15 Street Medians Targeted For Enforcement Of “Pedestrian Safety Ordinance”; Action Vilified By American Civil Liberties Union As Interfering With Free Speech; Free Speech Does Not Include Negligent Conduct Getting Yourself Killed; ACLU Should Tell Clients To Stop Using Street Medians To Panhandle

On May 23, Mayor Tim Keller  and the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) announced a major effort to enforce the “Pedestrian Safety Ordinance” to discourage people from standing on major highway medians saying the crackdown is intended to improve public safety and not target panhandlers.  The legal basis for the initiative is Mayor Tim Keller’s revision of a 2017 “pedestrian safety ordinance,” which was struck down by a federal judge in 2019 and then amended. The ordinance targets medians less than 4 feet in width, on roadways with a speed limit of 30 mph or greater. Violations are a petty misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $100.  On May 22, the new ordinance went into effect and on May 15  APD had  issued 14 citations to violators.

The city has identified 15 intersections for enforcement The city has placed signs on those medians that warn “Unlawful to occupy median.” The locations where signs have been placed alerting pedestrians not to stand on medians are as follows:

•  Montaño and 4th Street
•  Indian School and Carlisle
•  Carlisle and Lomas
•  Louisiana and Menaul
•  Avenida Cesar Chavez and Broadway
•  Copper and Eubank
•  Montgomery and Louisiana
•  Menaul and San Mateo
•  Menaul and San Pedro
•  University and Gibson
•  Yale and Gibson
•  Montaño and Coors
•  Ellison and Coors
•  Coors and Irving
•  Alameda and Corrales


Albuquerque has a grim record for pedestrian deaths on its roadways. The New Mexico Department of Transportation data shows that 40 pedestrians were struck and killed in Bernalillo County in 2022 and of those 33 happened within the city limits.  The Governors Highway Safety Association has ranked New Mexico the nation’s deadliest state for pedestrians since 2016.

APD spokesperson Rebecca Atkins explained how the medians were selected. She said this:

“The medians were selected through a combination of complaints that have come into the area commands, crash data, as well as medians [that have been identified] as smaller than 4 feet in width that meet the qualifications of the ordinance. … The first 15 is just the first round of locations. … We are working on the second round of locations in the future.”

Link to quoted news source is here:


In announcing the enforcement initiative of the ordinance, Mayor Keller had this to say:

“We know pedestrian safety is a real challenge in Albuquerque and in New Mexico. So, it’s never lost on us that for a long time, we have been at the top of the ranking, that we don’t want to be at the top, when it comes to pedestrian safety. … We also know since last year, pedestrian fatalities doubled. That’s a terrible thing for our city. It’s also a call for us to try and do more about it.”

Way too many of our pedestrian fatalities have been on super-busy intersections and have been from a person either going to, or coming off, a median. … It’s fundamentally about safety, not about [free] speech. … When you get smaller than 4 feet, it’s just dangerous, especially in these busy intersections.”

“Historically, the city had two laws, and they were both thrown out in court. Now this third law, which passed in January, is only about safety on four-foot medians regardless. Our legal team at least believes that will stand up in court.”

APD Chief Medina for his part said this about the initiative:

“This is not about panhandlers. … It’s about public safety.We know there are individuals across the city who frequent our medians for a multitude of reasons, but this presents safety concerns for them and drivers. … We decided to begin enforcement of this ordinance slowly, with warnings to educate the public that this is a citable offense, but also to spread word of the dangers. … It’s a typical misdemeanor that will go through Metro court. Generally, it’s under $500 in less than 90 days.”

Not at all surprising, the New Mexico Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union took sharp issue with the Mayor and Chief Medina. A spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico said the term “median enforcement” is a coded term for “anti-panhandling” measures.  Maria Martinez Sanchez, the legal director for the ACLU, said this:

“It is no secret that the city’s goal is to sweep under the rug individuals seeking assistance from their neighbors on Albuquerque’s streets. … The intent is and has always been to drive the most vulnerable and desperate in our community out of public spaces where they are most visible.”

The links to quoted news sources are here:







The ACLU’s downright hostility towards the “Pedestrian Safety Ordinance” and the enforcement initiative should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone given the fact that it was the ACLU that successfully challenged the initial ordinance enacted by the City Council. It was in 2017 that Albuquerque City Councilor Trudy Jones sponsored the original “Pedestrian Safety Ordinance” that was enacted unanimously by the city council. The 2017 Pedestrian Safety Ordinance was very restrictive as to make it “unconstitutional” making it illegal to occupy certain medians and stand on highway entrance and exit ramps. It also barred “any physical interaction or exchange” between pedestrians and vehicle occupants while the vehicle was in a travel lane.

The American Civil Liberties Union  (ACLU) filed  a federal civil rights lawsuit challenging  the original  city ordinance after repeated warnings were made to the city council.  The  ACLU  represented  multiple plaintiffs including a woman who is homeless and routinely used the medians to ask for donations as well as  individuals who distributed  donations from their vehicles.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Brack in Albuquerque ruled in 2019 that the ordinance violated free speech protections because it was “not narrowly tailored to meet the City’s interest in reducing pedestrian-vehicle conflicts.”  The city appealed the ruling and in 2021 the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Brack’s ruling.  The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in its ruling  wrote:

“[The city was]  unable to establish that the ordinance does not burden substantially more speech than necessary to further its interest in pedestrian safety … [and] has almost completely failed to even consider alternative measures that restrict or burden the speech at issue less severely than does the ordinance.”

The original ordinance was amended to address the specific concerns raised by the U.S. Court of Appeals.  On November 21, 2022,  the Albuquerque City Council enacted a “new and improved” “Pedestrian Safety Ordinance on a 7 to 2 vote. The city council amended the original city ordinance that severely restricted panhandling and that was ruled by the federal courts as unconstitutional.

The “new and improved” ordinance specifically bars individuals from standing in or entering street and highway travel lanes unless they are “legally crossing.” It also prohibits using or occupying medians on 30 mph or faster roads where there is not a flat surface of at least 4 feet wide having no greater than 8% grade.

A city council legislative analysis determined that the ordinance will affect just over 17% of the linear feet of higher-speed arterial roadway medians across Albuquerque. These are the medians on roadways with the highest traffic flows  and highly visible to the driving public.  In other words 83% of medians in the city will be available for constitutionally protected free speech activities.

Under the new ordinance, if pedestrians are on a median that doesn’t meet the bill’s requirements, a $100 citation will  be issued.  APD and the Albuquerque Community Safety Department (ACS) will  be authorized to give warnings, or  are a person can be criminally charged with a misdemeanor and fined a $100. The updated ordinance removes the unconstitutional provisions of the original ordinance, including the part banning exchanges between drivers and pedestrians, and loosens up where pedestrians can be on sidewalks.

City Attorney Lauren Keefe told the city council at the time of enactment of the new ordinance:

“The biggest concern from the court was whether the ordinance as drafted burdened more speech than necessary, meaning it took away more places people could stand and engage in expressive conduct than necessary in order to ensure people remain safe.”

The link to a quoted news article is here:



There is no doubt that the work of the American Civil Liberties Union is commendable and is necessary to help protect and preserve the right of free speech in this country. However, there are times the ACLU goes way too far and presumes the absolute worst in  government  and accuses  government of dark and sinister motives to interfere with a person’s right of free speech.

Such is the case when Maria Martinez Sanchez, the legal director for the ACLU, when she said this about the amended Pedestrian Safety Ordinance ordinance and the enforcement action being taken by the city:

“It is no secret that the city’s goal is to sweep under the rug individuals seeking assistance from their neighbors on Albuquerque’s streets. … The intent is and has always been to drive the most vulnerable and desperate in our community out of public spaces where they are most visible.”

First of all, Sanchez presumes all panhandlers “seeking assistance” are the most “vulnerable and desperate” as she puts it and even homeless but that is not likely the case given some of the tactics reportedly used by panhandlers. Those tactics include using carboard signs with false claims, such as being a veteran, and having their cars parked within walking distance to where they panhandle so they can return to their homes after they panhandle with tax-free income.

This city’s goal is in no way trying to sweep under the rug individuals seeking assistance from their neighbors on Albuquerque’s streets” given the city’s financial commitment to the homeless.  Over the last two fiscal years, the city has spent upwards of $100 million to address assistance to the homeless including funding for affordable housing, programs for the low-income, near homeless and funding for mental health and substance abuse programs and two 24/7 homeless shelters.

Simply put, free speech is not an absolute right with no restrictions. It does not give you the right to act negligently and place yourself and others in harm’s way. Protected free speech has limitations that requires one to use your common sense. There is a very old case taught in law school where the United States Supreme Court found free speech does not mean you can stand up in a packed theater and falsely yell “fire” causing a stampede for the exits.

Government has the legitimate right to take reasonable steps to preserve and protect the safety of our roadways and to protect the safety of those that use them, including both drivers and panhandlers.  Drivers have the right to expect that their view while driving will not be impaired or distracted by unwelcomed advances made by panhandlers.  Panhandlers should not be allowed to negligently place themselves in harm’s way risking death by being hit by speeding cars asserting that it is their free speech right to do so and be on a median.

