The November 2 election for Mayor is fast approaching. The result is a daily barrage of television commercials from both incumbent Mayor Tim Keller and his Chief rival Sheriff Manny Gonzales.
Keller has the distinct upper hand in the amount of money his campaign can spend to produce commercials that are slick and impressive. One ad claim in particular is also very misleading. The Keller claim in particular that is misleading is where the ad boldly proclaims that Keller has hired 400 sworn police over the last 4 years. The claim of hiring 400 may be true, but it is also extremely misleading bordering on making the ad simply being false.
A FAILURE TO DISCLOSE
What Mayor Keller does not disclose is that 80% of the 400 hires have been offset by resignations, retirements and terminations. If the Keller Administration in fact has hired 100 new officers a year over 4 years as claimed, you add the new 400 sworn police to the 861 sworn when Keller became Mayor to arrive at a 1,261 total number. You then subtract the most current identified number of 940 sworn police from the 1,261 total which means APD has lost 321 sworn police officers over 4 years. In other words, 80% of the 400 hires over the last 4 years have been offset by loses due to retirements, transfers or terminations and now need to be replaced.
APD STAFFING THEN AND NOW
When then New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller ran for Mayor, he ran in part on the platform of increasing the size of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) to 1,200 police and returning to “community-based policing” by the end of his first term. When Mayor Tim Keller assumed office on December 1, 2017, there were 861 full time sworn police according to the 2017-2018 city budget figures and payroll records at the time.
During the 2017 campaign, Keller promised to increase the number of sworn police in the department to 1,200 by the end of his first term, pledging to hire 100 new police officers a year. To keep his campaign promises on APD, Mayor Keller order his Administration to begin implementing an $88 million-dollar police expansion program. The announced goal was to increase the number of sworn police officers from 861 positions filled to 1,200, or by 339 sworn police officers, over a 4-year period.
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. However, according to an August 2 KOAT news report only 369 are actually patrolling the streets of the city. The 369 filed service officers are divided into 6 area commands and 3 separate shifts. According to the 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
The shortage of sworn police and new recruits has resulted in APD announcing on October 27 it is doubling the sign on bonuses for new police cadets from $5,000 to $10,000. It was in August, APD announced lateral officers who transfer to APD from other departments will be paid $15,000 in total bonuses. New lateral hired officers receive $5,000 when they’re hired, $5,000 when they complete their fourth week in the academy, and the rest after a one-year probationary period.
The link to quoted source material is here:
LEAVING IN DROVES
APD continues to lose officers at an alarming rate. According to a recent published report, APD sworn police 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 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. As of October 27, 2021, APD has 945 sworn police according to APD spokesperson Rebecca Atkins.
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 report is here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Under the law, a failure to disclose is considered a lie or fraud. Throughout his entire 4 years as Mayor, Tim Keller has proclaimed his administration is fully committed to transparency and accountability. Ostensibly, Mayor Keller does not believe that transparency must include facts that discredits your claims. Mayor Keller is nowhere near the 1,200 sworn police he promised and his commercial proclaiming he has hired 400 sworn police is misleading to make people believe he is doing a good job in keeping his promise of increasing the size of APD to the point of making it false.