On November 2, 2021 Mayor Tim Keller was elected to a second term by a landslide. Keller was elected to a second term even though he failed to deliver on his promises to increase APD to 1,200 sworn police, bring down high crime rates, and failed to implement the 271 consent decree reforms of APD.
During the 2021 campaign for Mayor, Keller was never held accountable by his opponents for his failed record. Voters did not pass judgement for his failures and his broken promises. Mayor Keller was not elected to a second term because he did such a great job but because his two opponents were so very poor and failed to expose his record.
Second chances in politics because of weak opposition are very few and far between and timing is everything. Mayor Keller has now been given a second chance when it comes to the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and the Department of Justice Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).
It is critical for Keller to get done what needs to be done with APD and the DOJ consent decree in his first year of his second term. If not, his second chance opportunity will likely be lost forever. APD will continue to spiral out of control and the Federal Monitor will continue to charge millions to audit and never be satisfied with the progress made by APD and the reforms.
FOUR AREAS OF MAJOR CONCENTRATION
There are 4 major areas Mayor Tim Keller should concentrate on and accomplish in the first year of his second term. They are:
1. Reorganize APD, replace APD top management reduce management size and increase the number of patrol officers.
2. Renegotiate Union contract to exclude management.
3. Create APD salary structure and abolish bonuses, overtime and longevity pay.
4. Move to dismiss DOJ consent decree or ask for receivership.
This blog article is deep dive analysis examining all 4 major areas of what can and should be done over the first year of Mayor Tim Keller’s second term.
Review of APD’S budget, staffing levels and arrests are first in order.
APD BUDGET, STAFFFING AND ARRESTS
The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) is the largest budget department in the city. APD’s approved general fund operating 2022 budget is upwards of $222 million, or roughly 4.5% higher than fiscal year 2021 existing levels. Ultimately, the City Council approved nearly all the APD funding the Keller Administration requested in the budget proposal submitted on April 1, 2021.
APD’s funding is 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 being fully funded for 1,100 full time sworn police, APD has only 917 full time sworn officers.
STAFFING LEVELS THEN AND NOW
When then New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller ran for Mayor in 2017, he ran in part on the platform of increasing the size of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) to 1,200 police, returning to “community-based policing” by the end of his first term and bringing down high crime rates. None of that happened and Keller was a miserable failure bringing down violent crime rates, so much so that the city’s all time record of homicides was broken 3 times during his first term.
According to the 2017-2018 city budget figures and payroll records at the time when Mayor Tim Keller assumed office on December 1, 2017, there were 836 full time sworn police.
During the December 16, 2021 court hearing before Federal Judge James Browning on the Federal Monitor’s 14th Compliance Report for the CASA, APD reported on the “rebuilding” of APD during the past 4 years under Keller. A comparison was made between APD staffing levels on December 7, 2017 and staffing levels on December 6, 2021. Following are the statistics provided to the court by APD:
DECEMBER 7, 2017 APD STAFFING LEVELS
Full Sworn Officer Count: 836
1 APD Chief
1 Assistant Chief
1 Deputy Chief
680 Patrol Officers
Note that the APD high command staff that worked directly out of the Chief’s Office consisted of 6 sworn APD staff: APD Chief, 1 Assistant Chief, 1 Deputy Chief and 3 Majors.
DECEMBER 6, 2021 STAFFING LEVELS
Full Sworn Officer Count: 917
1 APD Chief
1 Superintendent Of Police Reform
1 Deputy Superintendent Of Police Reform
6 Deputy Chiefs
1 Chief of Staff
14 Deputy Commanders
731 Patrol Officers
2 Sworn CSA’s
APD FELONY ARREST DOWN 39.5%, MISDEMEANOR ARRESTS DOWN 15%
The 2022-2023 approved APD budget does not have arrest statistics for the year 2021 in that those statistics have not been fully compiled and released by the FBI. However, the 2022-2023 approved budget does have the statistics for the budget years of 2019 and 2020 and they reflect that APD is not doing its job of investigating and arresting people even with increased resources and staff.
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%.
Bookings at the jail have plummeted from 38,349 in 2010 to 17,734 in 2020. To have booking, there must be arrests.
