Rudolfo Carrillo Guest Column: A Lighter Side To A Career March; Something Fishy In 2021 Mayor’s Race

This is a guest 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.

HEADLINE: People, Politics and the Profession; A Humanized March Contemplates the Future

My first job was working for the Albuquerque Publishing Company, delivering copies of the Albuquerque Tribune to homes in the far Northeast Heights.

Every day, after school—and on Saturday afternoons, too—my brother and I would pick up 420 copies of the Trib from a fellow named Joe Archuleta. We’d roll the papers up with rubber bands and spend the next four hours distributing them to humans who enjoyed reading the latest in Albuquerque news.

One of my favorite customers was an elderly gentleman named George Savarese. He’d come out of his house every day to greet me and talk about what was in that day’s Home Edition of the Albuquerque Tribune.

Mr. Savarese told me he appreciated our conversations about local politics; he didn’t talk to anyone much anymore, but liked to write letters to Ralph Looney, the paper’s editor. He counseled me to do the same, saying writing would give me an opportunity to tell more people about the ideas we would discuss on his front lawn as roadrunners sprinted by and the late-summer sun bathed the city in a warm, golden glow.

Anyway, I wrote a couple letters to Looney. He published them on the letters page and then wrote me back in the fall, asking if I would like to be an intern at the Tribune or Journal. By the time I was 16, I was working in both newsrooms, but, because of my school schedule, most of the action I saw was at the Journal.

At the Albuquerque Journal, I got to work with folks like Tom Harmon and Jim Belshaw. It was fun and a great learning experience. I wrote all sorts of articles for the Youth page in the Trends section. At the Albuquerque Tribune, when the opportunity arose, I chased copy up and down the stairs for Howard Bryan and Looney.

Looney was an interesting, super-informed generalist. He also wrote a column that featured a fictional character named Feedlot Joe. Looney used his literary invention to candidly and successfully speak to many issues that might otherwise have been anathema to the Trib’s older, more conservative readership.

More importantly, Looney was a champion journalist, to his readers, publishers and staff. Upon his death, veteran Tribune reporter Howard Bryan wrote, “He knew what interested people. Looney was interested in the history of the state as well as the news of the day. And he took a personal interest in the people who worked for him. We weren’t just bylines to him.”

[“Ralph Looney Obituary”, September 8, 2000, in The Albuquerque Journal.]

That brings us to the overarching theme—as well as offering some insight into the inspiration for the narrative style contained therein—of today’s guest column. A grand tip of the hat then, to Mr. Looney. Without him, there would never have been a Feedlot Joe nor an August March.


The other day I happened to be Downtown purchasing gasoline when I turned and saw a large, soundless puff of smoke appear in the distance behind me. I swear by hizzoner Tim Keller’s love for sportsball that, at first, I feared the growing apparition in my rearview mirror might be some sort of demonic visitation; perhaps Manny Gonzales had finally succeeded in getting some private funding after all and now Ol’ Scratch was here in town to check things out, you know, collateral-wise.

Of course, I was wrong about that. Gonzales ain’t about to walk down to the crossroads anytime soon; there would be too much of a chance that he might run into his mentor—an association he wants voters to forget all about as Election Day approaches.

[“Sheriff’s visit to Trump White House draws ire”, by Elise Kaplan in the Albuquerque Journal, July 22, 2020:]

Anyway, it turned out the smoke was just August March getting ready for work. I know this to be true because—following my deepest journalistic instincts—I tracked down the billowing formation and had a word or two with the old lunatic.

“What have you been up to, compadre?” I gravely inquired, as I approached March. Fanning the voluminous smoke away with my bare hands, I noticed he was wearing a chef’s uniform.

“Well, sir, I’ve plumb given up on all that journalism and PR stuff I was telling you about earlier this summer.”

“You mean that time you galumphed outta some other dimension to complain to me about your suffering at the hands of merciless capitalists? Yes, I vaguely recall …”

“Well, hombre, I have no reason to complain now; as you can see, I am fixing to spend a luxurious and profitable day cooking up Italian food for the masses.”

“I sorta get that. How did that happen and what about your expanding career as a media expert?”

“It’s the job market, brother. Restaurants all over this town are hungry for intelligent, hard-working individuals. Meanwhile, industries like the press and public relations realms seem to be beleaguered with uncertainty. Heck, I applied at all sorts of places that said they wanted a communications manager or something like that. A few places even interviewed me more than once. The funny thing is that I never heard back from any of them.”

[Restaurant Industry Shows Signs of Strong Recovery, But Sales Remain Down By $110 Billion from Pre-Pandemic Projections”, by Alicia Kelso, in Forbes, August 31, 2021.]

[Longtime publication SF Weekly shutters ‘indefinitely’ after decades in San Francisco”, by Joshua Bote in the SF Gate, September 10, 2021.]

“C’mon, Augie, didn’t you at least try and reach out to them?”

“What’s the point? If they really were serious, you can damn well bet they’d call, and I can prove that if you let me tell you about my new job.”


“Go on, Augie.”

“After I waited for a few weeks to hear from three different professional jobs that I interviewed for, I decided to take matters into my own hands and so stopped in at a local joint that had a help wanted sign on the door. The manager was friendly and accommodating. They found out I had a college degree, did a thorough background check and then called me the next morning with a training schedule.”

“And you don’t mind doing that kinda work, even after getting to hang with and write about this town’s high and mighty?

“Heck no. It’s good, hard work; I can get lost in it. I don’t have to use any of the abstruse intellectual or artistic tools at my disposal; it’s very zen, very pure, a sort of kind ego annihilation, making food for others. Then when I get home, I’ve got all that creative urge stored up and can use it to write interesting stuff and make awesome paintings and sculptures.”

“Is it a lot different than the other jobs you’ve had?”

“Mostly. Though it sorta reminds me of the time I worked as a projectionist. Everyone works together, people from all walks of life. So far, there’s no sign of climbers or bullies or racists. People in the kitchen talk honestly, they are blunt but respectful. Here’s an example: At my last job, a young writer in my department, for Crissakes, used to bully me relentlessly because she wanted my job so badly. She would aggressively call my cellphone daily to ask if she could have my desk and computer. The situation became unpleasant enough that I often chose to work from home rather deal with her inappropriate behavior. Meanwhile, at my new job, they just hired an 18-year-old dishwasher. After they introduced themself, they kindly asked if I would mind demonstrating some basic cookery skills, since they wanted to be a cook, and it seemed like I knew my way around the place.”


“Well, me and the missus did a soft launch of our nascent PR firm last year. That’s doing pretty, pretty good; we’ve even got us a couple of for-realz rocanrol star clients and we’ve been economically self-sufficient for a long time. But the truth is that the pandemic plumb near wiped us out, physically, emotionally and economically. That’s something that the folks over at these professional jobs I applied for just don’t seem to get, especially the ones run by affluent citizens. I think restaurants get it because they’re in the business of feeding people.