There are times you can not expect the New Mexico Chapter of the ACLU to be at all reasonable when it comes to vilifying legitimate City of Albuquerque government actions to protect the public safety and public property. It is those times of being unreasonable with the City of Albuquerque when the ACLU loses respect and public support.  Least anyone forget on August 18, 2022 the NM Chapter of the ACLU has sued the City of Albuquerque over the closure of Coronado Park claiming that their clients’ civil rights were violated and the city  failed to provide shelter.  Coronado Park had become the largest de facto homeless encampment with upwards of 100 to 150 homeless camping at the park  each night.  It was costing the city $50,000 a month to repeatedly clean up the park of trash left by the homeless.  The city  cited ground contamination and  lack of sanitation posing a health risk to those at Coronado Park as playing a major role in the park closure, as well as overall damage to the park.

The biggest factor and justification in closing the park was crime.  Criminal activity had spiked at the park over the previous 3 years. The city park has an extensive history lawlessness including drug use, violence, murder, rape and mental health issues. In 2020, there were 3 homicides at Coronado Park. In 2019, a disabled woman was raped, and in 2018 there was a murder. APD reports that it was dispatched to the park 651 times in 2021 and 312 times in 2022. There had  been 16 stabbings at the park in the previous 2 years and 30 days before closure of the park APD has seized from the park 4,500 fentanyl pills, more than 5 pounds of methamphetamine, 24 grams of heroin and 29 grams of cocaine. APD also found $10,000 in cash.

The New Mexico Chapter of the ACLU would no doubt  likely be one of the first in line to bring a wrongful death action against the city for negligent maintenance of street medians when one of its panhandling  clients holding a carboard sign his hit and killed by a speeding car while using an unsafe median to panhandle. This dispute over the new panhandler ordinance is one battle the ACLU should not pick.  Instead the ACLU should get word out to their clients not to use medians to excercise their free speech.

Mayor Keller Signs City Council Approved $1.37 Billion City Budget, $827.1 Million General Fund Budget; “No Growth” Budget Analyzed

On May 26, Mayor Tim Keller signed off on the Albuquerque City Council approved  $1.37 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2023 and ends June 30, 2024. Keller said this is the hardest budget he’s worked on since taking office because there was “no extra money”.  The budget provides funding for the Albuquerque Police Department to boost staffing up to around 1,000 sworn officers, and millions for the city’s efforts to combat homelessness. City employees will get  a 3.5% raise. The city is also putting nearly $17 million to close the “pay equity gap”  for  around 900 positions in the city. Keller had this to say:

“I will tell you the pay equity issue was the right thing to do, and so I’m proud that we did that as a city – we had to do, we should have done a long time ago. And so we just decided we’re going to rip the Band-Aid off, and we’re going to try and do this right going forward.”


This blog article is an overview and analysis of the 2023-2024 city budget giving major highlights of the 4 largest funded departments.


The overall approved budget is for $1.37 billion with $827.1 million in general fund appropriations marking a 3% decrease from the current year. The combined operating and capital budget of $1,367,695,000 and it is $53.6 million lower than the fiscal year 2023 budget. The approved budget includes a 3.5% pay raise for city employees.   The approved budget reflects tighter revenue and an end to much of the federal funding the city received during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The approved budget also includes $48.8 million in nonrecurring appropriations, including a $3 million subsidy for the city’s transit department to pay for free fares on city buses, and $14 million for housing vouchers. The budget also establishes the  first-ever minimum wage of $15 an hour for the city’s approximately 6,000 employees,  a move that only affects a few dozen people. Inflation made it a priority to give employees a 3.5% pay increase  to maintain the city’s competitiveness attracting and retaining employees. The Keller administration’s proposed  budget had contained a 2% pay raise.


City Council President Pat Davis had this to say about the enacted budget:

“It’s a lean budget year. … There’s no growth in programs.  The economy is slower than it used to be. We don’t have the federal funds we had during COVID. There’s nothing that’s going to move the needle significantly on any of our key issues, like homelessness and public safety.”

Councilor Brook Bassan, who sponsored the budget bill, said councilors found it challenging this year to maintain existing programs. Bassan said this:

“It was very hard this year because things are so tight. … We don’t have all the same one-time funding that we had last year and the year before. So there wasn’t a lot of growth.”

The link to a quoted news source is here:



The overall  operating budget that will begin on July 1, 2023 and end on June 30, 2024  approved  by the Albuquerque City Council is for $1.37 billion Billion. $827.1 million is the General Fund which is a reduction of $29.2 million or a 3% decrease from last year’s 2022 budget. The decrease is due to the reduction in non-recurring funding.  The general fund provides funding for city essential and basic services such as police protection, fire protection, the bus system, solid waste collection and disposal, the zoo, aquarium, the city’s museums maintenance, city libraries, the bus system, senior and community centers, swimming pools and parks and road maintenance.

The Fiscal Year 2024 forecast includes $48 million in non recuring expenses while only $3.7 million is available for in nonrecurring resources.  The approved 2024 Fiscal Year budget includes an estimated $3.4 million for the operation of capital projects that will be coming on line during the year.

The number of budgeted city hall jobs continues to increase under Keller’s tenure.  The proposed 2023-2024 budget provides for 7,014 employees which is up 1.5% from the current budget and 16% from 5 years ago when Keller first assumed office. The current increase in jobs includes 33 more positions at APD and 18 in Solid Waste. The city Human Resources Department continues to deal  with a high vacancy rates citywide.

Also included are the following major appropriations for city hall employee worth noting:

  • $8.7 million for a 2% pay raise across the board for City employees.
  • $9.5 million to increase the subsidy to support Transit Department operations.
  • $1.3 million increase in medical benefits.
  • $4 million for risk recovery allocations.


Between spring of 2020 and spring of 2022, the city received upwards of $259 million in pandemic relief and recovery money from the federal government. The infusion of federal funding allowed a major surge in nonrecurring expenditures which are one time yearly funding  that are not included in the ongoing annual budget.  Last year’s 2023 budget had $96 million in nonrecurring expenses but this year’s 2024 budget is down to $48.8 million.

This year’s nonrecurring budget includes $14 million in rental assistance vouchers and $3 million to subsidize zero-fare bus service. It also includes $3.4 million in Parks and Recreation efforts, including $766,000 for “urban forestry,” $500,000 for park rangers and $350,000 to host this summer’s USA Cycling Masters national championships.


According to the 2023-2024 approved budget, the city expects revenue growth to slow. The 2023 budget is built around 5.7% growth, returns have come in even higher but Keller’s administration is budgeting based on 2.4% revenue growth in the coming fiscal year. There is no proposed tax increase in the budget.  However the budget would boost parking fees at the Albuquerque International Sunport structure by $1. The increase is expected to generate an additional $1.6 million annually.

Least any forgets, it was in May, 2018, 4 months after Tim Keller was first sworn in as Mayor, the Albuquerque City Council enacted a gross receipt tax increase that raised upwards of $50 million a year. The tax enacted was in response to reports that the city was facing a $40 million deficit. Mayor Keller did not veto the tax increase.  Keller  broke his pledge  to demand a public vote on any  tax  increase and signed off on the $50 million a year tax increase. He signed off on the tax increase without any fanfare and without proposing any alternative budgets dealing with the deficit. The $40 million projected deficit never materialized. The City Council never repealed the tax and Keller went on a spending splurge.


Public Safety and reducing the city’s crime rates continue to be the biggest priority of Mayor Tim Keller. So much so that Keller’s Executive Summary went to great length to embellish the preliminary crime statistics for 2022 proclaiming property crime is slightly down compared to 2021 but down 40% from a record high in 2017. The executive summary acknowledged that the city is struggling with homicides related to gun violence and the fentanyl epidemic, but did not disclose the actual numbers.


The 2022-2023 approved  budget contains funding for neighborhood safety initiatives. Those initiatives and funding are as follows:

  • Full funding for the Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) program, including hearing officers.
  • Full funding for nuisance abatement, including the Code Enforcement Division of Planning and the ADAPT program in the Fire Marshal’s Office to continue voluntary abatement, condemnations and clean-ups.
  • Full funding for emergency board-up activities and the Duke City Ambassador program.
  • Full investment in youth programs in partnership with APS and nonprofits that keep our kids off the streets and out of harm’s way and youth violence prevention initiatives that aim to break the intergenerational cycle of crime and incarceration.
  • $341,000 for temporary contract workers at the City Clerk’s office to work the backlog of Police Inspection of Public Records Act requests.
  • Recurring funding of $25,000 for Citizen Policing Councils through the Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA).
  • $500,000 for Park Rangers through the Parks and Recreation Department.
  • $400,000 for creation of a specialized team in the Planning Department to help manage and control errant properties.


The 2023-2024  budget includes the establishment of a $15 minimum wage for all regular full- and part-time City workers.

The budget includes $16.9 million in salary increases to close gender pay gaps inside city government. That affects about 900 positions and comes just a few months after the city agreed to pay $17 million to settle a years-old collective action lawsuit alleging it paid women more than men for doing the same jobs.


Other 2020-2024 proposed budget includes investments to support small businesses and community development and includes the following line items:

$1 million of Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) funds, which has helped the City retain and attract businesses like Build with Robots and Bueno Foods.

$500,000 investment in the Job Training Albuquerque (JTA) program, which fills workforce training gaps by offering fully-funded job training opportunities to workers at Albuquerque-based small businesses.

