APD Solves 90 Homicide Cases And  Arrests 117 Suspects In 2022;  APD’s Clearance Rate Spikes By 39%  Going From 38% To 75%  Despite Pressure Of Record Number  Of  Homicides    

On December 28, APD Chief Harold Medina and his upper command staff held a press conference to discuss the city’s homicides for the year, the clearance of cases and overall trends.  As of December 31, the city’s homicide number stood at 120.  It’s a record number for Albuquerque police homicide investigations. Last year’s total number was 117 for the year.

A total of 90 cases were solved in 2022 and 117 suspects were arrested, charged, or died. A majority of those cases come from homicides that happened this year but a few are from last year. According to Chief Medina,  half the murders were connected to a violent crime, like robberies during drug or gun deals but he believes there has been a rise in mental health related killings.  Medina said this:

“We’ve had some horrific domestic violence type calls with individuals so I think to me just anecdotal thinking it’s going to be the increase in mental health related homicides.”

APD gave a rundown on the demographics of people who have been arrested for murders this year. As for gender, APD reported 84% of the arrests were men and 16% were women, and 11 of the arrests were juveniles.  Medina said parents need to help when it comes to juveniles being arrested and he said this:

“So many of these trends parents can help with, you know educating their kids on the dangers of parties, parents not having parties for their kids thinking they’re going to control who comes and goes from the parties.”

According to APD, there have were 120 murder victims in 2022.  APD reported it has arrested 117 suspects this year.   Of the 117 suspects arrested, 81 were involved in cases from 2022 and 36 are related to cases from previous years.  APD reported that there are still 51 unsolved murders.

APD reported that a majority of homicide suspects arrested this year also had criminal history.  APD  said  50% of the suspects had a violent crime past.

Most of the cases solved this year involved guns.  Chief Medina said  there is an ongoing concern with the number of guns being illegally sold on the black market.

APD credits their success of solving cases to additional resources they had this year, including increasing the number of personnel assigned to the homicide unit.  APD Deputy Commander Kyle who oversees the department’s Criminal Investigations Division said the changes and additions to APD’s investigative units have helped the department clear more cases this year.  Hartsock said advances in technology, better investigative training and working with prosecutors have also  played a part.  Hartsock had this to say:

“This is one of the rare times we are arresting more people than new cases are coming our way. … This is a significant achievement.”

APD officials say they are focusing on making sure justice is served.  Part of that is making sure state lawmakers provide the means to improve the criminal justice system.  APD said it wants to see an investment into young adult courts and processes within the city, as well as tackling arrest warrants. APD public information Officer Gilbert Gallegos has this to say:

“We’ve called on the Legislature to really invest their resources into the entire criminal justice system. We don’t want to see these cases, pled out or fall through the cracks because there’s not sufficient resources to try them.”

Links to quoted news sources are here:






According to a July 9, 2022 Albuquerque Journal report, the Albuquerque Police Department was solving nearly twice as many homicide cases despite dramatic increases in homicides. APD credited the success to more detectives and a victim-oriented approach based on teamwork, oversight and training.

APD Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock, who oversees the homicide unit, said although the cases, victims and suspects change, the trends and the causes if the homicides remain largely the same. According to Hartsock, “individual disrespect”, which he defined as a dispute for one reason or another, is one of the biggest motives for homicides and account for 50 of this year’s homicides.

Hartsock said many of the disputes that result in a homicide start over social media but end “in the street.” According to Hartstock:

“We see people go on Instagram Live and start talking trash and people they’re talking about get on the comments like ‘let’s meet up. … If there wasn’t a gun with one of these two people, it just wouldn’t have been a homicide, it would have been something else. A fistfight. … I think it’s pretty astonishing that we’re on the same pace we were last year right now for murders – and we’ve more than doubled the clearance rate. … We can’t keep at this pace without lots of stress and strain on the unit. … So we’re still hoping that number comes back down to closer to what it was over the past five, six years.”

The link to the quotes full Albuquerque Journal report is here:


APD leaders said they have increased the number of detectives but are basically using the same resources, just in a different way, to get results. The unit currently has 16 detectives, some who are still in training, which is the highest number the department has ever had.

APD made a push to add several new detectives over the past year to match the pace of homicides. According to Criminal Investigations Division Commander George Vega, they are using teamwork and an emphasis on assistance from the Digital Intelligence Unit, District Attorney’s Office and others to solve cases faster.

Hartsock said a new review process has detectives meet with a supervisor at the two-day and 60-day mark following a homicide, to go over where the case stands and what it needs to be solved. Hartsock said this:

“A lot of these meetings have turned out arrest warrants within days, because when you’re the detective, there’s so much information … it’s a lot to process and you kind of lose sight. … When we force the other experienced eyes to get on it. We come up with a clear plan almost every time.”

APD Chief Medina for his part said the detective academy is also making a difference and he had this to say:

“We’re finding that [new detectives are] hitting the ground running faster, and actually producing very good quality work and getting results quicker.”

Medina also said there has been pushback from the unit because of extra oversight of the unit and that has been a “culture change” for the unit.

Criminal Investigations Division Commander George Vega said for those detectives who are resistant to change, they need to see and appreciate the results and said:

“Once we show them the success and the new resources that are in the building – everybody likes to be a part of something that’s successful,” he said. “That’s where we’re at now is we’re showing them – we’re giving them a path to take – and we feel like they’re starting to really grab onto it.”

The link to the full unedited and quoted Journal report is here:


During each year of Mayor Tim Keller’s years in office, the city’s murder rates rose, dropped one year, and then rose to a historical high. Following is the breakdown of homicide by year:

2017: 72 homicides
2018: 69 homicides.
2019: 82 homicides
2020: 76 homicides
2021: 117 homicides
2022:  120  homicides 




Following are the national clearance rates for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 as reported by the FBI:

In 2016, the national clearance rate for murder offenses was 59.4%.
In 2017, the national clearance rate for murder was 61.6%
In 2018, the national clearance rate for murder was 62.3%
In 2019, the national clearance rate for murder was 61.4%

The links to retrieve and review the above clearance rates are here:





From 2019 to 2020, police across the country solved 1,200 more murders, a 14% increase. But murders rose twice as quickly by 30%.

As a result, the homicide clearance rate, the percentage of crimes cleared, dropped to a historic low to about 1 of every 2 murders solved or by 50%.

In 2021, the national clearance rate was  50%



The city of Albuquerque is a performance-based budget. Each year, city departments must submit statistics to substantiate their accomplishments and justify their budgets. The homicide clearance rates for the Albuquerque Police Department are disclosed  in the annual APD city budgets.

For the years 2019 to 2021, the city’s homicide clearance percentage rate have been in the 50%-60% range but have in fact dropped dramatically to less than 40% one year.

According to the 2020, 2021 and 2022 APD approved city budget, following are APD’s homicide clearance rates for the years 2016 to 2021:


2016: APD homicide clearance rate 80%

Fiscal year 2019 APD approved budget, Page 212:



2017: APD homicide clearance rate 70%.
2018: APD homicide clearance rate 47%.

Fiscal year 2020, approved budget, Page 213:



2018: APD homicide clearance rate 47%.

2019: APD homicide clearance rate 57%

Fiscal year 2021 approved budget, Page 227:



2020: APD’s homicide clearance rate 53%.
2021: APD’ clearance rate 37%  

Fiscal year 2022 approved budget, Page 231:


The link to review all city budgets from Fiscal years 2007 to 2023 is here:



As reported above, the annual clearance rate for APD since 2017 has been as high as 80% and as low as 37%.  In 2021, the clearance rate was 37%, in 2020  it was 53%,  in 2019 it was 57%, in 2018 it was 47% and in 2017 it was 70% and in 2016 it was 80%.

On May 19, 2022 it was reported that APD proclaimed it had a 97% clearance rate with 47 suspects arrested, charged or identified in 40 recent and past homicide cases.  Of the 47 suspects arrested, charged or identified as of May, 23  were suspected in 2022 homicides and 24 in previous year homicides, 17 from 2021, two from 2020 and five from 2019.

