restrictions, prohibition against eating or smoking in assigned units.
10. The mandatory “paper work” associated with any degree of use of force is too cumbersome.
11. APD Police officers are required to intervene when they witness and are concerned about other officers use of force.
12. Mandatory notification to superiors for investigation by police officers who witness another officer’s “excessive use of force” or violations of CASA reforms.

The Police Union and critics of the Federal Monitor have said that the monitor is “nitpicking” when the monitor points out specific incidents of APD management’s failure to enforce standard operating procedure. The policies are APD’s policies, not the monitors. Answering the charge of “nitpicking”, why bother having the policies if officers are not going to follow them and management refuses to enforce them.


Based on the statistics for the budget years of 2019 and 2020, a very strong argument can be made that crime is up because APD is not doing its job of arresting people. This point is painfully clear 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 field officers, who are all union membership, are simply not arresting people.


APD Chief Harold Medina told Tryna Verbeck in part in response to her press conference:

“The pendulum has swung too far in the wrong direction where officers do not feel supported, or that they can do their jobs effectively and safely in all situations. At the same time, we can’t simply move every officer to patrol the streets, as some have suggested. I don’t have the authority to defy a court order.”

Absolutely no one is asking Chief Medina to defy a court order. To be blunt, it is his department after he squeezed out former Chief Michael Geier. Medina now has complete management and control over APD. The control includes the department’s $227 million dollar budget, all of its resources and personnel. Medina has the power to reorganize the department and make appropriate changes and assignment of personnel as he sees fit. Even after being fully budgeted for 1,100 sworn police for the last 4 years, APD has failed to recruit, train and hire.

Instead of exercising authority and managing the department, both Keller and Medina prefer to lay blame on the lack of personnel and the CASA reforms. Chief Medina has been part of APD’s upper command staff, including being the Deputy Chief of Field Service dealing with personnel assigned to the field since the day Keller was sworn in as Mayor on December 1, 2017. For the past 4 years, Medina knew what was wrong with the staffing and assignment levels and yet did nothing other than to undermine former Chief Michael Geier in order to replace him.


The fact that the Keller Administration has already taken steps and intends to ask the New Mexico Federal Court assigned the case to apply the principles to the City’s consent decree is a major development. It creates the opportunity for the city to move forward and ask for further relief from the court to modify the existing consent decree.

The city should ask for a termination hearing to present evidence of what is going on within APD and ask for a dismissal of the case or a significant reduction in the monitoring given what has been implemented.


The consent decree was negotiated to be fully implemented during a 4-year period and then after two years of compliance dismissed. Over 7 years have now elapse and APD is still struggling to implement the all 271 mandated reforms agreed to by the City and APD in 2014.


On November 14, 2020, it will be 6 full years that have expired since the city entered into the CASA with the DOJ. Based on a review of the Federal Monitor’s reports and news reports, the City and APD have completed the following 15 mandated reforms under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement:

1.After a full year of negotiations, new “use of force” and “use of deadly force” policies have been written, implemented and all APD sworn have received training on the policies.
2. All sworn police officers have received crisis management intervention training.
3. APD has created a “Use of Force Review Board” that oversees all internal affairs investigations of use of force and deadly force.
4. The Internal Affairs Unit has been divided into two sections, one dealing with general complaints and the other dealing with use of force incidents.
5. Sweeping changes ranging from APD’s SWAT team protocols, to banning choke-holds, to auditing the use of every Taser carried by officers and re-writing and implementation of new use of force and deadly force policies have been completed.
6. “Constitutional policing” practices and methods, and mandatory crisis intervention techniques and de-escalation tactics with the mentally ill have been implemented at the APD police academy with all sworn police having received training.
7. APD has adopted a new system to hold officers and supervisors accountable for all use of force incidents with personnel procedures implemented detailing how use of force cases are investigated.
8. APD has revised and updated its policies on the mandatory use of lapel cameras by all sworn police officers.
9. The Repeat Offenders Project, known as ROP, has been abolished.
10. Civilian Police Oversight Agency has been created, funded, fully staffed and a director hired.
11. The Community Policing Counsels (CPCs) have been created in all area commands and the CPCs meet monthly.
12. The Mental Health Advisory Committee has been implemented.
13. The CASA identified that APD was understaffed. The City and APD are spending $88 million dollars, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures, to hire 322 sworn officers and grow the department to 1,200 officers. As of January 1, 2020, APD has 949 full time police officers, up from 878 sworn police. The expansion thus far is attributed primarily to hiring from other departments and returning to work APD retirees.
14. Under the terms and conditions of the CASA, once APD achieves a 95% compliance rate in 3 compliance areas, and maintains compliance for 2 years, the case can be dismissed. For the purposes of the APD monitoring process, “compliance” consists of three levels: primary, secondary, and operational compliance levels. In the 11th audit report that covered the time period of August 1, 2019 and ended in January 31, 2020, the federal monitor found APD was 100% in primary compliance, no change from 10th report, a 93% in secondary compliance, a change of 14.8% from the 10th report, and 66% in operational compliance, a change of 3%.

Links to related blog articles are here:

APD Police Union Spends $70,000 To Discredit Federal Court Order After Impeding And Resisting APD Reforms For 6 Years; Tactic Likely Grounds For Contempt Of Court By A Party For Interfering With Court Order

APD Personnel Meltdown Continues; Staffing Shortages Prompt $15,000 Recruitment Bonuses; APD Shift Changes Announced

US Attorney General Garland Announces New Rules For Federal Monitoring Of Consent Decrees; City And APD React; Police Union President Shoots Off Big Mouth