On Thursday, August 19, 4 Albuquerque Police Officers were injured following a shooting in northeast Albuquerque. The shooting happened as the 4 officers responded to a robbery by the Dutch Bros. near Mountain and Juan Tabo. All 4 of the injured officers have each been with APD for more than 10 years. The 4 officers identified are:
Officer Mario Verbeck: It was Verbeck who dispatched to the call. He was shot in the neck and arm. On Thursday, September 2, 2021, he was released from the hospital to return to his family and continue his recovery at home. Officer Verbeck is a a 17-year veteran with the department and joined the department in 2004.
Officer James Eichel Jr.: Eichel was sent to assist Verbeck on the call. He was shot in the forearm and is still hospitalized. He has been with APD since 2009.
Officer Harry Gunderson: He was struck in the eye by shrapnel. He has been with the department since 2004.
Sgt. Sean Kenny: He was shot in his bulletproof vest, sustained minor injuries and was released from the hospital. He has been with APD since 1999.
James Ramirez, who is accused of shooting Mario Verbeck was arrested and is is behind bars.
A REMARKABLE PRESS CONFERENCE
On September 6, a remarkable press conference was held in front of the old City Hall Building organized by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). Tryna Verbeck, the wife of one of the 4 APD officers injured called out Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Harold Medina as being “equally accountable” for her husband’s shooting. Tryna Verbeck, the wife of APD Police Officer Mario Verbeck, accompanied by others, including APD Officer James Eichel who was also shot and now in a left arm sling, stood stoically by her side as she read a statement.
In a very emotional and angry statement, Tryna Verbeck had this to say:
“I am here to let people know that I am now your worst nightmare. You will not use my husband or the other officers as your political backdrop. … APD is a family as much as it is a police department but under your direction [Mayor Keller and Chief Medina], APD has fallen apart. Staffing is a joke as there are more officers doing non-police work than responding to calls. When my husband was on duty at the time of the shooting, there were only five officers on-patrol in my husband’s squad in the Foothills area and four of them were shot.”
APD CHIEF HAROLD MEDINA RESPONDS
Chief Medina released a lengthy statement in response to the press conference. Following are the most pertinent 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.
… . “
MAYOR TIM KELLER RESPONDS
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. … we have increased funding to APD each year because we know that our community is safer and officers can make better choices with good technology and adequate staffing.”
Keller’s and Medina’s full statements can be found at the links to news coverage here:
MANDATED SETTLEMENT REFORMS AND STAFFING LEVELS REQUIRED
At the center of the statements issued by Mayor Keller and Chief Medina in response to Tryna Verbeck are the mandates of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) and APD staffing. For that reason, both the reforms mandated and staffing levels under the settlement need to be addressed.
On November 10, 2014 the city and the Department of Justice entered into the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) that mandates 271 major reforms, The link to the 106-page negotiated CASA agreement can be found at this link:
There are 16 Major reform mandates under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) settlement and they are:
1. 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 implement new use of force and deadly force policies.
2. The CASA mandates the teaching of “constitutional policing” practices and methods as well as mandatory crisis intervention techniques and de-escalation tactics with the mentally ill.
3. The City agreed that APD would overhaul and rewrite all of its “use of force policies” and “deadly force” policies, recruitment procedures, training, internal affairs procedures and implement field supervision of officers.
4. Stricter training and restrictions on the use of nonlethal force is required under the CASA, and it requires more training and controls over the use of Tasers by officers along with quarterly audits of their use.
5. The city agreed to the creation of a Police Oversight Board (POB) as a civilian review agency that independently reviews citizen complaints, serious uses of force and officer-involved shootings by APD. The civilian agency also monitors, reviews and make recommended changes to APD policy on use of force.
6. Under the CASA, the city agreed to the creation of Police Civilian Advisory Councils (CPCs), one in each of the 6 APD area commands, designed to increase community interaction.
7. The CASA broadens and removes obstacles to the types of civilian complaints Internal Affairs and the civilian oversight agency can review.
8. The CASA provides for the appointment of a Federal Court Monitor selected by agreement of the parties with the City to pay for the auditing services of the federal monitor. The primary duties and responsibilities of the federal monitor is to report directly to the federal judge on APD’s compliance with the mandatory reforms.