2021 set a new record as the deadliest year in Albuquerque with 117 homicides. As of January 20, 2022, APD had only solved and closed 30% of those cases. Overall for the last two years, APD’s homicide unit has an anemic clearance rate of 37%, its lowest clearance rate in decades.
ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARTY
Mayor Tim Keller in the first year of his second 4 year term should make every to concentrate on the 4 major areas that will ultimately turn things around for APD:
1. REPLACE APD CHIEF AND DEPUTY CHIEFS, REDUCE SIZE OF HIGH COMMAND, REORGANIZE APD, INCREASE THE NUMBER OF PATROL OFFICERS
Four years ago under former APD Chief Gordon Eden, the APD high command that worked directly out of the Chief’s Office was 1 Assistant Chief, 1 Deputy Chief, and 3 Majors. Four years later under APD Chief Harold Medinas, the APD Chief high command that works directly out of the Chief’s Office consists of 10 who are the Chief, the Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent Of Police Reform, 6 Deputy Chiefs and the Chief of Staff.
Thirty-seven additional management positions have been created over the last 4 years when the total number of sworn police has increased by an anemic 81 going from 836 in 2018 sworn to 917 sworn in 2022. There is really no justification as to why 3 additional Deputy Chiefs, a Deputy of Superintendent Of Police Reform, 14 Deputy commanders, 11 additional Lieutenants and 8 additional sergeants are needed given APD’s anemic growth of 81 .
Although the Keller Administration abolished the rank of Major that existed 4 years ago, there were only 3, it created the new position of “Deputy Commanders” which there are 14. The 14 Deputy Commanders is a whole new level of bureaucracy and management between Commanders and Lieutenants that is highly questionable as to duties and responsibilities other than “assisting” commanders.
Simply put, the APD Chief office staffing and mid management are bloated, overpaid and inept while sworn police patrolling the streets are dangerously low, underpaid and overworked.
Mayor Keller can and should reorganize APD and implement a Chief High Command staffing of 1 APD Chief, 3 Deputy Chiefs, 13 Commanders and eliminate the 14 Deputy Commanders. The reorganization will allow the reassignment of staff to the specialized units such as the homicide unit and the field services to assign more police to patrol the streets of Albuquerque.
EXPIERENCE FROM WITHIN WILL NOT CHANGE CULTURE OF AGRESSION
Five of the 6 Deputy Chiefs came up through the APD ranks and have a combined 95 years of experience with APD. When you add the additional 24 years of experience APD Chief Harold Medina has with APD, the total years of experience the 6 APD high command have with APD is 119 years. Normally, it would be a cause for great celebration to know that 119 years of law enforcement experience is in charge of running APD. That celebration simply cannot be when it comes to APD under a federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).
The settlement mandates 271 reforms that was the result of an 18-month Department of Justice civil rights investigation that found a pattern of “excessive use of force” and “deadly force” and a “culture of aggression” within APD. Simply put, 6 of the 7 APD Chief’s executive staff contributed, should have known or did not stop the culture of aggression within APD. Now the 6 are fully in charge of APD.
There is no doubt that APD Chief Harold Medina was and still is part of the problem with APD’s failure to implement the reforms. Medina has a nefarious past of first killing a 14-year old boy having a psychotic episode and banishing a BB gun in a church. Years later, Medina gave the authorization to use deadly force that resulted in APD’s killing of a veteran threatening suicide having a psychotic episode. A jury verdict of $10 million was awarded in the killing of the veteran with the court finding that the veteran was only a danger to himself and not APD.
What was offensive to those killed and their families is that Medina promoted his nefarious past with the 2 shootings as making him qualified to be Chief saying that he learned the need for constitutional policing practices from the shootings.
APD TOP MANAGEMENT THE PROBLEM AND SHOULD BE REPLACED
It was during an April 15, 2020 hearing when Federal Judge Browning questioned Federal Monitor Ginger what his thoughts were on the appointment of Chief Harold Medina as the new APD Chief. Dr. Ginger thought then, as now, that APD needs an “external chief” or an “outsider”and in his words someone “nationally” with experience in DOJ reforms. Ginger expressed the opinion that such an outside person was needed to “effectuate real change” within APD. Ginger also acknowledge that such a person in all likely could “write their own ticket” and have a high salary requirement but it would be worth it in the long run to turn the department around.