The problem is that APD calculated the 97% clearance rate by relying only on the 40 cases that were actually being investigated from January 1 to May 19 thereby resulting in the inflated clearance rate.  The problem is that is not how it’s done by the FBI.


Each year since 1995, the FBI releases annually its Crime In The United States Report. The Marshall Project describes the FBI’s method of calculating clearance rate as “blunt math…dividing the number of crimes that were cleared, no matter which year the crime occurred, by the number of new crimes in the calendar year.” By including clearance of old and new cases, a department’s rate in any particular year could exceed 100%. This leaves the statistics open to “statistical noise,” but ultimately can be useful for examining trends over a longer term.


In 2022 there were 120 homicides as of December 31 and 90 homicide  cases were reported as solved, which included 36 cases from previous years.  Using the FBI method of calculating murder clearance rates for 2022 , there were a  total of 90 homicide cases cleared in 2022,  the total number of  new homicide cases was 120  for the calendar year which results in a clearance rate of 75%. (90  cases cleared in 2022, 120  new cases for 2022 = 75% clearance rate.)


APD’s clearance rate last year was a miserable 37% and as it stands now for 2022 it is an impressive 75%.   There is little doubt that APD has had an impressive year in increasing its homicide clearance rate by 38% going from 37% to 75%.  APD and its homicide are  recognized and commended for doing their jobs of doubling down on the resources to solve cases not only from this year but previous years.  APD needs to continue with what they are doing in 2023 to solve cases to refer them to the District Attorney for prosecution such that justice can be served.

City residents and the victim families can take comfort with APD being able to increase solving the number of homicide cases.  However, the blunt truth is the solving murder cases does not and will not make the city any safer as the city  breaks all time records for the past 5 years in homicides and violent crime.


4 More Seek Bernalillo County District Attorney Appointment From Gov MLG; 14 Total Applicants;  Interviews Underway To Replace DA Torrez Who Leaves Office January 1 To Become Attorney General

On November 16  Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office announced it was  accepting applications to fill the vacancy of Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez who was elected Attorney General on November 8 and who will be  is sworn into office on January 1.  On December 2, the Governor’s office released the names of 10 attorneys who applied for the appointment.  On December 12, the deadline for attorneys to file applications was extended to Friday, December 23.  No explanation was given for the extension of time for applications.


On December 28, it was reported that 4 additional applications have filed for the appointment bringing the total number of applicants to 14.  According to Nora Meyers Sackett, spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office  “Interviews are taking place and an appointment will be made expeditiously.”

The 4 additional applicants are:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Flores.  Flores is a native of Albuquerque and a 2004 graduate of Albuquerque Academy. He is a 2013  graduate of UNM School of Law, a 2010 graduate of Princeton University with a Masters Degree in Public Affairs, a 2008 graduate of George Washington University with a BA Degree in Public Policy, and a 2006  graduate of McCalister College with a BA in Political Science and American Studies.  For over 10 years he served in the United States Marine Corp where his service included operational and international law service for the Marine Corps and  prosecuted general and special courts-martials  for the Marine Corps and prosecuted  a full range of criminal cases including murder, rape, child-sexual abuse and assault, financial crimes, drug offenses, and aggravated assault with a critical emphasis on both special victims and high-visibility casesFlores has been Assistant United States Attorney for New Mexico  since February, 2020.


Brianne Bigej, general counsel for the New Mexico Department of Corrections. Biegei has been General Counsel for the Department of Corrections since June, 2020. She is a 2012 graduate of UNM Law School and  has a Masters of Arts Degree from UNM and a BA degree  from New Mexico State.  From 2017 to 2020, she was with Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office and served in the Special Proceedings Division and in the Major Crimes/Violent Crimes Division. From May, 2018 to February 2019, she served as and Assistant Attorney General in the Special Prosecutions Division. From  June 2013 to  Nov 2017, she served as an  Assistant Trial Attorney  in the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office serving in the Special Victims Unit/Crimes Against Children, the  Community Crimes Division and the Metropolitan Court Division.


Matthias Swonger, supervising attorney for the New Mexico Public Defenders Offices.   Swonger has been with the New Mexico Public Defenders Office for close to 11 years and currently serves in the felony division. He is a 2010 graduate of the New York University School of Law and 2006 graduate of the University of Rhode Island with  a Bachelor’s degree in English and Litature.


Private Attorney and former prosecutor Steven S. Suttle.   Suttle worked for 14 years in the Attorney General’s Office before retiring in 2010. Steven Suttle was an elected district attorney in Oklahoma before moving to New Mexico to become a prosecutor in the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque in 1991.  He has served as an Assistant  Attorney General under Attorney Generals Gary King, Patricia Madrid and Tom Udall.

The link to the news source is here:



The 10 previous applicants are as follows:

Sam Bregman, a former Democratic Party State Chairman.  He  is a respected trial attorney who manages his own private law firm. Bregman currently serves on the New Mexico Gaming Commission. His has trial experience in both civil and criminal defense and he has handled high profile criminal defense cases. including defending former APD Officer Dominic Perez who was one of 2 APD SWAT Officers who  shot and killed homeless camper James Boyd in the Sandia Foothills.  He served as an Assistant Bernalillo County District Attorney from 1994 through 1997. Bregman was an elected Albuquerque City Council from 1995 until 1999 and has a served as Deputy State Auditor for the State of New Mexico.  Bregman unsuccessfully ran for Commissioner of Public Lands and Mayor of AlbuquerqueSources have confirmed that Bregman is making a serious run for the Governor’s appointment and has been making calls to secure support within the defense bar and the Democratic party.

Damon Martinez, a former United States Attorney for New Mexico. From 2000 to 2013Martinez was an Assistant United State Attorney. In 2014, he  was appointed United States Attorney by President Barack Obama  and unanimously confirmed in the United States Senate in 2014.  Martinez led the US Attorney’s Office during the Department of Justice’s investigation and settlement agreement with the city of Albuquerque over the Albuquerque Police Department when the  Department of Justice found excessive use of deadly force and a culture of aggression within APD.  On March 11, 2017 Martinez resigned as US Attorney and went into private practice.  In 2018, Martinez was an unsuccessful candidate for the First Congressional District to replace Michelle Lujan Grisham. Martinez is currently an Albuquerque Deputy City Attorney who works as APD’s Chief Policy Advisor and on legislative matters for Mayor Tim Keller and the city and lobbies in Santa Fe during legislative sessions.

Private Attorney Ed Perea, a retired APD  Police Commander.  Perea became an attorney after 24 years of service as  police officer. Perea ran for District Attorney against Raúl Torrez in 2016.  Perea has served as a Special Assistant Prosecutor in the 13th District. He’s also served as Executive Director of the Center for Law, Policy and Public Safety and has taught at CNM.

Joseph Gandert, a private Albuquerque attorney.  Gandert is a native New Mexican and has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1977. He is a seasoned  trial attorney. He was with the New Mexico Public Defenders Office for 13 years and headed the Juvenile Division.  He was  with the Federal Public defenders office for 20 plus years. Mr. Gandert is now in the private practice of law and works with his son’s law practice.

Joseph Gribble, an Albuquerque attorney. Gribble is a 1977 graduate of University of New Mexico law school.   Mr. Gribble has extensive experience in criminal and civil litigation and he  lists his areas of practice to include  Federal and State Criminal Defense work,  Commercial Litigation,  Civil Litigation, Medical Malpractice,  Wrongful Death and  Employment Law.  Mr. Gribble started his career in the District Attorneys Office where his work resulted in the successful prosecution and death sentence of a serial killer. Upon leaving the District Attorney’s Office as a Deputy District Attorney he settled into his current private practice. Mr. Gribble has handled hundreds of criminal cases throughout the State of New Mexico and in all jurisdictions, including by not limited to metropolitan, magistrate, district, tribal and federal courts.

Evan Cochnar, is a 2006 graduate of the University of New Mexico where he earned a B.A. in International Relations, Political Science and History.  He is a 2009 graduate of Syracuse University College of Law. He  has served as an Assistant District Attorney in the 11th Judicial District from 2011 to 2020.  He currently works for the New Mexico Risk Management Division.

