EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog article is an in depth analysis of the new police union contract negotiated by the Mayor Tim Keller Administration.
Mayor Tim Keller’s administration has negotiated a new police union contract making APD the best paid law enforcement agency in the region by increasing hourly wages and longevity pay and creating a whole new category of “incentive pay”. Under the new contract, APD’s starting wage is well above cities and law enforcement agencies of comparable size including Tucson, Arizona, $54,517, and El Paso, Texas, $47,011. The new APD contract keeps APD starting wages slightly higher than the New Mexico State Police.
The 48-page APOA police “Collective Bargaining Agreement” (CBA) is for 1 year and 6 months period. It is effective January 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023. The new CBA can be down loaded as a PDF file at this link:
Under the new contract terms, longevity pay increases by 5% starting on July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year starting at $2,730 per year with those who have 5 years of service and with incremental service years up to 17 years or more who will be paid $16,380.
The new union contract continues to allow the management positions of sergeants and lieutenants to be union members. The new union contract contains no accountability provisions under the Department of Justice Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). The settlement reforms have been resisted and opposed by the police union.
Police union rejected or resisted contract provisions include:
1. Not disclosing the identity of sworn police officers to the Police Oversight Commission that is investigating them.
2. Mandating the disclosures of the identity of those who file complaints against an officer.
3. Opposing the expansion of the amount of time to investigate police misconduct cases.
The city’s rank-and-file officers voted overwhelmingly to approve the contract and it is already in effect. City Council approval is a mere formality and is only to confirm funding availability.
The City Council is prohibited from being part of personnel negotiations but must vote to approve the contract only for purposes of funding it.
The link to related and quoted news coverage is here:
APD BUDGET STAFF COVERED BY UNION CONTRACT
The police union had been at impasse with the previous Republican Administration for almost 8 years. 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 remained in force and effect until the new contract was negotiated.
Review of the APD budget and current staffing levels before review of the new union contract provisions is in order.
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.
On December 12, during a federal court hearing on the Department of Justice consent decree, APD reported that as of December 6, 2021 APD’s staffing levels are as follows
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
The positions of 44 Lieutenants, 113 Sergeants and 731 Patrol Officers, for a total of 888 staffing are all covered by the police union contract.
NEW HOURLY WAGE RATES
First year probationary officers 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. As it stands, there is no minimum commitment for a cadet to work for the city after graduation, meaning they could move on to another law enforcement agency their first year of employment with the city if they want.
“Rank and File” police officers are generally recognized as sworn police officers under the rank of sergeant. Under the union contract sergeant and lieutenants are allowed to join the police union.
“RANK AND FILE” HOURLY PAY
The normal workweek under the contract is defined as 40 hours comprised of either 5 eight hour or 4 ten-hour days. (Page 19 of contract)
Page 6 of the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) outlines the new hourly wages negotiated for both rank and file officers and sergeants and lieutenants.
Under the union contract, the classification of Police Officer 1C is an officer in the bargaining unit who has completed probation up through 4 years of service as an APD Sworn Officer.
The classification of Senior Police Officer 1C is an officer in the bargaining unit with 5 through 14 years of service as an APD Sworn Officer.
The classification of Master Police Officer 1C is an officer in the bargaining unit with 15 or more years of service as an APD Sworn Officer.
The definition of serve and service is “actual time worked”.
2 TO 4 YEAR SERVICE PAY GOING FROM $60,320 TO $68,411.20 A YEAR
Hourly pay for a Police Officer 1/C (first class) after completing one year of probation and then up through 4 years with the department under the new contract goes from $29 and hour or $60,320 yearly to $31.32 an hour or $65,145.60 yearly until June 30, 2022, the end of the fiscal year. It then increases under the new contact to $32.89 and hour or $68,411.20 a year until the expiration of the union contract on June 30, 2023.