Don’t get me wrong, Carrillo. If I had my druthers, I’d be working as a reporter or information officer. But I ain’t going back to any places that don’t practice transparency, don’t put the workers first, don’t foster a real sense of community or places that tolerate unprofessional behavior from the overly ambitious because they are young and have “potential.” I never want to be just a byline, ever again. And I’m gonna let the Tao do its work this time. Maybe someone will call after all, someday. Besides, I make a mean Neapolitan pie.”

“Well, that sounds like a plan. Now, how do you feel about anchovies? … And do you think choices like that might somehow come into play during the home stretch of the upcoming mayoral election?”

You know, I’ve said all along that there is something fishy going on with this year’s race and, in fact, if people around here don’t like that sort of salty accoutrement—and they still feel the urge to vote—they can always write my name in! How’s this for a campaign slogan: ‘A steamin’ bowl of fresh fettuccini or a large 3-topping pie in every pot!’”

“Now you’re cooking, dude.”

Second New Mexico State Police “Proactive Operation” In ABQ Results in 160 Arrests; Negligible Impact On ABQ’s Crime When APD Makes 24,000 To 32,000 Arrests Each Year

On Monday, August 16, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she had order 35 New Mexico State Police ( NMSP) officers to begin “proactive operations” and crime suppression operations in the Albuquerque area starting on Tuesday, August 17. The State Police were sent to the city in the wake of the killing of 13-year-old, eighth grader Bennie Hargrove being shot and killed at Washington Middle school by another student as well as the city breaking the all-time homicide rate with 81 murders, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham sent 35 New Mexico State Police Officers to the city.

The assignment of State Police was the second time in as many years that the Governor has ordered state police to the city. The first time had 50 State Police officers from around the state target specific Albuquerque neighborhoods to fight violent crime. The end result was 14,674 traffic stops and 738 arrests at a price tag of around $1 million. The first State Police initiative resulted in accusations of heavy-handed policing and shootings during the operation and resulted in local leaders and advocacy groups to criticize the effort.

The second time is dramatically different. It was in May, 2019 following the shooting of the University of New Mexico baseball player Jackson Weller outside of a Nob Hill bar that 50 state police officers were pulled from communities all over the state and patrolled the metro for two months. The state police arrested 738 people and doing more than 14,000 traffic stops. The 35 state police being sent this time will be tasked with concentrating on outstanding warrants for violent crimes.

The recent 35 NMSP officers were assigned to a 3-week-long operation in Albuquerque. State Police Officers have conducted operations along I-25 and I-40 in Bernalillo County. They were on highways during peak traffic hours. The operation involves 35 officers, 25 of whom were already working in and around Albuquerque, and is similar to the “Metro Surge Operation” in the summer of 2019. Currently, 42 state police officers are stationed in the metro area, but they patrol the area from Bernalillo to Los Lunas and Grants to Edgewood. The 35 State Police concentrated exclusively on Albuquerque.

The NMSP have been working with the New Mexico Department of Corrections and Adult Probation and Parole Department. The state department has worked together to target criminals who have outstanding warrants for violent crimes and are believed to be involved in ongoing criminal activity in the city.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham had this to say in a statement:

“We know from our last effort there were a lot of arrests made. We think this is going to make an impact and we’re going to continue to go after fugitives right and we’ve got felony warrants, people out. It takes all of us working together to get these people picked up and held.”

Tim Johnson, Chief of the New Mexico State Police, had this to say in a news release:

“Proactive crime suppression efforts can help solve crimes and often help prevent crime in the Albuquerque Metro area. … “Citizens have described the driving on the interstates in Albuquerque as chaotic, often leaving them feeling unsafe or frightened. Shootings, murder and overall violent crime feels like a daily occurrence in the metro, we hope our plan can help slow this trend.”


On September 14, it was reported that the New Mexico State Police arrested nearly 100 people on felonies during the agency’s ongoing operation combatting crime in Albuquerque. According to Governor Lujan Grisham’s spokesman Tripp Stelnicki, NMSP officers have made 93 felony arrests and 67 misdemeanor arrests since August 16 when the Governor announced the State Police initiative. Stelnicki said 58 of those arrested on felonies were people with “violent criminal histories.”

The tactical response began August 17. NMSP plans to resume its targeted efforts throughout the county and metro area for at least one additional week after the conclusion of the New Mexico State Fair.

The New Mexico State Police report the following as part of the tactical response:

13 stolen vehicles recovered
21 DWI arrests
160 total arrests, including felonies and misdemeanors; this number includes 58 arrested individuals with violent criminal histories
15 narcotics seizures, including methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl
6 illegal firearms recovered


Governor Lujan Grisham said in a statement that the operation has “made a real difference” in combating crime in the Albuquerque area and had this to say:

“I believe state police officers have made a real difference in these few weeks. This targeted effort has brought in dozens of offenders with violent criminal histories, and that is and must continue to be our North Star in combating crime in our state: Keeping as many of the worst of the worst off of our streets as we possibly can. It’s why I will support a significant investment in hiring 1,000 new community-oriented officers statewide in the upcoming legislative session. And it’s why I will support a rebuttable presumption for violent offenders, because bail reform is necessary to help our officers and criminal justice system prioritize the repeat and violent offenders who have no business on our streets. I look forward to continued good work from our committed officers, and I thank them, and their partners throughout the criminal justice system, for their ongoing service to New Mexico.”

Public Safety Secretary Jason Bowie had this to say:

“This metro operation is an outstanding example of the continued commitment to statewide law enforcement support provided by the Department of Public Safety and the New Mexico State Police. … Effective partnerships between law enforcement and community stakeholders are crucial to public safety. The dedication and commitment exhibited in this partnership was vital and has not gone unnoticed. More work is still ahead of us.”

State Police Chief Tim Johnson said in a press release had this to say:

“By arresting violent fugitives who were wanted on charges including aggravated assault, armed robbery, and drug distribution, we not only take repeat offenders off the street, but we are also able to derive valuable intelligence that help solve additional crimes and take down larger criminal operations in the area.”

Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office, said in a statement that Lujan Grisham is committed to addressing violent crime in a multi-pronged way that involves the justice system and other key agencies and said:

“The governor believes addressing violent crime requires an entire criminal justice system — from cities and counties to beat cops and courts — working together to find and arrest and bring to justice violent offenders.”

Links to quoted source material are here:,officers%20have%20recorded%20160%20arrests.,officers%20have%20recorded%20160%20arrests.