Assistant Attorney General Ashley Schweizer. Schweizer was appointed an Assistant Attorney General by Attorney General Hector Balderas. She is currently handling the prosecution of serial shoplifter Isaiah Martinez who  is responsible for stealing nearly $60,000 worth of designer sunglasses and has been charged with 21 counts related to his brazen crime spree, as well as conspiracy and aggravated assault. She is also one of the prosecutors handling the prosecution of former Maintenance Technician/Detention Officer Nathan D. Sena.   Sena was employed by the GEO Group, Inc. and was a detention officer for a New Mexico Women’s Recovery Academy treatment facility. It is alleged he  preyed upon women under his control at the facility and  engaged in multiple sexual acts, which resulted in eight charges of criminal sexual penetration as a person in a position of authority.

Bernalillo County Deputy District Attorney Josh Boone who was appointed by Raul Torrez to  oversees the Metropolitan Division. Boone earned his B.A. in political science from the University of New Mexico in 2000, and his  law degree  from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 2004.  In  2014, Boone was a  candidate for the 2nd Judicial District Court in New Mexico. He ran for election to the Bernalillo Metropolitan Court, but lost the 2014 primary. Boone  has developed and  posted on the internet a website entitled “Joshua Boone for District Attorney” thereby making him an announced candidate to run in 2025.  The website is a slick campaign web site for a candidate for office. The link to the Josh Boone for District Attorney web page is boonefornewmexico.com.

Bernalillo County Deputy District Attorney John Duran, who oversees the District Attorneys’ Major Crimes Division. From 2003 to 2013 John Duran was  a Bernalillo County Assistant District Attorney.  From 2013 to 2016 he was a Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court Judge.  He was appointed to Division 8 of the  Metro court on March 28, 2013, by Governor Susana Martinez (R).  He was defeated in his bid for re-election in November 2014 but was reappointed to Division 3 on the court soon after.  He ran for election in 2016 but was defeated in the primary on June 7, 2016.  Duran filed as a Democratic candidate in 2016, but he ran as a Republican in 2014.

Bernalillo County Deputy District Attorney Diana Garcia who oversees the DA’s Juvenile Division. She has been with office for 16 years. (No further information could be found.)

The link to the Albuquerque Journal article is here:



One thing is for certain, the Governor is cutting it awfully close with making the appointment seeing as the vacancy will occur come January 1 when Raul Torrez is sworn into office as New Mexico Attorney General.

Given the Albuquerque’s  spiking violent crime and murder rates, the appointment of a new Bernalillo County District Attorney is one of the most consequential appointments the Governor will ever make. There is very little room for error on the appointment which is likely one of the biggest reasons for extending the application deadline and seeking to increase the pool of applicants.

Great work experience and academic qualifications for the job does not necessarily make a person a good fit for an elected position such as District Attorney which is as high profile as they come.  Each one of the 14 applicants possesses positive and negative skill sets and different types of qualifications for the job.  In other words, there is no one perfect candidate suited for the job who has applied, but that is usually the case with any elected or appointed politcal position.

The next Bernalillo County District Attorney needs to have strong prosecutorial and case management experience, personnel management experience, be a proven trial attorney, have the ability to work well with all stakeholders within the criminal justice system, including the courts, the defense bar, law enforcement and the legislature and be an effective leader who can attract attorneys to work for the office.

This is one appointment where politics and higher ambitions for office should absolutely not play any role. What should play a role is a real commitment to the office and the criminal justice system itself.  The Governor needs to appoint one who she feels is the most qualified candidate, not the most political.


After 8 Years Of DOJ Consent Decree Reforms, Millions Spent, APD Still Looking For Ways To Reduce Police Officer Involved Shootings; Increase In Violence Against Police Likely Contributing Factor To Shootings

On December 23, the Albuquerque Journal published on its front page, above the fold, a remarkable story entitled “APD looks to curtail police shootings” with the sub headline “Officers have shot 18 people so far this year, resulting in 10 deaths”.  The news story reads in part as follows:

“In the midst of a spike in shootings by its officers the Albuquerque Police Department is working to change policies so they can use “less-lethal” force earlier in an encounter – in the hope of preventing the need for deadly force.

Additionally, the department’s executive staff and city attorneys will review this year’s 18 shootings by officers to see if they can identify and address any trends. Among those incidents 10 people were killed and three were injured. In five cases no one was struck.

The number of shootings has alarmed advocates, and discussions of the increase dominated a recent federal court hearing on APD’s reform effort. Last year APD officers shot at 10 people, killing four, injuring five, and missing one.

But Chief Harold Medina said he’s been contemplating changes for a while and APD has already been working on them with the Department of Justice and the independent monitoring team overseeing the reforms.”

The December 23 Journal article quotes APD Chief Medina as follows:

“We had already been trying to change the policy. …  But as we heard everybody’s concerns during the [December 6 federal Court] hearing, I really felt there was a way we could do this better. That’s when we got these ideas of we should meet to look at all the cases at once as a whole. …  One of my big frustrations right now is our processes take so long – like we identified issues but by the time we get everything approved through everybody it takes months.”

Medina said he wants APD’s executive staff and city attorneys to meet and look for trends among this year’s 18 police shootings and identify changes to be made.  Medina said this:

“Right now they go through the individual cases and if somebody there can remember or they tie into something in the past, that’s a benefit and they could try to make it a trend. … We are now purposely putting all the cases in front of them … and they’re going to have little different data points that we could look at and the goal is to look at them all together at the same time and see if they can identify anything that’s of a concern.”

The link to them full Journal article is here:



It was on August 19, 2021 that 4 Albuquerque Police Officers were shot and  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. Two suspects were arrested.

On August 21, 2021 it was  reported that one officer was in critical condition after being shot in the base of the neck above their bulletproof vest. A second officer was shot in the arm, third officer was shot in the center of his bulletproof vest.  The fourth officer was injured with either shrapnel or glass in the eye.  APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said at the time that  an APD service aide rendered aid to the officer that was shot in the arm  by  using a tourniquet to save the officer’s life.

Several APS schools including Kennedy Middle School, Jackson Middle School, Chelwood Elementary School, Tomasita Elementary School, McCollum Elementary School and Manzano High School were ordered to shelter in place after the shooting.  Authorities from Sandoval County, Valencia County, Rio Rancho County, FBI, the Bernalillo County Sherriff Office, NM State Police and the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office were called in to assist. The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) for its part confirmed that a fatal crash on I-40 in the east mountains involved a person of interest in the case and said the person was fleeing from police when the crash happened.

There has been a rise in violence against police officers at the same time  APD recorded the 18 officer involve shootings this year. According the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), in 2021  New Mexico ranked second in the country only behind Montana for the number of officers assaulted per capita and the trend has continued this year. The organization reported it has seen 323 officers shot in the line of duty nationwide this year, a 13% increase since 2019. Of those officers, 60 died. According to the FOP, as of December 22, there were 5 officers shot in the state of New Mexico so far this year.

Albuquerque police Spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos said the two may be correlated and he said this:

“That certainly may be a factor. I mean, it’s not lost on us that the violence against police officers is out there. It’s on the increase. Officers are being confronted with dangerous situations. They’re seeing a lot more guns on the streets and people willing to use guns.”

Bob Marinez is the past president of the State Fraternal Order of Police in New Mexico, and he said this:

“It’s a very dangerous situation today. …  We’re seeing an increase in attacks on police officers. A police officer can’t go out and have a lunch or dinner without fear of being attacked or assaulted.”

The link to quoted news source  material is here:



It was om November 14, 2014 that the City of Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD)  and the United State Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into a stipulated Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) after the DOJ  completed an 18th month investigation of APD.  The DOJ found that APD had engaged in a pattern of excessive use of force and deadly force and that a “culture of aggression” existed within APD. The Court Approved Settlement Agreement mandates 271 police reforms, the appointment of a Federal Monitor and the filing of Independent Monitor’s reports (IMRs) on APD’s progress implementing the reforms.