5 To 14 YEAR SERVICE PAY GOING FROM $62,400 TO $70,761 A YEAR
Hourly pay for a Senior Police Officer 1/c (first class) with 5 to 14 years of service goes under the new contract from $30 an hour or $62,400 a year to $32.40 an hour or $67,392 yearly until June 30, 2022, the end of the fiscal year. It then increases under the new contract to $34.02 an hour or $70,761.60 a year until the expiration of the union contract on June 30, 2023.
15 OR MORE YEARS SERVICE PAY GOING FROM $65,520 TO $74, 297 A YEAR
Hourly pay for a Master Police Officer 1/c (first class) with 15 years and above of service goes under the new contract from $31.50 an hour or $65,520 a year to $34.02 an hour or $70, 761.60 yearly until June 30, 2022, the end of the fiscal year. It then increases to $35.72 an hour or $74,297 a year under the new contract until the expiration of the union contract on June 30, 2023.
SARGEANT PAY GOING FROM $72,800 TO $82,533 A YEAR
From January 1, 2022 to June 30, 2022 hourly pay for APD Sergeants under the new contract goes from $35 an hour or $72,800 a year to $37.80 an hour or $78,624 until June 30, 2022, the end of the fiscal year. Pay for APD Sergeants under the new contract then increases from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023 to $39.69 an hour or $82,555.20 a year until the expiration of the union contract on June 30, 2023.
LIEUTENANT PAY GOING FROM $83,200 TO $94,348 A YEAR
Hourly pay for Lieutenants goes under the new contract from $40 an hour or $83,200 yearly to $43.20 an hour or $89,856 yearly from January 1, 2022 to June 30, 2020 until June 30, 2022, the end of the fiscal year. From July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023 Lieutenants pay under the new contract will be increased to $45.36 an hour or $94,348.60 a year until the expiration of the contract on June 30, 2023.
LONGEVITY PAY INCREASES
APD sworn police officers are paid “longevity pay” in addition to their yearly pay. On page 9 of the new police union contract, longevity “years” is defined as the completed years of service identified by the City and documented by an officer that an officer has served as a sworn public safety officer in any United States jurisdiction in good standing, excluding military police, and for time with APD shall be complete year(s) from the date an officer achieves P2C status or if a higher rank as a lateral. Special circumstances under the contract does create exceptions to this rule. The definition of serve and service is “actual time worked”.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Note that under the union contract, lateral transfers from other departments are given credit for their years of service to the other department and are paid the longevity pay as if they had worked for APD. APD also pays lateral transfers “sign on” bonuses of $15,000 in an effort to attract experienced police officers.
APS sworn qualify for longevity pay in their fifth year of service. Under the new contract terms, longevity pay starts at $2,730 per year and increases topping of at $16,380 annually for those who have served 17 or more years.
CATEGORIES OF LONGEVITY PAY
The negotiated longevity pay under the new union contract deals with the overlap of 3 fiscal years. A fiscal year begins on July 1 of any given year and ends on June 30 of the following year. The longevity pay rates can be found on page 8 and 9 of the new union contract. The pay rate categories are as follows:
Fiscal year 2019 and 2020 longevity pay rates effective the first full pay period following July 1 are identical to fiscal year 2022. Fiscal year 2022 longevity pay scale bi-weekly annual amounts are as follows:
Beginning Year 5 through 5, $100 paid bi weekly, $2,600 annual amount
Beginning Year 6 through 6, $125 paid bi weekly $3,250 annual amount
Beginning Year 7 through 9, $225 paid bi weekly, $5,850 annual amount
Beginning Year 10 through 12, $300 paid bi weekly, $7,800, annual amount
Beginning Year 13 through 15, $350 paid bi weekly, $9,100 annual amount
Beginning Year 16 through 17, $450 paid bi weekly, $11,700 annual amount
Beginning Year 18 and above, $600 paid bi weekly, $15,600 annual amount
Fiscal year 2023 longevity pay scale bi-weekly annual amounts are as follows:
Beginning Year 5 through 5, $105 paid bi weekly, $2,730 annual amount
Beginning Year 6 through 6, $131 paid bi weekly, $3,406 annual amount
Beginning Year 7 through 9, $236 paid bi weekly, $6,136 annual amount
Beginning Year 10 through 12, $315 paid bi weekly, $8,190 annual amount
Beginning Year 13 through 15, $368 paid bi weekly, $9,568 annual amount
Beginning Year 16 through 17, $473 paid bi weekly, $12,298 annual amount
Beginning Year 18 and above, $630 paid bi weekly, $16,380 annual amount
LONGEVITY SCALE #2
There is a Longevity #2 pay scale found on page 9 of the contract that is a transitional accommodation applicable to employees currently receiving such payment and are omitted herein to avoid confusion.