When it comes to the Albuquerque Police Department, arrests are broken down into 3 major categories: Felony Arrests, Misdemeanor Arrests and DWI Arrests. The number of Felony Arrest, Misdemeanor Arrests and DWI Arrests 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 are as follows:

FY/14 Arrests: Felony 9,507, Misdemeanor 27,127, DWI 2,704
FY/15 Arrests: Felony 9,049, Misdemeanor 22,639, DWI 2,213
FY/16 Arrests: Felony 8,744, Misdemeanor 19,857, DWI 1,720
FY/17 Arrests: Felony 9,527, Misdemeanor 18,562, DWI 1,338
FY/18 Arrests: Felony 11,257, Misdemeanor 19,923, DWI 1,403
FY/19 Arrests: Felony 10,945, Misdemeanor 19,440, DWI 1,788
FY/20 Arrests: Felony 6,621, Misdemeanor 16,520, DWI 1,230,

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


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.
The link to the budget is here:

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


2019: 10,945
2020: 6,621


2019: 19,440
2020: 16,520


2019: 1,788
2020: 1,230


2022 APD Budget, page 151:


The arrest of 160 criminals, which included 50 violent criminals, is much appreciated by APD and the public but given the sure volume of arrests made in Albuquerque a year, it is a real stretch of the imagination for the Governor and other law enforcement state officials to believe the arrest of 160 felony and misdemeanor criminals is a major accomplishment. It is more like 160 grains of sand in and entire bucket of sand. The blunt truth is that those arrests will not have much of a major impact on the city’s crime rates. They are kidding themselves and the public if they believe 160 arrests will have and impact when APD makes 24,000 to 32,000 arrests a year. To have an impact on crime there needs to be sustained operations and tactical plans for at least a full year. A 2 to 3 week period of arrests during a major event such as the State Fair or for that matter the International Balloon Fiesta will have little if any effect.

If Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is truly committed to have an impact on Albuquerque’s high crime rates, she should advocate that the 1,000 sworn police she wants funding for be permanently assigned to the city of Albuquerque. Now THAT would make difference! With that many added police officers patrolling the streets of Albuquerque and being proactive making arrest, crime rates would go down dramatically.

New Mexico Revenue Outlook Rebounds; Legislature Debates How Much Is Enough For A “ Rainy Day”

On Friday, August 28, during a Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) held in Taos, it was revealed that the State is experiencing an all-time high windfall of more than nearly $1 billion higher than what was projected in February of this year. The estimates released to the legislative committee by executive and legislative economists project that New Mexico will have nearly $1.4 billion in additional money in the coming year. The $1.4 Billion is the the difference between expected revenue and the state’s current $7.4 billion budget. The cause of the windfall is surging oil and natural gas production and a rise in consumer spending.

The projected revenue total does not include more than $1.5 billion that will automatically flow into a state “rainy day” fund and an early childhood endowment fund over the next two years. It also does not include the $1.75 billion in federal relief funds that have only been partially earmarked by the Lujan Grisham administration.

According to a report to the Legislative Finance Committee:

“Revenues are up $851.3 million from the February 2021 estimate, due primarily to higher-than-expected gross receipts tax and income tax collections that accompanied increased consumer spending and growth in high- and mid-wage employment in the first half of 2021. … Additionally, strong recovery in the oil and gas markets are pushing severance tax and federal royalty collections well above their five-year averages, resulting in large transfers to the newly created early childhood trust fund.”


Two separate funds were created by the New Mexico Legislature to ensure that there is adequate funding to continue to provide essential services and deal with bad economic times such as when the pandemic hit and at the same time state revenues plummeted as a result of the oil boom bust.

The two funds are the Tax Stabilization Fund and the Early Childhood Trust Fund.

The Tax Stabilization Reserve Fund is referred to as the “rainy day fund”. It was created by the legislature in 2017. The revenues for the fund come from royalties or tax collections on the oil and natural gas industries that exceed a five-year rolling average.

The Early Childhood Trust Fund was created by the legislature in 2020 at the insistence of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. The funds revenue source is the same revenue source when total state cash reserves amount to 25% or more of the state’s approved spending level. Funds also come from mineral leasing payments on federal land. The trust fund makes annual distributions to help fund early childhood programs statewide, a major priority of the Lujan Grisham Administration.

According to the Legislative Finance Committee, both funds are projected to spike considerably over the next 2 fiscal years with the following projections made:


Fiscal year 2021: $1.8 Billion Fiscal Year 2022: $2.2 Billion Fiscal year 2023: $2.3 Billion


Fiscal year 2021: $334.7 Million Fiscal Year 2022: $505.4 Million Fiscal year 2023: $283.6

Note that based on revenue estimates released a total of $1.8 billion is projected to be in the Tax Stabilization Reserve fund at the end of the current fiscal year that started on July 1, 2021 and ends June 30, 2022, or more than half the state’s estimated $3.1 billion in total reserves. Also not that upwards of $1.1 billion is projected to be transferred into the Early Childhood Trust Fund over a three-year period ending in June 2023.

House Speaker Brian Egolf said in a statement that the revenue projections were proof that Democrat’s policies are working and said:

“With roughly $1.4 billion in new revenue, investments in infrastructure, families, and communities will continue to be central to our work to diversify and guarantee sustainable, long-term growth for our state. ”

According to the Legislative Finance Committee over the last decade New Mexico’s revenue levels have gone up and down from as low as $5.7 Billion in 2013 to now a projected $8.8 Billion in 2023. and fluctuated widely from year to year”. The reported breakdown by fiscal years is as follows:

2013 – $5.7 billion
2014 – $6 billion
2015 – $6.2 billion
2016 – $5.7 billion
2017 – $5.7 billion
2018 – $6.8 billion
2019 – $8 billion
2020 – $7.8 billion
2021 – $8 billion (estimated level)
2022– $8.1 billion (estimated level)
2023 – $8.8 billion (estimated level)

The link to the Journal article reporting on fiscal years breakdowns is here:


Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s press secretary Nora Meyers Sackett said in a statement that the Governor’s Office has been conducting preliminary agency-by-agency budget meetings in recent weeks in order to make a formal budget recommendations this fall. According to Sackett:

“[The Governor is] incredibly optimistic about [the revenue projection.] It underscores and validates the sound fiscal stewardship of her administration, which has, despite the unprecedented events of the last 18-plus months, put New Mexico in perhaps its best financial position in more than a decade. … The governor’s budget priorities have been clear throughout her term and they are unlikely to change. [Those priorities are] public education, economic development, environmental protection and crime and criminal justice reform. … Within that framework is where we will continue to focus our efforts to respond to and invest in the areas New Mexicans care most about.”


The 2022 legislative session is a 30 day session, called a short session, and is convened to deal almost exclusively with the budget, financial matters and taxation. It is the Governor who set the agenda in those sessions. The 30 day session begins January 17, 2022.

The debate between legislator’s is already beginning as to how the additional funding should be used.

Representative Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, the chairwoman of the Legislative Finance Committee, said that she has asked legislative staffers to look into possible changes to the Early Childhood Trust Fund including a possible cap on the fund’s total balances. Lundstrum had this to say:

“I don’t want money sitting in funds when we have so many needs”.

Senator George Muñoz, D-Gallup, the vice chairman of the Legislative Finance Committee suggested the revenue windfall should be spent on one-time expenditures not part of the state budget and had this to say:

“There’s going to be a lot more money than we know what to do with in the next few years, but it’s not going to last forever. … Now is the time to tackle the structural issues of New Mexico. We’re going to think big … We’re not going to pull around our little wagon anymore. … We’re going to load our armored trucks, and we’re going to develop and make New Mexico grow. ”

House Majority Leader Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, had this to say:

“[The tax stabilization reserve fund] is getting pretty big, and I think we need to take a look as a Legislature at how it’s structured.”