During the December 16, 2021 hearing on the 14th Federal Monitor’s report, Judge Browning asked Ginger “how deep are the leadership problems at APD” and what can be done to solve those problems. Ginger’s response was blunt when stated the problems with APD are “failed leadership”.
According to Ginger the only thing that is going to change things and stop what is going on at APD is removing the existing leadership. Ginger has made it very clear over the last 7 years, he does not have command and control over APD nor of its personnel. Simply put, Ginger says “It’s not my job”, yet the city has paid him and his team of auditors millions over 7 years as he knows what can and should be done.
Ginger told Judge Browning the leadership problems start from the top executive team and goes down through management to the rank file. Ginger testified that 80% of the issues APD is still faced with in the CASA can be dealt with by a change in leadership.
Keller should thank Chief Harold Medina and his appointed 6 Deputy Chiefs for their service and tell them it is time for them to move on as he did with former Chief Michael Geier. Keller needs to replace the entire APD Chief High command and conduct a national search to find a new police chief or for that matter a Superintendent of Police who has actual experience in managing a troubled police department and experience implementing department of justice reforms and allow that person to hire their own management team.
SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE REFORM NOT NEEDED IF YOU HIRE A COMPETENT CHIEF
On March 9, 2021, Mayor Tim Keller announced that Harold Medina had been selected as the new announced APD Chief and the appointment Sylvester Stanley as “Superintendent of Police Reform and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, a newly created position. According to the city’s posted job description, the position pays $155,000 to $185,016 annually.
The link to the “Superintendent of Police Reform” Job Description and application is here:
Mayor Keller said of the Stanley appointment at the time:
“It was simply unrealistic and a real disservice to the realities of crime and reform to think that one leader can solve all of our challenges. … It just simply takes two in this case.”
Stanley has a lengthy and distinguished career in law enforcement, but regrettably, has absolutely zero experience in implementing DOJ reforms and constitutional policing practices such as that mandated by the Court Approved Settlement Agreement. On December 1, 2021, after a mere 8 months on the job, Interim Superintendent of Police Reform Sylvester Stanley announced his retirement at year’s end. Once Stanly announced his retirement, Mayor Tim Keller announced he was launching a “national search” for the position. Keller in his announcement had this to say:
“[We are looking for] an experienced professional to lead this cutting-edge position [and] who is dedicated to police reform. … We developed this innovative position to bring about a new era for our police department. … Our Superintendent of Police Reform works hand and hand with our Chief so that each leader can focus on their core duties while supporting one another for the most benefit for the department and the community.”
There is absolutely nothing “cutting edge” nor “innovative” about the position of Superintendent of Police Reform. Keller creating the position and then allowing 6 deputy chiefs to be hired essentially admitted Harold Medina is not up to the task of being Chief to implement the DOJ reforms and Keller needed to appoint others to implement the reforms for him.
APD Chief Harold Medina is paid $177,562. The new “Superintendent of Police Reform” will be paid at a minimum $155,000. What this means is that Keller wants to pay $332,562 for the services of 2 people to do the job that historically has been done by the Chief.
If Keller’s history of national searches for an APD Chief is any indication, no one should hope for nor expect an outsider to be appointed to the position Superintendent of Police Reform and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer. It’s likely applicants will be solicited and APD insiders will also apply, the city will go through the sham of interviews and Keller will appoint someone already with APD or who is retired APD and who is willing to come back.
What Keller can do is appoint a new chief or appoint a civilian APD Police Superintendent or Commissioner by conducting a national search and in fact hire an outsider with real experience in police reform and managing a troubled police department. Keller could abolish the position of APD Chief and consolidate those duties and responsibilities with the Superintendent. When combining the salaries of both APD Chief and “Superintendent of Police Reform”, the city could afford upwards of a $300,000 salary.
2. RENEGOTIATE UNION CONTRACT TO EXCLUDE SERGEANT AND LIEUTENANT MANAGEMENT
In 2018, newly elected Mayor Tim Keller was able to negotiate a 2-year city contract with the Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) for the time period of July 7, 2018 to June 30, 2020. The contract expired on July 1, 2020. Because of the pandemic the police union contract negotiations were suspended.