SUPER LONGEVITY PAY
Once a sworn officer has been at the top step of their grade for 364 days or more, the officer will receive $34.62 per pay period. Once an officer has received this “Super Longevity”, this compensation will not be lost upon promotion within the bargaining unit. Officers currently receiving Super Longevity will continue to receive this pay during the term of the contract.
INCENTIVE PAY FOR AREA COMMAND OR INTERNAL AFFAIRS SERVICE
Under the Union Contract, a new category of incentive pay has been created. Sworn officers can earn “incentive pay” for service in area commands or Internal Affairs. An officer will be paid $1,300.00 for each year served for the entire year in the same Area Command or the Internal Affairs Division, up to and capped at 4 years continuous service or $5,200.00 per year. A “year” is defined as from December 1 through November 30 of each calendar year.
The offering of the incentive pay for area commands is more than likely offered because certain area commands, such as the South East heights, have much higher violent crime rates and calls for service and are less desirable to work in. The offering of incentive pay to work for Internal Affairs is likely because rank and file usually vilify Internal Affairs and view it as the division that does not have “the back of police and do not look the other way” but are responsible for investigating police misconduct and violations of the personnel rules and regulations.
The incentive payment will be made on or about December 15th of each year. Time served in a single Area Command or in Internal Affairs from December 1, 2020 through November 30, 2021 will be accepted as Year 1, and no service before December 1, 2020 will be accepted. This incentive pay will not create an entitlement or right to a bid, position in Internal Affairs, an area command, shift, days off or field position in any officer.
To qualify for the incentive pay, an officer must have achieved and maintain all qualifications for the field or internal affairs positions, including certifications, or the incentive pay is forfeited. Any permanent transfer, or temporary transfer exceeding 45 calendar days, out of the officer’s Area Command or the Internal Affairs Division, whether initiated by the officer or City, results in the forfeiture of the incentive pay.
VACATION RATE ACCURALS
Under the union contract, vacation pay is as follows:
Less than 5 years continuous service accrual per year: 3.85 bi weekly accrual rate for two week pay period, 12.5 days per year.
More than 5 years and less than 10-year continuous service accrual per year: 4.62 hours bi weekly accrual rate for two week pay period, 15.0 days per year.
More than 10 years and less than 15 years continuous service accrual per year: 5.54 hours bi weekly accrual rate for two week pay period, 18.0 days per year.
More than 15 years continuous service accrual per year: 6.16 hours bi weekly accrual rate, 20.0 days per year.
Vacation hours can be “banked” by police officers and carried over to subsequent years and officers are not required to “use it or lose it” in the year the vacation time is earned. Further, once accumulated, vacation time becomes a “vested property right” and must be paid out either weekly or in a “lump sum” upon departure from the city. It very common for APD police officers who “retire”to remain on city payroll, known as the early retirement payroll fund, until their vacation time is paid out. It is also common for high ranking officers who retire to be paid 5 or even 6 figure lump sum payments for their unused vacation time and unused sick leave time. Under the Public Employee Retirement Association Provisions, vacation time and sick leave time can be accumulated and combined upon retirement. If an employee terminates before retirement, the sick leave is lost and is not paid out.