On November 9, 2022, Federal Court Appointed Independent Monitor James Ginger filed his 16th Report on APD’s Compliance Levels with the settlement. The 16th reporting period  covers the time period of February 1, 2022, through July 31, 2022. The link to review the entire 16th Federal Monitors report is here:



On December 6, Federal District Court James Browning, who oversees the settlement, held an all-day remote  hearing  to review the 16th Federal Monitor’s report.   The Federal Monitor reported that as of the end of the IMR-16 reporting period, APD’s compliance levels are as follows:

Primary Compliance: 100% (No change)
Secondary Compliance: 99% (No change)
Operational Compliance: 80%. (10% increase from 70%)

Under the terms and conditions of the settlement agreement, 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 have come into compliance within 4 years and the case was to be dismissed in 2020.

During the December 6 hearing, Federal Monitor James Ginger reported that APD continues to make impressive gains in the compliance levels over the past year.  This is a complete reversal of  the downward trend found and reported in 3 previous monitor’s  reports.  Although it was reported during court hearing that APD is making  gains in in implementing the reforms, it was also reported that there have been more APD police officer shootings in 2022  than during any other year before.  In 2022, there have so far been 18 APD Police Officer involved shootings,10 of which were fatal.  In 2021 there were 10, four of which were fatal.

A review of shootings by APD police officers between 2018 and 2022 identified three common circumstances:

  1. When officers are attempting to apprehend violent suspects;
  2. When individuals are experiencing some kind of mental health episode;
  3. When people with little criminal history are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and make bad decisions.

Albuquerque Police Department released data that shows  there have been 54 police shootings dating back to 2018. Of the cases reviewed, 85% involved people who were armed with a gun or a weapon that appeared to be a firearm.  About 55% of the cases involved people under the influence of drugs or alcohol, while only 2 cases in which intoxication did not play a role. Without toxicology tests, it was unknown whether drugs or alcohol played a role in the remainder of the cases.  Statewide, authorities said the number of shootings in which officers opened fire stands at 50 for the year.

Barron Jones, a member of APD Forward and a senior policy strategist with the American Civil Liberties Union in New Mexico, said that more  transparency is needed to better understand what, if anything, could be done to prevent shooting deaths at the hands of officers. Jones also said that  recent cases underscore the need for a statewide use-of-force policy that includes clear, consistent protocols for deescalating interactions with the public “to avoid these kinds of tragic incidents.”

The link to the quoted news source article is here:


The last two years have also been two very violent years in the city.  The number of homicides in the city have broken all time records.  In 2021, there were 117 homicides, with  3 declared self defense reducing homicide number to 114. In 2022, there were 115 homicides as of  December 3, 2022. 

The spike in APD police shooting includes the years when the DOJ  found that APD had a pattern of excessive use of force and deadly force with a finding of a culture of aggression.  The increase in APD police officer shootings overshadowed the report on APD’s progress with the reforms and dominated the day long hearing.

Alexander Uballez, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico, said this about the shootings:

“[My job]  will not be complete until there’s a substantial reduction in police shootings and fatalities.”

Paul Killebrew, the deputy chief of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, acknowledged the frustrations.  He said that the DOJ wants to see how the city, APD,  the Civilian Police Oversight Agency, the Mental Health Response Advisory Committee, and the Force Review Board  respond to the spike.   Killebrew said this:

“The increase in officer involved shootings is unacceptable. … You see a spike in officer involved shootings and it feels like we’ve set back the clock by 10 years. … It’s clear from what we’ve heard today that it is inconsistent with the community’s values. … So we need to see action from the Albuquerque Police Department and from the groups [responsible to oversee APD] . From where we sit this is an ongoing crisis. This is an ongoing problem.”

APD Forward includes upwards of 20 organizations who have affiliated with each other in an effort to reform APD and implement the DOJ consent decree terms and reforms. Daniel Williams of APD Forward told Judge Browning that members of his group had been hoping to hear “concrete actionable steps that the city has taken” to address the increase in shootings by officers but were disappointed.

Taylor Rahn, an attorney on contract with the city to assist with implementation of the CASA, urged the court and the public to wait before passing judgment and said this:

“We recognize that concerns about the number of individuals who are suffering from some type of mental health issue during the use of force encounter is a pattern that the community is concerned about… The city will not jump to any conclusions and will allow all of the processes that are in place for independent review of individual incidents, officers and patterns to run their course.”

Over the past 18 months, 2 of the shootings have resulted in an officer being fired for violating APD policies.

Police Chief Harold Medina pointed out that the settlement agreement is meant to assess whether policies are in place to reduce an officer’s likelihood of using deadly force, whether officers are trained in those policies and whether they are being held accountable when they violate them.  Medina told the court:

“We will never 100% take out human errors, and we will always have officer misconduct. … This process was started for us to identify the officer misconduct and address the misconduct. … I don’t know if there’s ever been a period of time before in the Albuquerque Police Department when individuals were held as accountable. We will continue to hold individuals accountable. We will continue to monitor our policies. We will continue to monitor our training.”

Chief Medina told Judge Browning he has asked the executive staff and academy directors to see if there are missed opportunities for trainings or other tactics that could be used instead of deadly force.

The link to quoted news source material is here:



There is no doubt that the community should be absolutely alarmed over the fact that there has been a spike in police officer involved shootings given the fact such shootings, and accompanying litigation and judgements against the city, is what brought the Department of Justice to the City in 2013 in the first place. When it comes to APD Police Officer Involved shootings, history is repeating itself despite millions spent and implementation of the settlement reforms over the last 8 years.  The community also needs to be alarmed over  how violence against police officers is also on the rise.

The city for the last 5 years has broken the record of number of homicides each year.  Crime rates in the city are also high across the board. According to the Albuquerque Police’s annual report on crime, there were 46,391 property crimes and 15,765 violent crimes recorded in 2021.  These numbers place Albuquerque among America’s most dangerous cities.  All residents are at increased risk of experiencing aggravated robbery, auto theft, and petty theft.  The chances of becoming a victim of property crime in Albuquerque are 1 in 20, an alarmingly high statistic. Simple assault, aggravated assault, auto theft, and larceny are just some of the most common criminal offenses in Albuquerque. Burglary and sex offense rates In Albuquerque are also higher than the national average.


It’s because of the city’s overall crime rates that no one should be surprised that there have been more police officer involved shootings this past year and police are finding themselves in more predicaments where they feel the need  to protect themselves and not attempt to deescalated a situation and the use of force or not use deadly force.

The reality is that the city can expect the trend of police officer involve shootings to continue even if APD achieves 100% compliance of all 271 mandated police reforms under the settlement.

State Has Low 4.1% Unemployment Rate While State Agency Vacancy Rates Push To 18% To 30%; The Lew Wallace Curse At Play

On Friday, December 16, the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions announced that the state’s unemployment rate has been reported as 4.1%. According to a news release from Governor Lujan Grisham’s office, this is the lowest rate New Mexico has reported since June 2008.  In January 2022,  New Mexico’s unemployment  rate was at 5.9%.

The month of  September had a rate of 4.2% which was  the lowest rate at the time for 2022. Nationally, the unemployment rate in November was 3.7%

The news release states in part:

“Our sustained investments in economic growth and workforce development have once again brought New Mexico’s unemployment rate to a 14-year low. … As employment continues to increase and businesses continue to expand, New Mexico is now home to more business establishments than prior to the pandemic. And not only are we creating new jobs, but with record college enrollment and free tuition, we are supporting growing businesses by training New Mexicans for the skilled workforce of the future.”


For more information, visit the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions’ website.

New Mexico saw  record highs in unemployment during the COVID-19  pandemic.  In May, 2020 the state had a high of   9.8%  when people were out of work because of  closure restrictions.  Since the 2020 high, New Mexico has seen a steady  drop in the  unemployment rate.

New Mexico had one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country, but by the fall of 2022, the rate began to drop.  According to the US Department of Labor,  as of December, New Mexico tied with West Virginia and California and 9  states and the District of Columbia have higher rates of unemployment.

