In 2016, a video went viral on the internet when a high school student endured very friendly harassment for his stylish dress attire by his best friend who yelled the phrase “Damn, Daniel! Back at it again with the white Vans.”
With the November 2 election of Dan Lewis to the City Council, we can all say “Damn Daniel, Lewis back at it again with the failed leadership!”
On November 3, the Albuquerque City Council passed a 5 page “memorial” on a unanimous bi partisan 9-0 vote that reestablishes the Albuquerque City Council’s commitment to bringing down the city’s spiking violent crime rates.
City Councilor Elect and City Councilor retread extraordinaire Dan Lewis, was asked to comment about the city council memorial. Lewis said fixing our crime issues will all come down to “leadership” and he had this to say:
“We have more money than we’ve ever had before so it’s not about revenue. … It’s about good leadership and making good choices. We need to support our police officers.”
CITY COUNCIL “MEMORIAL” RECOMMITS TO END CRIME DRIVERS
A “memorial” enacted by the Albuquerque City Council is loosely defined as an acknowledgement or statement of facts followed by a commitment of the city council to make an effort do something or make recommendations that something be done. A memorial is strictly a symbolic effort. A memorial does not bind the city nor mandate action. It is intended as an expression of the council’s position on any given subjected.
SUMMATION OF CITY COUNCIL MEMORIAL
The city council memorial describes in City Council “WHEREAS” language what is occurring in the city involving violent crime, the increasing homicides, the criminal justice system, the need for pre-prosecution programs, the need to detain, prosecute and hold violent criminals accountable for their crimes. The memorial also outlines the bail bond reforms enacted by voters and the need to honor constitutional rights and the presumption of innocent until proven guilty. The memorial goes on to advocate the need for bail bond reform to allow the retention of people charged with violent crime until trial stating “the community has endured horrific tragedies at the hands of felons in possession of handguns” including the killing of two police officers.
The memorial highlights the New Mexico’s Attorney General proposal of “holistic approach to remove systemic gaps in intervention and prevention within the criminal justice system that allowed the release of dangerous individuals from detention without adequate monitoring. The memorial also highlights programs that Mayor Keller has initiated to bring down violent crime including the Metro Crime Initiative which produced 40 action items to close gaps in the criminal justice system.
“ENCOURAGING AND URGING”
The City Council Memorial encourages and urges the following actions be taken:
The Council urges that personnel be exclusively dedicated to a 24/7 comprehensive GPS tracking monitoring system so that interested parties are notified immediately when a monitored person absconds.
The City Council encourages additional funding and resources for all organizations within the criminal justice system, including the prosecutors, public defenders and the courts so that the system can address the cycle of crime perpetrated by repeat offenders while continuing to protect the rights of the innocent and all individuals coming before the court;
Resources should … specifically, be dedicated toward reforming and closing loopholes in the criminal justice system that lead to recidivism and violent criminal firearm use, and that place greater limits on access to deadly weapons by recent violent felons;
The City Council will encourage the provision of additional funding and resources to support the Violence Intervention Program (VIP), Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs, and Young Adult Court, all programs shown to decrease recidivism and to reform the criminal justice system;
“The Council strongly encourages the District Court Judges to hold accountable those who use firearms in the commission of violent and property crimes in considering conditions of release and with sentencing weighted toward the higher range of possible prison time when sentencing is within the Court’s discretion.”
“The Council urges the New Mexico State Legislature to pass tougher legislation for those who use firearms in the commission of violent and property crimes with increased sentencing enhancements that cannot be waived, suspended, or pled away to 10 lesser charges with no mandatory sentences.”
“The Council urges the Governor to support legislation, which holds accountable individuals who use firearms in the commission of violent, and property crimes through sentencing weighted toward the higher range of possible prison time.”
The link to full unedited “memorial” and a news source is here:
A POLICE DEPARTMENT FAILING IN SIX CORE SERVICES
Instead of the City Council taking the time to pass a memorial essentially asking other government agencies to take action, their time would better used in dealing with a failing Albuquerque Police Department. The Albuquerque City Council plays a critical role in overseeing the Albquerquerqu Police Department and its budget. APD is the largest budgeted 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. The city council has done very little over the last 12 years to exert its budget and oversight authority over APD. The city council has failed to demand results, especially when it comes to performance measure and to the Department of Justice (DOJ) mandated reforms.