Full, recurring funding for the Small Business Office, which has provided technical assistance to help local businesses access COVID relief programs, navigate permitting processes, and connect to resources for starting up and scaling.


The Fiscal Year 2024 budget  continues  youth programming by fully funding the Head Start program and our highly successful Youth Connect suite of youth programming.


In 2023, Albuquerque became the first city in the nation to sign onto the Biden Administration’s Justice 40 initiative that prioritizes disinvested communities for certain federal investments including climate change, clean energy, and affordable and sustainable housing. The City will continue to invest in green technologies and infrastructure.

The 2024 Fiscal budget continues sustainability efforts towards achieving the goals set out in the American Climate Cities Challenge and Climate Action Plan. The budget continues the Department of Municipal Development’s (DMD) and Transit’s phasing in of electric vehicles through the City’s replacement of depreciated vehicles and buses.

The newly established General Services Department (GSD) will further citywide efforts at energy efficiency and carbon reduction in City buildings.  The city expects to achieve cost and carbon benefits from Solar Direct this year, using 68,194,230 kwh of renewable energy through the program. The Solar Direct program is located on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation and is instrumental for the City’s achievement of receiving 88% of its renewable energy from solar, which is projected to save the City over $600,000 on this year’s energy bill.


There are 27 major departments at City Hall, but only 4 of the major departments are highlighted to reflect the highlights and priorities of the Keller Administration. The department budgets reviewed in detail are the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), the Albuquerque Fire and Rescue Department  (AFRD), the Albuquerque Community Safety Department (ACSD) and the Family and Community Services Department (FCS). The postscript to this blog article gives a very short synopsis of a 11 more department budgets.

You can review all city hall department budgets at this link: 

Click to access fy24-proposed-web-version.pdf


The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) continues to be the largest city budget out of 27 departments. The fiscal year 2024 approved  General Fund budget is $257 million, a 1% increase from last year or 31% of the general fund. Last year’s 2023 APD’s budget was $255.4 million, which represented a 14.7% increase or $32.8 million above the fiscal year 2022 level.

When Keller first was first elected in 2017 he pledged that APD would have 1,200 officers by the end of his first term. Throughout Keller’s first term, APD has consistently failed to recruit and fill sworn police vacancies and has failed to keep up with yearly retirements.

During the last 4 years, funding has been for 1,100 sworn police each year.  Today, APD  has 856 sworn officers.  APD’s budget line item proposed  budget list 1,847 full time positions with  funding for 1,040 full-time, sworn police positions and 804 civilian support personnel for the 1,847 full time positions.

Although the 2023-2024 proposed budget includes $8.7 million for a 3.5% pay raise for all city employees, the exception are APD Police Cadets.  APD Police cadets will get a 40% pay increase and be paid $60,000 a year salaries.

The proposed APD budget includes investments in crime fighting technology.

It was on November 14, 2014 that the City of Albuquerque and APD entered into a Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) with the Department of Justice after an investigation found that APD engaged in a pattern of excessive force and deadly force and a culture of aggression.  The Fiscal Year 2024 budget provides for operations of the Office of the Superintendent under the CASA, $800,000 for continued compliance efforts under the CASA, funding to pay the federal court appointed federal Independent Monitoring Team, and $1.7 million for External Force Investigation Team (EFIT) created under the settlement.


On Thursday, March 16, 2023 the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released the 2022 crime statistics along with crime statistics for 2021 for a comparison.  APD Chief Harold Medina reported Albuquerque crime statistics as follows:


  • 2021:  13,242
  • 2022:  12,777 (4% DECREASE)


  • 2021:  44,822
  • 2022: 43,824 (2% DECREASE)


  • 2021: 3,903
  • 2022:  5,133 (24% INCREASE)

Chief Medina also presented a vertical bar graph that revealed that over the last 6 years, Albuquerque has had a dramatic 71% spike in homicides.  In 2017 there were 70 homicides, in 2018 there were 69 homicides, in 2019 there were 80 homicides, in 2020 there were 78 homicides, in 2021 there were 110 homicides and in 2022 there were 120 homicides.

There are 3 major public safety departments. The departments in order of funding size are the Albuquerque Police Department, the Albuquerque Fire Rescue Department and the Albuquerque Community Safety Department.

The links to quoted news source material are here:





APD’s  2023-2024 proposed budget include the following performance measures for “solving crime”:

The number of  felony arrests made in 2021 were listed as 6,621 and in 2022 that number dropped to  6,122.

The number of misdemeanor arrests made in 2021 were 16,520 and in 2022 that number dropped to 9,799.

The number of  DWI arrests made in 2021 were 1,230  and that number increased in 2022 to 1,287.


APD’s clearance rates for crimes against persons (e.g., murder, rape assault) for fiscal year 2021 was 56% and the clearance rate went down in 2023 fiscal year to 44%.

APD’s clearance rate of crimes against property (e.g., robbery, bribery, burglary) for fiscal year was 12% and the clearance rate went down in 2023 fiscal year to 9%.

APD’s clearance rate of crimes against society (e.g., gambling, prostitution, drug violations) for fiscal year 2021 was 77% and the clearance rate went down in 2023 fiscal year to 57%.

APD’s Homicide Clearance rate for fiscal year 2021 was 53%  and for 2022 was 71% with a 2023 mid-year rate of  51%.


The approved Fiscal Year 2024 General Fund budget for the Albuquerque Fire and Rescue Department (AFRD) is $115 million. It reflects an increase of 4.3% or $4.8 million above the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. The AFRD proposed budget contains funding for 817 full time positions. Personnel adjustments include funding of $1.4 million for union negotiated longevity plan as well as an adjustment to overtime of $306 thousand.

The budget contains funding of $1.5 million for a 2% Cost of Living Adjustment, subject to negotiations for union positions and $738 thousand for the employer’s share of the State mandated PERA increase of 0.5%. Funding of $334 thousand is included for the 2024 leap year and $231 thousand to address the interim pay structure.

In addition to serving as first responders to fire, medical, and other emergencies, AFRD manages other programs including the Abandoned and Dilapidated Abatement Property Team (ADAPT) program for properties declared substandard  and the Home Engagement and Alternative Response Team (HEART) program for frequent 911 callers.


AFRD’s 2023-2024 proposed budget include the following work load performance measures:

The number of emergency calls AFRD was dispatched to in the 2021 fiscal year were 106,236 and in the 2022 fiscal year the department was dispatched to 112,651 emergency calls.

The number of medical emergency calls AFRD was dispatched to in 2021fiscal year were 92,022 and in 2022 fiscal year it was dispatched to 99,802 medical emergency calls.

The number of fire calls AFRD was dispatched to in fiscal year 2021 was 14,214  and in the 2022 fiscal year it was dispatched to 12,849 fire calls.


It was in 2021 that Mayor Tim Keller created the Albuquerque Community Safety Department (ACS). The department provides a non-police response to 911 calls associated with homelessness, intoxication and mental health. The Albuquerque Community Safety Department (ACS) dispatches first responders to 911 calls with or without other first responders from the police and fire departments.  According to the departments performance measures, in the 2022-2023, the department responded to 10,619 total calls for service with 6,062  calls diverted from police intervention.

Albuquerque Community Safety responders may have backgrounds as social workers, peer-to-peer support, clinicians, counselors, or similar fields. It is a first-of-its-kind cabinet-level department responding to calls on inebriation, homelessness, addiction, and mental health. It  works  alongside APD and AFR as a third option for 911 dispatch. It was created from a unique, Albuquerque idea based on programs the City developed and tested with the community.

The Fiscal Year 2024  General Fund budget for Community Safety is $17.2 million, a $5.4 million or 46.1% increase over the Fiscal Year 2023 original budget.  Total full-time positions budgeted for the department is 141 with an increase of 8 over last year.  Keller’s proposed budget increase would enable 24/7 operations across the city and full funding for the Violence Intervention Program (VIP), including the first phase of School-Based VIP in partnership with APS. The budget also includes $800,000 for the ACS building and Trauma Recovery Center coming-on-line.


Since day one of becoming Mayor, Tim Keller has made it a major priority to deal with the city’s homeless crisis. It is the city’s Family and Community Services Department that administers the city’s programs to address the homeless, additional housing, and behavioral health services, including mental health services and counseling.

Mayor Keller has proclaimed an “all above approach” to deal with the unhouse and provide housing and services the homeless and near homeless to address the root causes such as substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence, and youth opportunity.

For five years, Mayor Kellers “all the above approach” has cost the city millions. Keller has done the following over the last two fiscal years:

  • Over two years, budgeted $33,854,536 for homeless emergency shelters, support, mental health and substance abuse programs and $60,790,321 for affordable housing programs for the low-income, near homeless.
  • Established two 24/7 homeless shelters, including purchasing the Gibson Medical Center for $15 million to convert it into a homeless shelter.
  • Established a “no arrest” policy for violations of the city’s camping, trespassing and vagrancy laws with an emphasis on citations.
  • For five years, allowed Coronado Park to become a “de facto” city-sanctioned homeless encampment, which he was forced to close down because of drugs and violent crimes.
  • Advocated and funded city-sanctioned safe outdoor space (SOS) homeless tent encampments.