9. The agreement mandates that APD adopt a new system to hold officers and supervisors accountable for all use of force incidents with personnel procedures implemented and outlining details how use of force cases would be investigated. It requires far more reporting by officers and field supervisors and also requires detailed reviews of those reports up the chain of command within the department. Sergeants and lieutenants are required to be much more involved in field supervision and review of use of force by officers.
10. Under the agreement, officers who point their firearms at a person, but don’t fire, must fill out a use of force report that will be reviewed by field supervisors. That review is separate from a city civilian police oversight agency that will be independent of the department and will review police use of force incidents as well as civilian complaints.
11. The City agreed to create a new “Use of Force Review Board” to oversee all internal affairs investigations of use of force and deadly force. A new chain of command for the review of Internal Affairs reports of officer-involved shootings was created that reviews the Internal Affairs Reports and makes recommendations on discipline or asks for further investigation of an incident, and the board makes recommendations on discipline to the APD Chief. The Use of Force Board is required to make quarterly reports after reviewing all use of force reports to identify trends and policy changes.
12. APD agreed to revise and update its policies on the mandatory use of lapel cameras by all police officers.
13. Under the CASA, the City agreed to abolish the Repeat Offenders Project, known as ROP, within three months of signing the agreement for the reason that members of the unit were involved in a number of the controversial shootings investigated by the DOJ.
14. The agreement provides that if the city fails to implement the reforms or shows bad faith in the implementation of the CASA, the DOJ has the option of filing a federal lawsuit against the city over the city’s unconstitutional policing practices found by the DOJ investigation.
15. Certain types of hand-to-hand techniques are barred under the CASA unless the officer is in a situation that require the use of lethal force if it were available. Neck holds, sometimes called choke-holds, are explicitly forbidden to be used by officers except in situations where lethal force would be authorized.
16. A major change in the CASA bans APD officers from firing their weapons at moving vehicles in all but life-threatening situations.
It is section IX of the CASA that addresses APD’s staffing levels.
Paragraph 203 of the settlement states:
“To maintain high-level, quality service; to ensure officer safety and accountability; and to promote constitutional, effective policing, the City shall ensure that APD has the staffing necessary to implement the terms of this Agreement. APD shall also deploy a sufficient number of first-line supervisors to respond to scenes of uses of force; investigate thoroughly each use of force to identify, correct, and prevent misconduct; and provide close and effective supervision necessary for officers to improve and develop professionally. APD shall revise and implement policies for supervision that set out clear requirements for supervision and comport with best practices.”
Paragraph 204, under the heading STAFFING, states as follows:
“A. Staffing. In order to successfully implement the provisions of this Agreement, APD shall assess the appropriate number of sworn and civilian personnel to perform the different Department functions necessary to fulfill its mission. APD therefore shall conduct a comprehensive staffing assessment and resource study. The study shall be the predicate for determining appropriate staffing and resource levels that are consistent with community-oriented policing principles and support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques. The study shall also consider the distribution of officers to patrol functions as opposed to specialized units, as well as the distribution of officers with less than three years of experience across shifts and Area Commands.”
Page 66, Settlement Agreement, with the link here:
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Court Approved Settlement Agreement has absolutely no specific or minimum number of staffing requirements. It says APD needs to fund and hire a sufficient number of sworn police to carry out its function. In other words, it is totally up to and the responsibility for APD and its management to adequately staff the department. Nowhere does the settlement agreement mandate the creation of an entire Compliance Bureau. Mayor Tim Keller, ostensibly overreacting to a recommendation from the Federal Monitor, ordered APD to create a Compliance Bureau. The bureau consists of 1 Deputy Chief, 3 Commanders, 1 Deputy Commander, 6 Lieutenants, and 10 Sergeants and 40 detectives for a total of 69 sworn police to perform oversight functions. The number of personnel assigned to the Compliance Bureau is at the discretion of the Chief and indirectly the city’s Chief Administrative Officer and the Mayor.
On December 11, 2015, the 62 page “Albuquerque Police Department Comprehensive Staffing Assessment and Resource Study” was released by the Alexander Weiss Consulting, LLC.
You can review the 2015 staffing report at this link:
The December 11, 2015 APD staffing report concluded 1,000 sworn police officers were sufficient for Albuquerque provided that APD officers did not respond to certain low priority calls such as minor traffic accidents or false alarm calls. In 2009, APD was staffed with 1,100 sworn police, but from 2009 to 2017, the department dwindle to 860 sworn police.