Representative Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, proclaimed the state could withstand 2 consecutive decade long economic downturns, given the amount of money in the savings funds and said:

“Money sitting in an account is actually counterproductive to the future of our state.”

Senator Crystal Diamond, R-Elephant Butte, said legislators should be mindful of the historic volatility of oil and gas revenues noting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and said:

“We do not know what the future holds, and as such, we should think twice before spending exorbitantly simply because our coffers appear to be full today.”

Republican Senator Pat Woods raised concerns about widespread inflation and said:

“I think New Mexico is very flush with money. … And it’s all about the money that poured into this state.”

The links to quoted source material are here:


Although New Mexico’s financial out look is looking better, it is too easy to forget how quickly things can change practically overnight.

It was in 2019 that the New Mexico oil industry’s historic energy production was enabling unprecedented investment by Mew Mexico in education. In FY 2019, the oil and gas industry contributed $1.36 billion to public education, representing a 28% increase over FY 2018. Public schools and higher education received $1.36 billion from state oil and gas revenue in FY 2019, up a staggering $300 million from FY 2018. It included upwards of $1.06 billion for primary and secondary education, and $302 million for state universities, colleges and other higher education institutions.

A report by the New Mexico Tax Research Institute released in January, 2020, revealed that the oil and natural gas industry contributed more than $3.1 billion in tax revenue for fiscal year 2019, a dramatic 41% from the $2.2 billion generated the year before. The $3.1 billion was an increase of $910 million from 2018. Oil and natural gas represent 39% of New Mexico’s General Fund revenues, the highest share of all industries in recent history.

On February 20, 2020, the New Mexico legislature ended having enacted a $7.6 Billion dollar budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The enacted budget raised annual spending by $536 million, or by nearly 8% over last year’s budget. The increase in spending was a result of record-breaking oil production in the Permian Basin with the state originally anticipating at least an $800 million increase in state government income during the coming budget year. The legislature also enacted a separate $49.5 million in capital outlay projects. The 2020-2021 fiscal year begins July 1.

Passage of the $7.6 billion budget plan for the 2021 budget year was predicated on oil averaging $52 per barrel. The price of crude oil per barrel plummeted to an alarming $20 dollars a barrel and was expected to go down even further. With each $1 drop a barrel in oil prices, the state loses upwards of $22 million in direct oil and gas revenue over a full year.

Just when things were looking great in 2019 with respect to oil and gas royalties to finance state government, BAM the corona virus hits, a global oil price war intensified, and New Mexico got hit even harder in the process, all within one month since the adjournment of the New Mexico legislature on February 20, 2020. The global oil price war hit hard the state’s revenue boom, harder than anyone expected. It caused the state budget surplus to evaporate. The New Mexico Legislature’s finance analysts had pegged oil prices for the budget year that ends in June to an average $52 per barrel but oil prices per barrel of crude hit an all time low $21.

As the result of the financial crisis in revenues, Governor Lujan Grisham was forced to call a Special Session on November 24, 2020 to deal with the revenue shortfall and pandemic relief.

One thing is for certain is that New Mexico lawmakers did not envision the spike of billions of revenues in such a short period time. After all the financial gloom and gloom of the past two year, New Mexico is rebounding. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Legislature will soon be releasing their own separate proposed budgets before the start of next year’s 30-day legislative session. Both those budgets will act as the blue prints for enactment of a final budget. Let’s hope the legislature and the Governor thinks big and invests widely in infrastructure and economic development that will improve the lives of all New Mexicans and that will leave a lasting legacy well beyond the times when they are no longer in office.

Manny Gonzales Denied $661,000 For 5th Time In Public Financing; Unethical Gonzales Calls Judge’s Ruling “Bad” and “Unethical”; Private Financing Sought; Will There Be A Run Off Between Keller And Aragon?

On Tuesday, September 13, First Judicial District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid upheld the Albuquerque City Clerk’s decision to deny public financing to Sheriff Manny Gonzales. During the hearing, Gonzales’ attorneys argued that even without the signatures in question, Gonzales still had enough to qualify for the funding. However, city’s adopted campaign finance rules allow the clerk to deny public financing, no matter how much fraud is found, no matter how minor it is.

Judge Biedscheid in announcing his ruling from the bench said:

“There has been really nothing presented to the court [today] to indicate that the clerk’s initial finding was fraudulent, arbitrary, capricious … that it wasn’t’ supported by substantial evidence.

Essentially Mr. Gonzales has wanted two things throughout this proceeding, which is, one, instantaneous decision-making and, (two), the most elaborate trappings of full criminal prosecution and the like, and you cannot provide both of those,” the judge said. “I think this court has been in a position similar to that which the clerk was in, and that is a position of trying to balance the need for expedited proceedings and the need to make sure everyone has due process and the right to respond.

While much is made and much effort is expended trying to paint Mr. Watson as the instrument of the mayor, that is not legally true. … He is the Albuquerque city clerk that has been vested with authority and duties under Albuquerque ordinances.”

Gonzales’ attorneys argued that even without the signatures in question he still has enough to qualify for the funding. However, the the city election rules are clear and allow the clerk to deny public financing, no matter how much fraud is found.

Sheriff Manny Gonzales during an afternoon press conference called the Judge’s decision a “bad” and “unethical” decision.


After Judge Biedscheid’s ruling to deny him public finance, Manny Gonzales held a news conference and announced his campaign’s plan to move forward with raising private financing. A defiant Gonzales said he and his supporters will not be “hushed” and had this to say:

“This is something that has never happened to another campaign. And I think that’s going to be the driving force, and the motivation, and the inspiration for us winning this race. … What we want people to know is that not only am I more inspired than ever but I’m also ready to win this race on behalf of the people.”

Gonzales also came out swinging blaming the Democrt Progressives for undermining his campaign all because of his support of President Trump and accepting federal funding last year for a law enforcement initiatives. Gonzales appeared with then Attorney General William Barr at an Albuquerque Press conference and later Gonzales traveled to the White House to attend a Presidential Press conference on a crime initiative where Albuquerque was identified as one of 7 cities that would have federal agents sent to deal with violent crime.

Gonzales now has less than 8 weeks before the November 2 election to get private contributions for his mayoral campaign.

Links to quoted news source materials


On June 18, City Clerk Ethan Watson posted on the city web site his office had reviewed and verified that Gonzales submitted more than the required 3,000 valid signatures and more than the 3,771 valid qualifying donations. The city clerk rejected 745 petition signatures and rejected 573 Qualifying $5.00 contributions submitted by the Gonzales campaign. Ostensibly with the posting, no forgeries were found in the 3,000 nominating signatures and the 3,771 qualifying donations approved by the city clerk.

The Keller campaign submitted to the City Clerk 149 examples of alleged forgeries on documents submitted to the City Clerk by the Gonzales campaign. The Keller campaign also filed signed statements from upwards of 40 people contacted by a private investigator hired by Keller campaign. Most of those contacted said the signatures on Gonzales’ nominating petition was theirs and half confirmed they had contributed $5 to Gonzales’ public financing effort. Nearly all said signatures on the $5 qualifying donations were forgeries.