The  Fiscal Year 2024 General Fund budget for the Family and Community Services Department is $81.9 million, a decrease of 3.9%, or $3.3 million below the Fiscal Year 2023 original budget. The department employs 341 full time employees.   Technical adjustments include a $584 thousand increase for the mid-year creates of one community outreach coordinator, one program specialist, one fiscal analyst II, one Gibson Hub facility manager, as well as one gateway systems analyst and one community outreach coordinator that were not inactivated as planned in Fiscal year 2023. The budget decreases $199 thousand for one social service coordinator and one VIP social service program manager that were transferred out to Albuquerque Community Safety Department. The wage adjustment and reclassification for various positions increase the budget by $30 thousand which is offset by decreasing operating costs.

The Fiscals Year 2024 budget for the department’s grants, which is appropriated in separate legislation, are at $4.5 million in the Community Development Fund and $24.3 million in the Operating Grants Fund. This is a combined decrease of $6.4 million from the FY/23 original budget. Funding for all contract types from all funding sources are listed at the end of the department’s narrative. Intra-year personnel changes include four temporary Community Services Program Specialist Assistants created with ARP funds appropriated in Fund 265.

The Family and Community Services proposed budget lists forty five (45) separate affordable housing contracts totaling $39,580,738, fifteen (15) separate emergency shelter contracts totaling $5,575,690, and twenty seven (27) separate homeless support service contracts totaling $5,104,938 for a total of $50,261,366.

The Fiscal Year 2024 Family Community Services budget includes the following line-item funding:

$14 million in non-recurring funding for supportive housing programs in the City’s Housing First model.

$736,000 in non-recurring to fully fund the Assisted Outpatient Treatment program.

$730,000 in recurring and $500,000 in non-recurring funding for a partial year of operating a Medical Sobering Center at Gibson Gateway Homeless Shelter and Health Hub, which will complement the social model sobering facilities available at the County’s CARES campus.

$100,000 in non-recurring for emergency housing vouchers for victims of intimate partner violence.

$1.2 million for Homeless Support Services

$1.7 million for Mental Health for service contracts for mental health,

$200 thousand for Substance Abuse, early intervention and prevention programs, domestic violence shelters and services, sexual assault services, health and social service center providers, and services to abused, neglected and abandoned youth.

$1.5 million in recurring and $500,000 in non-recurring funding for a Medical Respite facility at Gibson Health Hub, which will provide acute and post-acute care for persons experiencing homelessness who are too ill or frail to recover from a physical illness or injury on the streets but are not sick enough to be in a hospital.

$3 million in recurring funding to operate the first Gateway Center at the Gibson Health Hub, including revenue and expenses for emergency shelter and first responder drop-off, facility operation and program operations.

$1.2 million for the Westside Emergency Housing Center, which has operated at close to full occupancy for much of the year.

$500,000 non-recurring to fund the development of a technology system that enables the City and providers to coordinate on the provision of social services to people experiencing homelessness and behavioral health challenges.

$500,000 non-recurring to funding for Albuquerque Street Connect, a highly effective program that focuses on people experiencing homelessness who use the most emergency services and care, to establish ongoing relationships that result in permanent supportive housing.

$185 thousand for Child and Family Development

$75 thousand for Educational Initiatives

$1,300,000 for Emergency Shelter

$130,000 for Health and Human Services

$103,000 for Strategic Support

$1,200,000for Gateway Phase one and Engagement Center, and a net of $500 thousand for Medical Respite.

Recurring funding of $3,500  million for Family Housing Navigation Center/Shelter (Wellness-2) which has been using non-recurring emergency/COVID funding

Capital Improvement Projects  coming-on-line expenses are budgeted to increase by $500,000  for Gateway Homeless Shelter, Phase one, and Engagement Center and $500,000 thousand for the Sobering Center at the Gibson Homeless Shelter Health Hub.


Last year, Mayor Tim Keller declared the proposed budget as being “bland.” What he failed to fully disclose and the city council missed completely during its hearings was that $750,000 was included for the operation of “safe outdoor spaces” with another $200,000 for developing other sanctioned encampment programs for the homeless. Last year’s budget described Safe Outdoor spaces as government sanctioned encampments for the homeless as “ultra-low barrier encampments … set up in vacant dirt lots across the City.”

It was not until months later that the city council changed the zoning laws to allow for “safe outdoor space”.  A “safe outdoor space” is defined as a lot, or a portion of a lot, developed to permit homeless encampments with 40 designated spaces for tents, allow upwards of 50 people, require hand washing stations, toilets and showers, require a management plan, fencing and social services offered. Safe Outdoor Spaces proved to be one of the most divisive issues dealt with last year by the council.

The City Council budget process is one of the very few times that the council can bore deep down into each of the city department budgets. All too often, Mayor’s and their political operatives view the City Council more of an annoyance as opposed to being a legitimate oversight function. All to often, it becomes a process of members of the City Council asking the Mayor and his top executives the main question “What is it in this budget do you not want us to know about?” or put it another way “What is it that you are hiding or lying to us about?” 



Other major departments budgets worth noting in the 2023-2024 proposed budget  are as follows:

The SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT approved budget contains funding for   542 full time positions. The department   provides residential and commercial trash collection, disposal, and the collection of residential recycling. The department oversees large-item disposal, graffiti removal, weed and litter abatement, median maintenance, convenience centers, and neighborhood cleanup support. Other services include operating the City landfill in compliance with State and Federal regulations and educating the public about recycling and responsible waste disposal. The approved  fiscal year budget for the Solid Waste Management Department is $93.9 million, of which $69.9 million is to fund operations and $24 million is in transfers to other funds. The Fiscal year 2024 proposed operating budget for the Solid Waste Management Department reflects an increase of 3.7% or $3.3 million above the Fiscal Year 2023 original budget level.

The DEPARTMENT OF ARTS AND CULTURE approved budget contains funding for 411 full time positions.  The Department is comprised of seven divisions: The Albuquerque Biological Park (BioPark) operates the Zoo, Aquarium, Botanic Gardens, Heritage Farm, Bugarium, Tingley Beach and the Albuquerque Museum. The FY/24 proposed General Fund budget for the Department of Arts and Culture of $50.7 million. The approved budget reflects a decrease of $578 thousand or 1.1% below the FY/23 level. Technical adjustments for FY/24 include a net decrease of $194 thousand to account for changes in medical as well as the insurance administrative fee and group life. Other personnel adjustments include funding of $582 thousand for a 2% Cost of Living Adjustments and $134 thousand for the employer’s share of the State mandated PERA increase of 0.5%. Funding of $113 thousand is included

The TRANSIT DEPARTMENT approved budget contains funding for 553 full time positions.  The Transit Department  provides fixed route (ABQ Ride) and rapid transit (ART) bus service for the Albuquerque community and Para-Transit (SunVan) service for the mobility impaired population. The Fiscal Year 2024 approved  budget for the Transit Department Operating Fund is $58.2 million, a decrease of 8.5%, or $5.4 million below the Fiscal Year 23 original budget. In Fiscal Year 2024, the budget includes an increase of $557 thousand for a 2% COLA, subject to negotiations for positions associated with a union. There is a State mandated 0.5% PERA increase of $115 thousand for the employer’s share. Technical adjustments include a decrease of $152 thousand for health benefits, insurance administration fee and group life insurance. Internal service costs associated with communication, risk and fleet decreased by a $468 thousand. Funding of $108 thousand for the 2024 leap year and $516 thousand to address the interim pay structure are included.

The PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT  approved budget contains funding for 343 full time position. The department serves the recreational needs of the residents of Albuquerque and the surrounding metropolitan areas. The department is organized into the following divisions: park management, recreation services, aquatics, open space, golf, parks design, planning and construction. The proposed Fiscal year 2024 General Fund budget is $48.2 million, a decrease of 12.9%, or $7.2 million from the Fiscal Year 2023 original budget.. The primary cause of the decrease was the deletion of $7.1 million in Fiscal Year 2023  one-time funding. Non-recurring Fiscal Year funding of $2.7 million remains in the budget to continue to support the Mondo indoor track, park ranger PSA’s, park security, cycling USAC master’s championship, urban forestry, trails and park maintenance, youth connect summer recreation programs and umpire and other sport referee’s pay increase, to name a few.

The DEPARTMENT OF MUNICIPAL DEVELOPMENT (DMD) approved budget contains funding for  334 full time positions.  The Department operates and maintains City streets, storm drains, traffic signals, street lighting, parking operations and the development and design of capital public buildings. The Fiscal Year 2024 approved  General Fund budget is $38.4 million, a decrease of 4.0% or $1.6 million below the Fiscal Year 2023  original budget  is requested.  Last year, there were 546 full time positions.  The Fiscal Year 2024 Gasoline Tax proposed budget is $6.9 million, a decrease of 1.3% or $89 thousand from Fiscal Year 2023 and includes a transfer to the General Fund in the amount of $248 thousand for indirect overhead. Revenues are estimated at $4.1 million and the fund is subsidized at $2.4 million. The Fiscal Year 2024 Speed Enforcement Fund proposed budget is $2.6 million, a decrease of 66.2% or $5.1 million from Fiscal Year 2023 original budget. The Fiscal Year 20 24 parking enterprise proposed budget of $5.3 million reflects an increase of 2.3% or $121 thousand from the Fiscal Year 2023 original budget. The fleet management fund has a Fiscal Year 2024 proposed budget of $14.7 million.

The GENERAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT (GSD) approved budget contains funding for 257 full time positions.  The General Services Department is a new department created last year  with the key responsibility of centralizing maintenance of major City facilities such as the Albuquerque Government Center, the Baseball Stadium and the Convention Center, which includes contract management. This department is responsible for the facilitation of security and fleet operations throughout the City. GSD also includes Energy and Sustainability as well as the Law Enforcement Center and Gibson Medical Center. The Fiscal Year 2024 approved  General Services budget is $27.9 million, a decrease of 28.3% or $11 million below the Fiscal Year 2023 original budget. In Fiscal Year 2024 there is a decrease of $10.4 million in nonrecurring budget for facilities and buildings, security vehicles, startup costs, and a transfer to the railyards.

The PLANNING DEPARTMENT  approved budget contains funding for 193 full time positions.   The Planning Department’s Fiscal Year 2024 proposed budget is $21 million, a decrease of $1.2 million or 5.3% below the Fiscal Year 2023 original budget. Funding for 193 full time positions is being requested. The budget removes Fiscal Year 2023 one-time funding of $2.3 million, largely earmarked for Posse System replacement, Streamline DRB processes and various other projects. However, $300 thousand remains and is carried over for property abatement. Of that amount, $178 thousand will be transferred to the Refuse Disposal Fund to continue supporting after hour board up activities. The Fiscal Year 2024 proposed budget includes funding of $90 thousand to contract a development hearing officer, and $75 thousand for a contract Posse replacement project manager. Additionally, $401 thousand is added as onetime funding for an extinction team to manage and control the errant properties.

It was in last years fiscal year 2022-2023 city council approved budget was for $21.9 million, an increase of $5.2 million or 31.6% above the fiscal year 2022 original budget. The planning department was to  add 21 new positions, including 10 “to streamline and expedite” development review processes, and new departmental software. In Code Enforcement, 8 positions were  added to increase the division’s ability to respond to customer inquiries, provide quicker review times for building permits, and to properly enforce new ordinances and initiatives.

The  Legal Department or City Attorneys Office approved budget contains funding for  66 full time positions.   Legal Department advises the City in all legal matters, and consists of six main divisions: the Litigation Division; the Employment Law Division; the Municipal Affairs Division; the Division of Property, Finance, Development and Public Information; the Policy Division; and the Compliance Division. The Litigation Division appears on behalf of the City in all courts in New Mexico and before administrative and legislative bodies. The legal department is responsible for managing and defending the City, its elected and appointed officials, and departments before all federal and state courts in relation to civil rights and tort related claims. The proposed Fiscal Year 2024 General Fund budget is $8.4 million, a decrease of 13.1% over the Fiscal Year 2023 original budget.

The OFFICE OF THE CITY CLERK approved budget contains funding for 34 full time employees.  The City clerk maintains official records for the City of Albuquerque, administers the public financing program for municipal elections, manages and administers all municipal elections, accepts construction and contracting bids from the general public, as well as accepts service of process for summons, subpoenas and tort claims on behalf of the City of Albuquerque. The City Clerk is the chief records custodian for the City of Albuquerque and processes requests for public records pursuant to the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act (IRPA). The city clerk receives upwards of 10,000 public records requests each year. The Office of the City Clerk also manages the Office of Administrative Hearings and is responsible for conducting all hearings specifically assigned by City of Albuquerque ordinance, including animal appeals, handicap parking and personnel matters. The proposed Fiscal Year 2023-2024  General Fund budget is $5.1 million, an increase of 18.5%, or $804 thousand above the 2022-2023  Fiscal Year  original budget with funding requested for 34 full time employees.

The Chief Administrative Office Department approved budget contains funding for  16 full time employees. The Chief Administrative Office Department supports the Mayor of the City of Albuquerque and general city functions. The  approved  FY/24 General Fund budget for the Chief Administrative Office is $2.8 million, an increase of 12.4% or $305 thousand above the FY/23 original level.

The Mayor’s Office approved budget contains funding for  7 full time employees.  The office supports the elected chief executive and ceremonial head of the City pursuant to the City Charter. The office is comprised of support staff and constituent services that keep the Mayor in touch with residents of Albuquerque and their concerns. The approved  Fiscal Year 2024 General Fund budget for the Mayor’s Office is $1.2 million, a decrease of 15.9% or $229 thousand from the Fiscal Year 2023 original budget.

Other much smaller budgeted city departments include Senior Affairs, the Human Resources Department, the Office of Inspector General, Office of Internal Audit and the Civilian Police Oversight Department. Smaller departments such as City Support, Finance and Administrative Services, and Human Resources have large appropriations because of the number and type of funds managed within the departments.

The link to the 229 page 2022-2023 budget to review all city department budgets is here:

Click to access fy24-proposed-web-version.pdf


2023 Memorial Day Dinelli Family Tribute

Each Memorial Day, I am compelled to pay tribute to members of my family who have given so much and sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms and to protect this great country of ours. All these family members were born and lived in New Mexico, two were born in Chacon, New Mexico and the rest born and raised and educated in Albuquerque.

One gave the ultimate sacrifice during time of war.

My father Paul Dinelli and my Uncle Pete Dinelli, for whom I was named after, both served in the US Army during World War II when the United States went to war with Italy, Germany and Japan.

My father and uncle were first generation born Americans and the sons of Italian immigrants who settled in Albuquerque in the year 1900 to live the American dream. My Uncle Pete Dinelli was killed in action when he stepped on a land mine. My father Paul Dinelli was a disabled American Veteran when he returned to Albuquerque after World War II and was honorably discharged because of a service connected disability. Years after the war, my father met my mother Rose Fresques at the Alvarado Hotel where she had worked as a Harvey girl. After the couple married, my father went to barber school in Denver, Colorado, returned to Albuquerque and opened “Paul’s Barber Shop” which was located at Third and Lomas.

My uncles Fred Fresques and Alex Fresques, my mother’s two brothers, also served in World War II. My Uncle Alex Fresques served in England and was in the Air Force.

My uncle Fred Fresques saw extensive action in the US Army infantry during World War II and was awarded 2 Bronze Star medals and a purple heart for his service. The Bronze Star medal is awarded to individuals who, while serving with the Armed Forces of the United States in combat, distinguish themselves by heroism, outstanding achievement, or by meritorious service. The purple heart is awarded for being injured in combat or dying in combat. My Uncle Fred would never talk to anyone about what he saw. After the war, my Uncle Fred returned to Albuquerque and raised a family in Barelas. Over many years, my Uncle Fred was active in the Barelas Community Center and was a trainer for the “Golden Gloves” competition teaching young adults the sport of boxing.

My father-in-law, George W. Case, who passed away at the age 93, served in the United States Navy during World War II and saw action while serving on a destroyer. My father-in-law George Case was so proud of his service that he wore a World War II Veterans cap every day the last few years of his life. After the war, my father-in-law George Case returned to Albuquerque was married to my mother-in-law Laurel Del Castillo for 50 years, raised a family of 4 girls. George eventually owned a liquor store for a few years and then went on to build, own and operate the Old Town Car wash, which still stands today, and he was in the car wash industry for a number of years.

My nephew Dante Dinelli, was born and raised in Albuquerque and joined the service a few years after graduating from Cibola High School. Dante served 20 + years in the US Navy, retired as a Chief Petty Officer and worked in a civilian capacity for the Navy.

My two nephews, Matthew Barnes and Brandon Barnes, the sons of my younger sister, Pauline were born and raised in Albuquerque and went to Bosque Prep. My nephew Brandon Barnes is a graduate of the US Naval Academy. My nephew Major Matthew Barnes graduated from UNM with honors and served a tour in Afghanistan. Both Mathew and Brandon are Majors in the United States Marine Corps and both continue to climb the promotion ladder in the Marine Corps.

To all the wonderful and courageous men and women who have served and continue to serve our country to protect and secure the promise of freedom and the ideals upon which the United States was founded upon, and to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, I thank you for your service to our Country.

Your service and sacrifices to this great country of ours will never be forgotten. God bless you all and God Bless this great country of ours!

Ysabela Gallegos Guest Column: “Culturally relevant classes make a difference in our schools”; New Mexico Youth Speaks Out

Ysabela Gallegos is a proud Native New Mexican currently attending the University of New Mexico.  She is pursuing her degree in Psychology. She holds associate degrees in psychology and integrated Sciences with Honors from Central New Mexico Community College. She is a member in good standing of Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Theta Kappa, two National Honors Societies.  She has also served as an AmeriCorps member with Mandy’s Farm working with young adults with disabilities.

Ysabela passion in life has always surrounded education. “When I was a child, my Grandfather told me “Mija, they can take away many things from you in this life, but they will never be able to take away your education.” Those words have resonated with Ysabela and have motivated her through her academic career. Those words have inspired her interest in improving education standards and how young people interact with their education.

On May 22, the Albuquerque Journal published the below guest column written by Ysabela Gallegos on the subject that culturally relevant history classes can make a major difference in our high schools.

HEADLINE: What if your history class was all about you?

New Mexico was rated 50th last year in education, and the graduation rate for the state was 12% lower than the national graduation rate (New Mexico Ranks and Facts). What can be done to help improve the educational experience for young New Mexicans in Albuquerque?