APD upper command for the last 11 years has insisted that APD need upwards of 1,200 sworn police to do its job and for Community Base policing. For the last 12 years, APD has failed to recruit and hire enough officers to keep the department at the current funding levels.
CURRENT APD PERSONNEL NUMBERS AND APPROVED BUDGET
At the very core of what Tryna Verbeck had to say to Mayor Keller and the Chief Medina is the fact that APD’s poor staffing levels contributed to the shootings and that field officers are overwhelmed to the point they can not do their jobs. Current staffing levels as well arrest numbers support her accusations as being 100% accurate.
During the February 8, 2021, City Council Public Safety Committee, then Interim Chief Harold Medina reported that APD had 957 sworn police. Of the 957 sworn police, Medina reported a mere 371 sworn police were in Field Services responding to calls for service or 39% of the entire sworn force. The 371 sworn police taking calls for service were spread out over 3 shifts and 8 area commands to patrol and based on crime rates in the areas. Medina also told the committee that Field Services has 6 area commanders, 18 lieutenants, 53 sergeants’, 21 bicycle officers for a total of 511 officers assigned to field services. The problem is commanders, lieutenants, sergeants, and bicycle officers do not patrol the streets and are not dispatched to calls for service as are the field officers.
Fast forward to August, 2021 and after the 2021-2022 APD budget was approved. APD is the largest budget department in the city. APD’s approved general fund operating 2022 budget is upwards of $222 million. The 2022 approved APD operating budget has funding for 1,100 sworn positions and 592 civilian support positions for a total of 1,692 full-time positions. 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, and two communications staffers.
Notwithstanding the approved funding for 1,100 sworn police the number of police officers patrolling the street 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.
APD DWINDLES TO 940 SWORN POLICE AS OF JULY 24 WITH 363 IN FIELD SERVICES
According to a recent ABQReport, police officers are leaving APD in droves and either moving on to other departments or just simply retiring. The total number of APD full time sworn police officers has dwindled from 998 at the end of March of 2021 to 940 as of July 24, 2021 with the department losing 58 officers in a 4-month span. APD continues to lose officers at an alarming rate.
In June, APD announced the list for police uniform officer’s bids for shifts. These are the field officers who are dispatched by 911 and who respond to calls for service and who also patrol the streets of Albuquerque. It is field officers that are the backbone of APD and who patrol the city streets, 7 days a week and assigned to the 6 area commands in 3 shifts. On the date the first bid list was produced, APD had a disappointing 376 officers who made bids. Since June the number reduced to 363 officers, a reduction of 13 officers in just a month.
The link to the full ABQReport is here:
APD 2021-2022 APPROVED BUDGET
On May 17, the Albuquerque City Council voted unanimously to approve the 2021-2022 city budget of $1.2 billion, $711.5 million of which is the General Fund. With 27 different departments, 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. APD’s approved 2022 general fund operating budget is upwards of $222 million, or roughly 4.5% higher than fiscal year 2021 levels.
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. 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. APD has 998 sworn officers after the March graduation of cadets from the APD academy, but is down to 987. 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.
Major highlights of the 2021-2022 approved APD budget include:
$2.3 million in funding to annualize funding for 44 additional sworn officer positions added in FY/21.
$1.6 million for a net increase of 20 full-time positions. 11 investigator positions are funded to support internal affairs and compliance with the Department of Justice.
$800,000 for the Department of Justice Independent Federal Monitor required under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement that is still pending after 6 years.
$986,000 thousand for electronic control weapons (TAZER weapons) as mandated by the CASA.
$400,000 for the Use of Force Review contract. This funding is for the External Force Investigation Team.
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.
COMPLIANCE BUREAU STAFFING AND FUNDING FOR APD REFORMS
APD’s approved budgets for the last 2 years contains a “line item” appropriation identified as “PD-PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY” which is essentially a consolidation reference to all of APD’s Department of Justice compliance functions. The biggest responsibilities of the Compliance Bureau is the ongoing cooperation and working with the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree (CASA) and its implementation of its terms and conditions.