APD provides six core services: Patrol, Community Policing, Special Operations, Dispatch, Investigations and Support Services. The performance measures in all 6 core service categories are absolutely critical to determine if APD is in fact performing the services at the highest level achieved from the previous year. APD performing the 6 core services at the highest level will have a direct impact on crime.
APD’s performance measures are essential 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.
The 2021-2022 APD City Council adopted budget reflects that APD is seriously failing in its 6 core services based on the performance measures provided by the department. The link to the 2021-2022 approved budget is here:
Under the core service of PATROL there are 11 performance measures listed. There are no statistics provided in 7 of the 11 measures for the fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021. There are no statistics for response times for priority 1 calls answered within 10 minutes, and no response times for priority 2 and 3 calls. No statistics are provided for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021 as to the percentage of use of force incidents that met policy standards. No statistics are provided for2019, 2020 and 2021 Traffic Enforcement DWI checkpoints. The statics are “redacted” with a gray box area.
Under the core service of COMMUNITY POLICING, there are only 2 performance measures and they are: 1. Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) Projects and 2. Community Engagement Activities Officers Participated. There are absolutely no statistics provided for fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021. There are 25 Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) Projects that are targeted for 2022 and 950 Community Engagement Activities by Officers targeted for 2022.Virtually all of APD’s Community Policing Measures in the 2 measures listed are “redacted” with a gray box area.
Under the core service of SPECIAL OPERATIONS, there are only 2 performance measures of “Tier Level (1-4): FEMA and National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) certification” and “# monthly hours of tactical training per Special Operations officer”, with absolutely no statistics provided for fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021. The performance measures listed are “redacted” with a gray box area.
Under the core service of DISPATCH, there are 4 performance measures and with no statistics provided on calls answered within 15 seconds with the national standard being 90% and calls answered within 20 seconds with the national standard of 95%.
Under the core service of INVESTIGATIONS, there are 7 performance measures in the general category of “Solving Crime”, with no clearance rates provided for crimes against persons (e.g., murder, rape assault), no clearance rates provided for crimes against property (e.g., robbery, bribery, burglary) and no clearance rates provided for crimes against society (e.g., gambling, prostitution and drug violations) for the fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021. The performance measures listed are “redacted” with a grey box.
Under the core service of INVESTIGATIONS, homicide clearance rates are provided. In 2019, APD had a homicide clearance rate of 57%, in 2020 the homicide clearance rate was 53%, and in mid-year 2021, the homicide clearance rate was a very disappointing 37%.
The 2021-2022 proposed budget performance measures show APD is down by the thousands in Felony Arrests and Misdemeanor Arrests for the years 2019 and 2020. This reflects the department is not doing its job of investigating and arresting people. APD felony arrests went down from 2019 to 2020 by 39.51%, going down from 10,945 to 6,621. Misdemeanor arrests went down by 15% going down from 19,440 to 16,520. DWI arrests went down from 1,788 in 2019 to 1,230 in 2020, down 26%. The total number of all arrests went down from 32,173 in 2019 to 24,371 in 2020 or by 25%. APD’s homicide unit has an anemic clearance rate of 36%.
Under the core service of SUPPORT SERVICES, there are 9 performance measures, with the most serious being the 4 crisis intervention measurements. No home visits by the Crisis Intervention Unit are provided for the years 2019, 2020 nor mid-year 2021. The performance measures listed are “redacted” with a grey box. No Crisis Interventions for individuals assisted through the Crisis Intervention Unit are listed for the years 2019, 2020 nor mid-year 2021. The performance measures listed are “redacted” with a grey box.
(2021-2022 APD Budget, pages 150, 151)
The link to the 2021-2022 adopted budget is here:
According to news reports over the past few months, more and more violent crimes and homicides are occurring at motels. In 2020, there were zero motel homicides. Since the beginning of 2021, there have been at least 11 homicides that have occurred at hotels and motels. There are a handful of metro hotels and motels where murders are occurring on a regular basis and it is on an upward trend. One area in particular that has been identified by the city as very problematic involves five locations off Hotel Circle near Eubank and I-40.