Reilly White, an associate professor with the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management, said that  New Mexico is now nearly at full employment.  White said this:

“People who are looking for work are generally able to find jobs. That’s a good sign (for) the New Mexico economy. … As we look ahead, though, there are some doldrums on the horizon for the economy. … Likely the consequences will be higher unemployment levels a year from now.”

According to a New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions,  total nonfarm payroll grew by 24,500 jobs year over year, which is  nearly 3% increase. The private sector saw the highest gains in that arena, up 21,300 jobs. The public sector was up 3,200 jobs, according to the Department of Workforce Solution Report.

The link to quoted news source material is here:



Although the private sector is making great strides when it come to making significant progress with reducing unemployment, State Agencies are struggling to fill fully funded but vacant positions.  According to State Personnel Office as of September,  Statewide, there is  a 24.3% average vacancy rate for rank-and-file positions across state government.

Not surprising, the pandemic has hit hardest  the state agencies in health care that have been dealing directly with the pandemic  The Department of Health’s Epidemiology and Response Division reports that it  has nearly as many empty positions as it does employees.  Due to a mix of fatigue, stress, pay levels that lag behind the private sector and other factors, the division had 165 employees and 151 unfilled positions as December 16 ,  which is a staggering  48% vacancy rate.  The state has also lost two chief epidemiologists since 2020, forcing other agency officials to step in and do the work.

Department of Health (DOH) acting Secretary David Scrase told a legislative committee that  many DOH employees were forced to frequently work weekends and holidays during the pandemic.  He said the agency conducted  a departmentwide survey that showed upwards of  70% of employees had experienced anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scrase said the Department of Health currently has a 30% vacancy rate and is understaffed in many key positions, including computer technicians and human resources specialists.    Scraase said the department  is working to address the situation. He said the department is using advertising and rapid-hire events to target hard-to-fill positions. It’s also seeking an additional $14 million from the Legislature to recruit and retain new workers.  Scrase said current pay rates for some positions are equivalent to fast-food restaurants, which is unacceptable. Scrase said this:

“Our top priority is really to rebuild our workforce. … There’s a widespread migration out of public epidemiology into the private sector.”

Scrase said employees in the Epidemiology and Response Division are struggling to keep the division running, even as state hospitals report a surge of young patients with different viruses, including the Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV.  The Department of Health recently announced it would stop providing weekly COVID-19 hospitalization, mortality and geographic trend reports on a weekly basis, and instead would issue such reports once every two weeks.


Full time employee (FTE)  vacancy rates vary across New Mexico state agencies and in fact have  but have been very  high in some departments. Following are the current FTE vacancy rates provided in major state departments:

Department of Health: 30%
Environment Department: 21.7%
Children, Youth and Families Department: 24%
Human Services Department: 15%
Taxation and Revenue Department: 22%
Early Childhood Education and Care Department: 18%

State legislators are raising major concerns  over the  vacancy rates across state government.   Gallup area Demcrat State Senator George Muñoz,  the vice chairman of the Legislative Finance Committee said the state has  a cumbersome state hiring process with an average of 72 days to fill open positions and workforce changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have combined to leave some state agencies scrambling to hire and retain employees.  Munoz this about the vacancy rate:

That is the no. 1 issue affecting state government right now. … We’ve got to be competitive in our market [and pay more].  … I don’t know any attorney who wants to work for $60,000 (a year).”  

Governor spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett said Governor  Lujan Grisham will be asking for during the upcoming 60-day legislative session additional wage increases to help recruit and retain more state employees.  Sackett said this:

“The governor fully recognizes that current state employee vacancy rates are not acceptable, and the administration is committed to ensuring that both employees and constituents have the staffing support they need.”


Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, is the chair of the Legislative Finance Committee. She said some lawmakers are not convinced that pay raises alone will be enough to solve the state’s vacancy rate issues.  Lundstrom  said some state agencies have not been able to fully utilize funding approved in previous years that was targeted at hard-to-fill positions, such as social workers. Lundstrom said this:

“What’s disconcerting is to have Cabinet secretaries ask for more money for positions when they already have a high funded vacancy rate.”

Looking ahead, Lundstrom said she and other legislators plan on seeking  a new study on the state’s salary structure for rank-and-file workers.  Such a study has not been conducted for about 20 years  and if funding for it is approved during the upcoming session, it could provide lawmakers and state officials with more information about how to better align pay rates and job positions.


The struggle to reduce vacancy rates across state government and arguments for more funding for pay increases come at a time that the Lujan Grisham  Administration is also struggling to deal with issue of state employees working remotely  from home because of the pandemic. The remote work policy  was negotiated by labor union leaders and Lujan Grisham administration in June 2021.  It allows state workers to do their jobs remotely from home occasionally or entirely, depending on their duties.

On November 30, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration said it was rescinding a telework policy negotiated during the COVID-19 pandemic.  State workers are now being sent emails from  the State Personnel Office ordering them to return to in-person work starting January 3.

After being notified of the decision to rescind the policy, local leaders of the Communications Workers of America union cited frustration about what they described as a lack of communication from the executive branch.  They said there’s no reason to force all state workers who have been doing their jobs remotely to return to the office. State employees  said the remote work policy has allowed workers to act as caregivers and minimize commuting expenses, while still fulfilling their job duties.

Megan Green, executive vice president of CWA’s local chapter who works for the state Environment Department, said this:

“Our concern is this is going to degrade state government and it seems unnecessary.”  

Green  also said chronic challenges across many state agencies with recruitment and retention, with only about 61% of new hires lasting their first year during the 2022 budget year, could be exacerbated by the decision to scrap the telework policy.

New Mexico’s remote work policy for state government employees came under scrutiny after a recent legislative report showed the state is paying up to $18 million for unoccupied office space.  The office space is primarily in Santa Fe. In addition, some lawmakers have expressed concern about customer service issues, including constituent phone calls to some state agencies going unanswered.

The link to quoted news source material is here:


The reaction to the return to work order has been very negative by union officials.  Alan Tway, the secretary of the CWA Local 7076 union, said many employees are angry and questioned whether the Lujan Grisham administration has the authority to unilaterally rescind the telework policy. Tway said this:

“Even with three years of multi-billion dollar new revenues, the governor offers no recognition that fewer and fewer employees have been carrying more and more of the workload.”

Union leaders are predicting that  state government vacancy rate could rise to 30%, or higher, if the remote work option is rescinded.

The Lujan Grisham administration insists  it is trying to maintain a productive and flexible workforce while also addressing the needs of state residents.  Nora Meyers Sackett, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Lujan Grisham is committed to making state government a “rewarding workplace,” citing recent pay increases for state workers and competitive benefits packages.



It is very difficult to reconcile or fully understand that New Mexico’s unemployment rate is dropping to pre pandemic levels in the private sector while at the same time state agency’s  are struggling to fill positions with some agency’s reaching crisis levels.

One thing that is for certain is that full time state government employees, with union assistance, who resist returning to work because they want to work from home plays into the stereo typical reputation that government employees have a sense of entitlement.

It appears the Lew Wallace curse is at play to some extent:

“All calculations based on our experiences elsewhere fail in New Mexico.”


2023 New Mexico Legislature To Consider Gun Control Bills; Revisiting ABQ Journal Poll On Gun Control;  Enact “Omnibus Gun Violence And Gun Control” Act

During the last 3 legislative sessions, New Mexico lawmakers have passed bills that addressed gun control.  The legislation has included expanding background check requirements for firearm purchases and passage of a “red flag” law that allows guns to be seized from individuals deemed to pose a threat to themselves or others.  More gun safety laws are expected to be introduce during the 2023 legislative session because of the spike in New Mexico firearm-related deaths.

New Mexico’s firearm fatality rate is among the nation’s highest.  According to the New Mexico Department of Health, there were a total of 562 state residents who died in 2021 due to firearm-related injuries.  This figure is up significantly from the 481 firearm-related deaths in 2020. Of the 562 state residents who died in 2021 due to firearms, 319 cases, were classified as suicides and 243 were classified as homicides. In New Mexico, the rate of 14.9 firearm-related deaths per every 100,000 residents in 2010 nearly doubled over the last decade and there were 23 such deaths for every 100,000 residents in 2020.