The Compliance Bureau consists of the Internal Affairs Professional Standards Division (IA), Policy and Procedure Division, Accountability and Oversight Division, Internal Affairs Force Division and the Behavioral Health and Crisis Intervention Section and includes funding for training provided by the APD Academy for constitutional policing practices mandated under the CASA.
Internal Affairs (IA) deals with investigation police misconduct cases, including excessive use of force. Crisis Intervention deals with the crisis intervention teams who deal with the mentally ill and police encounters. Policy and Procedures deals with the review and writing of standard operating procedures that must comply with the CASA reforms.
It was last year’s 2020-2021 Fiscal Year approved general fund budget that revealed the actual number of sworn police officers dedicated to compliance with the DOJ mandated reforms. The 2020-2021 fiscal year budget for APD contains a line item of $29,280,000 for “PD-PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY” which is funding for APD’s Compliance Bureau and Internal Affairs responsible for overseeing APD sworn police and ensure compliance with the court order reforms.
According to an August 1, 2019 “Staffing Snapshot”, the Compliance Bureau has total staffing of 61 sworn police consisting of 40 Detectives, 1 Deputy Chief, 3 Commanders, 1 Deputy Commander, 6 Lieutenants, and 10 Sergeants.
In addition to the $29,280,000 line item allocation, last year’s 2020-2021 APD approved budget included:
$5.2 million for continued work to comply with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement with the Department of Justice, which is funding for the Federal Monitor.
$627,000 to acquire electronic control weapons that have an audit trail to monitor usage and compliance with use of force policies.
$594,000 to purchase on-body cameras, as required by the CASA and state law.
STATISTICS CONFIRM ARRESTS DOWN DRAMATICALLY BECAUSE OF LACK OF FIELD OFFICERS
Each year, the City of Albuquerque City Council reviews and approves the city budget. The budgets are prepared by the Mayor and released each year on April 1st. From April 1 to June 30, the City Council are required to conduct budget hearings and must adopt a city budget that is in effect from July 1 to June 30, with each fiscal year budget adopted referred to as the following year fiscal year budget. On May 21, 2021, the city council enacted the 2022 city budget that became effective on July 1, 2021 and ends June 30, 2022.
The City of Albuquerque budget is what is referred to as a performance-based budget. The City’s budget is formulated in two parts: 1. A financial plan and 2. Performance plan. The Financial Plan is organized by department budgets and funds, and program strategy. Funds are groupings of related accounts that are used to maintain control over resources that have been segregated for specific activities.
When it comes to APD, statistics are compiled in areas that reflect performance and outcomes aimed at influencing the larger outcomes and goals that APD is striving to achieve. The performance measures are absolutely critical in order for the City Council to understand fully the shortcomings and strengths of APD and make critical budget decisions. Without such statics, budget review and decisions are done in the dark and in a real sense become useless, become an exercise in futility and the city council is relegated to rubber stamping whatever budget is presented to them.
APD statistics are compiled in areas that reflect performance and outcomes aimed at influencing the larger outcomes and goals that APD is striving to achieve. The performance measures capture APD’s ability to perform the services at the highest level achieved from the previous year.
There are 5 major statistical calculations that go to the very core of any police department and its effectiveness. Those are:
1. Calls for service handled by police
2. Response Times
3. The number of arrests made each year
4. The number of sworn police employed to carry out the mission to serve and protect the public.
5. The number of arrests
Following is an analysis of each category:
CALLS FOR SERVICE
For the Fiscal Years of F/Y 14 to F/Y 20 the total number of 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
APD’S RESPONSE TIMES INCREASE 93% SINCE 2011
A February 20th KOAT TV Target 7 investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department’s (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 calls has a major impact on increasing the likelihood physical injury and perhaps 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:
The biggest reasons for the dramatic increase in APD response times is the reduction in the number of sworn police patrolling city streets with a corresponding increase in calls for service and 911 emergency calls. Not at all surprising is that when you examine APD’s manpower levels over the past 10 years, response times were quicker when there were more sworn police assigned to the field services and more arrests were being made.
NUMBER OF ARRESTS AND NUMBER OF SWORN PERSONNEL
When it comes to APD, arrest are broken down into 3 major categories: Felony Arrests, Misdemeanor Arrests and DWI Arrests. The number of Felony Arrest, Misdemeanor Arrests and DWI Arrests and sworn police for APD over the last 7 years can be gleaned from all the fiscal year budgets.