The city’s Office of Inspector General investigated the qualifying $5.00 contribution receipts and found that there were problems with 15% of the 239 randomly selected Gonzales campaign receipts it reviewed. According to the Inspector General, the voters identified and contacted in those instances said either that they signed the receipt but never gave money or that they never signed the receipt or gave $5.

Complicating things for Gonzales is he admitted that signature forgeries were on both nominating petitions and the $5.00 qualifying donations. On July 14, after repeated denials of any wrong doing by the Gonzales campaign, and in a written response to an ethics complaint filed with the Board of Ethics and Campaign Practices, Gonzales’ campaign stated.

“It does appear, upon the Gonzales campaign’s own investigation, that many of the qualifying-contribution (“QC”) receipts…were signed by someone other than the voter.”

In a letter dated July 9, Albuquerque City Clerk Ethan Watson notified Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales’ that the city was denying his campaign $661,00 in public financing citing misconduct in the qualifying process and forgery of signatures on $5 qualifying donations. City Clerk Watson wrote Gonzales he could not confirm that Gonzales had complied with the city’s Open and Ethical Election Code and associated regulations.

It is Part C of the regulations entitled “Qualifying Period and Qualifying Contributions” that outlines the certification process relating to the $5 qualifying donations for all the candidates.

Paragraph 15 entitled “Certification of Participating Candidates for Public Financing” provides in part as follows:

“The City Clerk shall certify as a Participating Candidate, all Applicant Candidates who meet the requirements of the OEEC and submit an Application for Certification.

“In addition to the criteria for certification listed … upon receipt of a final Qualifying Contribution report from an Applicant Candidate, the Clerk shall determine whether the Applicant Candidate has:

… been found to have submitted any fraudulent Qualifying Contributions or any falsified acknowledgement forms for Qualifying Contributions or Seed Money Contributions, where the Applicant Candidate knew or should have known of the fraudulence or falsification.

If the Clerk makes … the finding … above, the Clerk shall not certify the Applicant Candidate as a Participating Candidate.”

The link to the regulations is here:

Gonzales appealed Watson’s denial of public finance and the case was assigned to a city hearing officer. Within a week, a hearing was scheduled and held.


On Monday July 19, city hearing officer Ripley Harwood issued his written ruling on Manny Gonzales’ appeal of the City Clerks denial of $661,000 in public finance. Harwood found Manny Gonzales had failed to prove that Clerk Ethan Watson had acted inappropriately in denying him $661,000 in public financing. Harwood specifically found that it was Gonzales’ responsibility to keep fraud and forgery in the gathering of the qualifying donations. In his ruling upholding the city clerk, Harwood wrote:

“I endorse the view that it is the duty of candidates to manage and oversee their campaigns in a way that assures that fraud and falsifications do not occur. I would view this as a non-delegable duty even if (Gonzales) had not signed a document acknowledging responsibility for the acts of his key subordinates. … Failing to detect and eliminate a multitude of forged qualifying contribution forms bearing the signatures of his key subordinates constitutes failure to exercise ordinary care in the management of a campaign and meets the ‘knew or should have known’ standard of [the “Open and Ethical Elections Code” regulations.]”


Gonzales appealed the city hearing officer’s ruling to state district court. All Second Judicial District Judges disqualified themselves from hearing the case and First Judicial District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid was assigned the case by the Supreme Court.

On Friday, August 27, Santa Fe District Judge Bryan Biedscheid reversed Albuquerque City Clerk Nathan Watson’s decision denying Sheriff Manuel Gonzales the public financing for his mayoral campaign. The Court ruled that Watson denied Gonzales due process of law.

In making his first ruling in the case, Judge Biedscheid emphasized that Gonzales was denied the opportunity to answer the allegations of fraud against him in the collection of the $5 qualifying donations for public finance. Instead, the City Clerk decided to withhold certification of the funding unilaterally by interpreting and applying election rules and regulations he wrote an issued in September of 2020.

The Judge also ruled the city clerk could ultimately deny Gonzales the public financing, but to do so, the City Clerk will need to determine that Gonzales has been found to have violated regulations and make specific factual findings on those allegations. The judge further ordered the City Clerk must establish and carry out a process by next week giving Gonzales due process. The judge stressed that Gonzales has to be given the opportunity to answer the allegations against him.


On September 1, the Gonzales campaign filed a PETITION FOR WRIT OF SUPERINTENDING CONTROL asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to intervene. On September 8, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied the petition and dismissed the case.


At the very least it is downright embarrassing and the very worst very pathetic that Sheriff Manny Gonzales would actually say Judge Biedscheid’s decision was “bad” and “unethical” decision and essentially taking absolute no responsibility for the illegal conduct of his campaign. Sheriff Gonzales has 30 years of law enforcement experience. As an elected Sheriff, he is also held to a higher standard and he is not above the law. There is no doubt that Gonzales knows that forging a person’s signature is a 4th degree felony with a basic sentence of 18 months in prison and that fraud to secure $661,000 in financing would be a second degree felony punishable by a basic 18 years in prison, yet Sheriff Gonzales allowed fraud and the forging of signatures in an effort to secure $661,000 in his campaign financing.

Sheriff Gonzales embarrassingly argued that fraud and forgeries go on all the time in political campaigns. That may be true, but it was the Gonzales campaign that got caught. The blunt truth is that Biedscheid ensured that Gonzales was given “due process of law” and an evidentiary hearing and then and only then was the public financing taken away. One thing Gonzales may have learned out of all of the mess he created is that even the guilty are entitled to due process of law, and once due process occurs, a decision is made as to the consequences. If there was any unethical conduct in this whole damn mess it came from the Gonzales campaign.

Gonzales will find it extremely difficult to raise money. The municipal election is scheduled for November 2, giving Gonzales 8 weeks to raise private financing an extremely daunting task. It will require major donors to raise sufficient financing to run a viable campaign. Now that Manny Gonzales has been denied $661,000 in public financing for the 5th time, it is also more likely than not that whatever support he had from conservative Democrats, Trump Republicans and Independents will implode as his reputation in law enforcement has been severely tarnished. Donations to the measured finance campaign supporting and promoting Manny Gonzales began to decline when his trouble with the city clerk emerged and now he has had almost 2 full months of negative press that has sullied his before good reputation.


Incumbent Mayor Tim Keller no doubt benefits from having his most viable opponent’s public finance funding zeroed out by the courts. Keller has qualified and been given the $661,000 in public finance. Further, the measured finance committee “Build Back Burque”, organized to raise money and to promote Keller has $51,770 on hand to promote Keller or tear down Gonzales or Eddy Aragon for that matter. Sources have confirmed that Mayor Tim Keller is already taping and preparing video campaign ads that will likely be release come October 1.

Der Führer Trump Republican candidate Eddy Aragon will also benefit from Gonzales’ downwards spiral and loss of public finance and support. Aragon is a private finance candidate and the only Republican who qualified for Mayor securing the 3,000 nominating signatures in an impressive two-week period. Further, the Republican Party has now endorsed Aragon and that will likely also bring in donations, but if it will be nearly enough to run an effective campaign is the ultimate question.