The Albuquerque Police Department reported that in November, gun law violations spiked 85% this year alone. The last two years have also been two very violent years for Albuquerque.  The number of homicides in the city have broken all-time records.  In 2021, there were 117 homicides, with 3 declared self-defense reducing homicide number to 114. In 2022, there were 115 homicides as of December 3, 2022. It has also been reported that there have been more APD police officer shootings in 2022 than during any other year before.  In 2022, there have so far been 18 APD Police Officer involved shootings,10 of which were fatal.  In 2021 there were 10, four of which were fatal.

Crime rates in Albuquerque are high across the board. According to the Albuquerque Police’s annual report on crime, there were 46,391 property crimes and 15,765 violent crimes recorded in 2021.  These numbers place Albuquerque among America’s most dangerous cities.  All residents are at increased risk of experiencing aggravated robbery, auto theft, and petty theft.  The chances of becoming a victim of property crime in Albuquerque are 1 in 20, an alarmingly high statistic. Simple assault, aggravated assault, auto theft, and larceny are just some of the most common criminal offenses in Albuquerque. Burglary and sex offense rates In Albuquerque are also higher than the national average.

Links to quoted news sources are:






There are 2 legislative measures that are likely to be introduced for consideration during the 2023 legislative session.  Both will be introduced by newly elected  Santa Fe Democrat State Representative Reena Szczepanski. The two measures are:

  1. Raising the minimum age for purchasing AR-15 style rifles from 18 to 21.
  2. Making the failure to safely store firearms out of children’s reach a crime.

Szczepanski  described the bill increasing the age to purchase an assault weapon as closing a loophole and she said this:

“It’s basically closing a bit of a loophole, because right now the age to purchase other types of handguns, is 21.  And so we’re looking at just this incremental approach.”

Szczepanski said this about the gun safety storage bill:

“Firearms have increased to become the leading cause of death for children. …This is a huge public health crisis now for children. …  [The safely storing firearms]  bill … is really geared at keeping children safe, keeping children safe in their homes, and really addressing responsible storage. …  I think we can do this in a way gun owners can support and that addresses safety.”

Albuquerque area Democrat Representative Pamelya Herndon said she plans to again sponsor legislation to make it a crime for adults to fail to keep their firearms out of the reach of children.  Herdon’s legislation came about as  a result of  the 2021 killing of eighth-grader Bennie Hargrove at Jefferson Middle school. The legislation is supported by a group of Albuquerque students who have mobilized against gun violence.

Herndon’s legislation failed during the last session due to concerns about possible unintended consequences  and she said changes to the legislation will be made to address critics concerns.  Critics argued the firearm storage bill would  place responsible gun owners in jeopardy of facing criminal charge.  In response, Herndon said this:

The purpose of the legislation is not to create another criminal penalty but the purpose of the legislation is to remind gun owners and firearm owners that you have a responsibility to keep those firearms safely secured if you decide to own on.  And when you are negligent in that responsibility there will be a penalty.  It is not the goal to just criminalize people, but we want them to be aware of their responsibilities if they intend to be gun owners.  .. We addressed those and we need specific exclusions because we know people can’t be in control of all situations. Changes to the proposed law will include indemnifying adults whose guns are obtained by minors during robberies.”


On December 14, Mayor Tim Keller, APD Chief Harold Medina  and state legislators gave an update on the Metro Crime Initiative (MCI)  and announced legislation they are hoping to get passed during the upcoming legislative session.

One proposed bill would increase the penalty of shooting randomly into a crowded area from a petty misdemeanor to a fourth-degree felony. Another proposed bill would allow firearms used in a drug crime to be charged separately.

Other bills MCI is pushing for pertain to officers. One bill aims to retain officers by having the state help pay for health benefits once an officer has served for 25 years. Another bill focuses on recruitment, allowing officers from another state with at least five years’ experience to more easily transfer into a job here, without starting over.

Another bill focuses on the fentanyl crisis and would allow funds to be locally for drug education and investigative technology.

A bill sponsored by Albuquerque area Democrat Representative Marian Matthews will try to tackle organized retail crime by giving new tools to prosecutors to charge offenders. It includes making sure the robbery statute applies to more offenses and making sure the value merchandise stolen among different stores can be aggregated, so penalties can reflect ‘the damage done.’



Before becoming Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham was a strong advocate of gun control during her years in congress.   During her first term as Governor, Lujan Grisham pushed lawmakers to pass gun safety legislation.  She said through  a spokeswoman she plans to continue that effort during the 2023 legislative  session. Lujan Grisham spokeswoman Maddy Hayden said this:

“The governor will pursue a robust package of common-sense gun safety legislation in the upcoming session, the details of which will be decided in the coming weeks. … The governor is clear: New Mexicans are beyond sick and tired of crime, and gun violence continues to be a nationwide scourge that warrants immediate and outcomes-focused attention.”


All the gun control legislation will face fierce  opposition from Republican lawmakers and likely all New Mexico Sherriff’s.  Most New Mexico sheriffs strenuously opposed the 2021 “red flag” gun law bill advocated by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham that allows law enforcement officers, contingent on a judge’s approval, to seize guns from individuals that are found to pose an immediate safety risk.  The Sheriffs falsely argued the law was “unconstitutional” and then politically  retaliated against the Governor by supporting or endorsing her Republican opponent Mark Ronchetti.

Sandia Park Republican Stefani Lord said Democrt sponsored gun safety proposals focus on a “tool” used to commit crimes, but not the issues that are driving the increase in New Mexico violent crime rates.  Lord said  Bottom of Form

that it is drug addiction, mental illness and illicit firearm trafficking that need to be addressed.  Lord said this:

“I feel the gun bills they present are consistently going after responsible gun owners and are not addressing crime issues.  … On the Democrat side, they are constantly pushing to focus on just the tool, the tool that is used to commit a crime, and not the issues that are actually behind all the reasons that we have very high levels of crime. We are lacking severely on behavioral health and rehabilitation.  … I know that there’s some bills being drafted for mental health and for rehabilitation, for drug addiction, and maybe those will get through, or maybe we can actually work together. Because I feel if the Republicans and the Democrats could work together on some of these issues, we might actually do what is best for New Mexico.”

Bills can be prefilled starting January 3 for the 60-day legislative session, which gets underway on January 17. Unlike the shorter 30-day sessions held during even-numbered years, bills dealing with any type of subject issue can be proposed without approval from the governor during the longer 60-day sessions.

The links to quoted news sources are here:





From August 31 through to September 3, the Albquerquerqu Journal published a series of front-page articles of a poll conducted primarily for the 2022 midterm election.  One report covered the gun control measures.  On  September 4, the Journal published poll results on two-gun control proposals.  Both proposals received overwhelming bi partisan support.  The poll questions and results were as follows:


Support: 72%

Oppose:  21%

It depends: 4%

Don’t know/won’t say: 2%


Female support: 75%, Female opposition: 19%

Male support: 69%, Male Opposition: 24%


Democrat Support: 85%, Democrat Opposition: 11%

Republican Support: 53%, Republican Opposition: 35%


Other Party Support: 77%,  Other Party Opposition: 19%


Support: 73%

Oppose: 14%

It depends: 10%

Don’t know/won’t say: 3%


Female support: 76%,  Female opposition: 11%

Male support: 70%,  Male Opposition: 17%


Democrat Support: 81%, Democrat Opposition:  9%

Republican Support: 61%, Republican Opposition: 22%

Other Party Support: 74%, Other Party Opposition: 10%

New Mexico lawmakers in recent years have passed laws expanding background check requirements for firearm purchases and allowing guns to be seized from individuals deemed to pose a threat to themselves or others. But with the state’s firearm violence rate still high, many voters want lawmakers to enact additional gun control measures.