Under the state “collective bargaining act”, and what is referred to as an “evergreen clause”, the terms and conditions of the two-year contract remain in force and effect until a new contract is negotiated. The 65 page APOA police “Collective Bargaining Agreement” (CBA) can be down loaded as a PDF file at this link:
Section 10-7E-5 of the New Mexico Public Employees Bargaining Act makes it clear that management employees cannot join unions and states as follows:
“Public employees, other than management employees and confidential employees, may form, join or assist a labor organization for the purpose of collective bargaining through representatives chosen by public employees without interference, restraint or coercion and shall have the right to refuse any such activities.”
The link to Section 10-7E-5 is here:
It is well settled federal and state labor laws that management personnel are prohibited from joining unions yet the expired police union contract defines the collective bargaining unit to include the management positions of APD sergeants and lieutenants.
It is Section 1.3.1 of the expired union contract that provides:
“The APOA is recognized as the Exclusive Representative for regular full time, non-probationary police officers through the rank of Lieutenants in the APD … .”
The New Mexico Public Employees Bargaining Act, Sections 10-7E-1 to 10-7E-26 H (NMSA 1978), governs the enforcement of the city’s collective bargaining agreement with the APD police union. The link to the statute is here:
Under state labor law, management are not allowed to join unions. The current police union contract allows the APD management positions of sergeants and lieutenants to be police union members and it violates state law. The police union is a “third party intervenor”to the federal settlement case. The police union from the beginning has consistently obstructed the implementation of the mandated reforms.
On April 27, 2021, it was widely reported that the Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) launched a $70,000 false or misleading political ad campaign to discredit the Department of Justice (DOJ) mandated reforms saying the police reforms were preventing police officers from doing their jobs combating crime offering no proof. APOA Police Union President Shaun Willoughby described the need for the public relations campaign this way:
“You can either have compliance with DOJ reforms or you can have lower crime. You can’t have both. … They want to focus on the growing crime problem, instead of wasting millions of dollars on endless Department of Justice oversight. … “
COUNTER CASA EFFECT IDENTIFIED AS APD SERGEANTS AND LIEUTENANTS
The Federal Monitor has found repeatedly it is APD sergeants and lieutenants who are resisting management’s implementation of the DOJ reforms. The problem is sergeants and lieutenants are where the rubber hits the road when it comes implementation of the 271 reforms.
It was on November 1, 2019, Federal Court Appointed Monitor James Ginger in his Federal Monitors 10th audit report where the “Counter CASA” effect was fully identified. According to the Federal Monitor’s 10th report:
“Sergeants and lieutenants, at times, go to extreme lengths to excuse officer behaviors that clearly violate established and trained APD policy, using excuses, deflective verbiage, de minimis comments and unsupported assertions to avoid calling out subordinates’ failures to adhere to established policies and expected practice. Supervisors (sergeants) and mid-level managers (lieutenants) routinely ignore serious violations, fail to note minor infractions, and instead, consider a given case “complete”.
In his 11th Monitors report file on May 4, 2020, Ginger wrote:
[“APD personnel are] still failing to adhere to the requirements of the CASA found in past monitoring reports, including some instances moving beyond the epicenter of supervision to mid- and upper management levels of the organization. … some in APD’s command levels continue to exhibit behaviors that “build bulwarks” [or walls] preventing fair and objective discipline, including a process of attempting to delay and in some cases successfully delaying the oversight processes until the timelines for administering discipline had been exceeded. … “
Mayor Tim Keller needs to order the immediate commencement of police contract negotiations. At the very start of the negotiations, the Keller Administration should demand that sergeants and lieutenants be removed from the bargaining unit and made at will employees in order to hold them accountable for implementing management policy and the DOJ reforms and eliminate any and all undue influence the police union has on sergeants and lieutenants.
3. ABOLISH APD HOURLY PAY, OVERTIME AND LONGEVITY PAY; CREATE APD SALARY STRUCTURE WITH STEPS AND GRADES
APD hourly pay is some of the best paid in the country. APD’s hourly and total yearly base pay is summarized as follows:
First year probationary officers immediately out of the academy are not covered by the union contract in that they are not union. Starting pay for an APD police officer graduating from the academy and for the officers first year of probation remains the same. They are paid $21.27 an hour for a 40-work week, 52 weeks a year or $44,241.60 yearly. The cost of training each APD cadet is upwards of $60,000.
Police officers with 4 to 14 years of experience are paid $30 an hour or $62,400 yearly.