At this point in time, 8 weeks before the election, incumbent Mayor Tim Keller is the front runner. With that said, with a low voter turnout, which is expected, Mayor Tim Keller may not secure the necessary 50% of the vote plus one to avoid a runoff. As the Gonzales campaign continues to nose dive and if the Eddy Aragon campaign gains traction, or major event happens that tests Keller’s leadership and he fails, there could be a runoff between Mayor Tim Keller and Eddy Aragon with neither getting 50% of the vote and Gonzales coming in 3rd.

In a runoff, Keller will consolidate the Progressive and Moderate Democratic vote, Aragon will consolidate the Republican and conservative Democrat vote. Under such a scenario, the city could see a repeat of the Democrat Tim Keller and Republican Dan Lewis election 4 years ago with Keller ultimately winning.

Fasten your seat belt and stay tuned!

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

On Monday, September 13, during an online speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, United States Attorney General Merrick Garland, and former US Court of Appeals Judge, 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 major 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 steps the department will take going forward in all monitor agreements to ensure that these principles are outlined as follows:

1. Budget Caps: Future consent decrees will include an annual cap on monitors’ fees to increase transparency and help contain costs.

2. No Double Dipping: To dispel any perception that monitoring is a cottage industry, lead monitors in future consent decrees will no longer be able to serve on more than one monitoring team at a time. Editor’s Note: The APD Federal Monitor has served in the past as a consent decree monitor in other cities, but only one at a time.

3. Monitors Should Prioritize Stakeholder Input: To ensure that monitors selected are able to understand of a variety of interests and perspectives of the stakeholders in the process, including impacted communities, law enforcement and victims of official misconduct.

4. Term Limits: To ensure that monitors are being held accountable, consent decrees will impose specific terms for monitors that can only be renewed after a process of judicial evaluation and reappointment.

5. Effective Practices Guide, Assessment Tools and Training Materials: To ensure that monitorships are being conducted consistently across jurisdictions, the department will convene a group of stakeholders to create a set of effective practices for monitors, training programs for new monitors and judges overseeing monitorships and assessment tools for monitors to use to evaluate jurisdictions.

6. Termination Hearing After No More than Five Years: To ensure that monitorships are designed to incentivize monitors and jurisdictions to move towards compliance as efficiently as possible, future consent decrees will require a hearing after five years so that jurisdictions can demonstrate the progress it has made, and if possible, to move for termination. To the extent that full compliance has not yet been reached by five years, the hearing will be used to solidify the plan for getting over the finish line in short order.

The changes will not automatically impact the city of Albuquerque’s court-mandated reform effort. Notwithstanding, Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement that his administration “will approach the U.S. District Court in New Mexico to ensure the same standards are applied to [the Albuquerque Police Department’s] settlement agreement.”

Links to quoted source material are here:


The changes announced by Attorney General Garland pertain immediately to any future consent decrees negotiated but will not automatically impact the city of Albuquerque’s Court Approved Settlement Agreement. Notwithstanding, APD and Albuquerque city officials praised the changes.

APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said the Keller administration has been meeting with DOJ officials for months and has worked with the Major Cities Chiefs Association. Gallego said the Keller met with DOJ officials “to outline several concerns about [the] existing process used by the DOJ to monitor the Albuquerque Police Department. … For example, the Keller administration highlighted the exorbitant cost paid by Albuquerque taxpayers for the work of out-of-state monitors who oversee APD’s reform process.”

Mayor Tim Keller for his part had this to say in a statement:

[We appreciated the Attorney General for listening to the city’s concerns and for] making changes to reflect the realities we’re facing. … “In this city, we want to make reforms that are actually meaningful to our local communities rather than out-of-state consultants. … I believe that Albuquerque has what it takes to do that while supporting our officers, tackling crime and making our city safer for people from all walks of life.”

APD Chief Harold Medina has said recently the Court Approved Settlement Agreement has interfered with his ability as Chief to put more resources toward fighting crime. In a statement, Medina said APD has made “tremendous progress” in changing the culture in the department and said:

“But the public also deserves a fully staffed police department that has the resources to focus on fighting crime. … The pendulum has swung too far in the wrong direction where officers do not feel supported. We need the local flexibility to ensure we can balance fighting crime while protecting the rights of all citizens.”

The link to quoted source material is here


Shaun Willoughby, the President of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association had this to say in an on-camera interview with Channel 4:

“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.”


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 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 and ask for a dismissal of the case or a significant reduction in the monitoring.

The City and APD for over 7 years have been struggling to implement the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) and the 217 mandated reforms. Millions have been spent. Not at all surprising is Shaun Willoughby, the President of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, shoots off his big mouth about the consent decree, babbles on and on with his false characterization of the consent decree. Willoughby now disparages the new rules for federal monitoring of consent decrees calling the consent decree and the monitoring process “a joke”. The real joke is that the police union, its membership of sergeants and lieutenants and the union President say they are supportive of the consent decree reforms yet have done everything they could for the last 7 years to oppose and undermine the consent decree reforms.

Hope springs eternal that the day will come when Willoughby for just once will speak the truth when he gives interviews to the local news media and the media in turn will fulfill their responsibility and report the truth contrary to what Willoughby has to say.

The link to a related blog article is here:

City And APD File “14th Progress and Status Summary Report” In Federal APD Police Reform Case

City And APD File “14th Progress and Status Summary Report” In Federal APD Police Reform Case

On September 2, 2021, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) Compliance and Oversight Division filed its “14th Progress and Status Summary Report” in the case brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the city and APD for excessive use of force and deadly force. The 14th Progress report was prepared by the Albuquerque Police Department Compliance and Oversight Division.

The report is APD’s version on the progress made in the 3 compliance levels of the settlement and to document the 13th Independent Monitor’s Report (IMR), the Independent Monitoring Team’s (IMT) recommendations, APD’s actions in response to the IMT recommendations, individual paragraph compliance status, and other efforts. The 14th Progress report covers the period February 1 to July 31, 2021.

This blog article is a summary of the major highlights of the 14th report. It should not be considered as all inclusive. The link to the full 208-page 14th progress report can be found here:


Compliance with the Court Approve Settlement is measured on 3 levels: primary, secondary, and operational. The 3 compliance levels audited for compliance are:

1. PRIMARY COMPLIANCE: Primary compliance is the “policy” part of compliance. To attain primary compliance, APD must have in place operational policies and procedures designed to guide officers, supervisors and managers in the performance of the tasks outlined in the CASA. As a matter of course, the policies must be reflective of the requirements of the CASA; must comply with national standards for effective policing policy; and must demonstrate trainable and evaluable policy components.

2. SECONDARY COMPLIANCE: Secondary compliance is attained by implementing supervisory, managerial and executive practices designed to and be effective in implementing the policy as written, e.g., sergeants routinely enforce the policies among field personnel and are held accountable by managerial and executive levels of the department for doing so. By definition, there must be operational reports, disciplinary records, remands to retraining, follow-up, and revisions to policies if necessary, indicating that the policies developed in the first stage of compliance are known to, followed by, and important to supervisory and managerial levels of the department.