While Democratic voters were significantly more likely to support the gun control measures, a majority of Republican voters surveyed also expressed support for both proposals. A total of 61% of GOP voters surveyed support making it a crime to fail to store guns safely around children, while 53% of Republicans said they support raising the minimum age to purchase AR-15-style rifles.

Brian Sanderoff, the president of Albuquerque-based Research & Polling Inc., had this to say:

“We’re seeing that even conservative voters, at least a small majority of them support raising the minimum age to purchase certain firearms.”


It is difficult to gage what effect, if any, the passage of “gun safety” measures will have on reducing gun violence and mass shootings.  More realistic proposals that will likely reduce gun violence would be federal laws banning the manufacturing, sale or distribution of AR-15 style semi-automatic rifles.  In the state, gun registration, banning large capacity gun magazines and types of ammunition and mandatory background checks and perhaps repealing the state’s open carry provision in its constitution may reduce gun violence.


What the 2023 New Mexico Legislature should seriously consider is a more comprehensive approach to gun control and enact an “Omnibus Gun Violence And Gun Control Act”.  Such an act should include sweeping legislation to deal with gun control, gun violence and violent crime in the state.


The following increases in enhancements should be included in the “Omnibus Gun Violence And Gun Control Act”:

  1. Increase the firearm enhancement penalties provided for brandishing a firearm in the commission of a noncapital felony from 3 years to 10 years for a first offense and for a second or subsequent noncapital felony in which a firearm is brandished 12 years.
  2. Create a new category of enhanced sentencing for use of a lethal weapon or deadly weapon other than a firearm where there is blandishment of a deadly weapon, defined as an item or object used to inflict mortal or great bodily harm, in the commission of a noncapital felony with enhanced sentences of 5 years for a first offense and for second or subsequent noncapital felony in which a lethal weapon other than a firearm is brandished 8 years.
  3. Enact legislation making it a 4th degree felony punishable up to 18 months in jail for failure to secure a firearm. Gun owners would have to keep their firearms in a locked container or otherwise make them inaccessible to anyone but the owner or other authorized users.
  4. Increase the penalty of shooting randomly into a crowded area from a petty misdemeanor to a fourth-degree felony.
  5. Allow firearms used in a drug crime to be charged separately.


The “Omnibus Gun Violence And Gun Control Act”  should include the following gun control legislation:

  1. Call for a constitutional amendment to repeal the New Mexico Constitutional provision that allows the “open carry” of firearms. This would require a public vote and no doubt generate heated discussion given New Mexico’s high percentage of gun ownership for hunting, sport or hobby.
  2. Prohibit in New Mexico the sale of “ghost guns” parts. Ghost guns are guns that are manufactured and sold in parts without any serial numbers to be assembled by the purchaser and that can be sold to anyone.
  3. Require in New Mexico the mandatory purchase of “liability insurance” with each gun sold as is required for all operable vehicles bought and driven in New Mexico.
  4. Review additional bail bond reforms and statutorily empower judges with more authority and more discretion to hold and jail those pending trial who have prior violent crime convictions.
  5. Institute mandatory extended waiting periods to a month for all sales and gun purchases.
  6. Implement in New Mexico mandatory handgun licensing, permitting, training, and registration requirements.
  7. Ban the sale in New Mexico of “bump-fire stocks” and other accessories.
  8. Provide more resources and treatment for people with mental illness.
  9. Limit gun purchases to one gun per month to reduce trafficking and straw purchases.


Given the severe increase of murders of children at the hands of children, the “Omnibus Gun Violence And Gun Control Act” needs to include provisions directed at keeping firearms out of the hands of children and holding adults owner of guns responsible for their guns. Provisions that should be considered are as follows:

  1. Currently, you must be at least 19 years old to legally possess a handgun in New Mexico and there is no minimum age to possess rifles and shotguns. Expand the age limitation of 19 to rifles and shotguns,
  2. Currently, the unlawful possession of a handgun by someone under age 19 is a misdemeanor carrying a penalty of from 6 months to one year in jail. It should be classified as an aggravated fourth-degree felony mandating a 2-year minimum sentence.
  3. Expand the prohibition of deadly weapons from a school campus to school zones.
  4. The case of any juvenile arrested possession of a weapon and charged by law enforcement are to be referred the District Attorney for automatic prosecution.
  5. Make it a felony, in certain circumstances, if a person recklessly stores a firearm and a minor gains access to it to threaten or harm someone. If a firearm is accessed by a minor and used in the commission of a crime resulting in great bodily harm or death, the person responsible for storing the firearm could be charged with an aggravated fourth-degree felony, carrying a 24 month prison sentence. If a firearm were accessed by a minor and used in the commission of a lesser crime, the person responsible for keeping or storing the firearm could have been charged with a 4th degree felony punishable by up to a 18 months in jail.
  6. Mandate public school systems and higher education institutions to “harden” their facilities with more security doors, security windows, security measures, including metal detectors at single entrances designated and alarm systems and security cameras tied directly to law enforcement 911 emergency operations centers. Legislative funding needs to be provided to accomplish the requirement.


The 2 legislative measures being proposed by New Mexico State Representatives Pamelya Herndon and Reena Szczepanski in and of themselves are first good steps in the right direction to help curb gun violence, but in all likelihood do not even come close to what is actually needed to have an impact on preventing gun violence. A far more comprehensive approach is what is needed in the form of an “Omnibus Gun Violence And Gun Control Act”.

Democrats Seek Abortion Rights Legislation For 2023 Legislative Session After Bruising General Election; Republicans Seek Restrictions; Revisiting ABQ Journal Poll

On February 26, 2021, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill repealing the 1969 abortion ban. The 1969 law criminalized abortion to end a woman’s pregnancy except in certain circumstances, such as rape and incest. The 1969 state statute had not been enforced in the state due to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v Wade in the 1970s, which legalized abortion nationwide. The repeal of the 1969 law was necessitated by the fact the repeated attempts had been made over the years to have the United States Supreme Court reversed the decision of Roe v Wade.

On June 22, 2021 the United States Supreme Court released its decision in the case of  Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization wherein the Supreme Court  overruled and reversed the cases of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey and 50 years of constitutional law precedence ruling  that a woman does  not have constitutionally protected right to an abortion.  The US Supreme Court ruled the authority to regulate abortion was  returned to the individual states and their elected representatives.

As a direct result of the Supreme Court’s Dobb’s decision, abortion and woman’s reproductive rights became a defining issue in New Mexico’s 2022 Gubernatorial race between incumbent Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Mark Ronchetti.  Republican Mark Ronchetti made abortion and imposing limits on a woman’s right to choose a center piece of his campaign and suggested a “reasonable policy” that proposed banning abortion after 15 weeks of gestation, with exceptions for rape, incest, and to preserve the life of the mother.  Ronchetti went so far to call for a constitutional amendment where voters would decide whether abortion should be illegal.

It was on Sunday, July 10, that the very conservative Republican pastor Reverend Steven Smothermon of Legacy Church upended Mark Ronchetti’s campaign for Governor and exposed Ronchetti’s new moderate position on abortion as nothing more than ruse to get elected. Ronchetti’s new stance on abortion was that abortion should be allowed for up to 15 weeks of pregnancy and in cases involving rape, incest and when a mother’s life is at risk. This is what Smothermon preached and said from his pulpit:

I know Mark Ronchetti came out, and some people are very upset, because he said I think [abortion] is reasonable up to 15 weeks. . . I know a lot of us got mad. I did too. I had a long talk with him for hours. I said, dude right out of the gate you blew it and he said here’s what I was trying to do. I know what you were trying to do but you didn’t do it and here’s what he said.

He said, ‘listen, I just want to start with getting rid of partial birth abortion in the whole state’–which we should be happy with–and he said ‘but I can’t just go in and do it 100 percent because we won’t ever get elected.’ He said I just want to start but his goal would be to end abortion in New Mexico. Just so you know.

Ronchetti labeled Governor Lujan Grisham position on abortion as extreme” since she opposed all abortion restrictions.  The Governor countered by saying Ronchetti was actually the candidate with the extreme stance on the issue and claimed it was Ronchetti who shifted his total opposition to abortion after the primary election in order to get elected.