Senior Police Officers with 15 years or more experience have a base pay rate of $31.50 an hour or $65,520 yearly.
The hourly base pay rate for APD Sergeants is $35 an hour, or $72,800 yearly.
The hourly base pay rate for APD Lieutenants is $40.00 an hour or $83,200.
On February 4, it was reported that the Keller Administration negotiated a new union contract that makes APD the best paid law enforcement agency in the region by increasing hourly pay by 8% and longevity pay by 5% and creating a whole new category of incentive pay. A link to related blog article giving the schedule of new hourly rates and yearly salary is here:
LONGEVITY PAY BONUSES
In addition to their hourly and yearly pay, APD police officers are paid longevity bonus pay added to their pay at the end of the year. Following are the longevity pay rates:
For 5 years of experience: $100 are paid bi-weekly, or $2,600 yearly
For 6 years of experience: $125 are paid bi-weekly, or $3,250 yearly
For 7 to 9 years of experience: $225 are paid bi-weekly, or $5,800 yearly
For 10 to 12 years of experience: $300 are paid bi-weekly, or $7,800 yearly
For 13 to 15 years o experience: $350 are paid bi-weekly, or $9,100 yearly
For 16 to 17 years or more: $450 are paid bi-weekly, or $11,700 yearly
For 18 or more years of experience: $600 are paid bi-weekly, 15,600 yearly
On February 4, it was reported that the Keller Administration negotiated a new union contract that makes APD the best paid law enforcement agency in the region by increasing hourly pay by 8% and longevity pay by 5% and creating a whole new category of incentive pay. A link to related blog article giving the schedule of new longevity pay is here:
In addition to sign on bonuses, hourly pay and longevity pay, APD sworn police can be paid overtime and paid time and a half. APD overtime has been a major source of controversy, including time card fraud, for a number of years resulting in 7 audits performed on APD overtime practices since 2014.
During the last 10 years, the Albuquerque Police Department has consistently gone over its overtime budgets by millions. In fiscal year 2016, APD was funded for $9 million for over time but APD actually spent $13 million. A March, 2017 city internal audit of APD’s overtime spending found police officers “gaming the system” that allows them to accumulate excessive overtime at the expense of other city departments. A city internal audit report released in March, 2017 revealed that the Albuquerque Police Department spent over $3.9 million over its $9 million “overtime” budget.
APD SWORN POLICE TOP CITY HALL WAGE EARNERS
At the beginning of each calendar year, City Hall releases the top 250 wage earners for the previous year. The list of 250 top city hall wages earners is what is paid for the full calendar year of January 1, to December 31 of any given year. The 2019 and the 2020 city hall 250 highest paid wage earnings shows the extent of excessive overtime paid to APD sworn police. For both the years of 2019 and 2020, 160 of 250 top paid city hall employees were police who were paid between $107,885.47 to $199,666.40.
In 2019, there were 70 APD patrol officers in the list of 250 top paid employees earning pay ranging from $108,167 to $188,844. There were 32 APD lieutenants and 32 APD sergeants in the list of 250 top paid employees earning pay ranging from $108,031 to $164,722 because of overtime.
In 2020, there were 69 patrol officers paid between $110,680 to $176,709, 28 APD Lieutenants and 32 APD Sergeants who were paid between $110,698 to $199,001 in the list of the 250 top paid city hall employees paid between.
PAY SALARIES, NOT HOURLY WAGES
Now that Mayor Tim Keller has secured a second 4-year term, he should direct the city Human Resource Department to rewrite APD sworn police job descriptions and restructure the APD pay system to salary pay system, not hourly wages, with grades and steps. As an alternative to paying overtime and longevity bonus, the city should do away with APD hourly wage and time and a half for overtime for sworn police and implement a salary structure based strictly on steps and years of service and performance and merit. A complete restructuring of the existing APD 40-hour work week and hourly wage system needs to be implemented.
A base pay salary system can be implemented for all APD sworn personnel. A base salary system with step increases for length of service should be implemented. The longevity bonus pay would be eliminated and built into the salary structure. Mandatory shift time to work would remain the same, but if more time is needed to complete a work load or assignments for the day, the salaried employee would work it for the same salary with no overtime paid and a modification of shift times for court appearances.