In August, KRQE News 13 looked at how often first responders were being called to a handful of metro hotels and motels. Call sheets for a time span from 2019 to 2021 for five locations off Hotel Circle near Eubank and I-40 were reviewed. The call sheets reviewed revealed Albuquerque Fire Rescue alone responded to 406 calls to the 5 hotels. Half of the calls were to one motel in particular. Emergency calls for police were much higher. APD had 2,554 calls to those same five hotels in the past three years. About half of their calls were also to the same motel.
During an August 3 press conference, Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Medina said they’re working on plans to curb violent crime in the city but said they were seeing a pattern. Keller had this to say at the time:
“The majority of homicides in Albuquerque are very specific. … They’re tied to drugs, they’re tied to guns and they’re tied to motels and they happen from midnight to five am and they usually involve males between 25 to 35.”
The links to news source material are here:
Violent and problem motels across the city have always been very problematic for the city when it comes to calls for service, murders and drug dealing. At one time the city took aggressive action against motels to declare them “nuisance” properties and force them to take remedial actions in the form of security measures and included requiring back ground checks on long term occupants. Code enforcement action from 2005 to 2009 was taken against more than one of the motels where the 11 murders have taken place this year.
From 2005 to 2009, the Safe City Strike Force required commercial property and motel owners to make repairs and they were required to reduce calls for service and address security on their properties. The Safe City Strike Force took code enforcement action against 48 of the 150 motels along central and forced compliance with building codes and mandated repairs to the properties.
The Central motels that were demolished were not designated historical and were beyond repair as a result of years of neglect and failure to maintain and make improvements. Central motels that had historical significance to Route 66 were purchased by the City for renovation and redevelopment.
The Central motels that the Safe City Strike Force took action against include the Gaslight (demolished), The Zia Motel (demolished), The Royal Inn (demolished), Route 66 (demolished), the Aztec Motel (demolished), the Hacienda, Cibola Court, Super-8 (renovated by owner), the Travel Inn (renovated by owner), Nob Hill Motel (renovated by owner), the Premier Motel (renovated by owner) the De Anza (purchased by City for historical significance), the No Name, the Canyon Road (demolished), Hill Top Lodge, American Inn (demolished), the El Vado (purchased by City for historical significance), the Interstate Inn (demolished).
The Safe City Strike Force was responsible for the demolition of at least seven (7) blighted motels that were beyond repair.
In 2019, Mayor Tim Keller completed the elimination of the Safe City Strike Force that was begun by Mayor Berry. Keller defunded replaced the Safe City Strike Force with the his ADAPT program which is a water down version and low key approach to dealing with nuisance properties such as motels.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Lewis’ comments about the memorial enacted reflect that he has learned absolutely nothing during the last 4 years he has been off the city council. Lewis is “back at it again” with failed leadership dogma. Simply put, it’s never been about the money. It’s not about supporting our police. It has everything to do with holding APD sworn police accountable for failing to do their jobs to keep the city safe and its citizens safe.
When Lewis says “We need to support our police officers”, he speaks the typical, hollow Republican philosophy of supporting law enforcement to garner favor with law enforcement. His actions have been contrary to supporting law enforcement. Lewis forgets when he was on the city council he had no problem with the Republican Berry Administration refusing to honor an increase in police hourly pay as a means of combating a deficit. Lewis also voted to “defund the police” when he voted to reduce the funding of APD sworn police officer from 1,100 to 1,000 sworn police. Over the 8 years Lewis served on the City Council, the number of APD sworn officers dropped from 1,100 sworn police officers to 856, yet little was ever said nor heard from Lewis to hold the Berry Administration accountable for a deteriorating APD and the mismanagement of APD. Lewis never once questioned the leadership of Berry’s appointees former APD Chief Ray Schultz and Republican political operative APD Chief Gordon Eden. Lewis himself watched the city’s violent crime rates spike for a full 8 years under his watch, even when he was City Council President.