New Mexico Democrat lawmakers are now eyeing  ways to reinforce abortion rights and access to reproductive health care in the upcoming 60-day legislative session that begins on  January 17.  Those ideas include codifying abortion rights into state law, investing in telehealth and clinics that provide reproductive health care, and protecting providers or patients who travel to New Mexico to escape restrictions in other states.  An  area of contention is whether it’s necessary to make any abortion rights as part of  state law given the repeal of the 1969 criminal law.

While Texas and other neighboring states have enacted abortion bans, New Mexico allows abortion services without any restrictions.  In 2021, the New Mexico legislature repealed the 1969 criminal law banning abortions. The state has also seen an increase of out-of-state residents coming to the state to obtain abortion services.

In response to the increase in out of state residents seeking abortions, Governor Lujan Grisham issued an executive order in June that protects abortion patients and providers from lawsuits and arrest warrants issued in other states.  The Governor’s executive order also makes it clear that New Mexico won’t comply with abortion-related arrest warrants or extradition requests from other states.

Albuquerque Democrat State Senator Linda Lopez said legislators are evaluating how to put some or all of the Governor’s June Executive Order into state law in order to make it difficult for any future governor to repeal the protections.   Legislation is also being proposed to prohibit other public entities, such as municipalities, from interfering with or denying the reproductive rights of women in New Mexico.

On November 4, 2022 it was reported that the City Commission of Clovis, New Mexico put off a vote on an ordinance designed to ban abortions within the New Mexico town fearing challenges to the move in a state where the procedure remains legal. Clovis was set to become the first town to pass a so-called “sanctuary city for the unborn”


On November 8, it was reported that the Hobbs City Commission unanimously passed an ordinance designed to ban abortions, despite the procedure being legal in the state. The so-called “sanctuary city for the unborn” ordinance blocks abortion clinics from operating.  The ordinance will surely be challenged in court and set aside.



One of the major initiative being considered by Democrats for the 2023 legislative session is the expansion  of  access to reproductive health care in general which is needed in a state that is as  large  as New Mexico and that has a shortage of doctors and nurses.  Democrat lawmakers are focusing attention on improving telehealth infrastructure and building clinics to provide a spectrum of pregnancy and reproductive health care services. Lujan Grisham signed an executive order in August pledging $10 million to build a state-funded clinic to provide abortion and other services in Doña Ana County and the legislature must follow through with the funding in the 2023 legislative session.

Santa Fe Democrat State Representative  Linda Serrato said this:

“Having the right [to reproductive health care]  is very different from being able to utilize it. … Some patients in rural parts of the state now travel for hours to Santa Fe or Albuquerque for pregnancy-related care.”

Messilla Democrat Representative Micaela Lara Cadena said New Mexico families need access to a full spectrum of health care, ranging from pregnancy services to behavioral health programs. Cadena said this:

“Abortion is health care and part of the way we get there is making sure we meet the full needs of our familias without shame or stigma.”

Albuquerque Democrat state  Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart said making abortion and reproductive rights writing  state law isn’t necessary and said this:

“Frankly, some of us would like our statutes to remain as they are. … [State law]   doesn’t talk about abortion care because that’s really between women and their doctors, their families, etc. As soon as we put it into statute, then it can be tinkered with.”


Republicans are already gearing up to oppose any efforts by Democrats to protect a woman’s right to choose and to expand woman’s health care rights in the state. Republican lawmakers and candidates are proclaiming Democrats are going too far.  They argue that New Mexico voters will support some of the abortion restrictions imposed in other states, such as parental notification for minors.

Republican Elephant Butte State Senator Crystal Diamond said this:

“Although many New Mexicans do not oppose abortion altogether, it’s clear that most support reasonable limits and protections for women and children.  The Democrats’ plan to expand abortion access for minors and women from out of state is completely out of touch. … Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has returned the issue of abortion to the states, New Mexico legislators must prioritize the voices of their constituents over the demands of special interest groups and the multi-million-dollar abortion industry.”

The link to quoted news source material is here:



On Tuesday,  August 29, the Albuquerque Journal published the results of poll taken on the issue of abortion rights.  The link to read the full unedited Journal column is here:


The Journal poll is extremely revealing in that it breaks down the results not only as to party affiliation but also as to regions of the state.

The poll asked the question “WHICH COMES CLOSEST TO YOUR VIEW ON ABORTION” The results were as follows:

It should always be legal:  35%

It should be legal with some limitations: 22%

It should be illegal except for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life: 25%

It should always be illegal: 12%

Don’t know: 2%

None of these/won’t say: 4%


The poll results were broken down according to party affiliation. The responses to the poll question by party affiliation were as follows:

It should always be legal:   Democrats,  55%, Republicans: 8%, Other: 35%

It should be legal with some limitations:  Democrats,  24%,  Republicans: 18%, Other: 26%

It should be illegal except for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life:

Democrats, 11%, Republicans, 41%, Other: 28%

It should always be illegal:  Democrats, 5%, Republicans,  24%, Other: 8%


New Mexico voters are 3 times more likely to say abortion should always be legal than they were to say it should always be illegal.  According to the poll, 35% of statewide voters surveyed said abortion should always be legal, 22% said the procedure should be legal, for a combined total of 57%.

The poll found that 25% felt there should be some limitations and said it should be illegal except in cases of rape, incest or when a mother’s life is in danger.  Just 12% of voters surveyed said abortion should always be illegal, while 4% would not say and 2% said they did not know.

According to the Journal poll results, Democrats are firmly behind a woman’s right to choose with 55% of Democrats saying abortion should always be legal and 24% of Democrats said it should be legal with some limitations for a whopping 79% combined percentage.

Republicans’ opinion are dramatically opposite with 8% saying abortion should always be legal, while 24% said it should be banned and 41% said it should be illegal with exceptions for cases of rape, incest and to save a mother’s life, with a 65% combined total to make it illegal or illegal with the exceptions of rape, incest or threat to the life of the woman.

The difference by party affiliation shrinks to a 6% difference when it comes to how voters they felt if abortions should be legal with some limitations.  Interestingly, more Democrats, 24%, felt that there should be some limitations while fewer Republicans, 18%, felt there should be some limitations.

The Journal Poll did not find a big difference in attitudes on abortion between New Mexico voters based on their gender, ethnicity and age.  There was little difference in voters’ views on abortion based on their education level with one exception, voters with graduate degrees were far more likely than other groups of voters to say abortion should always be legal.


With respect to the regional poll analysis, it’s somewhat of a surprise to note that it is the Las Cruces/Southwest area that had the highest approval of any region in the state that supported abortion without limits with a full 44%, while the Albuquerque Metro Region supported abortion without limits at 33%.

The Southern area of the state is widely considered a conservative part of the state, excluding the progressive Las Cruces, while the Albuquerque Metro area is considered more progressive.  One explanation for the 11% difference between the regions is that more conservative Valencia and Sandoval were included and skewed the results.

Not at all surprising is that the Progressive Northeast/North Central Region of the state had the highest percent of support saying abortion should always be legal with 39%.  Also not surprising is that in the very conservative Eastside region, 42% said that abortion should   be illegal except for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life, and 15% said it should always be illegal.


Governor Lujan Grisham and Democrats running for New Mexico House and the United States Congress campaigned heavily on safeguarding abortion rights and woman’s reproductive rights. Republicans on the other hand ignored and are totally out of touch with just how strongly people feel about the issue.

New Mexico Republicans have every intent to do what they can to deprive a woman of their right to choose and to deprive a woman from making her own decision on reproductive rights.  Simply put, no person, no candidate, no elected official, no voter and no government has any right telling a woman what she must do when it comes to abortion and what she must do when it comes to her own body.

Democrats in the 2023 legislative session will hold a 45-25 majority in the House and a 27-15 edge in the Senate.  Democrats would be damn fools not to deliver on their promises to protect a woman’s right to an abortion and access to  reproductive health given the attempts by some Republican controlled municipalities and counties in the state to do whatever they can to make abortion illegal or inaccessible to woman.