Under the union contract, sworn police are entitled to overtime compensation at the rate of time-and-one-half of their regular straight-time rate when they perform work in excess of forty (40) hours in any one workweek. Time worked over 40 hours per week is compensated at time and a half of the officer’s regular rate of pay, or in the form of “compensatory time.” There is no contract provision placing a cap on the amount of overtime any officer can be paid.
Compensatory time is the award of hours as already worked to be paid and is calculated at the rate of 1-1/2 times the hours actually worked. The maximum accrual of comp time for any officer is 150 hours.
CITY AND UNION REACTION TO NEW CONTRACT
Police Chief Harold Medina said the collective bargaining agreement shows the Keller Administration “continues to invest in competitive salaries for APD officers to attract and retain officers and improve community-oriented policing.”
Not at all surprising, Shaun Willoughby, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association said he was “very happy with it” seeing as he was the one who negotiated the contract. Willoughby applauded the pay increases and said they would help in recruiting and retaining sworn officers and said:
“We had, I believe, over 175 officers … leave the department in 2021. We had 81 leave in 2020. … So we are definitely needing to continue to bring that competitive pay, and that competitive edge … so that we can compete in this region of the United States for the best and brightest that are interested in law enforcement.”
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The Keller Administration’s new negotiated contract with the police union is another lost opportunity to reform the Albuquerque Police Department and to implement the Department of Justice reforms. No doubt the police union is ecstatic given the fact that the Keller Administration did exactly what it did 4 years ago which was to cave into union demands and giving it all the pay increases it demanded with the city getting absolutely no concessions from it. The Keller Administration failed to get concessions from the union on police misconduct accountability, prohibiting management positions of sergeants and lieutenants from joining the union, and overtime limitations.
MONEY DOES NOT CHANGE NOR DOES IT BUY GOOD MORALE
Police Union President Shaun Willoughby saying he is “very happy” with the new union contract is nothing more than a victory lap on his part seeing as he negotiated the contract. He is also a fool to think the pay raises will stop the hemorrhaging of sworn police leaving in droves.
Willoughby is seriously mistaken to think that an 8% pay increase phased in and a 5% increase in longevity pay is going to make any difference in recruiting and retention. It will not and cops will still leave in droves. Willoughby has only himself to blame in that he has repeatedly hammered on his very false narrative that the DOJ reforms have made it impossible for sworn police to do their jobs and that moral is at historical low. He also said:
“I don’t know a single police officer who would recommend the Albuquerque Police Department as a place of employment.”
On October 29, 2021, a little more 3 months ago, the union released its poll on its membership satisfaction. The highlights of the poll are worth remembering:
85% of those surveyed have considered leaving the force, up 5% from last year.
89% do not feel supported by command staff.
94% do not approve of Police Chief Harold Medina.
98% do not feel supported by Mayor Tim Keller’s administration.
42% said Department of Justice reform constraints are the biggest contributor to the crime problem in the city.
24% said it was “justice system problems”, ostensibly meaning the revolving door criminal justice system.
Only 5% said lack of officers is contributing to high crime rates.
When the poll was released, Willoughby said stagnant recruiting, DOJ reform efforts and the Keller administration have brought morale to its lowest levels in decades.
Willoughby had this to say about the survey:
“These are actual police officers, the men and women that are keeping this community safe at night, and this is how they feel. Let’s take it seriously, for the first time ever, and let’s try to fix it. … This departments not worried about crime. … This department’s worried about compliance and DOJ reforms and it’s really hard. … [Sworn police] feel handcuffed, they’re frustrated that the citizens are frustrated, and nobody is allowed to do police work.”
“All these politicians will tell you we’ve got to do both simultaneously. Not a realistic expectation. … [APD sworn police] do not feel like they have a recipe for success. … 85% of them are looking for other jobs in a year where 137 police officers have already left followed by a year where 81 police officers left last year. I mean we have a natural attrition rate in this police department dating back 20 years of 60. So they’ve got a serious problem on their hands and I think it starts with treating your employees with a little more respect. … I don’t know a single police officer who would recommend the Albuquerque Police Department as a place of employment.”