For the Fiscal Years of F/Y 14 to F/Y 20 the total number of 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 Arrests: Felony 9,507, Misdemeanor 27,127, DWI 2,704, #Total Sworn: 913
FY/15 Arrests: Felony 9,049, Misdemeanor 22,639, DWI 2,213, #Total Sworn: 879
FY/16 Arrests: Felony 8,744, Misdemeanor 19,857, DWI 1,720, #Total Sworn: 833
FY/17 Arrests: Felony 9,527, Misdemeanor 18,562, DWI 1,338, #Total Sworn: 870
FY/18 Arrests: Felony 11,257, Misdemeanor 19,923, DWI 1,403, #Total Sworn: 941
FY/19 Arrests: Felony 10,945, Misdemeanor 19,440, DWI 1,788, #Total Sworn: 924
FY/20 Arrests: Felony 6,621, Misdemeanor 16,520, DWI 1,230, #Total Sworn: 1,004
The links to the approved city budgets from 2007 to 2022 that contain the statistics can be found here: https://www.cabq.gov/dfa/budget/annual-budget
According to APD’s approved 2021-2022 budget, in 2019 APD had 924 full time police. In 2020 APD had 1,004 sworn police or 80 more sworn in 2020 than in 2019, yet arrests went down during the first year of the pandemic and crime rates continued to rise.
As of July 24, 2021, APD has 940 sworn police according to city personnel records, but only 369 are field officers 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 – 22 bike officers
2020 – 2021 MIDYEAR STATISTICS RELEASED
On August 31, 2021, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released crime stats for the first six months of 2021 with a comparison to the first six months of 2020. APD’s crime statistics released used the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) which APD has now used for the 4th year in a row. NIBRS is the new system the FBI will require of all police departments use in their annual reports starting in 2021.
Prior to the use of NIBRS, APD used the SRS reporting system which had only the 8 general categories of Murder and Nonnegligent Manslaughter, Forcible Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Larceny-theft, Motor Vehicle Theft and Arson
NIBRS SYSTEM EXPLAINED
Starting in January 2021, the FBI is requiring crimes to be counted through the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). In NIBRS, there are 3 major reporting broad categories.
The 3 major categories are:
CRIMES AGAINST PERSONS include murder, rape, and assault, and are those in which the victims are always individuals.
CRIMES AGAINST PROPERTY include robbery, bribery, and burglary, or to obtain money, property, or some other benefit.
CRIMES AGAINST SOCIETY include gambling, prostitution, and drug violations, and represent society’s prohibition against engaging in certain types of activity and are typically victimless crimes.
The 3 major NIBRS categories are broken down into 52 sub-categories. NIBRS counts virtually all crimes committed during an incident. NIMRS is far more sophisticated than the “most serious incident-based” reporting
“In the National Incident-Based Reporting System” (NIBRS), each offense reported is either a Group A or Group B offense type. There are 23 Group A offense categories, comprised of 52 Group A offenses and 10 Group B offense categories. Law enforcement agencies report Group A offenses as part of a NIBRS incident report, but they report only arrest data for Group B offenses.
A link to a complete guide to the NIBRS crime reporting system is here:
The statistics released on August 31, 2021 by APD and reported to the FBI reported the first 6 months of 2021 against previous years. Overall, APD reported 31,438 crimes for the first half of 2021, down from 33,383 in the first half of 2020, a 9% year-over-year decrease. According to the mid-year 2021 statistics released, overall crime dropped 9% from 2020 and 20% since 2018.
Crimes Against Property which includes burglary, forgery, property destruction and breaking and entering, had some of the largest decreases. Property crime dropped 9%, violent crime increased 1% and “crimes against society,” which includes drug, weapon and prostitution offenses, increased by 8%. The increase in crimes against property is attributed to robberies and a huge increase in identity theft offenses which spiked by a whopping 330%, from 376 reports in 2020 to 1,619 for the first six months of this year.
The statistics for “crimes against persons” which includes murder, rape, and assault, reveals that for violent crime, aggravated assault went up 8%, nonnegligent murder went up 122% and there was an 11% increase in the forcible rape category. For the first six months of 2021, drug offenses went down 13% and prostitution offenses went down 60%. However, weapons law violations jumped 80%, from 408 to 734, leading to the highest midyear total since at least 2018. Those increases led to the three categories having their highest midyear totals since at least 2018.