3. OPERATIONAL COMPLIANCE: Operational compliance is attained at the point that the adherence to policies is apparent in the day-to-day operation of the agency e.g., line personnel are routinely held accountable for compliance, not by the monitoring staff, but by their sergeants, and sergeants are routinely held accountable for compliance by their lieutenants and command staff. In other words, the APD “owns” and enforces its policies.

At the end of the February 1, 2021 to July 31, 2021 reporting period, APD’s compliance levels were:

Primary Compliance: 100% with no changed from the 12th monitors report

Secondary Compliance: 82%, a loss of 9.9% from the 91% reported 12th monitors report

Operational Compliance: 59%, a loss of 7.8% from the 64% reported 12th monitors report

Primary Compliance relates mostly to development and implementation of acceptable policies and conforming to national practices and APD is now in 100% primary compliance. APD is now in 82% Secondary Compliance down from 91%, which means that effective follow-up mechanisms are beginning to be taken to ensure that APD personnel understand the requirements of promulgated policies in the areas of training, supervising, coaching, and disciplinary processes to ensure APD personnel understand the policies as promulgated and are capable of implementing them in the field. APD is in 59% operational compliance down from 64%, which means that 59% of the time, field personnel either perform tasks as required by the CASA, or that, when they fail, supervisory personnel note and correct in-field behavior that is not compliant with the requirements of the CASA.


In February 2021, a joint motion was filed with the Federal Court establishing a temporary External Force Investigation Team (EFIT) to assist APD in conducting quality and timely investigations of Level 2 and Level 3 uses of force by APD officers. In April 2021, the city advertised a Request for Letters of Interest outlining requirements for potential vendors, worked closely with the Department of Justice in the selection process, and selected a vendor. EFIT is designed to assist, evaluate and provide guidance to the Internal Affairs Force Division personnel. EFIT’s work will be evaluated in the same manner as APD by the Independent Monitoring Team (IMT) and DOJ for the duration of the contract term. The EFIT became fully operational on July 16, 2021, and will continue at least through April, 2022.


In March 2021, Mayor Tim Keller appointed two executive positions to oversee the Albuquerque Police Department. Acting APD Chief Harold Medina was made permanent and Sylvester Stanley was appointed the Chief of Police and the Superintendent of Police Reform/Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (Superintendent). APD Chief Harold Medina retired as a commander from APD in 2014, became Chief of Police in the Pueblo of Laguna and returned back to APD in 2017 as the Deputy Chief of Police over the Field Services Bureau and then appointed First Deputy Chief. Superintendent Sylvester Stanley is a four-time police chief who is responsible for key pieces of the CASA reform effort. The Superintendent oversees the following at APD:

Training Academy Division
The Internal Affairs Professional Standards Division
Internal Affairs Force Division
Crisis Intervention Division and Behavioral Health Section


Training is a necessary component and training equals secondary compliance for measurable paragraphs throughout the CASA.

According to the report. APD has made significant progress by transforming leadership at the Training Academy. After restructuring the Department to put the Training Academy under the Superintendent of Police Reform in March 2021, APD hired two key personnel into the Training Academy. Those positions are:

1. The Training Academy commander and
2. The Training Academy curriculum development manager.

In May 2021, an experienced, civilian educator was hired to manage the Comprehensive Training Unit (CTU) which is responsible for all APD curricula. The curriculum development manager earned a Ph.D. in political science and has over 11 years of experience in education as a trainer and in the development and design of training.

In July 2021, APD hired the commander of the Training Academy Division. The Training Academy commander retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and served as both the deputy director and assistant director of the FBI Academy the last 3 years.


According to APD, it has made significant progress in Tier 4 Use of Force training.

“APD did not complete Tier 4 Use of Force training in 2020, resulting in a decrease in compliance rates for numerous, interrelated paragraphs. Tier 4 is comprised of two days of training. The first day of Tier 4, Use of Force training was approved by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Independent Monitoring Team (IMT) in February, 2021. Training began in March 2021 and completed in May 2021 with a compliance rate of 98%. The second day of Tier 4 training was approved by the DOJ and IMT in July 2021, which is currently being delivered to all sworn officers and expected to be completed by December 2021, meeting the annual use of force training requirement.”

A major problem area identified by the monitor in his 13 monitor’s report was failed progress in Use of Force Investigation. 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.


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.


APD has continued with the Ethical Policing is Courageous (EPIC) program, which was brought to APD by the New Orleans Police Department in 2019. During this reporting period, APD experienced numerous known examples of EPIC through APD employee interventions. EPIC 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.

In July 2021, APD was accepted as a member of the ABLE project. Members of the APD executive staff attend an ABLE conference in August 2021. Additionally, , APD participated in ABLE’s train-the-trainer session by sending five officers to become ABLE instructors in order to train APD employees.


In July, 2021, APD was awarded two national School Resource Officer (SRO) awards. An APD SRO is a department officer assigned to a local high school working in a community-oriented policing capacity. They work with students, teachers, school administrators, and typically are assigned to one or more schools. APD earned the “Model SRO Program of the Year Award”, which annually recognizes SRO programs that made specific and significant contributions to their local communities and school districts. In addition, an APD officer earned the “SRO of the Year Award”. The officer was nominated by the principal for Manzano High School for the officer’s years of engagement and carrying out duties that kept the youth and staff alike safe.


Community engagement efforts continued through numerous collaborations with a cross section of community members and organizations. APD instituted an Ambassador Unit, which is designed to facilitate clear, consistent lines of communication between the department and different groups within the community who have not previously had a voice with law enforcement. The program represents a commitment to find solutions that work for the Albuquerque community to focus on the dual challenges of crime and meaningful reform.

The City’s Office of Equity and Inclusion provided two intensive trainings to officers assigned as Ambassadors and introduced them to community organizations that serve specific populations to help build relationships. The Ambassadors work with Native American, African American, Hispanic, Asian, Refugee, LGBTQI, Faith, Senior Citizen, Veteran, and Americans with Disabilities communities.


APD Behavioral Sciences Section teamed up with the APD Training Academy Wellness Program, the City of Albuquerque Wellness Program, APD Peer Support, and APD Chaplains to build a comprehensive wellness program. APD’s goal is to have a wide range of easily accessible mental, emotional, and physical health and wellness resources. Mindfulness and resilience training is a component dedicated to the wellness of police officers and their families. This comprehensive wellness program aims to encourage officers to seek professional help when dealing with the complexity of the profession.

APD contracted with Benchmark Analytics in January of 2020 to design and tailor a management system across eight areas of focus:

1. Personnel Management
2. Use of Force, Internal Affairs
3. Early Intervention System
4. Supervision and Performance Evaluations
5. Community Engagement & Outreach, and
6. Training

APD continues to work with the City of Albuquerque Department of Technology and Innovation and Benchmark Analytics to move this project forward. Testing for the Personnel Management and Internal Affairs modules is scheduled for the third quarter of 2021. Further data mapping and module development continues for Use of Force, Early Intervention, Supervision and Performance Evaluations.