It is understood that one teacher can make or break a student’s experience in their education, but one class could do the same for Albuquerque Public School students. This culturally relevant history class is included in the APS curriculum.

Culturally relevant classes meet student needs by directly relating to the culture and history minority students experience and by creating a personal investment in the material being taught. It motivates students to learn and participate because of these factors and fosters a positive relationship with the learning environment and teachers because their culture is represented (Understood, 7).

When looking at the population, Albuquerque Public Schools severs 80% of the population is a minority, with 60% of that group being of Hispanic descent (Albuquerque Public Schools, 12).

Classes such as Chicano studies or other Hispanic-based history classes can be implemented in high school. The best part of implementing these classes is that it’s already been proven in Albuquerque’s Highland high school as effective in improving graduation rates.

Bottom of Form

Robert Frausto is the Chicano Studies teacher at Highland (as well as a teaching assistant at UNM for the Chicano/ Studies department). His goal is to target at-risk students that were in jeopardy of being unable to graduate.

Frausto built a class designed to reach these students through their shared culture and offer them a space in their education where they were truly represented, and their own and their ancestor’s experience was the topic of the class.

Highland High schools’ total graduation rate, combined with the students who still attended school the first year this class was implemented, was 63% within the population that took this class. The following year it rose to 75%; two years later, it rose again to 90%.

This class positively affects the high school, creating meaningful change by making school more relatable and accessible and inspiring young adults to continue their education journey. One class student wrote in his end-of-year summary, “At the beginning of the school year, I was on the edge of failing… this elective helped me out in my GPA, and (I) had fun in school.” The same student also wrote, “The material we covered helped me realize…we need to start stepping out of the shadows and have a chance in life.”

The student also referred to this history he learned as “ours,” which further shows the connection these students have to the material they are learning. Currently, the course is offered as an elective at the high school. With the change it is creating in graduation statistics and individual lives, implementing culturally relevant courses is necessary for improving experiences in education in New Mexico.

This success can be replicated and improved upon district-wide and help ameliorate the state’s education rating. When students have the opportunity to learn about themselves through their education and can relate to the material being taught in class, it inspires excitement and willingness to learn.

The link to the Albuquerque Journal column is here:



It is often said that our youth represent our future. With all the divisiveness going on in the country when it comes to what should be taught in our public schools, like in the State of Florida with Republican Ron Desantis, we can take great comfort to know that the Albuquerque Public School System knows that culturally relevant courses do indeed make a difference.


Gov. MLG Reinstates 1970’s Era Defunct Organize Crime Commission To Combat State’s Crime; “Sitting  Around Acting  Like They Are Selling Cattle”

On May 25, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she was reviving the Governor’s Organized Crime Prevention Commission as a move to target organized crime in New Mexico and to help combat human trafficking and illegal fentanyl sales. The bipartisan commission was established in 1973 and produced its last major report in 1978. According to the Governor, reestablishing the commission will send a message to organized crime organizations and produce reports that can help guide crime-fighting strategies.

Under state law, the Governor’s Organized Crime Prevention Commission is made up of 7 members appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. No more than four members can be of the same political party. The commission has subpoena power and may initiate investigations.  The Commission will also be tasked with making proposed changes to the state’s criminal laws, but those changes will have to be approved by the New Mexico Legislature.  The commission will hold public and private meetings while developing a comprehensive plan to suppress organized criminal organizations.

According to the Governor the commission will pursue strategies for disrupting the operations of international drug cartels and street gangs in New Mexico, which are particularly active in fentanyl distribution, sex trafficking and illegal gun sales.  She also said the Commission will produce recommendations to policymakers and strengthen law enforcement coordination across jurisdictions.


During the May 25 press conference, the Governor announce the appointment of the 7 member commission.  The Governor said this:

“These seven individuals have among them well over a century of expertise in law enforcement and the judicial system. This commission will serve as a powerful tool to hit organized crime where it hurts the most. … We must do more to interrupt organized crime operations in our state, and these are sophisticated groups that take a sophisticated approach. That’s what I am tasking this group to do.”

“It is indicative of the kind of leadership that is occurring in the state of New Mexico that is completely laser-focused on public safety and holding individuals conducting criminal activity accountable at every level, in every single place in the state, and doing it in such a fashion that lends itself to our federal partners and other states so that we’re collaborating across state lines on activity that we know is impacting individuals public safety right here in our state”

“It is a message to bad actors and organized criminal elements. Who, I want to also point out, are incredibly sophisticated criminal organizations and operations.  Arguably, they are far too often engaged in the next set of high-risk criminal activity. Every day. Every day with one-year, five-year, 10-year and 20-year agendas.  We want to interrupt that right here. We are clear about that sophistication. We are clear about those risks. We will identify patterns and issues. We will do that in our own state and across state lines that we will fully engage our federal partners. It is a benefit to the folks who are working day and night to keep New Mexicans safe.”

The Governor appointed Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman as Chairman of the Governor’s  Organized Crime Prevention Commission. It was in January that the Governor appointed Bregman District Attorney who immediately announced he would only serve 2 years and not run again for DA.

The other members of the commission announced are:

Sheriff John Allen, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department

Secretary Jason Bowie, Department of Public Safety

Sonya K. Chavez, United States Marshal, New Mexico

Chief Eddie Flores, Western New Mexico University Police Department

Marcus Montoya, Eighth Judicial District Attorney

Honorable Judith K. Nakamura, former Chief Justice, New Mexico Supreme Court

Former Bernalillo County Assistant District Attorney Rob Hart has been appointed as Acting Director of the Organized Crime Commission.

Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman had this to say:

“It’s exactly, I think, what this state needs. … Everyone here today knows that New Mexico, like the rest of the country, has a crime problem. Whether it’s guns, drugs, or human trafficking, they all have one thing in common. Much of it gets its origin means and methods from criminal organizations. It is organized crime.”

“We will focus as a commission on getting a handle on gun violence and the proliferation of gun trafficking in our communities — taking on the cartels, their affiliates and the criminal organizations who are poisoning our people with fentanyl.  … We will work with all law enforcement to assess and evaluate the activities and problems involving organized crime and develop a comprehensive plan to suppress and fight organized crime by the cartels, their affiliates, and other criminal organizations.”

“This commission will work with the attorney general and all of law enforcement to assess and evaluate the activities and problems involving organized crime and develop a comprehensive plan to suppress and fight organized crime by the cartels, their affiliates and other criminal organizations.  … It is a long road to get a handle on crime and public safety issues we face every day but everyone on this commission is committed to executing this crucial first step.”

U.S. Marshal Sonya K. Chavez  had this to say:

“This commission is a cutting-edge opportunity. … We already have a cadre of resources across the state, and we will do our best to coordinate them and bring them together to focus on what is hurting New Mexico.”

Former Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court Judith K. Nakamura  said this:

“I look at this commission as an extension of the work I did as a judge. …  At the end of the day, the job of a judge is to prevent crime. It was difficult to achieve alone but when we work together, we can lessen the case load and make New Mexico a safer place to live.”

Bernalillo County Sherriff John Allen described the commission as a way to coordinate resources across jurisdictional boundaries and said this:

“We have to show we’re a unified front across law enforcement.”


New Mexico Republican lawmakers said reestablishing a commission isn’t enough on its own to curtail crime. House Minority Leader Ryan Lane, R-Aztec, said in a written statement:

“House Republicans are committed to using the interim to develop practical solutions that address the root causes of crime and the mental health issues plaguing our communities. … We are concerned about creating yet another commission allowing politicians to take political victory laps but not provide real solutions.”

Surprisingly, New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez  was not appointed a member of the commission but  said he will support the commission’s work. Notwithstanding Torrez said this:

“It will take a lot of work and it will, I hope, focus us on some probably difficult questions in every corner of the state and in every aspect of the institutions that will lead. It’s absolutely necessary to get a handle on the crime and public safety challenges that we face day in and day out. … So, while I’m not a member of the commission, we do have a responsibility to work with the commission to receive report’s recommendations. I look forward to the work that this group can put together and any support that we can provide to the attorney general’s office will be there. … A lot of times people in our community look at isolated crimes or criminal events, and they don’t see the connection. … [A] good deal of what we see each and every day in our community is actually driven by organizations.”

The links to a quoted news sources are  here:





The biggest rational for the Governor reinstating the Organized Crime Commission is New Mexico’s spiking crime rates and in particular  to help combat human trafficking and the illegal trade and in particular fentanyl sales.


In 2020, New Mexico had the nation’s second-highest violent crime rate. In 2021 New Mexico law enforcement reported over 28,000 crimes against persons. That includes crimes such as murder, rape, assault, and kidnapping.  Given New Mexico’s population, the state’s crime rate against persons per population is the second highest in the nation. In 2021 FBI data shows for every 100,000 people in New Mexico, law enforcement reported 2,189 crimes against persons. The only state with a higher rate was Arkansas, which reported 2,276 crimes per 100,000 people.

In 202, New Mexico law enforcement agencies reported nearly 25,500 instances of assault . That’s 1,872 more than the state reported in 2020. New Mexico law enforcement also reported more homicides in 2021 than the year before. 2021 across New Mexico, police reported 193 homicides to the FBI.  That’s 67 more than in 2020.  Not at all surprising is that the majority of the state’s reported homicides were in Albuquerque.