2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 MID YEAR STATISTICS
There are 23 Group A offense categories which are the most serious offenses reported which are then broken down further into the 3 major categories. Following are the mid-year raw numbers for group A crimes in each of the 3 categories for the years 2018, 2019, and 2020:
2018 Mid-Year: 39,079
2019 Mid-Year: 34,652
2020 Mid-Year: 33,358
2021 MID-YEAR: 31,438
CRIMES AGAINST PROPERTY (Includes robbery, bribery, and burglary) midyear statistics are:
2018 Mid-Year: 29,576
2019 Mid-Year: 25,481
2020 Mid-Year: 24,221
2021 Mid-Year: 22,065
CRIMES AGAINST A PERSON (includes murder, rape, and assault) midyear statistics are:
2018 Mid-Year: 7,634
2019 Mid-Year: 7,383
2020 Mid-Year: 7,464
2021 Mid-Year: 7,532
CRIMES AGAINST SOCIETY (includes gambling, prostitution, and drug violations) midyear statistics are:
2018: Mid-Year: 1,869
2019: Mid-Year: 1,788
2020: Mid-Year: 1,698
2021: Mid-Year: 1,841
The links to 2018-2021 Mid-Year Crime Statistics are found here:
2022 ADOPTED APD BUDGET CONTAINS TOTAL ARRESTS FOR 2019 AND 2020
The City’s 2022 adopted budget contains APD’s arrests statistics for 2019 and 2020. APD’s budget is a performance-based budget and the department is required to submit a number of statistics to justify its budget. Arrest numbers for felonies, misdemeanors as well as DWI are reported in the budget. APD’s budget also outlines full time personnel and breaks it down between sworn and civilian employees.
The link to the budget is here:
Following is the breakdown of arrest for the years 2019 and 2020:
NUMBER OF FELONY ARRESTS:
NUMBER OF MISDEMEANOR ARRESTS
NUMBER OF DWI ARRESTS
TOTAL NUMBER OF ARRESTS FOR 2019: 32,173
TOTAL NUMBER OF ARREST FOR 2020: 24,371
2022 APD Budget, page 151:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
APD Chief Harold Medina told Tryna Verbeck in part in response to her press conference:
“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. … 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.”
Absolutely no one is asking Chief Medina to defy a court order, but it is his department and he has complete management and control over it, the department’s $222 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.
Instead of exercising that authority and managing the department he heads, Medina prefers to lay blame on the lack of personnel and the 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.
Mayor Tim Keller told Tryna Verbeck in part in his written response to her press conference:
“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 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. … .”
Mayor Tim Keller knew exactly what he was getting into 4 years ago. Keller was sworn in as Mayor on December 1, 2017 having been elected with a landslide promising to implement the DOJ reforms, increase the size of APD to 1,200, return to community-based policing and reducing our out-of-control violent crime rates. Keller even bragged that he was uniquely qualified to be Mayor and he obviously believed his rhetoric despite not having any law enforcement experience.
On March 15, 2018 newly elected Mayor Tim Keller appeared along with new Senior Public Safety Officer James B. Lewis, new interim Chief Michael Geier and new City Attorney Esteban Aguilar, Jr. before Federal Judge Robert Brack, the first judge assigned to oversee the consent decree. What was revealed for the first time was that Mayor Tim Keller reached out back in Decembe, 2017 and had meetings with the parties and the federal judge. Federal Judge Robert Brack said he was so impressed with the new administration’s commitment to the reform process that he decided to keep the case after he goes on Senior Status in November and not give it to another federal judge. What Keller told Brack in 2018 is that he campaigned on the reform issue, that he owned it and that he will be judged by the progress APD makes or doesn’t make during his term in office.
With their words and conduct, both Mayor Keller and Chief Medina are essentially blaming the pandemic as well as the DOJ consent decree for what is happening to APD. The blunt truth is that it’s their very poor job performance and management of APD over the last 4 years that is the actual cause.