The Training module is scheduled to begin development in September 2021, followed by the Community Engagement and Outreach module. APD remains dedicated to improving the department’s overall operations and meeting the requirements outlined in the CASA. The City will continue to work with the IMT and the DOJ, taking key steps towards operational compliance.


At the end of the last reporting period, APD presented the IMT with a plan to address the use of force training requirements. The Tier 4 training for all sworn officers was approved by the monitoring team and the DOJ. The first day of Tier 4 training was completed in May 2021 and the second day of Tier 4 training is scheduled to be completed in December 2021. The Academy was granted four temporary instructor positions to ensure adequate staffing for Tier 4 Use of Force training delivery.


In May 2021, APD Academy hired an experienced civilian curriculum development manager. Since her start, she has led new strategies to meet curriculum design, development timelines, and tracking requirements. She has also created a new method for tracking courses in development which delivers daily status of lesson plans for the monitoring team, APD personnel, and the DOJ. APD also hired a new curriculum training manager in June 2021, to oversee the curriculum specialists who collaborate with Department personnel who carry significant training responsibilities on the 7-Step curriculum development process. Courses continue to be developed and delivered to Academy personnel.


In March 2021, the Mayor appointed a Superintendent of Police Reform/Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, and assigned the 2nd Deputy Chief for the Police Reform Bureau under that command. This command structure includes Internal Affairs Professional Standards Division (IAPS), Internal Affairs Force Division (IAFD), Behavioral Health Section, Training Academy Division, and the Crisis Intervention Division. The APD Training Academy developed and published an online training calendar which delivers real time updates to the academy schedule, the associated CASA paragraphs, and what aspects of training are impacted. The monitoring team and DOJ have access to the training calendar.


The Special Operations Division (SOD) K9 home kennel inspections were instituted to document the condition of the home environment to ensure the safety and security of the canine animal. Home visits will be conducted by a supervisor, bi-annually for every handler. The Special Investigations Division (SID) continues to utilize written operational plans, Risk Assessment Matrix (RAMs), and After Action Reviews (AARs) to examine the need to involve the SOD Tactical Units, to communicate any risks, hazards, or high-risk situations and threats.


The Special Investigations Division and the Special Operations Division continue to work well together to improve overall operations between the two divisions. SOP 3-46, Discipline System, was revised and published in July 2021. APD worked well with both the monitoring team and DOJ in this policy’s revision, accepting feedback and making the necessary changes to develop a stronger policy. SOP 3-46 is a CASA-related policy the department recognizes as having a significant impact on personnel, establishing requirements for progressive discipline and the use of abeyance as recommended.

APD continued to improve the process of tracking policy violations relating to the use of force investigations. To ensure use of force reviews are consistently factored into supervisor’s performance evaluations, an evaluation process is occurring. Based on available data, the process will verify employee performance documents are reviewed by commanders to confirm any violations related to SOP 2-57 Use of Force – Review and Investigation by Department Personnel, are documented within the evaluation.

The evaluation process includes a determination as to whether a policy violation was documented within the evaluation, and if not, that an internal affairs request was submitted and that the supervisor identified how the policy violation was addressed. A pre-determined percentage of documents are reviewed each month and the parameters for repeat violations and progressive discipline will be included in the overall process.

The Pareto Principle was approved by the Independent Monitoring Team in February 2021 as the statistical application that will be used to measure both acceptable and unacceptable behaviors from officers as defined in the settlement agreement. The Performance Evaluation and Management System (PEMS) training plan was approved by the Independent Monitoring Team and DOJ. Training will begin in August 2021, scheduled to be completed in December 2021.


APD collects a massive amount of data and is working with the DOJ to operationalize the data in a meaningful way. An organization-wide data gap analysis report and assessment conducted by AH Datalytics on behalf of the DOJ was approved and conducted; the finding were reported in the Albuquerque Police Department Gap Analysis report in January 2021 (See Appendix 1). Recommendations from the report included: to apply data and analytics to identify problems and develop solutions, use data to inform how resources are allocated, and create a change management process to guide APD through the transition. APD continues to work regularly with AH Datalytics and the DOJ to address the recommendations outlined in the gap analysis.


APD agrees to develop and implement force classification procedures that include at least three categories of types of force that will determine the force review or investigation required. The categories or types of force shall be based on the level of force used and the risk of injury or actual injury from the use of force. The goal is to promote greater efficiency and reduce burdens on first-line supervisors, while optimizing critical investigative resources on higher-risk uses of force.

The levels of force are defined as follow:

A. LEVEL 1 is force that is likely to cause only transitory pain, disorientation, or discomfort during its application as a means of gaining compliance. This includes techniques which are not reasonably expected to cause injury, do not result in actual injury, and are not likely to result in a complaint of injury (i.e., pain compliance techniques and resisted handcuffing). Pointing a firearm, beanbag shotgun, or 40 millimeter launcher at a subject, or using an ECW to “paint” a subject with the laser sight, as a show of force are reportable as Level 1 force. Level 1 force does not include interaction meant to guide, assist, or control a subject who is offering minimal resistance.

B. LEVEL 2 is force that causes injury, could reasonably be expected to cause injury, or results in a complaint of injury. Level 2 force includes use of an ECW, including where an ECW is fired at a subject but misses; use of a beanbag shotgun or 40 millimeter launcher, including where it is fired at a subject but misses; OC Spray application; empty hand techniques (i.e., strikes, kicks, takedowns, distraction techniques, or leg sweeps); and strikes with impact weapons, except strikes to the head, neck, or throat, which would be considered a Level 3 use of force.

C. LEVEL 3 is force that results in, or could reasonably result in, serious physical injury, hospitalization, or death. Level 3 force includes all lethal force; critical firearms discharges; all head, neck, and throat strikes with an object; neck holds; canine bites; three or more uses of an ECW on an individual during a single interaction regardless of mode or duration or an ECW application for longer than 15 seconds, whether continuous or consecutive; four or more strikes with a baton; any strike, blow, kick, ECW application, or similar use of force against a handcuffed subject; and uses of force resulting in a loss of consciousness.


APD shall continue to participate in the Multi-Agency Task Force, pursuant to its Memorandum of Understanding, in order to conduct criminal investigations of at least the following types of force or incidents:

1. Officer-involved shootings;
2. Serious uses of force as defined by the Memorandum of Understanding;
3. In-custody deaths; and iv. other incidents resulting in death at the discretion of the Chief.


The Federal Monitor’s 14th Independent Federal Monitor’s report is due to be filed in November, 2021. When it is filed it will mark a 7 full years that the City and APD have been operating under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement and have been struggling to implement the 271 reforms. As has been the case with all what the Keller Administration does, public relations reigns supreme over reporting bad news. Only until the 14th Federal monitors’ report is filed will the court and public actually know for sure if the “14th Progress and Status Summary Report” prepared by the APD Compliance and Oversight Division was written more to make APD look better than it really is when it comes to the reforms.

The link to a related blog article is here:

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