Governor MLG Considers Calling Special Session To Deal With Public Safety Issues; It’s About Time!

The 2024 New Mexico legislative session ended on February 15 at noon.  During a news conference immediately after the session ended Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said she may convene a “special public safety session” to try and pass more public safety initiatives that did not make it through the legislature.

A link to the press conference is here:

https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=245093381903095

During the press conference, the Governor highlighted gun-related bills that made it to her desk for signature. The bills she highlighted included House Bill 129 that  creates a seven-day waiting period, often referred to as a “cooling-off” period, for gun purchases.  Lawmakers also passed a bill increasing penalties for second-degree murder. Other crime bills that passed included banning guns from polling places and automatically holding people who commit crimes while out of jail awaiting trial for another crime.

While the governor highlighted these bills saying they will make a difference in saving lives, she also expressed her frustration that more public safety bills did not make it to her desk. The Governor said the House and Senate failed to make more progress on her public safety  priorities for the 30-day session that ended at noon February 15.

Lujan Grisham said this: Both houses are well aware that I’m frustrated that not enough, or certainly more public safety measures got up.  …   I want to just say to New Mexicans, I don’t think it’s safe out there and I don’t think they think it’s safe out there because it plays out horrifically every single day.”

On Tuesday,  February 27, the Governor told  business leaders in Albuquerque she has not made up her mind on a special session and said this:

“You’ll know when I know. I don’t know. … I think there’s a lot more to do.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/business/governor-touts-2024-legislature-successes-that-can-help-businesses/article_982359ae-d5cb-11ee-9747-b7713ad4449d.html#tncms-source=home-featured-7-block

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH TREATMENT FOR PEOPLE ACCUSED OF CRIMES.

Lujan Grisham said it’s too early to commit to specific bills she’d want to bring up in a special session.  However, one of the measures that could be on the table for a potential special session is a move to require behavioral health treatment for people accused of crimes.

The Governor said she had hoped her criminal competency legislation that would address treatment would pass the 2024 Legislature. The criminal competency bill introduced in the 2024 session would have mandated court-ordered treatment for a defendant deemed dangerous and incompetent to stand trial. The bill never made it to the floor. Lujan Grisham said this:

“We need a tool for folks who are repeat offenders because of these issues — substance abuse, behavioral health, mental health issues — to make sure that they can get the required treatment for more than a minute.”

PRETRIAL DETENTION SYSTEM

Another bill the Governor  suggested that should be considered during a special session would be to change the pretrial detention system. The bill was tabled in the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee on its first hearing for the third year in a row. The legislation, which Lujan Grisham aggressively pushed,  would have allowed for prosecutors to recommend that defendants accused of certain violent crimes be held in jail before trial without bond.

The statute presumes that people charged with such crimes are too dangerous to be released.  The defense would have a chance to “rebut” and prove that the defendant should be released. If a rebuttal isn’t brought, the defendant would automatically be jailed before trial.

The pretrial detention measure, SB271, was later resurrected via a “dummy bill” which is a blank measure filled in later after introduction and can be on any subject matter. However, it differed significantly from the bill that failed previously. People released after being accused of a felony, if accused of another felony, would be held without bond. No reference to rebuttable presumption was included in the bill.

Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, who carried the first bill for the governor said the measure was a different way to achieve the same goal.  Brandt said this:

“Keeping the worst of the worst behind bars. … I think [what passed is] a partial step in the right direction.”

Lujan Grisham said the “no-bond” hold that did pass risks leaning in both directions. The Governor said this:

“This no-bond hold isn’t the provision I was trying to mirror the feds, and I still believe in that. …  I think that …  is just simpler to do.”

THIRD-DEGREE FELONY FOR A FELON TO BE FOUND WITH A FIREARM

The governor also said legislation that would make it a third-degree felony for a felon to be found with a firearm would have passed the Roundhouse if it didn’t contain a mistake, though she didn’t specify what the mistake was.

Lujan Grisham also mentioned legislation during the news conference that would require people to be at least 21 years old to buy guns. It sat on the House calendar, and the floor never actually heard it. Like the other measures, it’s not clear if it would come up again in a special session dedicated to public safety.

Other gun control measures that failed to pass include an assault weapons ban, changes to the Extreme Risk Protection Order and a bill intended to keep the firearm industry accountable.

Lujan Grisham said the most important gun safety bill that made it to her desk was the  waiting period on firearm purchases. Another bill, to keep guns out of polling places, also passed both chambers, with an amendment to exempt people with concealed carry licenses.

House Minority Leader Ryan Lane, R-Aztec, criticized all the gun legislation the Roundhouse passed, saying Democrats failed to meaningfully address crime in New Mexico. Lane said this:

“Guns are not the issue. … Our issues in New Mexico are more foundational.”

Lujan Grisham didn’t say when a special session might occur. If New Mexicans have other ideas on public safety measures, she said, she’s interested in hearing them.

https://www.krqe.com/news/politics-government/legislature/roundhouse-roundup-end-of-the-session/

Governor, legislative leadership reflect on session

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/governor-considers-revisiting-public-safety-priorities-in-special-session/article_35b877f0-cc5b-11ee-9d52-23cd6aab8a2d.html

REVSITING THE GOVERNOR’S GUN CONTROL MEASURES

On January 12, 2024 before the beginning of the 2024 Legislative Session, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced her support of bills she wanted lawmakers to consider during the 30 day session to address public safety. The bills include raising the age to purchase a gun, regulating assault weapons, and increasing penalties for a range of crimes.  The governor also asked lawmakers to discuss a handful of crime-related bills backed by both Democratic lawmakers as well as Republicans.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had this to say when she unveiled her public safety agenda for the 2024 legislative session:

“We have a gun problem … and we have a public safety problem.  … We have a responsibility to our children, to families, communities to solve it, and I believe this package goes a long way to do just that. … This is, without a doubt, the largest and most comprehensive public safety package in our state’s history. It’s the most together we’ve been on addressing public safety, crime and gun violence since I’ve been involved in government and certainly since I’ve been the governor. … Gun violence is a significant contributor to the cycles of crime in our communities and will continue to use every tool at our disposal to end this epidemic. Likewise, we will strengthen our support for law enforcement, increase penalties for violent crimes, and once again pursue legislation to keep violent offenders behind bars pending trial. All of this will build upon the progress and investments we’ve made in previous years.”

Three of the gun control initiatives Lujan Grisham supported  for the 2024 session in fact failed in the  2023 Legislative session.  The bills from the 2023 legislative session that failed were:

House Bill 101, which would have prohibited people from possessing assault weapons.

House Bill 100, which would have established a 14-day waiting period for guns.

Senate Bill 116, which would have made it illegal for anyone younger than 21 to purchase an automatic or semi-automatic firearm.

All 3 died in committee.

PRE TRIAL-DETENTION MEASURES

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for a third time advocated for major changes to the state’s criminal justice pretrial detention system in the form of enacting “rebuttable presumption” to make it easier to hold defendants accused of violent crimes until trial.

For the 2024 session, the bill’s sponsor was Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Sandoval. It would shift the way courts decide if someone should be held in jail before their trial.  The bill would have created a “rebuttable presumption” that a person charged with a violent crime  are a threat and should be held before trial, unless the defense offered clear and convincing evidence that the accused defendant was not  a danger to the community.

The legislation would create a “rebuttable presumption” of dangerousness for defendants charged with violent crimes and that they be held without bond pending trial. The aim of rebuttable presumption” is to make it easier for more defendants to be held in custody before they’ve been convicted and to keep them from committing new crimes.

Proponents of rebuttable presumption say it will reduce violent crime.  Opponents of rebuttable presumption say courts can already keep a defendant behind bars. Opponents argue that reputable presumption shifts the burden of proof to defendants and violates the basic constitutional right of presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

BILLS INTROCED THAT DID NOT PASS

The governor’s public safety priorities included the following bills introduced with the sponsors identified that dealt with firearms and cracking down on crime:

  1. The Firearm Industry Accountability Act amended the state’s Unfair Trade Practices Act to allow gun manufacturers to be held liable for deceptive trade practices. (Sponsored by Rep. Christine Chandler)
  2. Assault weapons ban would have lawfully regulated the manufacture, possession and sale of weapons of war, most often the gun used in mass casualty events. (Sponsored by Rep. Andrea Romero)
  3. Raising the age to purchase automatic firearms to 21 from the current minimum of 18 years of age. (Sponsored by Rep. Reena Szczepanski)
  4. Prohibiting guns in parks and playgrounds would have  made it illegal to carry a firearm in county or municipal parks, playgrounds, and their accompanying parking lots.
  5. Felons in possession of firearms would have increased the criminal penalty for felons found to be in possession of guns making it a second-degree felony. (Sponsored by Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil)
  6. Amending the human trafficking statute would have increased the statute of limitations, criminal penalties, and victim protections under New Mexico’s current human trafficking statute. (Sponsored by Rep. Marian Matthews)
  7. Changes to commercial burglary statute would have strengthened law enforcement’s ability to respond to businesses who have revoked a person’s right to enter or remain on their property due to a prior theft. It would have allowed police to charge offenders with the crime of commercial burglary, a 4th-degree felony.
  8. Pretrial detention and rebuttable presumption legislation for persons charged with serious, largely violent offenses. Unless rebutted by clear and convincing evidence, a defendant that poses a threat to the safety of community members can be held in custody pending trial. (Sponsored by Sen. Craig Brandt)
  9. Mandated treatment that would give judges a more robust avenue to civilly commit individuals who are a danger to themselves or others.
  10. RICO amendments were offered to update the existing Racketeering Act by adding additional crimes to include human trafficking, rape, exploitation of children, escape from penitentiary, and tampering with public records.
  11. Amendments were offered to amend the Extreme Risk Firearms Protection Order Act. Specifically, it would have provided an expedited process where orders are issued 24-7 via an on-call judge, a requirement of immediate relinquishment of firearms upon service of an order. This legislation also would have changed reporting parties to include law enforcement and health care professionals. (Sponsored by Reps. Christine Chandler, Joy Garratt)
  12. A Panhandling ban would have prohibited the unlawful use of public spaces, streets, sidewalks, curbs, with the primary goal of increasing public safety and vehicular efficiency.
  13. Misdemeanor DWI search warrant requirement amendment would have updated the requirements for testing the blood of a suspected intoxicated driver to include both drugs and alcohol for misdemeanor crimes when the arrested person refuses testing.
  14. Hazing penalties would have  criminalized hazing and aggravated hazing, protecting students or prospective students in New Mexico. Hazing is a misdemeanor and aggravated hazing a fourth-degree felony. This bill provides for criminal penalties for teachers, coaches or other reporting parties who knew, or should have known about hazing and failed to report it.
  15. Data sharing requirements for law enforcement agencies would have  required the regular reporting of crime data from law enforcement agencies to the state as a condition of state funding.