New Mexico is not at the top of the list in all crime categories. While New Mexico law enforcement reported 1,663 instances of sex offenses in 2021, 6 other states had higher rates of sex offenses per population. That includes states like Alaska, Utah, and Montana.

The FBI numbers show New Mexico’s per-population kidnapping and abduction rate was the highest in the nation. New Mexico’s firearm ownership and fatality rate is also among the nation’s highest. In 2016 over 37% of adults in the state lived in a household with a firearm which is 5% higher than the national average according to the think tank Rand Corp.

New Mexico law enforcement reported 822 kidnappings and abductions to the FBI in 2021. That puts New Mexico at the top of the list regarding kidnappings and abductions per 100,000 people. Kansas, Colorado, and Utah also rank high on the list of kidnappings and abductions per population.

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.


Albuquerque is at the forefront of New Mexico’s high violent crime rate.  According to legislative data released, the city had about half of the state’s violent crime in 2022 but has just 25% or so of its total population.  The Albuquerque Police Department reported that in November, 2022 gun law violations spiked 85%.

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 120 homicides, a historical high.

On Thursday, March 16, 2023 the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released the 2022 crime statistics along with crime statistics for 2022 for a comparison. During his March 16 press conference announcing the City’s 2022 crime statistics, APD Chief Harold Medina embellished that a  3% drop in  overall total of crime and a 4% decrease in Crimes Against Persons and the 2% decrease in Crimes Against Property was positive movement.

The slight 3% decrease in overall crime was over shadowed by the 24% spike in CRIMES AGAINST SOCIETY which are largely made up of drug and gun offenses and a 71% increase in murders over the last 6 years.  Chief Medina presented a vertical bar graph that revealed that over the last 6 years, Albuquerque has had a dramatic 71% spike in homicides.  The number of homicides reported over the last 6 years is as follows:

2017: 70 homicides

2018: 69 homicides

2019: 80 homicides

2020: 78 homicides

2021:  110 homicides

2022:  120 homicides

On March 16, in addition to reporting that there has been a 71% spike in homicides, APD officials reported that over the past 6 years there has been a 28% increase in Aggravated Assaults which by definition includes the use of a firearms. Following are the Aggravated Assaults numbers:

2017: 4,213

2018: 5,156

2019: 5,337

2020: 5,592

2021: 5,669

2022: 5,399

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.


On April 26, the Major Cities Chiefs Association released its Violent Crime Survey and national totals for the crimes of homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults. According to the report, Albuquerque is ranked 17th among 70 of the largest cities in the nation looking at trends in the 4 categories. The single most troubling statistic is Albuquerque’s increase in homicides.

The statistics for Albuquerque reported by the Major Cities Chiefs Association for the last two years were as follows:


2022: 120

2021: 110


2022: 194

2021: 286


2022:  962

2021: 747

Aggravated Assault

2022: 2,291

2021: 2,373

The Major Cities Chiefs Association report shows in 2022, there was a 5% drop in homicides nationwide. According to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, Albuquerque had one of the worst homicide rates in the nation and is one of 27 cities across the nation that saw an increase in homicides.

The report shows in 2021, there were 106 homicides. In 2022, there were 115, an 8% increase. Other nearby cities like Phoenix saw a 13% increase in homicides. Meanwhile, to the north, the Denver Police Department reported an 8% decrease in homicides. Just four hours south, the city of El Paso saw a 28% decrease in homicides, one of the highest drops in the report.

Click to access MCCA-Violent-Crime-Report-2022-and-2021-Midyear.pdf



On Thursday, March 16, 2023 the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released the 2022 crime statistics along with crime statistics for 2021 for a comparison.  APD Chief Harold Medina reported Albuquerque crime statistics as follows:


EDITORS NOTE: Crimes Against Persons include murder, rape, and assault, and are those in which the victims are always individuals.

2021:  13,242

2022:  12,777 (4% DECREASE)


EDITOR’S NOTE: Crimes Against Property include robbery, bribery, and burglary, or to obtain money, property, or some other benefit.

2021:  44,822

2022: 43,824 (2% DECREASE)


EDITOR’S NOTE: Crimes Against Society include gambling, prostitution, and drug violations, and represent society’s prohibition against engaging in certain types of activity and are typically victimless crimes.

2021: 3,903

2022: 5,133 (24% INCREASE)


The Governors Organize Crime Prevention Commission is what is called by politicos as “Government by Committee”. It looks good, sounds good and designed for the publicity but accomplishes very little other than a sound bite.  A good example occurred in 1973,  when the newly created Governors Organize Crime Prevention Commission did a survey of possible areas of organized crime activity in New Mexico and of existing and needed law enforcement resources to combat it.  The report found “a growing threat of encroachment by organized crime in New Mexico, and urges that steps be taken now to reduce it.”  The commission listed immediate goals for 1974. “Those goals were to combat crime in the areas of drugs trafficking, fencing, pornography, prostitution, gambling, infiltration of business, labor racketeering, arson, vending machines, credit card frauds, liquor licenses, loansharking, private investigators and corruption.”



There is a major reason why the Governor’s Organize Crime Prevention Commission faded essentially out of existence within 10 years. It was viewed by subsequent Governor’s as ineffective and a major waste of resources. It had the reputation amongst law enforcement as having no need for it but filled with the Governor’s politcal appointees and it was created for “politcal show and tell”. Simply put,  law enforcement and prosecutors should not need to be told how to do their jobs, what their  priorities are nor what resources they need nor what policy changes are required to get the job done to protect the public.

There is a well known New Mexico saying “Sitting around acting like they are selling cattle”.  It’s a description of how very little ranchers have to do other than sitting in the bleachers and  talk to themselves as they wait for their cattle to be auctioned.

It is very difficult to understand why Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman and Bernalillo County Sherriff John Allen would even agree to serve on such  commission, other than for the publicity it will bring them.  Bregman and Allen will now be able to “sit around and act like they are selling cattle”  donning their cowboy hats talking to themselves while pretending to listen to the other commission members.

Bregman and Allen have now been on the job for a 5 mere months. You would think they both already have a enough to do just getting their own offices up and running. The blunt truth is that if Bregman and Allen would just concentrate on doing their existing jobs of investigating, arresting and prosecuting cases, especially violent crime and narcotics cases, they will likely do more on their own to address New Mexico’s and Albuquerque’s high crime rates than attending meetings, wasting their time and talking to themselves.


Violent crime, the fentanyl crisis and drug cartels in New Mexico are very real, but reinstating the Governor’s Organize Crime Commission is in no way the answer. The Governor can do much better than resurrecting a defunct and ineffective  crime commission that will be been soon forgotten and fade just as quickly as the last one with very little accomplished. There are in fact “dramatic circumstances” that exist right now that justify a special session.  Governor Michelle Lujan  should call a special session to deal with crime and punishment.

If Governor Lujan Grisham is indeed sincere about the State’s crime crisis she should seek the enactment of an “Omnibus Gun Violence And Sentencing  Act” that could be enacted  by a special session. There must be a zero tolerance of crimes committed with firearms involving drug trafficking such as fentanyl.

The following crime and sentencing provisions should be included in the “Omnibus Gun Violence And Sentencing  Act”:

  • Allow firearm offenses used in a drug crime to be charged separately with enhance sentences.
  • Making possession of a handgun by someone who commits a crime of drug trafficking  an aggravated third-degree felony mandating a 10-year minimum sentence.
  • Increase the firearm enhancement penalties provided for the brandishing a firearm in the commission of a felony from 3 years to 10 years for a first offense and for a second or subsequent felony in which a firearm is brandished 12 years.
  • 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 in the commission of a felony with enhanced sentences of 5 years for a first offense and for second or subsequent felony in which a lethal weapon other than a firearm is brandished 8 years
  • Increase the penalty of shooting randomly into a crowded area a second-degree felony mandating a 9-year sentence.
  • Change bail bond to statutorily empower judges with far more discretionary authority to hold and jail those pending trial who have prior violent crime reported incidents without shifting the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense.

The “Omnibus Gun Violence And Sentencing  Act” must include funding for the criminal justice system. This would include funding District Attorney’s Offices, the Public Defender’s Office, the Courts and the Corrections Department and law enforcement departments across New Mexico.

Until the Governor and the legislature gets serious about crime, punishment and dedicating law enforcement resources and personnel  to prevention, all they are going to be doing is “sitting around acting like they are selling cattle.”


New Mexico Supreme Court Opinion Provides Guidance About Pretrial Detention; Holistic, Commonsense Approach Called For By Supreme Court

Criminal Defendant Joe Anderson, 41, was sentenced and served  seven years in prison for  the 2010 fatal shooting of Vincente Sanchez. On December 4, 2022, Anderson was charged with the first-degree murder of Raymond Aviles, who was fatally shot in August, 2022 while he was riding a motorcycle near Eastern and Amherst SE.

According to a criminal complaint filed against Anderson, a confidential source said the motive of the killing was Anderson loaned Aviles a motorcycle and Aviles did not return it as promised to Anderson.  APD obtained nearby surveillance footage showing Aviles pulling into an apartment complex on a motorcycle before attempting to flee from a white SUV. The video then shows the SUV’s driver and a passenger get out and chase Aviles, who drives out of the camera’s view. Aviles died in the middle of Eastern Avenue.  Anderson was identified as one who had chased Aviles.