A SHELL OF ITS FORMER SELF
It is painfully obvious that APD has become a mere shell of a once great law enforcement department. The downward spiral began in 2010 with 1,100 sworn police until it hit a low mark in 2017 with 850 sworn police. For the past 4 years, Mayor Tim Keller has attempted to grow the department to 1,200 essentially spinning his wheels and making very little progress with the number of sworn police. As of July 24, 2021 at 940 with a mere 363 sworn officers assigned to the field services to patrol the streets of Albuquerque. Keller has failed with APD and so has his two appointed police Chief’s, former Chief Michael Geier and now Chief Harold Medina.
Both Keller and Medina ostensibly do not know there is a correlation between the number of police, arrests and crime rates. According to a 2018 study entitled “More COPS, Less Crime” by Steven Mello with Princeton University there is a causal effect in police numbers and the reduction on crime rates. The study dealt with the federal grant programs known as COPs for police to finance police officers for communities. The study found that there is a direct correlation between an increase in the number of police and the decline in victimization.
According to the study, large and statistically significant effects of police numbers occur on robbery, larceny, and auto theft, with suggestive evidence that police reduce murders as well. Crime reductions associated with additional police were more pronounced in areas most affected by the Great Recession. The results highlight that fiscal support to local governments for crime prevention may offer large returns, especially during bad macroeconomic times.
The link to the entire study is here:
A FAILURE TO ARREST
In an election year, Mayor Tim Keller and his appointed APD Chief Harold Medina have pushed the “peddle to the metal” and are going full throttle with their public relations campaign to convince the general public and the media that what they have done is having a major effect on reducing crime and blaming the pandemic. It has not.
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 because it is so short handed in the field services. It’s an APD personnel resource management issue. This point is made perfectly 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 department is not doing its job of investigating and arresting people no doubt in part for the failure to have sufficient number of police patrolling the streets:
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.
ABOLISH APD INTERNAL AFFAIRS
An option that could increase the number of sworn assigned to field services is to abolish APD’s Internal Affairs Unit and scale down the Compliance Bureau to a third. This would increase the availability of sworn police to patrol the streets. APD has consistently shown over decades it cannot police itself which contributed to the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice. The APD Internal Affairs Unit needs to be abolished and its functions absorbed by other civilian departments.
The investigation of police misconduct cases including excessive use of force cases not resulting in death or serious bodily harm should be done by “civilian” personnel investigators, not sworn police. The External Force Investigation Team (EFIT) would become a part of the civilian oversight unit. The function and responsibility for investigating police misconduct cases and violations of personnel policy and procedures by police should be assumed by the Office of the Inspector General in conjunction with the City Human Resources Department.
The Office of Inspector General could make findings and recommendations to the APD Chief and Police Oversight Board (POB) for implementation and imposition of disciplinary action.
PLAYING THE BLAME GAME
Mayor Keller, Chief Medina and the APD union are now constantly proclaiming that the DOJ consent decree is a major contributor to APD not being able to do its job. The police union falsely proclaims officer’s hands are tied by the DOJ reforms and sworn police are afraid of doing their jobs for fear of being disciplined. All 3 easily forget why the reforms were necessary and now mandated by a court order.
The Court Approved Settlement Agreement was preventable had APD in fact followed constitutional policing practices in the first place. It had nothing to do with “politically correct politicians” throwing APD under the bus as many have said. It was APD that brought the DOJ here in the first place and mandated the Federal Court to come down on it.
Now the Mayor and City Council are mired in dealing with the crisis. APD has the largest budget of all the 27 city departments with an approved 2022 general fund operating budget of upwards of $222 million and funding for 1,100 sworn police, a number it has not had since 2009, and positions it cannot fill. What the city has is an APD personnel management crisis and a failure of Mayor Tim Keller and Chief Harold Medina being unable to do a job with the resources they have, yet all we get is whining from both of them.
But what the hell, we have a Mayor who acts more like a celebrity wearing shorts and t-shirts, attends heavy metal concerts, attends soccer games and who gives pep talks to college football players as he runs around all over the city seeking publicity as he seeks a second term and $60 million in taxpayer funding for a soccer stadium.
As of November 14, 2019, it will be a full 7 years that has expired since the city entered into the CASA with the DOJ. The City and APD have completed the following to accomplish the reforms:
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 an 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 Compliance Bureau has been created.
14. The External Force Investigation Team (EFIT) has been created