LEGISLATION THAT PASSED

The following legislation passed:

  1. Firearms purchase waiting period created a protracted waiting period of 14 days between the initiation of a federal background check and a buyer taking possession of a firearm, thereby reducing the opportunity for gun violence and suicide. (Sponsored by Rep. Andrea Romero) The legislature amended the bill and enacted a 7 day waiting period.
  2. Prohibiting guns in polling places makes it illegal to carry firearms within 100 feet of polling places during an election. (Sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth.) This bill in fact became law.
  3. Compensation was increased for State Police, corrections/parole officers and provides for a 14% funding increase ($11.5 million) for State Police and an 8% increase ($7.2 million) for corrections, probation & parole officers.
  4. Return to work for public safety personnel passed.  The bill is designed to provide a mechanism to allow for public safety personnel who previously retired from PERA to be able to return to work and continue to serve their communities. The goal of the bill is to be able to shore up significant public safety personnel vacancy rates in state, county and municipal public safety agencies.
  5. Increased criminal penalty of the crime of second-degree murder raising  the maximum penalty from 15 to 18 years. (Sponsored by Sen. Antonio Maestas)

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It should come as absolutely no surprise to politcal observers that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is now proposing a special session to deal with public safety. A special session is something that was called for repeatedly, especially after the Farmington mass shooting and school shootings at Albuquerque schools and involving children with calls for a Special Session simply ignored by the Governor.

Simply put, when it comes to gun all the gun control legislation Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham wanted to be enacted during the 30-day 2024 legislative session, much of it was is dead on arrival and very little even made it through House and Senate committees.   It was way too much for a 30 day session that was supposed to deal with budgetary and financial matters.  In fact only 2  major  gun control measures were actually enacted:

  1. The 7 day cooling off period for the purchase of guns.
  2. No guns at voter polling locations.

Until the New Mexico legislature get serious about New Mexico’s gun violence crisis and enacts reasonable gun control measures in conjunction with crime and punishment measures, we can expect our violent crime rates to continue to increase, and God forbid, yet another killing of a child which is what prompted the Governor to issue her executive orders banning guns in the first place.

If Governor Lujan Grisham is really serious about the State’s crime crisis and wants to do something about it, she should be calling for the New Mexico Legislature to enact an “Omnibus Gun Control And Violent Crime Sentencing Act”  during a Special Session of the legislature.  

The message that must be sent out loud and clear to violent criminals by our elected officials is that New Mexico has a zero tolerance of violent crimes committed with firearms.  The only way to do that is with responsible gun control measures to reduce the availability of guns and to enhance criminal sentencings.

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT MEASURES

The following crime and sentencing provisions should be included in the Omnibus Gun Control And Violent Crime 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.
  • Increase the penalty and mandatory sentencing for the conviction of the use of a fire arm during a road rage incident to a first degree felony mandating a life 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.

GUN CONTROL MEASURES

Gun control measures that should be included the “Omnibus Gun Control And  Violent Crime Sentencing  Act” would include legislation that failed in the 2023 legislative session and other measures and would include the following:

  • Call for the repeal the New Mexico Constitutional provision that allows the “open carry” of firearms. This would require a public vote and no doubt generate heated discussion given New Mexico’s high percentage of gun ownership for hunting, sport or hobby, but what is the real rational for allowing side arms and rifles to be carried down the street other than to intimidate others.
  • Restrict the sale, manufacture and possession of AR-15-style rifles along with semiautomatic firearms and make it a fourth-degree felony to purchase, possess, manufacture, import, sell or transfer assault weapons in the state.
  • Prohibited magazines with more than 10 rounds.
  • Prohibited the possession of semiautomatic firearm converter that allows the weapon to fire more rapidly.
  • Institute a State background check system with a  mental health component  that would disqualify a person with a history of mental health violent outbursts or a history of threats to others from making a gun purchase.
  • Established a minimum age of 21 for anyone seeking to purchase or possess an automatic firearm, semiautomatic firearm or firearm capable of accepting a large-capacity magazine.
  • Ban the manufacture, sale, trade, gift, transfer or acquisition of semiautomatic pistols that have two or more defined characteristics.
  • Revised the state’s Unfair Practices Act to target the sale of illegal firearms and parts, allowing the filing of lawsuits to enforce the act.
  • Prohibit in New Mexico the sale of “ghost guns” parts. Ghost guns are guns that are manufactured and sold in parts without any serial numbers to be assembled by the purchaser and that can be sold to anyone.
  • Require in New Mexico the mandatory purchase of “liability insurance” with each gun sold as is required for all operable vehicles bought and driven in New Mexico.
  • Mandate the school systems and higher education institutions “harden” their facilities with more security doors, security windows, and security measures and alarm systems and security cameras tied directly to law enforcement 911 emergency operations centers.
  • Require a permit to purchase all rifles and handguns.  There are 15 other states require a permit to purchase or licensing.  The best predictor of future performance is past performance. Firearm licensing has past performance.  A John Hopkins University study in a comparative analysis, describes licensing as the most effective firearm policy. Connecticut notes a 28% decrease in homicides, 33% decrease in suicides 10 years post licensing. When you compare states with and without licensing, there is a 56% decrease in mass shootings. Studies reveal a decrease of gun trafficking of more than 60% after licensing.  Missouri found similar increases in homicides and suicides when removing their purchase restrictions.  Licensing is constitutional it has broad public support.  Licensing brings in revenue to the state vs simply cost the state money.

The Omnibus Gun Control And Violent Crime Sentencing Act 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.

Video Of DWI Arrest Reveals How DWI Dismissal Bribery Corruption Scheme Worked; Hideous Shake Down By One Of Albuquerque’s  Finest Caught On Tape; Fully Investigate, Prosecute And Disbarment Only Beginning To Restore Faith In APD And Criminal Justice System

On Friday January 19, it was reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) executed search warrants and raided 3 homes of Albuquerque Police officers and the home and the law office of prominent DWI criminal defense attorney Thomas Clear, III.  All 6 are allegedly involved in a bribery and conspiracy scheme spanning a decade to dismiss DWI cases. DA Sam Bregman ordered the dismissed 196  DWI cases because of the scandal due to the main witnesses’ credibility being called into question  which in all the  cases are  APD officers.  The Albuquerque Police Department has opened its own criminal investigation with an Internal Affairs investigation of the 5 officers.

The 5 cops implicated have been identified as Officers Honorio Alba, Joshua Montaño, Nelson Ortiz, Harvey Johnson and Lt. Justin Hunt with all placed on paid administrative leave.  Lt. Justin Hunt has resigned from APD. The FBI searched the homes of Alba and Johnson and the law offices of Thomas Clear III and the home of Clear’s paralegal Ricardo “Rick” Mendez. The US Department of Justice and US Attorney’s office have confirmed the APD police officers and the criminal defense attorney are at the center of a federal investigation involving the dismissal of hundreds of pending DWI criminal cases by the APD Officers ostensibly for some sort of remuneration to have the cases dismissed.

On February 22, it was widely reported that APD lapel camera video as well as a recording by a victimized citizen gave insight to some extent into just how the APD DWI dismissal and bribery scheme worked with the defense attorney. This blog article reports on the shake down.

A HIDEOUS SHAKE DOWN

On June 25, 2023 Officer Joshua Montaño stopped Carlos Sandoval Smith on suspicion of drunk driving and Sandoval Smith had his niece in the vehicle with him. Officer Montaño  has Sandoval Smith do a field sobriety test and he makes the decision to make an arrest and takes him to be booked. Montaño takes Sandoval Smith’s Apple watch and gold rope bracelet while booking Sandoval Smith.  Two breath analyzer tests were administered to Sandoval Smith and he was found below the legal limit for DWI but Sandoval Smith was still charged with DWI by Montaño and then released.

The next day,  Officer Montaño  calls Sandoval Smith to tell him his jewelry was not tagged into evidence and misplaced but he could get back his personal belongings from an attorney friend of Montaño’s who was identified as DWI Defense Attorney Tom Clear. Smith goes to the law offices of Clear where he meets paralegal Rick Mendez.  Suspicious, Smith goes to the law offices with a hidden recorder. Rick Mendez returns the personal items to Sandoval Smith and tells him that he has a guarantee way to avoid a DWI conviction and that is to hire Tom Clear for $8,500. The arrangement was to be that Officer Montaño would not appear for court and the case would be dismissed.  Sandoval Smith did not take the offer and he hired a public defender and the case was dismissed.

TAPED RECORDING INTEREACTIONS

A 71-minute video from Montaño’s lapel camera shows Sandoval-Smith being pulled over, taking field sobriety tests on the street and being prepared for booking at a Downtown prisoner transport facility. Following is the narrative:

APD Officer Joshua Montaño’s lapel video shows that on June 25, 2023, the 42-year-old Carlos Sandoval Smith was stopped near I-25 and Central. The conversation between Albuquerque Police DWI Officer Joshua Montaño and Sandova Smith on the lapel camera is as follows:

Officer Montaño: “I’m Officer Montaño with APD, I stopped you for speeding.”

Smith replied: “Yes sir.”

Officer Montaño: “Carlos, why you going so fast, man?”

Smith: “I apologize, I was just trying to get over in the lane and get on the freeway. My bad.”

Officer Montaño examined Sandoval Smith’s eyes to see if they were blood shot and ran Sandoval Smith through a series of field sobriety tests. “I’m nervous,” Smith admitted, adding he was concerned about his 16-year-old cousin who was watching from the car.  “I don’t wanna leave my cousin,” Smith said. “I gotta be a good example. I shouldn’t have sped, I’m sorry sir.” Officer Montaño replied “Well let’s just see how you do, okay?” .

Smith cooperates with the eye examination, walks in a straight line, and mentions problems with his knee when asked to balance on one leg. Smith asks  “This is the bad knee, so can I do this leg instead?”  Officer Montaño replied. “Any leg you’d like.”  Smith then counts backward and successfully recites a portion of the alphabet. After the field tests Officer Montaño tells Smith  “I do have to give you the opportunity to do a breath test.” At this  point, Sandoval Smith is placed in handcuffs and driven to the Prisoner Transport Center downtown. Sandoval Smith had to leave his 16 old cousin alone  to wait for a ride.

At the Prisoner Transport Center,  Sandoval Smith willingly took two breathalyzer tests. After blowing below the legal limit of .08 twice, Smith was still arrested and booked into jail for DWI.  During the breathalyzer tests, Officer Montaño removed his lapel camera and placed it at a distance while he interacted  with Sandoval Smith.

Montaño tells Sandoval Smith “I’m gonna take off your i-watch – your Apple watch.”  The Video shows Officer Montaño taking off Smith’s Apple watch and gold braid bracelet.   The fact that Montaño took off his APD  lapel camera to interact with Carlos Sandoval Smith while he was effectuating the arrest was improper and it violated APD’s standard operating procedures.

The next day DWI Officer Joshua Montaño called Sandoval Smith and left  a voice message.  The  phone message was:

“Hey Carlos, this is Officer Montaño with APD. I was just giving you a call because I – I don’t know if you realize, but I’m sure you do that – some of your jewelry was missing from the property from Sunday evening. And it looks like the PTC officers didn’t put that in your bag, but I have it.”