In January after his arrest an evidentiary hearing on conditions of release, Second Judicial District Court Judge Emeterio Rudolfo denied a prosecutor’s motion to keep Anderson behind bars while awaiting trial.  In his January 13 order, Judge Emeterio Rudolfo ruled that although Anderson presented a danger to the community, the danger could be mitigated with conditions of release, which included fitting Anderson with a GPS ankle monitor.

District Judge Rudolpho ruled that Defendant Anderson’s compliance with conditions of release in other pending cases undermined the District Attorney’s argument that no conditions of release could protect the public.  District Court officials were alerted on February 7 that Anderson’s ankle monitor was cut off and the ankle bracelet was found a day later  on the side of a highway.  APD Police arrested Anderson on February 26.

On February 6, the New Mexico Supreme Court overturned District Court Judge Emeterio Rudolfo decision to release Anderson pending trial and held that the district court abused its discretion in denying the prosecution’s detention request. A warrant was issued for Anderson’s arrest the following day. Anderson is in jail awaiting trial. The New Mexico Supreme Court found that the finding that a defendant is dangerous must be a factor in deciding whether conditions of release can be fashioned that will protect the public.

The link to the quoted news source is here:



On May 22, and in part because of the Anderson reversal, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion providing guidance to district courts in deciding pretrial detention requests from prosecutors. The justices clarified the analysis that courts should follow in determining whether legal requirements have been met for a person charged with a felony to be held in jail while awaiting trial.

Under state law, a felony defendant may be detained if prosecutors file a written motion and prove to a district court that the charged person is dangerous and that “no release conditions will reasonably protect the safety of any other person or the community.”  The New Mexico  Supreme Court’s opinion provides the legal reasoning for the  order issued by the justices in February that reversed District Court Judge Emeterio Rudolfo decision denying  of a Motion for Pretrial Detention of Defendant Joe Anderson. The justices held that the district court abused its discretion in denying the prosecution’s detention request and that the District Court followed the wrong analytical framework in making its determination.

Justice Briana H. Zamora wrote on behalf of the Supreme Court as follows:

“In this case, ample evidence showed that the Defendant [Anderson] was unlikely to comply with release conditions and that the public would be put at significant risk should he fail to comply with release conditions.  …

District courts must undertake a two-prong analysis in pretrial detention decision-making: The first is determining whether the defendant is dangerous, and the second prong is whether the state has proven there are no conditions or restrictions that can be imposed on a defendant – if released – to reasonably protect the public.

In analyzing both prongs, district courts must consider a range of factors outlined in a rule of criminal procedure governing pretrial detention (Rule 5-409). Those factors include the “nature and circumstances” of the charged crime, the defendant’s history, and the “nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that would be posed by the defendant’s release. … All factors are relevant to both prongs because a defendant’s dangerousness is not an entirely separate consideration from whether release conditions can reasonably protect the safety of the public; rather, the nature of the defendant’s dangerousness informs whether the public can be kept reasonably safe from that danger by the imposition of release conditions.

Thus, if a district court applies the Rule 5-409 factors and determines that a defendant is dangerous, it should not cordon off those facts that it considered in the dangerousness analysis and limit itself solely to the evidence that it did not yet consider in order to rule on release conditions.  District courts should take a “holistic, commonsense approach” in the analysis about possible release conditions.”

This second prong of the pretrial detention analysis, like the first prong of dangerousness, must be proven by clear and convincing evidence. However, the State must only prove that no release conditions can reasonably protect the public, not that no release conditions can possibly protect the public. … As part of its analysis, the district court must consider not only whether a defendant is likely to comply with release conditions but also the likely consequences to any person or the community should a defendant fail to comply”

That additional inquiry is related to, and must be viewed in light of, the magnitude of a defendant’s dangerousness. … For example, a defendant with a history of violent crimes who stands accused of a new violent crime may pose a significant and unjustifiable risk to the safety of any person or the community if the defendant fails to comply with release conditions.”

The Supreme Court made clear and emphasized that District Courts cannot “rely solely on the charged offense to order a defendant’s detention.” A district court “must always conduct a totality of the circumstances analysis in reaching a decision” on a motion for the pretrial detention of a felony defendant.

The link to the quoted Administrative Office of the Courts press release is here:

Click to access New%20Mexico%20Supreme%20Court%20opinion%20provides%20guidance%20about%20pretrial%20detention.pdf


The Anderson ruling is the second time within a year that the New Mexico Supreme Court felt it necessary to reverse a District Court’s ruling to release a defendant charged with a violent felony on GPS monitoring pending trial. On May 5, 2022, the New Mexico Supreme Court overturned the pretrial release of an Albuquerque teen murder suspect. Adrian Avila was  accused of the February 2021 murder of Elias Otero. He was one and of four people allegedly involved in the August 2020 shooting death of Donnie Brandon. Avila was granted pretrial release on GPS monitoring and a strict curfew by Judge Stanley Whitaker.

Judge Stan Whitaker ruled that, while prosecutors had credible evidence to charge Avila for two murders, they did not prove how keeping Avila in jail would protect the community.

After the ruling, then Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez’s office filed for an appeal. The appeal led to the state Supreme Court’s decision. The Supreme Court’s appeal states in part:

“Conditions of release cannot reasonably protect the safety of the community. It was an abuse of discretion for the district court to find otherwise. … The district court’s decision to release defendant placed the public at unnecessary risk.”

Following the Supreme Court’s decision, Avila was return to jail to await trial.

The link to quoted news source is here:



The New Mexico Supreme Court ruling in the Joe Anderson case is the most recent ruling made amidst intense debate over pretrial detention and what is known as the Public Safety Assessment Tool.  When a criminal defendant is arrested and in jail, a prosecutor must file a Motion to Detain the defendant in custody until trial with no bail. After a prosecutor files a Motion to Detain, the Public Safety Assessment Tool assigns a recommended level of monitoring for the court to consider under pretrial services should the court decide to release a defendant pending trial, including house arrest and ankle bracelet monitoring.  An evidentiary hearing is held where the prosecutor has the burden of proof to show that the defendant poses an immediate threat and risk to the public and that there are no reasonable conditions of release to protect the public.

Last year the District Court’s reliance the Public Safety Assessment Tool came under severe scrutiny and criticism by prosecutors, law enforcement and elected officials, including Governor Mitchell Lujan Grisham and New Mexico legislators, saying violent criminals were being release pending trial and committing crimes when they should have been in jail. The Public Safety Assessment Tool was attacked by critics when it recommended releasing a defendant charged with a violent crime with critics arguing that its recommendation of release was mandatory and not discretionary by the courts.

Pretrial detention legislation was introduced in the 2023 legislative session that would have mandated that a defendant simply charged with a violent crime be presumed violent and jailed until trial. The legislation failed and did not make it out of a single legislature committee. Critics argued successfully that the presumption of being violent mandating detention until trial is contrary to the constitutional right of due process of law and the presumption of being innocent until proven guilty.

On April 20, the Second Judicial District Court removed from the Public Safety Assessment Tool the categories of “Detention” and “Released on Own Recognizance” (ROR) which are on the opposite end of the Public Assessment Tool.  Second Judicial Chief Judge Marie Ward said inclusion of the two categories at the far ends of the Public Safety Assessment tool is not viewed as “best practices” but were added as a compromise at the request of one of the stakeholders on the  Bernalillo County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

District Judge Ward said, just like before the changes were made, a judge must consider evidence presented by the prosecutors and the defense attorneys to determine whether someone poses and immediate danger to the public and whether there are any conditions of release that could ensure the safety of the community. If a judge determines the person can be released, then the Public Safety Assessment gives them guidance on what level of supervision the defendant should be on.

Judge Ward described the changes as follows:

“What the [Public Assessment Tool] really tells us is, not this defendant, but a defendant in similarly situated circumstances … how likely were they to re-offend. … More evidence and argument can come in regarding this individual and other risk factors. … These modifications are only intended to clarify the misconceptions that have been out there that the assessment somehow dictates whether someone is released or not. … That’s not the case. It’s always the judge making a decision, and its always been that way.”


A negative perception of the courts is created when judges release violent felons and not holding them for trial without bond and simply not using their common sense.  It’s common knowledge that Judges are concerned about their disqualification rates, appeals and reversals and how they are perceived by the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission.

Repeatedly, and especially during election years, it is very common for elected officials and candidates for office to proclaim that our criminal justice is broken and that the courts have become a revolving door for violent criminals. It’s a ploy that undercuts the very integrity of the courts, with nefarious politicians knowing full well individual judges are strictly prohibited from discussing in public pending cases under penalty of being removed from office.  The criminal justice system in this country and this state has never been perfect, nor will it ever be, but it is not broken. The criminal justice system does have its flaws and a number of inequities, but to say that it is a broken system is just plain ignorance or political opportunism at its worst.

There is little doubt that the New Mexico Supreme Court with its ruling in the Anderson case and subsequent guidance to the District Courts has become increasingly sensitive to the perceptions and demands of the general public that violent criminals, especially those charge with murder, need to be held in custody pending trial. What is also clear is that the Supreme Court wants the lower courts use their common sense and use a holistic and analytical approach to make their decisions to protect the general public from the most violent offenders. Now the public must wait and see how much common sense the courts in fact have.