Lewis to this day often likes to take credit for bringing the DOJ to the city with his sponsorship of a resolution enacted by the City Council. The truth is Lewis had very little to do with or nothing at all to bring the Department of Justice to the city. The DOJ was brought to the city because minority community stakeholders who had been victimized by APD lobbied aggressively and effectively to get the DOJ to come to the city. Even as a City Councilor, Lewis did not attend a single federal court hearing on the Federal Monitor’s reports to find out what APD’s position was on the monitor’s reports.
THE MEMORIAL REFLECTS FAILED LEADERSHIP
The City Council memorial places great emphasis on the support of law enforcement to the point of identifying two sworn police officers by name who gave the ultimate sacrifice and who are clearly heroes. The memorial also singles out the courts as being the problem ignoring the reality that APD is seriously failing in its mission and its 6 core service categories of Patrol, Community Policing, Special Operations, Dispatch, Investigations and Support Services. The council fails to describe the impact of violent crime is having on our community and its citizens by glossing over or not even mentioning the city’s violent crime statistics and victims.
The enactment of the Memorial by the Albuquerque City Council “strongly encouraging” and “urging” other government entities to act is as pathetic as it gets. A memorial where the city council recommits to end crime drivers is downright embarrassing. It is a sign of failed leadership. The only thing the passage of memorials accomplishes is to make the city council feel good and to allow them to claim they are doing something.
PROPOSED CITY COUNCIL ACTIONS
Instead of passing meaningless memorials asking other government agencies to act, the city council could do any number of things with its oversight authority and budget authority of APD that can have a direct impact on crime rates.
Suggested city council actions and ordinances are:
Amend the existing zoning and building codes requiring the installation of “panic alarm” systems installed in motel rooms. The emergency alarm system would be akin to the mandatory fire alarms and sprinkler systems already required.
Enact a “motel and hotel safety ordinance” mandating required designated security areas and outdoor surveillance systems .
Require the hiring of full-time trained security guards by motels and hotels before a license to do business is given each year.
Require motel and hotel operators to sign off on “crime free” multihousing agreements before yearly licenses to do business within the city are issued. Such agreements are already utilized by the city for nuisance abatements actions against problem properties, commercial and residential.
Mandate a restructuring of APD and its command staff that will require the assignment of more sworn police to the streets and implement a business and neighborhood security routes to increase law enforcement visibility.
Mandate to the Mayor’s Administration minimum staffing levels to critical units such as the homicide unit and the property crimes units.
Expand and fund the city’s Metropolitan Traffic Arraignment program to include DWI arraignments and misdemeanor arraignments.
Reinstate and fully fund the Safe City Strike Force that aggressively took action against thousands of nuisance properties a year that became magnets for crime, including violent motels and bars.
Fully fund a bonus hiring program to attract a new generation of police officers giving upwards of $30,000 to new recruits in exchange for a minimum 6-year commitment.
Enact a resolution calling for the dismissal of the federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) by instructing the City Attorney’s office to file a Motion to Dismiss and demanding an evidentiary hearing to prove that the city is incompliance and the spirit and purpose of the reforms have been achieved and if not, requesting the Department of Justice take over the APD to implement the reforms not accomplished.
Mayor Tim Keller and the Albuquerque City Council have been unable to do anything during the last 4 years to reduce the city’s violent crime rates other than to make empty promises and pass meaningless memorials. With the city’s continuous spiking of violent crime to historical records and with law enforcement, the prosecution and the courts unable to get a handle on the problem, it’s not a matter of if, but how many more times will the city break violent crime and murder rates. Four more years of failed leadership has now become our new reality both in the Mayor’s office and on the City Council.
Each year and few weeks before the commencement of the New Mexico legislature, the Albuquerque City Council enacts a resolution outlining its legislative priorities, including changes to existing laws as well as its wish list for capital improvements projects. Rather than spending time on meaningless memorials that are not likely even read by the Governor nor New Mexico legislators, the City Council should enact its legislative priority list now and work on getting the city’s legislative delegation to support it.