In a follow-up phone call, Smith says Officer Montaño told him he could get his watch and gold bracelet back from his attorney friend  DWI Defense Attorney Thomas Clear and he was given Clear’s address.

Becoming suspicious, Sandoval Smith contacted Clear’s office and made arrangements to pick up his property but also decided to record the interaction. Smith recorded his interaction with Clear’s Paralegal Ricardo ‘Rick’ Mendez  the day he retrieved his bracelet.  Below is a transcript of a portion of Smith’s interaction with who he says is Rick Mendez:

Smith: How are you sir?
Paralegal: You Carlos?
Smith: Yes I am, sir.

Smith: What is my next best step to try and not get this on my record, what do you recommend I do?

Paralegal: If you need to get off of this –
Smith: I do.

Paralegal: Okay. You’re at the right place. If you’re one of those people that can live with it, then go hire a cheap attorney. … We’re not the cheapest.

Smith: Okay.
Paralegal: So we charge $8,500 and you could do it in payments.
Smith: And with you representing me, that would guarantee that this doesn’t go on my record?

Paralegal: Yes.
Smith: Okay. And the odds of me not going with you and going with a public defender, what do you think about that?
Paralegal: Roll of the dice.

Links to quoted news sources are here:

https://www.krqe.com/news/investigations/recording-albuquerque-dwi-suspect-says-he-was-offered-a-guarantee-for-8500/

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/dwi-suspects-recording-sheds-light-on-alleged-scheme-involving-apd-officers-and-attorney/

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/man-details-encounters-with-officer-and-law-firm-implicated-in-dwi-corruption-probe/article_2e279c08-d1c6-11ee-9c14-3b1fc8bfc956.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Throughout his entire interaction with Officer Montaño, Carlos Sandoval Smith was honest, very polite, very cooperative and even apologetic, he did everything he was told to do and answered all questions.  Ultimately, he participated in two field sobriety tests that he passed but he was still charged and booked.  To add to his victimization, and attempt was made to shake him down even further for $8,500.

What is so very disgusting is that this  entire interaction between Carlos Sandoval Smith and APD Police Officer Joshua Montaño amounts to nothing more than a hideous “shake down” of an innocent man by a sworn APD Police Officer who violated his oath of office to protect and defend.  It was nothing more than a complete abuse of power by law enforcement to effectuate a crime and to victimize an innocent man.

All people should feel safe when they deal with police, even if they are being pulled over for a traffic stop. No one should ever be subject of extortion nor intimidation by law enforcement or for that matter lawyers. There is no place in the criminal justice system for this type of corruption and behavior.

Then there is the matter of a criminal defense attorney and his para legal having no problem conspiring with law enforcement to victimize and extort innocent people.  An attorney guaranteeing and outcome in a criminal prosecution in exchange for money is criminal and a violation of the Code of Professional conduct deserving of permanent disbarment from the practice of law.

There is absolutely no doubt that APD’s reputation has been trashed to a major extent because of this scandal. APD will likely be viewed by many as again having just another bastion of “dirty and corrupt cops” who have brought dishonor to their department and to the department’s professed values of “Pride, Integrity, Fairness and Respect”.  This is so even before any charges have been filed against anyone, before any one is fired from APD and before any action is brought against the police officers involved for government corruption and criminal conspiracy to dismiss cases working with a prominent criminal defense attorney. Should the criminal defense attorney be charged and convicted of the crimes, he is likely facing jail time as well as disbarment from the practice of law.

There is little doubt that this whole DWI dismissal bribery scandal has shaken the public’s faith in our criminal justice system.  The only way that any semblance of faith can be restored and for people to begin trusting APD again is if all the police officers involved in this scandal are held accountable, the lawyers involved are held accountable.  That will only happen  when there is aggressive prosecutions and convictions, the police officers are terminated and they lose thier law enforcement certification and disbarment occurs with the attorney.

 

Mayor Keller Proclaims Critically Injured Driver Involved In Chief’s Accident “Wrong Place At The Wrong Time”; APD Family Ride Policy Under Scrutiny After Chief Medina’s  Weekend Crash; Both Keller And Medina Are Embarrassment With Their Words And Actions

On Saturday, February 17, Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina and his wife were in an unmarked APD truck when the APD vehicle crashed into a classic, gold color Mustang after Medina ran a red light as he tried to avoid gunfire on East Central.  The crash scene was at Central and Alvarado where Chief Harold Medina was driving his unmarked police unit with his wife in the city issue truck. Medina reported  two people getting into a fight seconds before the chief said he heard a gunshot. The chief then took off through the intersection through a red light and crashed into a Ford Mustang, seriously injuring the driver of the Mustang. The driver of the Mustang was taken to a hospital in critical condition.

On February 17 during a news conference after the crash, Mayor Tim Keller reacted to the incident by saying this:

“[Getting the call about the crash was] one of those types of calls that I dread. … It always starts with, ‘There’s been an altercation with an officer, there’s been a shooting,’ and then I hear it’s the chief. So that is the worst way I ever want to start the day.  … Fortunately, in this case, I quickly learned he was OK.  … [Chief Medina is] arguably the most important person right now in these times in our city. … [The shooting incident is an example of] why we are never quitting when it comes to trying to make our city safer. … But it’s hard. It is extremely hard. It affects everyone, including our chief of police on a Saturday morning.”

“This is actually him on a Saturday morning, disrupting an altercation, a shooting, trying to do what’s right, trying to make sure that folks are okay after on scene. This is above and beyond what you expect from a chief, and I’m grateful for Harold Medina.  … For us, we need to continue that clarion call for at every single level to do everything we can to make our city safer.  We don’t know any details, but would not be surprised if there was fentanyl, or whatever other illegal substance could have been exchanged. These are the kinds of things that we absolutely have to address. And this is not going to change unless we have major steps that we can take at every level.

RELEASED SURVEILLANCE VIDEO

On February 21, APD released a surveillance video that shows Chief Harold Medina running a red light and crashing into the Ford Mustang seriously injuring the driver of the Mustang.

The surveillance video starts with the usual Saturday morning traffic on East Central. One man walks into the frame heading east while another man crosses Central, heading west. Within seconds they meet on the corner of Central and Alvarado and then you see the two men start fighting.  The two men can be seen fighting outside the Tewa Lodge motel, swinging their arms as the scuffle moves down the sidewalk. At the same time, Medina’s APD-issued unmarked truck can be seen inching out into Central.

Medina’s  truck drives into oncoming westbound traffic, between two vehicles, one of which appears to stop to avoid a crash. Medina’s truck then accelerates quickly across the two west bound lanes of Central and crashes into the classic Mustang headed east. The man who allegedly fired the gun appeared to watch the crash unfold before running down the sidewalk.

The surveillance video shows Medina  cutting  in front of another car before accelerating at a fast rate of speed  through the intersection. The video shows oncoming traffic with Medina first slowly inching between two vehicles traveling West on the North side lanes of Central and Medina then accelerating to cross to the South traveling lanes of Central at a high rate of speed and crashing into the Mustang that was traveling  East  on the South lanes of Central.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s highly likely that Medina could have avoided the entire crash by simply turning right to go West on Central as opposed to flooring his vehicle to go forward going South and attempting to turn left to go East. This would also had the immediate affect of driving the vehicle out of the line of fire with the motel building  providing an extent of obstruction.

The crash resulted in both vehicles doing a half circle turn in a counterclockwise direction. Medina’s truck came to rest against the southeast corner of the intersection with front end and rear end damage including a collapsed rear wheel reflecting an apparent broken axle. The Mustang was struck on the driver’s side with the door ripped opened and it also struck the south curb just east of the intersection and skid east before coming to rest, facing west, in the eastbound lane.

The links to news sources and video are here:

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/apd-releases-surveillance-video-of-police-chiefs-crash/

https://www.koat.com/article/albuquerque-police-department-crash-chief-harold-medina-new-video-policy-violations/46893301

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/albuquerque-police-release-video-of-police-chiefs-crash/article_08316ea4-d0e8-11ee-982e-6fc9029396b2.html

https://www.abqraw.com/post/apd-releases-video-of-chief-medina-s-crash-critically-injuring-a-citizen

MAYOR KELLER ASKED FOR REACTION TO VIDEO

On February 21 after the city released video of the crash involving Albuquerque’s police chief that sent another driver to the hospital,  Mayor Tim Keller was asked what he thought of the video. Keller said this to KRQE News 13:

“You know I have not seen the video yet. I did know that we released it and I know our team in internal affairs and so forth is looking at it. I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet, actually.  … We are very concerned about the victim, and this is a situation where it is a very,  very unfortunate combination of events that happened and they happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and so we are worried about their condition, and we want to make sure there is a full recovery, and it was also a beautiful gold Mustang.”

The link to the quoted news source is here:

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/albuquerque-mayor-speaks-out-about-crash-involving-police-chief/

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Mayor Tim Keller’s comments that he has not seen the released video are so very wrong on so many levels given Keller’s penchant for news coverage and how he gave comments the day of the accident. Medina’s car crash has generated extensive news coverage and its difficult to believe  Keller  when he says he has not seen the video or at least seen the nightly news coverage where the video and news stories  were published.

Only now, a full week after the crash,  does Keller show any concern about the injured driver of the other vehicle.   On February 17, Mayor Keller during his news conference about the car crash did not even mention the innocent driver of the Mustang who was hit by Medina. Keller did not even mention Chief Medina’s wife nor express any concern for her as well.  What is downright embarrassing and pathetic is the lengths to which Mayor Tim Keller went to praise Chief Harold Medina for his actions as some sort of a hero especially when he said “[Chief Medina is] arguably the most important person right now in these times in our city.” 

What is downright insulting is when Mayor Keller said the driver of the Mustang “happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time … and it was also a beautiful gold Mustang. ”  The blunt truth is the injured driver of the Mustang  was NOT at the “wrong place”.  He is the victim and an innocent bystander driving his vehicle obeying the law when and Chief Medina T-Boned him, critically injuring him and likely totaling both vehicles. It was Chief Medina who was in the wrong place and who broke the law by running a red light and he was not cited.  The type of car the victim  was driving is the last thing that should be on Keller’s mind.

APD FAMILY RIDE POLICY UNDER SCRUTINY AFTER CHIEF’S WEEKEND CRASH

Chief Medina’s crash where he and his wife were in an unmarked APD truck and crashed another vehicle is raising questions about APD’s rules surrounding family members in police units. On February 22, Medina said officers are allowed to have family members in their vehicle as long as they aren’t responding to a call. Medina said this was something he fought for in 2018. Medina said this:

“The number one thing is the safety of the community and our families. Sometimes it is a difficult balance for us to make sure we are able to accomplish that.  … In the past, I used to have SWAT officers when I was in the tactical session who actually went to the movie theater, their wife and kids went in one car, and they went in another car. They did the same thing for groceries, and it isn’t a good conducive lifestyle for the fact that we are asking these people to be on call 24/7.”

Medina said the  policy is  a good recruitment tool for officers but that doesn’t mean the department can’t revisit the policy.

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/apd-family-ride-policy-under-scrutiny-after-chiefs-weekend-crash/

APD STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES FOR POLICE RIDE ALONG

It is Standard Operating Procedure 1-6 the deals with the APD “Patrol Ride Along Program” and   1-6-4 entitled Rules outlines ride along with police. The SOP states as follows:

“Eligibility for Participation in the Patrol Ride-Along Program

  1. The Patrol Ride-Along Program is neither a public relations program nor is it intended to satisfy a community member’s curiosity about police work.
  2. Professional Staff members and community members are permitted to participate in patrol ride-alongs for the purpose of meeting their training and educational needs.
  3. A professional staff member or community member who wants to participate in the Patrol Ride-Along Program must be eligible for the Department’s Volunteer Program or Internship Program, consistent with SOP Volunteer and internship Programs …

…  .

Unauthorized Patrol Ride-Along

Officers and PSAs shall abide by the Patrol Ride-Along requirements prior to authorizing any community member or professional staff member to ride along on patrol.”

GENERAL PROCEDURES FOR DEPARTMENT-ISSUE VEHICLES 

It is 2-5 of APD Standard Operating Procedures that deal with use of APD issued department vehicles and Section 2-5-4 specifically deals with General Procedures For Department-Issue Vehicles and provides in part:

 “When operating a Department-issued vehicle, sworn personnel shall:

  1. Have their police radio on and tuned to the proper frequency for their location;
  2. While on-call, carry all necessary equipment for a call-out;
  3. Consistent with SOP Personnel Code of Conduct and SOP Uniforms, have in their possession a jacket or vest that clearly displays the Department insignia, their badge, identification card, handcuffs, body armor, radio, on-body recording device (OBRD), and firearm to effectively perform a police function. …

When responding to a felony call with non-sworn personnel as passenger(s), except for approved ride-along, first drop off the passenger(s) at a convenient and safe location, then respond to the call consistent with Department Standard Operating Procedures (SOP);

… .”

MEDINA ADMITS WIFE NOT CERTIFIED FOR POLICE RIDE ALONGS

On Tuesday, February 20, Medina did a “Chief’s Corner” video briefing which was sent to all APD personnel where he appeared standing and in full dress uniform. He announced that it was a “special edition” of his Chief’s corner to discuss the February 17 car crash with APD personnel.

In his February 20 Chief Corner video, Chief Medina admitted that his wife has not been certified for police ride along with him. Medina said the SOP on police ride along has been relaxed by Mayor Keller where ride along forms to allow relatives to ride along with patrol officers and for personal use are no longer required.  In the video Medina says this:

“…we are not going to change processes or policies related to take home cars…the mayor fought hard in 2018 to make sure that we could have a life work balance…I’m going to make sure that uh you don’t have to fill out ride-along forms…”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The problem with Chief Medina’s statement that ride along are permitted by relatives is that APD Standard Operating Procedures do not reflect any changes that unauthorized Patrol Ride-Along are allowed for family members. APD officials are claiming  the fact that Medina had his wife in his unmarked APD car did not violate APD policy.

The simple truth is that no matter what Chief Medina thinks nor what APD says, Medina must be held accountable for willfully placing his wife in harms way.  APD officials have argued that Medina was not responding to a call for service. According to APD’s standard operating procedures, if an officer has a non-sworn passenger with them when they get a felony or emergency call, they have to drop off the passenger first and then respond.

APD said it would violate APD policy if Medina was responding to a felony or emergency response, but Medina was not responding to a call. The problem is Medina made the decision to be on patrol while his wife was in his city issued vehicle so he could call in homeless encampment and the incident evolved into a call for service involving a felony and the discharge of a firearm which is a circumstance why any ride along must be authorized.

The Medina car crash with his wife as a passenger is the very reason why the no relative policy in police cars while a police officer is on duty was initiated in the first place.

CONCLUSION

Both Mayor Tim  Keller and Chief Medina are an embarrassment to the City with their words and actions and how they have handled this incident that has resulted in a truly innocent by stander winding up in the hospital in critical condition as Keller proclaims “it was also a beautiful gold Mustang.”

Released Video Of Chief Medina’s Car Crash Contradicts Medina’s Version Of Events; Medina And Keller Claim Medina Victim; APD Launches Internal Affairs Investigation And Motor Unit Investigation;  Place Medina On Administrative Leave And Request BCSO Or State Police To Investigate Incident

On Saturday, February 17, Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina and his wife were in an unmarked APD truck when the APD vehicle crashed into a classic, gold color Mustang after Medina ran a red light as he tried to avoid gunfire on East Central.  The driver of the Mustang was taken to a hospital in critical condition but according to reports the driver is expected to make a full recovery.

APD BRIEFS ON REPORTED CAR CRASH AND SHOOTING

On February 17, APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos conducted news interviews on the incident.  Gallegos said Medina and his wife were driving to a news conference to be with Mayor Tim Keller sometime before 9:15 a.m. when Medina saw a homeless encampment on Alvarado Street, north of Central.  The planned news conference was scheduled for 10 a.m. outside Adam Food Market convenience store known for crime and homelessness at Central and Pennsylvania.  Medina and Keller were going to talk about addressing crime around the store, which has been the site of several homicides, a police shooting and open-air drug use. The news conference was postponed as Keller and APD officials gathered at the site of the crash.

Gallegos said Medina and his wife were driving to the news conference when Medina saw a homeless encampment on Alvarado, north of Central.   Gallegos said it appeared to Medina that the encampment was blocking the sidewalk.  Gallegos said Medina parked his truck on Alvarado, facing Central, to call and request that officers remove the encampment.

Gallegos reported that Medina said a fight broke out between 2 men on the sidewalk west of Medina’s truck. According APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos, Medina was turning on his radio when Medinas his wife saw the muzzle of a gun being pointed at them and then they heard a shot fired.  Medina reacted by stepping on the gas running a red light to get out of the line of  fire when at the same time a gold Ford Mustang was traveling eastbound on Central. There was a green light at the intersection of Alvarado and as the driver of a gold Ford Mustang drove forward, it was struck on the driver’s side door by Medina’s truck seriously injuring the driver.

The driver of the Mustang was taken to UNM Hospital in critical condition at the time of the incident. The extent of his injuries is unknown but according to APD, he is now in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery. It was reported the chief, his wife, and the target of the shooting were not injured.

APD said Medina took a breathalyzer and drug test after the crash and requested an Internal Affairs investigation be done because he admitted he did not have his lapel camera on.  On Saturday afternoon, February 17, police shared a gunshot detection alert and investigative findings that showed the fight happened on the opposite side of the street and more than 100 feet from the encampment.

MAYOR KELLER REACTS

On February 17 during a news conference after the crash, Mayor Tim Keller implied that the fight and shooting were tied to encampments. Mayor Tim Keller reacted to the incident by saying this:

“[Getting the call about the crash was] one of those types of calls that I dread. … It always starts with, ‘There’s been an altercation with an officer, there’s been a shooting,’ and then I hear it’s the chief. So that is the worst way I ever want to start the day.  … Fortunately, in this case, I quickly learned he was OK.  … [Chief Medina is] arguably the most important person right now in these times in our city. … [The shooting incident is an example of] why we are never quitting when it comes to trying to make our city safer. … But it’s hard. It is extremely hard. It affects everyone, including our chief of police on a Saturday morning.”

“This is actually him on a Saturday morning, disrupting an altercation, a shooting, trying to do what’s right, trying to make sure that folks are okay after on scene. This is above and beyond what you expect from a chief, and I’m grateful for Harold Medina.  … For us, we need to continue that clarion call for at every single level to do everything we can to make our city safer.  We don’t know any details, but would not be surprised if there was fentanyl, or whatever other illegal substance could have been exchanged. These are the kinds of things that we absolutely have to address. And this is not going to change unless we have major steps that we can take at every level.”

EDITOR’S COMMENTARY:  Keller totally ignored and did not even mention the innocent driver of the Mustang who was hit by Medina. Keller did not even mention Chief Medina’s wife nor express any concern for her as well.  What is downright embarrassing and pathetic is the lengths to which Mayor Tim Keller went to praise Chief Harold Medina for his actions especially when he said “[Chief Medina is] arguably the most important person right now in these times in our city.”

Links to news sources are here:

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/abq-police-dept-asks-public-to-avoid-area-of-central/

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/albuquerque-police-chief-runs-red-light-while-fleeing-gunfire/

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/apd-chief-involved-in-car-crash-shooting/

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/law-enforcement-discuss-efforts-to-curb-crime-on-central/

https://www.koat.com/article/police-activity-near-central-and-alvarado/46832937

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/albuquerque-police-chief-involved-in-crash-while-fleeing-gunfire-on-east-central/article_2143cfa8-cdbf-11ee-b8c1-ffa351fe516f.html

https://www.abqraw.com/post/chief-medina-and-his-wife-patrolling-the-war-zone-allegedly-gets-shot-at-crashes-into-classic-musta

https://www.abqraw.com/post/wild-car-crash-and-shootout-happens-down-the-street-before-mayor-keller-s-press-conference-news-con

APD RELEASES SUPPLEMENTAL REPORT ON CRASH

On Tuesday February 20, APD released the supplemental report from the incident. According to the report, about 9:15 a.m. Medina called over dispatch that he had been in a crash at Central and Alvarado and “there were shots fired.”  Medina told dispatch the man with the gun ran into the Tewa Lodge courtyard, where officers searched to no avail.

The report said Medina told officers he was parked at the intersection when two men began arguing in front of the motel and one pulled out a gun. Medina told police he “could see the barrel of the gun and knew he was in the line of fire so he immediately began driving.”

The APD investigation found Medina drove through a red light and crashed into the driver, who was headed east on Central. The police report said surveillance video showed the shooter ran west and got into a truck that was parked outside Café Da Lat. The person who was shot at did not stay at the scene or talk to police “aside from a short conversation with Chief Medina to tell him he was not shot.”

Hours later, on Saturday afternoon, police shared a gunshot detection alert and investigative findings that showed the fight happened on the opposite side of the street and more than 100 feet from the encampment.

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/photo-released-of-man-accused-in-gunfire-that-preceded-police-chiefs-crash/article_7398a49a-d030-11ee-92e9-17358e3ca162.html

MEDINA AMITS TO LIABILITY AND VIOLATIONS OF STANADARD OPERATING PROCEDURES AND PROCLAIMS HE WAS VICTIM

On Tuesday, February 20, Medina did a “Chief’s Corner” video briefing which was sent to all APD personnel where he appeared standing and in full dress uniform. He announced that it was a “special edition” of his Chief’s corner to discuss the February 17 car crash with APD personnel. He spoke directly into the camera and spoke calmly for 6 minutes, 47 seconds and gave a very detailed report on the car crash he and his wife were involved in.

Medina started out by saying this:

“This weekend was a big reminder to me what it was like to be a patrol officer and have to make difficult decisions, and life-and-death decisions, in a split second.”

In the video, Chief Medina mentions he was out of town all the week before on a work conference and came back to town late Friday night. On Saturday, February 17, he said he wanted to take his wife to a morning press conference with the Mayor and they could have a Valentines day “dinner” afterwards.

Medina goes on to say this:

We got ready, and as we went in, we stopped for a cup of coffee and we were talking on the way to the southeast for the press conference when we were driving down Central. And I noticed that there could possibly be a homeless encampment on Alvarado, north of Central. As most area commanders are well aware, I point this out and ask that they get them cleaned up when they can.”

Medina goes on to says this in the video:

“They were two individuals. I do not know if they were homeless, but they were in some type of argument. I reached down to hit my radio and to hit the horn on my control console. When my wife stated “gun, gun”. I looked up and I could hear that a shot had been fired and I saw an individual that was holding a firearm, pointing at another individual who is directly in line with my wife.”

In his Chief’s Corner video statement, Medina said his wife saw the men arguing first and told him, “look, those two homeless individuals are about to get into a fight.”  Medina said I do not know if they were homeless, but they were in some type of argument. Medina said he “stayed there a second [and] evaluated the situation” and said he decided the “best thing” was to get his wife out of harm’s way “and regroup.”   Medina went on to says this:

“I was the victim of this traffic accident, and it’s a direct impact of what gun violence is doing to our community. And we need to continue to work at it. I did call out I did submit to a drug test, as any officer would.”

Medina said on the video he thought the oncoming Mustang, would pass through intersection before he got there.  Medina said in his video statement  “I looked to my left, and the intersection was cleared. … And I thought that the car was going to pass before I got there, and it did not, and unfortunately, I struck a vehicle.”

Medina essentially admitted he ran a red light and that he did not have the right away. Medina also admitted before he did not have his body camera on at the time of the accident.

Chief Medina admitted that his wife has not been certified for police ride along with him. Medina said the SOP on police ride along has been relaxed by Mayor Keller where ride along forms to allow relatives to ride along with patrol officers and for personal use are no longer required.  In the video Medina says this:

“…we are not going to change processes or policies related to take home cars…the mayor fought hard in 2018 to make sure that we could have a life work balance…I’m going to make sure that uh you don’t have to fill out ride-along forms…”

However, APD standard operating procedures do not reflect any changes that unauthorized Patrol Ride-Along are allowed for family members. (See Postscript below “Patrol Ride Along Program, SOP 1-6-4 dealing with Unauthorized Patrol Ride-Along”) 

Medina said he and his wife were in fact examined for injuries with x- rays taken of his wife and they were not seriously injured and have fully recovered.

Medina said he was sorry for the man who was injured and wished him “a speedy recovery.”  Medina said “We did try to reach out to him and he is not ready to speak to us, and that’s not surprising.”

The Chief’s corner statement was posted on Youtube where it could be viewed, but on February 20, it was discovered it had been taken down. However, you can view the video on the on-line news ABQ Raw here:

https://www.abqraw.com/post/apd-releases-new-details-from-apd-chief-medina-s-car-crash-into-a-civilian

The link to the video was:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lmf6qEHOH1E&feature=youtu.b

The link to other quoted news sources are here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/photo-released-of-man-accused-in-gunfire-that-preceded-police-chiefs-crash/article_7398a49a-d030-11ee-92e9-17358e3ca162.html

APD RELEASES VIDEO OF CHIEF MEDINA’S CRASH REVEALING MAJOR DISCREPENCIES IN MEDINAS VERSION OF EVENTS

On February 21, APD  released a surveillance video that shows Chief Harold Medina running a red light and crashing into the Ford Mustang seriously injuring the driver of the Mustang.  The surveillance video reveals two major falsehoods in Chief Medinas version of events:

  1. That the intersection was clear when Medina ran the red light.
  2. That Medina talked to the victim of the shooting.

The surveillance video starts with the usual Saturday morning traffic on East Central. One man walks into the frame heading east while another man crosses Central, heading west. Within seconds they meet on the corner of Central and Alvarado and then you see the two men start fighting.  The two men can be seen fighting outside the Tewa Lodge motel, swinging their arms as the scuffle moves down the sidewalk. At the same time, Medina’s APD-issued unmarked truck can be seen inching out into Central.

Medina’s  truck drives into oncoming westbound traffic, between two vehicles, one of which appears to stop to avoid a crash. Medina’s truck then accelerates quickly across the two west bound lanes of Central and crashes into the classic Mustang headed east. The man who allegedly fired the gun appeared to watch the crash unfold before running down the sidewalk.

Medina said  in his Chief’s Corner video statement “I looked to my left, and the intersection was cleared. … And I thought that the car was going to pass before I got there, and it did not, and unfortunately, I struck a vehicle.”  Even though Medina said in his Chief’s Corner video that the traffic was clear on the North Lane on Central traveling West, the video shows it was not clear at all and there was oncoming traffic.

The surveillance video shows Medina  cutting  in front of another car before accelerating at a fast rate of speed  through the intersection. The video shows oncoming traffic with Medina first slowly inching between two vehicles traveling West on the North side lanes of Central and Medina then accelerating to cross to the South traveling lanes of Central at a high rate of speed and crashing into the Mustang that was traveling  East  on the South lanes of Central.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s highly likely that Medina could have avoided the entire crash by simply turning right to go West on Central as opposed to flooring his vehicle to go forward goin South and attempting to turn left to go East. This would also had the immediate affect of driving the vehicle out of the line of fire with the motel building  providing an extent of obstruction.

The crash resulted in both vehicles doing a half circle turn in a counterclockwise direction. Medina’s truck came to rest against the southeast corner of the intersection with front end and rear end damage including a collapsed rear wheel reflecting an apparent broken axle. The Mustang was struck on the driver’s side with the door ripped opened and it also struck the south curb just east of the intersection and skid east before coming to rest, facing west, in the eastbound lane.

According to the Supplemental report released by APD, the person who was shot at did not stay at the scene or talk to police “aside from a short conversation with Chief Medina to tell him he was not shot.”  It was Chief Medina who reported that he went to check on the victim who was shot at, however the video provided by APD shows the alleged victim running to Medina’s truck to check on passengers after the crash but once he got to the vehicle and saw who was inside, he did not talk with the passengers,  and he immediately runs away south on Alvarado and he was not seen again.

The links to news sources and video are here:

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/apd-releases-surveillance-video-of-police-chiefs-crash/

https://www.koat.com/article/albuquerque-police-department-crash-chief-harold-medina-new-video-policy-violations/46893301

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/albuquerque-police-release-video-of-police-chiefs-crash/article_08316ea4-d0e8-11ee-982e-6fc9029396b2.html

https://www.abqraw.com/post/apd-releases-video-of-chief-medina-s-crash-critically-injuring-a-citizen

APD ANNOUNCES SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE REFORM INTERNAL AFFAIRS INVESTIGATION AND SPECIALIZED MOTORS UNIT INVESTIGATION

On Monday, February 19, the Albuquerque Police Department announced the Office of the Superintendent of Police Reform opened and Internal Affairs Investigation to review if Medina violated any APPD policies.  An investigation by APD’s specialized Motors Unit was also announced for a more in-depth investigation of the car crash. The APD Motors Unit is called out to the most severe crashes while minor crashes are investigated by field officers. APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said this:

“As a result of this whole incident, we do have our motors unit out conducting an investigation. We do have our impact detectives who’ve come out to interview the chief, otherwise, he would be here to give information on this, but he wanted to do the interview with the detectives first.”

https://www.krqe.com/news/apd-launching-internal-investigation-on-crash-involving-chief-final-review-will-be-conducted-by-city/

APD ATTEMPTS TO CLARIFY AND JUSTIFY MEDINA’S ACTIONS

On February 19, the 3 local TV news outlets began to make serious inquiries as to what happened on February 17 and demanding further information from APD.   Three separate news stories ran where APD essentially attempted to clarify what happened as well at attempt to justify Chief Medina’s actions.

The APD officials acknowledge that Chief Medina did not have his body camera on and did no recording during the crash.  APD officials also said Medina powered on his camera only after the crash, but it’s not clear if it recorded anything.

APD Officials told media outlets they would not expect any officer would have their camera on during an “unanticipated crash.”  Officials also said Medina did not activate it when he exited his car but did power it on at some point. It will be up to the Internal Affairs to determine if Medina violated APD policy on the mandatory use of body cameras.

According to APD’s standard operating procedures, if an officer has a non-sworn passenger with them when they get a felony or emergency call, they have to drop off the passenger first and then respond. APD officials attempted to make it clear Medina was not responding to a call.

According to APD officials, the fact that Medina had his wife was in his unmarked APD car did not violate APD policy. It was disclosed Medina and his wife were planning on having dinner together after the scheduled news conference that was canceled because of the shooting and the crash, yet the accident happened at 9:15 am in the morning and not dinner time.

APD said it would violate APD policy if Medina was responding to a felony or emergency response, but Medina was not responding to a call. The problem is the incident evolved into a call for service involving a felony and the discharge of a  firearm which is a circumstance why ride alongs must be authorized.

APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos explained how quickly everything happened Saturday by saying this:

“It just happened in front of him. So as that was happening, he was actually, he never called for help. He was turning on his radio. And that’s when his wife saw them, the muzzle of the gun pointed at them. That’s what she perceived. And then they heard the shots fired, and he just stepped on the gas to get out of the situation.”

APD says investigators will determine which policies and procedures apply to Medina, who, unlike patrol officers, does not respond to calls for service. Medina will often arrive at scenes, but APD says that’s to support responding officers rather than respond to the call himself. APD also says Medina attends events that are often outside of work hours and his wife might be with him.

APD officials made it clear that they will not hand the investigation to New Mexico State Police or the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office because no one died and the investigation is looking into the department’s own policies.

APD officials said the final investigation will go to the Superintendent of Police Reform, which is overseen by the City Chief Operations Officer (COO) who ultimately reports to the mayor. No timetable on when the investigation will wrap up was given. According to the city’s website, as of February 19, the COO’s position is vacant.

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/policy-breach-apd-chiefs-weekend-crash-raises-questions/

APD ISSUES STATEMENT

On February 19, APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos issue the following statement to KOAT-TV news:

“The Office of the Superintendent of Police Reform opened an Internal Affairs Review, at Chief Medina’s request, to determine whether appropriate department policies were followed.  Investigators will determine which policies and procedures apply to the Chief of Police, who uses a department-issued vehicle to conduct city business. Unlike patrol officers or detectives, the Chief does not respond to calls for service, nor does he respond to call-outs as part of a critical incident response or investigatory process.

However, Chief Medina does go to crime scenes in his role as Chief to support officers and APD personnel who are working on the front lines. Chief Medina also attends news conferences, meetings with city directors, city councilors, business and neighborhood leaders, crime victims, elected leaders, law enforcement leaders, and countless people throughout the community. Often times, these functions are outside of work hours and his spouse may be with him, either to attend the function with the chief, or in this case, they were going to have breakfast together after Chief Medina returned from work-related trip.

On Saturday, Chief Medina was not responding to a call. He noticed individuals who appeared to be violating city ordinance and he drove around the block to make sure he was correct before he called the Area Commander to ask him to send an officer to address the violation. After stopping at a red light, Chief Medina witnessed an argument that quickly escalated into a physical altercation and a single gunshot. Unfortunately, Chief Medina crashed into a driver who was passing by on Central as the chief attempted to get his wife and himself out of the line of gunfire. Chief Medina and his wife are grateful that the driver is expected to recover from his injuries.”

ALBUQUERQUE POLICE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION REACTS

On February 19, KOAT reached out to Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association President Shaun Willoughby, on APD’s standard operating procedures and Medina’s Saturday’s car crash. Willoughby said this:

“At the end of the day, this kind of stuff happens quick. It unfolds right before your eyes, and before you know it, you’re in almost a police emergency type situation.

Albuquerque Police officers are scrutinized to an unbearable level. If he did not have video recording of the incident from the beginning of his contact until the end, he should be disciplined just like any other Albuquerque Police officer would be.”

To be honest with you, I would be personally shocked. Considering the level of accountability that this police department holds on its officers, if that accountability matrix, did not apply to the chief. Even if he had his camera on him, and it wasn’t recording, that’s a policy violation,

STATEMENT FROM PRIVATE ATTORNEY TOM GROVER

 On February 19, KOAT TV also reached out to private attorney Tom Grover, who often represents APD officers in city personnel disciplinary actions, for comment. Grover is also a retired APD Officer. Grover issued the following statement to KOAT TV:

“… NMSA 1978, Section 29-1-18(A) holds that:

“A law enforcement agency shall require peace officers the agency employs and who routinely interact with the public to wear a body-worn camera while on duty.”

As Chief of the APD, it is undisputed that Chief Medina routinely interacts with the public in a variety of capacities, including in the enforcement of laws. The events this past Saturday exemplify why the legislature passed this statute in the wake of many high-profile police officer encounters with the public: to ensure transparency.

Unfortunately, Chief Medina failed to comply with this statute by not having his OBRD activated to record the encounter he had. Because of Chief Medina’s failure to abide by state law, and APD’s own SOPs, there may be dire consequences. Under the statute, per Section 29-1-18(C), he “may be presumed to have acted in bad faith and may be deemed liable for the independent tort of negligent spoliation of evidence or the independent tort of intentional spoliation of evidence.”

I have represented officers who were disciplined harshly for failing to record encounters with the public and it stands only to be fair that Chief Medina face significant consequences for this failure on Saturday.”

https://www.koat.com/article/albuquerque-chief-harold-medina-shooting-crash/46860190

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The general public can be thankful that Chief Medina and his wife were not seriously injured. However, the general public should be very concerned about the fate of the injured driver and the extent of personal injuries and property damages caused to the driver by Chief Medina.

A CLAIM FOR DAMAGES AND LITIGATION

It’s downright disgusting and was insulting to police officers that Mayor Keller tried to make Medina out as some sort of a hero when he said this:

“This is actually him on a Saturday morning, disrupting an altercation, a shooting, trying to do what’s right, trying to make sure that folks are okay after on scene. This is above and beyond what you expect from a chief, and I’m grateful for Harold Medina.”

On the same day, APD police officers were shot at and Keller made no mention of the incident.

It was as equally disgusting when Chief Medina said in his Chief’s Corner statement:

“I was the victim of this traffic accident, and it’s a direct impact of what gun violence is doing to our community.”

What about the citizen Chef Medina hit and put in the hospital in critical condition?

Chief Harold Medina’s “Chief Corner” statement is the type of recorded statement that keeps City Attorneys and Defense attorneys up all night and that causes Plaintiff’s trial attorneys to salivate and make plans to buy new cars or homes or both.

In the recording, Chief Medina made more than a few admissions against interest and admitted to personal liability as well as admitted to violating any number of APD standard operating procedures. Medina’s Chief’s Corner Statement alone would likely sustain a motion for a directed verdict against the city. The city might as well give the injured party a blank check to fill out.

It is more likely than not litigation will ensue by the driver of the Mustang against the city for personal injury, medical bills and property damages and perhaps punitive danages. The injured person will recover a significant judgment if the city does not settle out of court. It was reported that the injured driver had a green light which means Medina ran a red light and was at fault. From the looks of the news coverage, significant damage was done to the victims Mustang and it is probably totaled.

It was reported the driver was in “critical condition” and taken to the hospital, yet APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos went out of his way on February 17 to proclaim the injured driver was expected to have a “speedy recovery” without so much as disclosing the actual extent of the victim’s injuries. It’s believed the injured party is still in the hospital and it is unknown what his injuries were and if surgery was required.

Then there is the matter of the extent the significant damage was also done to Medina’s vehicle. Medina’s truck is a department issued vehicle and as such has a high-end value of probably upwards of $75,000 and equipped with law enforcement equipment. Medina’s city vehicle is also likely totaled.

The city is a self-insured entity, meaning any and all damages that resulted from the car crash will have to be paid for out of the city’s general fund and its risk management fund, meaning the taxpayer will foot the bill.

COMICAL REQUESTS

It is somewhat comical that APD announced that the office of Superintendent of Police Reform opened an Internal Affairs investigation on APD Chief Medina in that the position is vacant and there is no word when it will be filled. The truth is that is not the Superintendent’s responsibility to do such investigations and the responsibility is to only review completed cases.

It is also comical that only now that an investigation with APD’s specialized motors unit is being ordered for a “more in-depth” investigation.  APD  Standard Operating Procedure 2-47  deals withCrashes Involving Department Issued Vehicles” and is provided in the postscript. The SOP mandates an elaborate process and procedures that must be followed  for crashes involving department issued vehicles such as Medina’s  crash.

The procedures that must be used include requesting the Albuquerque Fire Rescue (AFR) to assist with injuries, secure the scene to prevent further damage, preserving of evidence and request that an on-duty supervisor respond to the scene of the crash. The gathering of evidence, taking of photographs and witness statements is also mandated. Standard Operating Procedure 2-47, Section 2-47-4 dealing with “Crashes Involving Department Issued Vehicles” is provided in the postscript.

The specialized unit investigation should have been ordered the very day of the accident as required before the scene was cleared and the vehicles removed.  Ostensibly, that was never done, no statements were taken including that of Chief Medina. Its likely forensic evidence has now been compromised.

STANADARD OPERATING PROCEDURES VIOLATED BY MEDINA

Based on all the news accounts and the comments and statement issue by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos and the admissions against interest and admissions of liability made by Chief Harold Medina, it is clear Medina violated one or more of APD’s Standard Operating Procedures.  The POSTSCRIPT to this blog article outlines all the Standard Operating Procedures likely violated directly or indirectly by Chief Medina.

Medina has admitted he did not have his police radio on in his truck which is a standard operating procedure violation.  Medina also admitted he did not turn his body camera on in a timely manner which is a violation APD Standard Operating procedures. At no point did Medina have any emergency equipment on during or after the event which is another violation.

Medina violated the following APD Standard Operating Procedures:

  1. Chief Medina did not activate his “on body recording device” (OBRD) in a timely manner (Standard  Operating Procedure Section 2-8-4, “Use of On Body Recording Devices” and  2-8-5 “Mandatory Recordings”)
  2. Medina involved his wife in a patrol and enforcement action when he decided to stop and investigate the homeless encampment and it escalated involving a felony resulting in her being placed in harm’s way. Chief Medina’s wife is  not certified for APD ride along. (Standard Operating Procedure 1-6-4 Unauthorized Patrol Ride Along)
  3. Chief Medians did not take his wife to a safe and convenient location before he attempted to take action and investigate. (Standard Operating Procedure 2-5, 2-5-4)
  4. Chief Medina did not have his vehicles emergency warning equipment engaged when he made the initiate stop to investigate nor when he took off to flee from the scene. (Standard Operating procedure 2-6, 2-6-4)
  5. Chief Medina did not drive his vehicle with due regard for the safety of others and drove with reckless disregard for the safety of others by running a red light and driving his vehicle without the vehicle’s emergency equipment on and when he ran the red light. (Standard Operating Procedure 2-6, 2-6-4)
  6. Chief did not follow Standard Operating Procedures dealing with the investigation of “Crashes Involving Department Issued Vehicles. (Standard Operating Procedure 2-47 deals with “Crashes Involving Department Issued Vehicles”)
  7. Upon information and belief, Chief Medina has not prepared a Uniform Incident Report as required by Standard Operating Procedure. (Standard Operating Procedure 2-7, 2-7-4)

NO CHIEF IS EXEMPT FROM STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES

No sworn law enforcement officer, including APD Chief Harold Medina is above enforcement of police standard operating procedures. A chief must follow standard operating procedures and be held accountable for any violations just like he holds all those officers of lesser rank he manages and even disciplines.

The APD policy for responding to calls says when officers are responding to a call they must “exercise due regard for the safety of all persons and property.” It adds that they have right of way while responding to a call, but it does not relieve them from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all others.

It’s more likely than not that Chief Medina will not  face  any discipline, given he is a command level and Mayor Keller has called Medina arguably the most important person right now in these times in our city.”  If this was a patrol officer making these same mistakes and violating Standard Operating Procedures, Chief Medina would most likely give them hours of suspension without pay or even flat out terminate them.  That is exactly what happened when a few years ago an APD officer ran a red light traveling at a high rate of speed and crashed into another vehicle seriously injuring  himself  and critically injuring  a mother and her two children,  The case resulted in a multimillion dollar judgement against city.

https://www.krqe.com/news/police-officer-mother-and-two-children-injured-in-crash-at-eubank-indian-school/

This whole car crash incident and how it has been handled further erodes the credibility of Chief Medina and Mayor Tim Keller whose reputations have already been damaged to a great extent by the ongoing Federal Investigation of the entire DWI Unit that has been implicated in a bribery and conspiracy scheme involving a prominent DWI defense attorney to dismiss cases.

PLACE MEDINA ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE 

Chief Medina had no business discussing the case in a “Chief’s Corner” statement and he should have kept his big mouth shut. That would have been accomplished had Mayor Keller placed APD Chief Harold Medina on Administrative Leave until a complete investigation of the crash and an incident report is prepared.

Mayor Keller should also ask the Bernalillo County Sheriff or State Police to investigate and prepare final reports on the car crash to ensure complete objectivity and avoid any conflicts of interest that will arise with APD personnel investigating their own Chief of Police.

If Mayor Keller does not act against Medina, the City Council should step in and seek to terminate Chief Medina.

___________________________________________________________

POSTSCRIPT  

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Albuquerque Police Department’s Standard Operating Procedures Manual (SOP) is available online. The manual contains three specific areas: General Orders, Procedural Orders and Administrative Orders. For a complete list of SOP’s click here:

https://public.powerdms.com/COA/tree/documents/228

APD STANARD OPERATING PROCEDURES

Below are the Standard Operating Procedures that were likely violated by APD Chief Harold Medina:

It is Standard Operating Procedure 1-6 the deals with the APD “Patrol Ride Along Program”

1-6-4 entitled Rules outlines ride along with police.

Eligibility for Participation in the Patrol Ride-Along Program

  1. The Patrol Ride-Along Program is neither a public relations program nor is it intended to satisfy a community member’s curiosity about police work.
  2. Professional Staff members and community members are permitted to participate in patrol ride-alongs for the purpose of meeting their training and educational needs.
  3. A professional staff member or community member who wants to participate in the Patrol Ride-Along Program must be eligible for the Department’s Volunteer Program or Internship Program, consistent with SOP Volunteer and internship Programs …

…  .

Unauthorized Patrol Ride-Along

Officers and PSAs shall abide by the Patrol Ride-Along requirements prior to authorizing any community member or professional staff member to ride along on patrol.

_____________________________________________________________

It is 2-5 of APD Standard Operating Procedures that deal with use of APD issued department vehicles.  Section 2-5-4 specifically deals with General Procedures For Department-Issue Vehicles and provides in part:

When operating a Department-issued vehicle, sworn personnel shall:

  1. Have their police radio on and tuned to the proper frequency for their location;
  2. While on-call, carry all necessary equipment for a call-out;
  3.  Consistent with SOP Personnel Code of Conduct and SOP Uniforms, have in their possession a jacket or vest that clearly displays the Department insignia, their badge, identification card, handcuffs, body armor, radio, on-body recording device (OBRD), and firearm to effectively perform a police function. …

When responding to a felony call with non-sworn personnel as passenger(s), except for approved ride-along, first drop off the passenger(s) at a convenient and safe location, then respond to the call consistent with Department Standard Operating Procedures (SOP);

… .

______________________________________________________________________

It is 2-6  of APD Standard Operating Procedures that deals with Use of Emergency Warning Equipment.

Section 2-6-4 entitled Procedures states as follows:

Authority for Code Response.

When sworn personnel respond to an emergency call, or when in pursuit of an individual who has violated or is suspected of violating a law, sworn personnel shall be authorized to exercise the right-of-way privilege , pursuant to the New Mexico state statute on authorized emergency vehicles, if the officer is driving an authorized emergency vehicle and properly using authorized emergency warning equipment.

This authority does not:

1.Relieve the officer who is driving an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of others; or

2.Protect the officer from the consequences of reckless disregard for the safety of others.

 _____________________________________________________________________

It is 2-7 of APDs Standard Operating procedures that deals with DAMAGE TO CIVILIAN PROPERTY

Section 2-7-2  entitled Policy provides:

It is the policy of the Department to document when Department personnel damage civilian property …  during the course of their official duties.

…  .

Section 2-7-4 entitled  Procedures provides:

  1. Civilian property may include, but is not limited to:

….

Vehicles

When Department personnel damage civilian property, they shall:

  1. Complete a Uniform Incident Report documenting the damage;
  2. If the primary officer caused the damage, they shall document the information in their Uniform Incident Report. 
  3. If another officer caused the damage, they shall document the information in a Supplemental Report.

…  .

______________________________________________________________________

It is 2-8 of APD’s standard operating procedures that deals with  “USE OF ON-BODY RECORDING DEVICES”

Section 2-8-4 entitled Rules provides as follows:

All uniformed and plainclothes sworn personnel, Police Service Aides (PSA), Crime Scene Specialists (CSS), PTU personnel, and all uniformed personnel shall wear a Department-issued OBRD while on-duty. Exceptions to wearing the OBRD include:

  1. Written approval by the Chief of Police, which will be limited to Department personnel who do not routinely interact with the public and only when those personnel are not engaging in law enforcement or investigative encounters with the public, including any mandatory recording events. Notwithstanding this exception, all Department personnel shall record mandatory recording events.
  2. During training, unless required to wear the OBRD for training purposes;
  3. Bomb Squad personnel, while actively working a scene with suspicious or hazardous items; and
  4. Any duty assignment where sworn personnel do not carry a Department-issued badge and firearm, including restricted duty, administrative assignment, or administrative leave.

____________________________________________________________

Section 2-8-5 of APD’s standard operating procedures delineates “Mandatory Recordings” by APD sworn personnel and provides as follows:

  1. Department personnel shall activate their OBRD [ON BODY RECORDING DEVICE] for any call for service that involves a law enforcement encounter, for any other law enforcement encounters that involve contact with community members, and for any investigative encounters involving community members.
  2. For all mandatory recording events, Department personnel shall activate their OBRD prior to contact with individuals, except during emergency situations that require immediate action to preserve life or safety. At the first available opportunity, Department personnel shall activate their OBRD immediately.
  3. Examples of mandatory recording events include, but are not limited to: Law enforcement encounters; Traffic crashes;

______________________________________________________________________

Standard Operating Procedure 2-47 deals with “Crashes Involving Department Issued Vehicles”

2-47-4 outlines the following Procedures:

General Procedures for Crashes that Involve Department-Issued Vehicle Department personnel who are Involved in the crash shall:

  1. Request Albuquerque Fire Rescue (AFR) for any injuries;
  2. Secure the scene to prevent further damage;
  3. Preserve evidence;
  4. Request that an on-duty supervisor respond to the scene of the crash;
  5. Request for an available officer or Police Service Aide (PSA) to be dispatched to investigate the crash and to complete a Uniform Crash Report (UCR) to include the vehicle or unit number on the UCR diagram or narrative;
  6. The responding officer or PSA who completes the UCR shall gather sufficient information concerning the cause of the crash to testify at the Crash Review Board (CRB) Hearing, if necessary; and
  7. Request for a supervisor, a Crime Scene Specialist (CSS), or a Police Service Aide (PSA) to photograph the crash.
  8. Photographs shall include close-ups, mid-ranges, and the overall scene.
  9. Photographs shall be tagged into evidence as outlined in SOP Collection, Submission, and Disposition of Evidence and Property (refer to SOP Collection, Submission, and Disposition of Evidence and Property).
  10. Supervisors with Axon training may take the photographs for non-injury crash investigations.

The investigating supervisor shall:

1.Determine whether the crash involves serious personal injury, death, or substantial damage to any involved Department personnel or the Department-issued vehicle before clearing the scene of the crash;

2.Notify the following personnel to respond to the scene of the crash if it involves life-threatening injuries or death:

i.Internal Affairs Professional Standards (IAPS) Division investigative personnel;

ii . An on-duty CSS; and

iii. The on-call Metro Traffic Division Fatal Traffic Team supervisor.

  1. Based on the damage to the Department-issued vehicle and the extent of injuries, determine whether the on-call Metro Traffic Division Fatal Traffic Team will investigate the crash;
  2. Ensure that all crashes involving Department-issued vehicles, no matter how minor, are documented in a UCR;
  3. Submit an Internal Affairs (IA) database web application entry for vehicle crashes, which includes copies of the completed UCR and City of Albuquerque Substance Abuse Program Post-Accident Decision Making Form;
  4. Forward the completed UCR and the City of Albuquerque Substance Abuse Program Post-Accident Decision Making Forms to the lieutenant or division  head within five (5) calendar days;
  5. Examine any damage to Department-issued vehicles and physical evidence present to ensure that there is consistency with the reported circumstances; and
  6. Determine whether the Department-issued vehicle is safe enough to remain in service or if the vehicle should be transported to the City of Albuquerque Fleet Management (Pino Yards) at 5501 Pino Ave NE.
  7. The on-scene supervisor or investigating officer may allow the involved vehicles to be moved if they impede the safe flow of traffic.
  8. The on-scene supervisor or investigating officer may only allow the vehicles to be moved from the scene for non-injury crashes or when moving the vehicles does not significantly impact the investigation.
  9. Operations Review Section personnel shall review the UCR and the IA database web application entry for accuracy and to ensure that all required documents are attached to the IA database web application entry.
  10. After reviewing the UCR and the IA database web application entry, the Operations Review Section Fleet Coordinator shall:

Send the IA database web application entry information to IAPS Division personnel; and

Forward the UCR to the Metro Traffic Division Administrative Assistant.

… .

 

 

2024 NM Legislature Update: What Passed, What Signed, What Failed

The 2024 New Mexico legislative session began on January 16 and it ended on February 15 at noon.  The 2024 legislative session was a 30-day short session where much of the legislation was to be dedicated to financial matters and approving the state’s annual budget. There were 780 bills introduced but only 72 bills were enacted by the legislature and sent to the governor for signature.  Anything the Governor does not sign by March 6 is “pocket vetoed.”

A listing and the status of all the legislation is here:

https://nmbilltracker.com/allbills

A link to review all legislation passed is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/the-2024-legislative-session-is-in-the-books-which-bills-are-law-which-ones-are/article_caa2caf6-cb7e-11ee-989b-6f6479577abd.html#tncms-source=home-featured-7-block

This blog article is an in depth report on all the legislation past by the 2024 New Mexico legislature highlighting the content of the most notable bills past.  It also reports on the failure of the most notable bills.

MAJOR LEGISLATION PASSED

The following major legislation was enacted during the 2024 legislative session with an elaboration on content:

2024-2025 BUDGET PASSES

House Bill 2 and 3, General Appropriations Act of 2024 have been enacted. On February 13, the $10.22 billion state budget was adopted by the New Mexico House of Representatives by voice vote approving the changes made to the budget by the Senate. The $10.22 billion budget is a 6.8% increase from last year while retaining a 31% reserve. The budget includes $4.3 billion in recurring funds for public schools and $532 million for public safety including law enforcement recruitment and equipment.

The largest slice of the general fund would go to public schools, which are slated to receive about $4.3 billion next fiscal year. That includes more than $94 million to give a flat 3% raise to all public-school employees, an amount that was trimmed by a Senate Finance Committee. Before public school employees were looking at a total average of 4% raises.  The version the budget approved by the Senate includes $30 million for summer reading intervention programs, $14 million for early literacy and reading support and $5 million to train secondary educators in the science of reading.

Other budget highlights include the following major appropriations:

  • $1.2 billion for natural resources, housing and innovation
  • $24 million to judicial branch agencies
  • $7 million to support victim advocates, sexual assault victims and supplement federal grants for crime victims
  • $11.7 million for the New Mexico Department of Health
  • $1.96 billion to the Health Care Authority Department and $180 million for Medicaid
  • $3 million for tribal health councils
  • $19.6 million to expand Pre-K
  • $4.43 billion in recurring funds for public schools
  • $50 million to the tribal Educational Trust Fund
  • $20 million to pilot and evaluate evidence-based strategies to improve the Children, Youth and Families Department
  • The Higher Education Department will receive $1.3 billion in recurring funds
  • $100 million to develop a strong workforce
  • $10 billion to establish a new Green Bank
  • $300 million in the Lands of  Enchantment Legacy Fund for water conservation, outdoor recreation, agriculture, and wildlife protection
  • $150 million to the Department of Transportation for major infrastructure, maintenance and road improvements.

The budget also contains $30 million in capital outlay funding  for a structured literacy institute and  $30 million in the state budget bill for summer reading programs, which an early estimate predicted would reach some 10,000 students who are behind grade level.

Some of the changes made in the Senate Finance Committee include a $400 million increase in one-time spending for programs, including $25 million for local law enforcement recruitment, $5 million for food bank emergency assistance and $20 million for firefighter recruitment. Other changes include $20 million in recurring funds for universal school meals, additional funding for developmental disability waivers and more money for the administration of the Health Care Authority.  Senior and disabled veterans would also be able to receive four times the amount of monthly supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) benefits.

One change that became a point of debate was the reduction of a 4% raise for state public employees to 3%. The cut was criticized by the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico on Monday. But other features have stayed the same. Education still makes up the biggest expenditure of  $4.3 billion.

Another controversial amendment approved by lawmakers in the budget that resulted in heated debate would prohibit the Public Education Department from using money to establish a minimum of 180 instructional days for public schools, which Governor Lujan Grisham supports. While the Governor said she plans to move forward with the 180-day rule, she also said it’s too early to say if she would line-item veto the provision in the budget bill. She said she doesn’t make rash decisions until she reads the entirety of the bill.

The budget was sent to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to be signed into law, but she could still line item veto some of the appropriations.

https://www.krqe.com/news/10-22b-budget-headed-to-governors-desk/

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/budget-headed-to-governors-desk/article_6a1608c0-cae7-11ee-8fe3-236d23cf9036.html

UPDATED HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS.

On February 9, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law House Bill 171 which overhauls and codifies into law the state’s high school graduation requirements. This was the first bill to pass both chambers of the New Mexico 2024 legislative session The bill would update the state’s graduation requirements for its high schoolers, allowing for more student choice while keeping the number of mandated units at 24.

New Mexico’s updated high school graduation requirements are as follows:

  • Four units of English, the last of which could be more flexible, such as journalism course
  • Four units of math, two of which must generally be Algebra I and Geometry, but the rest of which appear to be flexible and could be fulfilled by such courses as financial literacy
  • Three units of science, two of which must have a laboratory component and the other which can be more geared toward things such as work-based learning
  • Four units of social science, which include U.S. history and geography, government, economics and financial literacy, and world history and geography. The final unit is also flexible and can include such things as psychology or ethnic studies
  • Five and a half units of electives, which vary wildly, and also can include financial literacy courses as well as computer science and career-technical education courses
  • Two courses set by the local school district or governing board
  • One unit of physical education, which can include courses in things such as dance and marching band
  • Half a unit in health

The biggest changes to know about are that students will still need to earn 24 credits, but Algebra II will no longer be required but schools must still offer it. Students will now have to complete four full years of social studies classes, and that must include some personal financial literacy coursework. A semester of health with lessons on sexual abuse, assault, and prevention is now required. Career technical classes can count toward English, math, and science credits, and local school districts will get to decide on two graduation requirements for their students.

The link to the quoted news source is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/for-the-second-time-a-bill-to-update-new-mexicos-graduation-requirements-is-headed-to/article_457dd9bc-c61d-11ee-84fa-270e68360ca7.html

SCHOOL BOARD TRAINING

Senate Bill 137 will  require new school board members to go through 10 hours of training in ethics and school personnel, public school finance, open meetings and public records, governance and supervision and student achievement and support services. It would also prohibit new school boards from terminating superintendents,  or extending their contracts,  shortly after the election or appointment of a new school board. All candidates for school boards would be required to report $1,000 or greater campaign contributions. Currently, only candidates in large school districts — 12,000 or more students — that have contributions and spending above $500 have to report those donations to the Secretary of State.

FIREARM SALE WAITING PERIOD CRIMES.

House Bill 129 requires a seven-day waiting period for gun purchases, with a few exceptions. The House voted to accept amendments added by the NM Senate and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Originally, the seven-day waiting period legislation would have required twice as long a pause on gun purchases, but a House floor amendment halved it. Law enforcement agencies and people with federal firearm licenses or concealed carry licenses would be exempt from the waiting period. People selling a gun to an immediate family member or a law enforcement officer selling to another officer would also be excluded.

Changes were made to the bill’s secondary waiting period. That period is triggered if a background check isn’t returned within seven days. In the original legislation, if a background check hadn’t been returned within 30 days, the seller could release the firearm to the customer. That number was cut down to 20 days. If the background check is returned after the seven-day waiting period but within those 20 days, it can immediately pass to the buyer.

ADJUST INCOME TAX BRACKETS.

House Bill 252 adjusts income tax brackets. The House voted to adopt Senate changes to the tax bill, with several House members showing some resistance to the tax omnibus package where legislators pool together initiatives into one bill and vote on it as a whole. The House on a tax package that included personal income tax reforms, a tax credit for people whose houses were destroyed by wildfire and deductions for pre-kindergarten.

A Senate amendment added a severance tax exemption for stripper wells which are defined as  oil wells nearing the end of their productivity and the amendment garnered debate on the floor. Other Senate additions included gross tax receipt deductions for legal services for lawsuits involving the Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak fire, the increase of the special needs refundable adoption credit from $1,000 to $1,500, and the creation of a tax deduction for public school teachers buying supplies.

NO GUNS AT POLLING PLACES

On Wednesday February 14, the New Mexico Senate voted unanimously to pass Senate Bill 5 after the House narrowly passed an amendment to allow concealed carry licensees to bring their weapons to polling stations. The bill prohibits guns from within 100 feet of polling places. The measure now goes to the Governor where she is expected to sign it into law.

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/bill-prohibiting-guns-from-polling-places-heads-to-governors-desk/article_91a516c0-cb63-11ee-84e1-5f84b5d90e0c.html#tncms-source=home-featured-7-block

PRETRIAL DETENTION

Senate Bill 271, Repeat Felony Offender No Bond Hold  (PreTrial Detention). This bill requires felony offenders arrested for an additional felony while on release stay in custody until judges on prior felony cases have an opportunity to review their conditions of release. As explained by bill sponsor Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, the legislation would have required that a felony offender arrested for another felony while on release stay in custody until every judge on a prior felony case has an opportunity to review that person’s conditions of release.

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/pretrial-detention-bill-approved-by-senate/article_2e9e4056-cafa-11ee-b57a-87f806927704.html

INCREASING CRIMINAL PENALTIES

Senate Bill 96 increases the basic term of imprisonment for second-degree attempted murder from 3 years to 9 years as well as increase the maximum penalty for a second-degree felony that results in the death of a person from 15 years to 18 years.

PUBLIC SAFETY RETIREES RETURNING TO WORK

House Bill 236 will allow law enforcement and public safety employees who have retired by December 31, 2023 to return to work on a limited basis. They must return to entry level positions and not to the same level they retired from and must pay into the Public Employee Retirement program (PERA). There is currently a severe shortage of law enforcement throughout the state, especially within corrections. This bill is intended to help fill entry level positions.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN ELECTIONS

HB182 is an artificial intelligence focused bill that would amend the Campaign Reporting Act to add a disclaimer requirement for the use of materially deceptive synthetic images, visuals and audio created by artificial intelligence.

SUPREME COURT JUSTICE SALARY INCREASE. 

House Bill 141 set the pay of Supreme Court justices at $232,600. A $6.1 million appropriation from the general fund would fund the pay increases. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has rejected similar requests in the past, but she has signed it. Bill sponsor Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, said he’s adjusted the bill this year removing state salary increases that match federal ones.

CAPITAL OUTLAY BILLS PASSED 

On February 15, the very last day of the 2024 legislative session, two  capital outlay bills  were enacted by both chambers.

Senate Bill 246, the annual bill to reauthorize a slew of over 250 projects, passed the Senate 31-6 and the House unanimously. Specifically, the measure extends the times, expands the purposes and makes other administrative changes to those projects to keep the funding appropriated for them in play.  Many of those projects have been delayed for a variety of reasons, including the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing construction costs. Some have been delayed for years. And according to an LFC report, there were an estimated $4.7 billion in outstanding capital outlay dollars across roughly 5,000 projects as of the second quarter of the current fiscal year.

Lawmakers criticized the backlog of projects, with Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, arguing on the Senate floor it’s time for projects “to either get done or fail.” Muñoz, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said he won’t entertain a reauthorization bill in his committee in the next year in hopes that New Mexico will focus instead on completing projects. Munoz said this:

“It’s time for us to reform capital outlay. … We can’t look like we’re not getting anything accomplished in New Mexico, whether it’s a road, whether it’s redevelopment improvement areas, temporary youth housing — it has to get done.” 

Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, pushed back, pointing out many reasons projects have been delayed, and urging Muñoz not to place a blanket full stop on project reauthorizations.  Ortiz y Pino said this:

“I would hope that instead of a unilateral decision, that there’ll be no more reauthorizations. We’re going to put a stop to this terrible problem.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/lawmakers-race-capital-outlay-packages-through-the-roundhouse/article_fbe1c52a-cb85-11ee-8fb1-9bb38b59aab6.html

Senate Bill 275, a measure to authorize more than 1,400 public works projects, according to the bill’s sponsor, passed the Senate and House unanimously. According to the Legislative Finance Committee, appropriations for those projects total about $1.4 billion. In Bernalillo County, projects range in scope, from improvements to schools to acquiring and improving land for Balloon Fiesta Park. The latter would command roughly $16 million of the county’s total of more than $289.5 million in appropriations.  Also included in SB 275 is funding for an education initiative Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has pushed for months. The bill would set aside $30 million for a structured literacy institute that the governor has said in part would be a specialized place to teach reading to students.

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/lawmakers-race-capital-outlay-packages-through-the-roundhouse/article_fbe1c52a-cb85-11ee-8fb1-9bb38b59aab6.html

OTHER HOUSE  BILLS ENACTED

Following is the remaining legislation that passed both the Senate and House and that has been forwarded to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham for signature or veto:

HB5, Workforce Development and Apprenticeship Fund — Would create a trust fund, which would make annual transfers to the public works apprentice and training fund and the Workforce Solutions Department.

HB7, Health Care Affordability Fund Distribution — Would change the distribution of health insurance premium surtax revenues, so the dollars goes to the health care affordability fund instead of the general fund, starting fiscal year 2026.

HB 28, Public Project Revolving Funds — The New Mexico Finance Authority would be able to offer loans from the “public project revolving loan fund” to schools, civic organizations, tribes and other state and local government entities. An amendment added some public and charter schools to the list of entities that would be able to apply for loans with the NMFA. The number is capped at 100.

HB 29, Public Project Fund Appropriations — This annual bill through the New Mexico Finance Authority moves $13 million from the public project revolving fund to three identifying funds to match with federal funds. $6 million will go to the drinking water state revolving loan fund, $2 million will go to the local government planning fund and $5 million will go to the cultural affairs facilities infrastructure fund.

HB 33, Prescription Drug Price Transparency — Would require drug manufacturers selling certain high cost drugs – including drugs that cost $400 or more for a 30-day supply – to report certain data points to the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance. The reporting would be used to guide policy to reduce prescription drug prices in the future.

HB 41, Clean Transportation Fuel Standards — