Are APD Reforms Working? : Two ABQ Journal Guest Columns Say NO; APD Has Bloated Overpaid Command Staff With 1 to 4 Ratio; Second Chance Keller Needs To Reset APD And DOJ Reforms

On February 10, 2022, the Albuquerque Journal published the two below guest columns under the caption “ARE APD REFORMS WORKING? The answer appear to be NO.

HEADLINE: Keller squanders opportunity to push accountability – again


The Mayor Tim Keller administration’s new negotiated contract with the police union is another lost opportunity to reform the Albuquerque Police Department and implement the DOJ reforms under the settlement. No doubt the union is ecstatic, given the fact that the Keller administration did exactly what it did four years ago: it caved into union demands, giving the union all the pay increases it demanded. The new negotiated contract 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. There are no meaningful provisions to prevent overtime time abuse or fraud, which has plagued the department for 10 years.

Under state labor law, management is not allowed to join unions. The new union contract again allows APD management positions of sergeants and lieutenants to be police union members, violating state law. The police union is a party to the federal settlement case. The union has obstructed the implementation of the mandated reforms. The federal monitor has repeatedly found it is sergeants and lieutenants who are resisting management’s implementation of the DOJ reforms. Sergeants and lieutenants should have been removed from the bargaining unit and made at-will.

The Keller administration failed to get concessions from the union on police misconduct accountability.

Three provisions not included and opposed by the union were in the new contract:

• The contract provision barring the city’s Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA) board members from knowing the names of officers investigated by the agency. This provision undermines the purpose and intent of the CPOA to identify sworn officers who have a history of misconduct and who should be disciplined or terminated.

• The union contract requires that the name(s) of the person(s) who complained about them is/are disclosed to officers under investigation. This provision was in the old contract. Allowing identification of complainants who choose to remain anonymous discourages the filing of civilian complaints for fear of retaliation.

• Police oversight advocates, such as APD Forward, wanted to increase the amount of time for the city to complete police misconduct cases. Under the previous 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 not sufficient.

The police union bluntly said it was not interested at all in extending the timelines for investigations. The reason for that is that the union, and its minions of sergeants and lieutenants know that the shorter the time taken to investigate misconduct cases likely means there will be no disciplinary action. The union goal is to avoid any disciplinary action at all cost and ignore the truth of police misconduct.

In his latest report, the federal monitor found 667 uninvestigated use-of-force cases. All non-force-related misconduct investigations completed by APD were found to be deficient. Approximately 83% of the cases were time-barred for discipline in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement should misconduct be found.

Keller was given a second chance when he was reelected to reform APD and implement the APD settlement agreement reforms. With the new union contract, he has essentially capitulated and, once again, given in to all union demands, squandering an opportunity to reform APD.

The link to the Albuquerque Journal Guest Column is here:

HEADLINE: Civilian police oversight failed in mentally ill man’s shooting



On Dec. 9, 2021, the Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA) had four vacant positions on its nine-member board. The remaining five members reviewed the details of an officer-involved shooting in Case No. 20-0044826. The board member presenting the case stated it should be tabled if all members were unable to review the documents. Two of the five board members reported they did not review the documents; one had viewed a video only.

Incomprehensibly, presentation of the case proceeded, and, with only three board members having access to the APD documents, all five members voted unanimously to accept APD’s investigative conclusions.
On June 4, 2020, Michael Mitnik called 911 to get help for his son, Max, who struggled with mental illness and was off his medication. Max wanted to go to the hospital, but not with his parents. Max’s father specifically requested that a Crisis Intervention Team respond. APD dispatched two Enhanced Crisis Intervention Trained (ECIT) officers.

One officer shot Max twice, once to his head. Max Mitnik survived, but not without life-altering traumatic brain injury and permanent disability. See civil filing D-202-CV-2022-0086.

In its review of the case, the CPOA Board opined there were numerous errors with APD’s response. For example, the ECIT officers failed to adequately grasp the nature or seriousness of the call. The officers did not gather and act upon information from family members. They did not control the scene, handcuffing and uncuffing Max, not searching him for weapons, and allowing him to return inside the home unescorted. The officers did not consider suicide a concern despite dispatch references to Max’s prior self-harm behavior. Although Max initially agreed to go to UNMH, the ECIT officers escalated the situation by discouraging his decisions, claiming extensive wait time at UNMH sitting in the police car, handcuffed, and unable to go to the bathroom.

The board members questioned how APD determines the minimum amount of force necessary, and why in this case less-lethal options were not more fully considered or discussed. Despite these questions and their own unease, the board members did not fault the shooting given the circumstances immediately preceding the shooting.

If the ECIT officers had followed the most basic policy and procedures, Max would not have been shot. According to the Force Review Board jeopardy began upon arrival and mistakes made caused this shooting and the fact the officer did not recognize the mistakes is terribly concerning. Despite the grievous failures, reliable sources report the shooter received an eight-hour suspension. Both officers got a letter of reprimand for policy violations and were to receive additional training. The CPOA Board avoided discussing the officers’ disciplinary history and, significantly, the appropriateness of this discipline.

The CPOA is statutorily required to review investigations of officer-involved shootings, make findings for each, and make them available to the public on the CPOA website. No such report has been published.

The board groused that more should be done to avoid these mental health catastrophes but did not consider further inquiry or potential corrective actions. Considering yet another example of the board’s understaffed, incomplete review of this case along with its failure to make and publish the required report of its findings, a reconceptualizing of this problem-ridden and ineffective civilian oversight process is urgent.

The link to the Albuquerque Journal Guest Column is here:


During the last 4 years, the APD high command that works directly out of the Chief’s Office went from 4 to 10 full time sworn staff. Those positions are Chief, Superintendent Of Police Reform, Deputy Superintendent Of Police Reform, 6 Deputy Chiefs, 1 Chief of Staff. Within the last year, APD has created 16 new positions of “Deputy Commanders”.

Over the last 4 years, APD sworn went from 836 sworn officers to 917 sworn officers, an increase of 81 by last count. APD Chief staffing and mid management stand at 193 and are bloated and overpaid as follows:

1 APD Chief: $177,562 (not including recent raise of at least 6%)
1 Superintendent Of Police Reform , vacancy advertised at $155,000 to $185,000.
1 Deputy Superintendent Of Police Reform: $147,444 to $150,000.
6 Deputy Chiefs, paid between $144,228 to $149,881
1 Chief of Staff paid $149,881
12 Commanders: each paid $116,000 to $120,000
14 Deputy Commanders: each paid $100,000 to $115,000
44 Lieutenants: each paid $94,348 under new union contract
113 Sergeants: each paid $82,533 under new union contract

TOTAL: 193

The link to a related blog article is here:


“Rank and File” police officers are generally recognized as sworn police officers under the rank of sergeant. These are the sworn police officers that do the heavy lifting of police work responding to 911 calls for service and who patrol the streets of the city. Following is what rank and file sworn officers are paid:

Police Officer 1/C (first class) with 2 TO 4 YEAR SERVICE under new contract goes from $60,320 TO $68,411.20 a year.

Pay for Senior Police Officer 1/c (first class) with 5 To 14 YEAR SERVICE under new contract goes from $62,400 to $70,761 a year.

Pay for a Master Police Officer 1/c (first class) with 15 years and above of service goes FROM $65,520 TO $74,297 A YEAR.

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.

The link to a related blog article on the new union contract is here:


On February 8, Chief Harold Medina reported to the Albuquerque City Council that APD has 514 field services personnel. What this means is that 514 sworn police officers are assigned to the 6 area commands, and those assigned to the 6 area commands are then divided to cover the 3 separate shifts of daytime, nighttime and graveyard.

Simple math should reveal that with 514 field service officers, 86 field officers are assigned to the 6 area commands and those 86 are then divided by 3 shifts for 28 to cover an area command that are available to patrol the streets. But that is not how it works.

The number of officers patrolling the streets in the area commands are reduced significantly for any number of reasons. Officers are also assigned to units within the area command, area command desk jobs including detective work and investigations work and officers may be in court, on vacation, on sick leave or on military duty leave. APD also makes assignments to area commands according to 911 call volumes.

The number of sworn officer patrolling streets and neighborhoods are dangerously low. The reality is that APD has a mere 4 to 6 sworn police officers patrolling the streets in each area command during any given shift and the number goes down dramatically during low volume 911 call times.

The crisis of “lack of boots on the ground” was made crystal clear on Thursday, August 19, 2021 when 4 Albuquerque Police Officers were seriously injured following a shooting in northeast Albuquerque. The shooting happened as officers responded to a robbery by the Dutch Bros. near Mountain and Juan Tabo. It turns out that only 5 sworn officers were on duty in the area command when the incident happened and they had no backup they could call on for help.

A link to a related blog article is here:


One good indicator of just how top heavy APD has become with management positions is the calculation of the number of management positions to rank and file positions.

There are 724 sworn police officers that can be considered “rank an file”. That figure is derived by taking the total number of APD sworn of 917 and subtracting the total number of management positions of 193 from the ranks of sergeants to Chief to arrive at 724, (917 sworn – 193 management = 724 rank file.)

The ratio of APD management to employee is 1 to 4. The ratio is calculated by dividing the 724 employee position by the 193 management positions resulting in 1 manager to every 3.7 employees or a 1 to 4 ratio of management positions to employee positions.

APD is a para military organization and as such it has a chain of command. A chain of command dictates that you must add each level of command above each level of rank and file. Therefor, the lower an officer is in the chain of command, the more management levels can dictate orders and instructions. The chain of command creates a significantly higher ratio of management to employee depending on the tasks assigned to rank and file employees.


On November 2, 2021 Mayor Tim Keller was elected to a second term even though he broke his promises to increase APD to 1,200 sworn officers, bring down crime rates and failed to implement the APD consent decree reforms.

Mayor Keller has been given a second act. Keller must get done what needs to be done with APD and the DOJ consent decree in his first year of his second term. Otherwise, APD will continue to spiral out of control, the DOJ remains and crime will continue to rise.

Keller should concentrate on four major areas during the first year of his second term:

1. Replace APD Chief Harold Medina, Reduce Deputy Chiefs By 3, Cut Command Staff Abolishing Deputy Commander Positions, Reorganize APD, Solve “Boots On The Ground” Crisis With More Field Service Personnel

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.

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 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.

For decades, APD high command has consisted of 1 Chief and 3 Deputy Chiefs and it should be returned to those levels. It is clear that APD command staff is top heavy going from 4 to 10 and needs to be streamlined. The 16 “Deputy Commander” positions creates 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.

Keller should replace the entire APD high command, cut management positions and assign more sworn to field services to solve the “boots on the ground” crisis.


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 violating state law. The police union is a party to the federal settlement case. The union has obstructed the implementation of the mandated reforms. The Federal Monitor has repeatedly found it’s sergeants and lieutenants who are resisting management’s implementation of the DOJ reforms. They need to be removed from the bargaining unit and made at will.


APD officers are paid hourly for a 40-hour work week, paid time and a half overtime and longevity bonuses for years of service. 160 sworn police are consistently in the top 250 paid city hall employees and paid well over $100,00O a year. A salary structure of steps and grades must be implemented to abolish overtime and abolish longevity pay. $30,000 sign on bonuses to new cadets with a 6-year commitment is necessary to attract a younger generation of police officer.


Review of all 14 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 to dismiss the DOJ consent decree. After 7 years and millions spent, it’s likely things are as good as its going to get with current management under the consent decree. It’s time to ask the court to dismiss the case or appoint a receiver and let the Department of Justice do the heavy lifting for the first time in 7 years and reform APD to its satisfaction with 100% implementation of the 271 reforms it has mandated under the consent decree.


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, then State Auditor and then for a second term as 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 old glory days as quarterback.

If Keller fails to act now when it comes to APD he will waste his second chance to make any difference reforming APD.

A link to a related blog article is here:

Second Chance Keller: First Year Of Second Term Time To Reset APD And Deal With DOJ Consent Decree

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.