APD Patrol Officers First Class who handle DWI during nighttime shifts should be required to change their shift times to daytime shifts when the arraignments and trials occur to prevent overtime pay. As an alternative to DWI arraignment, the City Attorney’s Office should explore the possibility of expanding or modifying the Metro Traffic Arraignment Program with the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office assisting to include not just traffic citations but DWI arraignments to eliminate the need for APD officers to appear at such arraignments.
OFFER $30,000 SIGN ON BONUSES TO NEW RECRUTIES FOR 6 YEAR COMMITMENT EXCLUDING LATERAL HIRES
APD sworn police officers are some of the highest paid law enforcement officers in the country when you add base pay, overtime pay, longevity pay, insurance benefits and the very generous Public Employees Retirement (PERA) program that allows for retirement after 20 to 25 years of service and payment of upwards of a 90% pension for a persons high 3 years of pay. Notwithstanding, the city is still having a problem with recruiting a new generation of younger sworn police and retaining experienced older cops.
APD loses officers at an alarming rate. According to one 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. According to APD spokesperson Rebecca Atkins as of October 27, 2021, APD had 945 sworn police. On December 16, 2021, APD reported to the Federal Court it had 917 full time sworn police.
Over the last 20 years, the Albuquerque Police Departments (APD) attrition rate has been consistently 60 police officers a year. That includes terminations, transfers and police officers who have decided they do not want to be a police officer anymore.
That began to changed dramatically in 2020. For all of 2020, APD had 81 departures. In 2021, halfway through the year, APD had 82 departures. On September 21, 2021, it was reported that the number of APD sworn officers stood at 906 and that APD since January of 2021 had lost 122 sworn police.
Links to quoted sources material are here:
Recruitment of new officers has been so difficult to the point that APD began offering sign on bonuses in August, 2021 worth thousands of dollars. The bonuses are:
$15,000 for lateral police officers (experienced officers transferring from other departments)
$5,000 for cadets or new recruits
$1,500 for police service aides
Many APD police officers who were eligible to retire decided to stay on and continue for a few more years with APD because of the significant increases in hourly pay and longevity pay and increasing their retirement benefits, but they still retired in three years once they attained their high 3 years of service pay.
When you offer $15,000 bonuses to lateral hires, what happens is that those officers are not making a long-term career commitment to stay with APD. What the lateral hires have done is join APD, paid the bonus, hired at a higher salary for 3 years to cap off their retirement pay and then move on as quickly as they can and retire.
This is exactly what happened in the early part of Keller’s first term. APD began a process of raiding other New Mexico law enforcement departments offering higher wages and bonuses. Keller actually called it “poaching”.
Former APD Chief Michael Geier recruited many from the Rio Rancho police department where he retired as Chief to become APD Chief. The first year of lateral hires resulted in 70 lateral transfer hires. Three years later, APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos revealed that most of those 70 laterals were no longer employed with APD and retired or moved on. The $15,000 bonus offered to lateral hires should have included a full 6-year commitment of service with APD.
The paying of sign on bonuses of $5,000 to new recruits was an excellent first step in recruitment of a new, younger generation of police officer, but it is not at all likely it will have that much of an impact in the long run for retention. To have a real impact on attracting a new, younger generation of police officer, sign on bonuses to new recruits should be raised to $30,000 in exchange for a minimum commitment of 6 years of service with APD. Keller should order increasing sign on bonus to new recruits excluding all lateral hires.
The new recruit bonus contract would require a pro rata return payment if the 6 years of service are not completed. The $30,000 sign on bonus contract would do far more to ensure that APD retains new officers beginning an wanting a law enforcement career that the city has spent upwards of $50,000 to train each cadet only to have those new officers move on as soon as they can to another law enforcement agency.
4. NEGOTIATE TERMINATION OF THE DOJ CONSENT DECREE OR SEEK APPOINMENT OF A RECIEVER TO TAKE OVER APD
Review of the 14 Federal Independent Monitors Reports and reforms implemented, one conclusion is the spirit and intent of the settlement has been achieved.
On November 16 , 2021, it was a full 7 years that expired since the city entered into the CASA with the DOJ. It was originally agreed that the settlement implementation would be completed within 4 years, but the previous Republican Administration engaged in delay and obstruction tactics found by the Federal Monitor. The Keller administration on a number of levels has also engaged in delay and obstruction tactics.
After 7 full years the following mandated reforms under the CASA have been completed:
1. After a full year of negotiations, new “use of force” and “use of deadly force” policies have been written, implemented and all APD sworn have received training on the policies.
2. All sworn police officers have received crisis management intervention training.
3. APD has created a “Use of Force Review Board” that oversees all internal affairs investigations of use of force and deadly force.
4. The Internal Affairs Unit has been divided into two sections, one dealing with general complaints and the other dealing with use of force incidents.
5. Sweeping changes ranging from APD’s SWAT team protocols, to banning choke-holds, to auditing the use of every Taser carried by officers and re-writing and implementation of new use of force and deadly force policies have been completed.
6. “Constitutional policing” practices and methods, and mandatory crisis intervention techniques an de-escalation tactics with the mentally ill have been implemented at the APD police academy with all sworn police having received training.
7. APD has adopted a new system to hold officers and supervisors accountable for all use of force incidents with personnel procedures implemented detailing how use of force cases are investigated.
8. APD has revised and updated its policies on the mandatory use of lapel cameras by all sworn police officers.
9. The Repeat Offenders Project, known as ROP, has been abolished.
10. Civilian Police Oversight Agency has been created, funded, fully staffed and a director hired.
11. The Community Policing Counsels (CPCs) have been created in all area commands and the CPCs meet monthly.
12. The Mental Health Advisory Committee has been implemented.
13. The CASA identified that APD was understaffed and APD is continuing with its efforts with recruitment.
14. In the November 12, 2021 IMR-14 report, the most recent report, the Federal Monitor reported the 3 compliance levels after 7 years of APD effort as follows:
Primary Compliance: 100%
Secondary Compliance: 82%, down from a high of 93%
Operational Compliance: 62%, an increase 3% points from 59%, but down from a high of 66%
FLUCTUATING COMPLIANCE LEVELS
Under the terms and conditions of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA), once APD achieves a 95% compliance rate in the 3 identified compliance levels and maintains it for 2 consecutive years, the case can be dismissed. Originally, APD was to come into compliance by 2018 and the case was to be dismissed in 2020.
The 3 compliance levels can be explained as follows:
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.
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 should be operational artifacts such as reports, disciplinary records, remands to retraining, follow-up, and even 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.
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.
It was in 2019 that APD made the most progress in compliance levels with the reforms but for the next two full years thereafter there was a decline in compliance levels. In the May 4, 2020 IMR-11 Report, the Federal Monitor reported the highest compliance levels ever achieved by APD during the settlement as follows:
Primary Compliance: 100%;
Secondary Compliance: 93%
Operational Compliance: 66%.
Comparing the November 1, 2019 IMR 10 Report to the IMR 11 Report the 2 of 3 compliance levels increased as follows:
Primary Compliance: 100%
Secondary Compliance: From 81% in IMR 10 to 93% in IMR 11, a 14.8% plus increase
Operational Compliance: From 64% in IMR 10 to 66% in IMR 11, a 3%. Increase
Page 4, IMR-11 Report
In the May 3, 2021 IMR-13 report, the Federal Monitor reported the compliance levels in 2 categories had dropped as follows:
Primary Compliance: 100%;
Secondary Compliance: 82%, a 9% loss from previous report
Operational Compliance: 59%, a 3% loss from previous report
PRIMARY CAUSE OF DECLINNG OPERATIONAL COMPLIANCE LEVELS
Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD) Internal Affairs Force Division is the primary cause of the decline in “operational compliance” levels and its failure to address use of force case investigations. The Federal Monitor’s 14th report found that APD failed to assign hundreds of use of-force cases to investigators during the 6 month monitoring period. The federal monitor in his 14th report made the following findings:
“The most important issues affecting APD during the IMR-14 reporting period involve misconduct investigations, use of force investigations, the lack of progressive discipline when misconduct is found, and supervision and leadership.
All non-force-related misconduct investigations completed by APD … were found to be deficient. A total of 17 misconduct cases, 6 investigated by Internal Affairs and 9 area command investigations were reviewed, including two that were completed by outside agencies.
The only properly investigated case reviewed by the monitoring team this reporting period was completed by an outside agency. In two consecutive reporting periods, a virtual shut down of use of force investigations has occurred in Internal Affairs.
Only seven, or 3%, of the 216 Level 2 cases opened were closed. Only 1 of those 7 was completed within 90 days, or less than one-half of a percent. Only two of 91 Level 3 use of force cases opened during this period were completed by [Internal Affairs Force Division] IFD or 2%. Neither of the 2 cases were completed within the CASA required 90-day period.
We find these failings to be more than notable, given the amount of time the monitoring team spent with APD in the last three reporting periods specifically focused on process improvement processes at [the Internal Affairs Force Division] IAFD. Of the twelve cases reviewed for compliance concerning discipline, only 58% met the requirements for adherence to progressive discipline as outlined in the CASA.
A second backlog of 667 uninvestigated use of force cases, as of the draft of this report, was reported. This second backlog is more than double the initial backlog APD dealt with from 2018-2020 and does not include any of the contemporary cases left uninvestigated by IAFD.
Approximately 83% of these cases are already time-barred for discipline in accordance with the CBA, should misconduct be found. Since its discovery, this backlog has been reduced from 667 cases to 660 cases (as of October 25, 2021). At this rate of case productivity, we project that it will take APD 94 months to “clear” this second backlog, which, again, would ensure no disciplinary actions for policy violations in another 667 cases.”
INTENTIONAL BACKLOG OF NONE COMPLIANCE
The federal monitor continued with the following findings:
“Given the amount of focus on the problems related to [the Internal Affairs Force Division] IAFD investigations in previous monitor’s reports, and the exceptional amounts of technical assistance provided by the monitoring team relating to IAFD processes, we can only conclude that this new backlog was intentional, and yet another canard designed to ensure that officers are not disciplined for known policy violations. We consider this another example of deliberate non-compliance exhibited by APD.
Leadership and supervision, especially in the critical areas of reform listed above, are simply lacking—or in some cases not extant. As such, these findings require direct action by the City and APD leadership to identify the causes of, and to take corrective actions responding to, what can only be described as deliberate failures to comply with existing APD policy and with CASA requirements.
Given the extensive amounts of technical assistance provided by the monitoring team related to misconduct investigations and to workload management, we can only conclude that these jarring failures are deliberate.”
EXTERNAL FORCE INVESTGATION TEAM
To deal with the APD Internal Affairs failures to properly investigate use of force cases, U.S. District Judge James Browning approved a stipulated order creating the External Force Investigation Team (EFIT). The EFIT team is training APD Internal Affairs (IA) investigators on how to properly investigate uses of force instances by APD police officers. The City has agreed to at least 25 force investigators being assigned to the APD Internal Affairs until APD demonstrates that fewer investigators are necessary to timely investigate uses of force by APD Officers. The DOJ is now asking that the EFIT be assigned to clear out APD’s backlog of uses of force cases. The EFIT should be made permanent.
AS GOOD AS ITS GOING TO GET; DISMISS CASA OR ASK FOR RECIVERSHIP
Review of all the Federal Independent Monitors Reports and reforms implemented, one conclusion is the spirit and intent of the settlement has been achieved with new “use of force” and “use of deadly force” policies, extensive training and sweeping mandated changes to APD protocols. Still, APD hovers at around 60% “operational compliance” when 95% is required for two years to dismiss the DOJ consent decree.
After 7 years and millions spent, it is likely things are as good as its going to get with Keller’s current APD management under the consent decree. APD has now reached the point where Keller should order and demand APD management to implement the reforms forthwith or be removed and replaced by Keller with those who can get the work done and without continued monitoring by the court. It’s called assuming responsibility and leadership.
It’s painfully obvious that Keller’s APD high command can not get the job done to the satisfaction of the federal monitor and the court. It’s time for Mayor Keller to ask the court to dismiss the case or appoint a receiver to get the job done and have the Department of Justice do the heavy lifting with implementing the reforms they have demanded.
Second chances in politics because of weak opposition are very few and far between. Tim Keller has had a very charmed political career always being able to prevail against very weak candidates when he ran first for State Senate, State Auditor and now a second term for Mayor.
Keller has now been given a second chance. Only time will tell if Keller has learned anything in office over the last four years other than how to do photo ops, do press conferences, attend heavy metal concerts to introduce the band and act like a high school jock living his glory days.
If Keller fails to act now when it comes to APD he will waste his second chance to make any difference reforming APD.