OVERTIME PAY MAJOR SOURCE OF CONTROVERSY AND SCANDAL
It is the mandated overtime provisions of the union contract that has led to major controversy and scandal at times, including overtime time card fraud. When you add overtime paid to the base hourly pay mandated under the contract, the net result is the sworn police can be paid twice or three times as much in base pay and well over $100,000 and upwards of $200,000 a year.
No effort was made to reduce the number of hours allowed for overtime a sworn officer can be paid nor limiting it to rank and file and not management who are at will. From a personnel management standpoint, excessive overtime can lead to serious burn out, reduce the alertness of an officer and endanger public safety. But the union only sees the dollar signs and could care less how much excessive overtime a cop works, just as long as they get paid for it.
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.
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.
NEW APD CONTRACT AGAIN ALLOWS SARGEANTS AND LIEUTENANTS TO JOIN UNION
It is Section 1.3., page 3, of the new police union contract that allows the management positions of APD sergeants and lieutenants to join the union as follows:
“The APOA is recognized as the Exclusive Representative for regular full time, non-probationary police officers through the rank of Lieutenants in the APD … .”
This is the identical provision in the expired contract that the Keller Administration ostensibly refused to negotiate. Confidential sources have confirmed that the Keller Administration and the Police Union have come to a mutual understanding that sergeants and lieutenants are not management positions but rather “supervising colleagues” who are part of a unit that give commands and that provide leadership support functions. The understanding is not embodied in the contract and contrary to basic management principals and best practices under labor law. The fact is sergeants and lieutenants are management responsible for oversight and disciplinary action of subordinates.
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:
As the union contract is written, it is in violation of New Mexico Public Employees Bargaining Act. Section 10-7E-5 entitled Rights of public employees provides as follows:
A. 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 those activities. (Capitalization added for emphasis)
Simply put, the plain language of the statute makes it clear management are prohibited from joining unions. The new police union contract allowing the APD management positions of sergeants and lieutenants to be police union members clearly violates state law and is therefore void from the beginning and therefor unenforceable.
The police union is a “third party intervenor” in the federal court approved settlement agreement. 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. … “
APD SERGEANTS AND LIEUTENANTS RESIST DOJ REFORMS
The Federal Monitor has found repeatedly it is APD sergeants and lieutenants who are resisting management’s implementation of the DOJ reforms. 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. … “
UNION REFUSES TO EXTEND TIME TO INVESTGATE POLICE MISCONDUCT CASES
A major point of contention and negotiation was the amount of time allowed to investigate police misconduct cases by Internal Affairs for purposes of disciplinary action and under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement. Under the old contract, 90 days for police misconduct investigations with an optional 30-day extension with the police chief’s approval, was provided. However, in practice, the 90 days is simply not enough time, especially when obstruction conduct are engaged in by union members.
Police Union President Shaun Willoughby bluntly told the city the union will not and was not interested in extending the timelines for investigations. The reason for that is Willoughby and his minions of sergeants and lieutenants know full well the shorter the time to investigate police misconduct cases likely means there will be no disciplinary action. The union goal is to avoid at all cost any discipline and ignore the truth of systemic police misconduct. Not once has the APD police union ever condemned police misconduct, even when mentally ill homeless camper James Boyd was gunned down in the Sandia Foothills by APD Swat nor when George Floyd was killed.
Under the old contract, 90 days for police misconduct investigations with an optional 30-day extension with the police chief’s approval, was provided for investigation. The 180 day was not included in the new contract, but the new contract did extend the time period to the full 120 days outright. It also added a 15-day preliminary review time period.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Independent Monitor overseeing the department’s court-mandated reform effort have repeatedly criticized APD for missing deadlines mandated for police misconduct investigations.
As noted above, the federal monitor has found in his 10th and essentially affirmed in the 11th report that:
“Sergeants and lieutenants go to extreme lengths to excuse officer behaviors that violate established and trained APD policy, using excuses, deflective verbiage 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 14th, the federal monitor found 667 uninvestigated use of force cases and said this:
“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.
Approximately 83% of these cases are already time-barred for discipline in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement 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 AND NONE COMPLIANCE
The federal monitor also found:
“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.”
TIMELINE SPELLED OUT
The new contract spells out timelines more explicitly. If the department identifies new allegations of misconduct after the officer has already been told they are being investigated, then the review can be expanded only if the investigations into both the initial allegation and the new allegation are completed within the 120-day time frame. The department can only open new investigations into the same officers and circumstances in the most egregious cases.
APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos sounded more like a police union operative and not a representative of the Keller Administration management team when he said the changes to the timeline should be helpful and said:
“The new 15-day period at the front end allows the department to more quickly determine all of the potential violations, if there are any, rather than waiting toward the end of the investigation. … Presumably, once the 120 day period starts, the investigation will be more efficient and not result in surprises. And eliminating the requirement to request a 30-day extension from the Chief will also make the process more efficient.”
PROTOCOLS OPPOSED BY UNION
The new contract outlines the internal investigation protocols and discipline of sworn officers.
ABQ Forward advocates APD reform mandated by the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).
APD Forward includes 19 organizations who have affiliated with each other in an effort to reform APD and implement the DOJ consent reforms. Members of APD Forward include Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless, American Civil Liberties, Bernalillo County Community Health Council, Common Cause New Mexico, Disability Rights New Mexico, Equality New Mexico, League of Women Voters of Central New, Mexico New Mexico Conference of Churches, New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, and the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico.
Heather Ferguson, executive director of Common Cause New Mexico and a member of APD Forward’s steering committee, said the new union contract does not include accountability provisions. In particular, APD Forward wanted to extend the timeline for investigations police officer misconduct to 180 days which is standard to other departments around the country.
APD Forward also wanted to exclude two provisions in the new contract. The two provisions are:
1. The contract provision barring the city’s Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA) board members from knowing the names of the officers the agency investigates. This provision undermines the purpose and intent of the CPOA to identify full those sworn officers who have a history of misconduct and who should be disciplined or terminated.
2. The union contract provision that requires telling officers under investigation the name of the person who complained about them. The names of complainants were in the old contract and that continue in the new. Allowing identification of complainants discourages the filing of civilian complaints for fear of retaliation.
UNION GETS CLARITY ON DISCIPLINE
The police union did get what it wanted when it demanded more clarity on when officers can be disciplined if policy violations are found by the department’s Force Review Board (FRB) after the initial investigation is completed. The FRB board is made up of command level staff who periodically review completed investigations into uses of force to catch problems or identify areas for training. Willoughby said this:
“Some cases were deemed to be in-policy, and the Force Review Board brought it back and had it reinvestigated at which the case changed [to] be out of policy and discipline was imposed.”
When asked how APD will handle cases where policy violations are found by the Force Review Board that were missed by the initial investigators, APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos once again sounded more like a union representative and said the board was not designed to be disciplinary and said:
“The major focus is supposed to be on supervision, tactics, training, and policy. … If some of those issues are identified in the first 15 days prior to the investigation, the department can pursue those, and the investigation can proceed. But the idea is to keep the (Force Review Board’s) focus on those issues, and not the discipline.”
The FRB board is totally within its power to reopen case if and when additional information of misconduct is found. Independent Federal Monitor has noted the FRB has caught policy violations that internal affairs investigators missed, and for the FRB to ignore taking action is a dereliction of duty. The FRB may not be involved with discipline, but it has inherent authority to ask and demand discipline for egregious police misconduct.
Mayor Tim Keller was given a second chance when he was re-elected to reform APD and implement the APD consent decree reforms. Mayor Keller with the new union contract has essentially capitulated and once again given into all the union demands squandering an opportunity to reform APD.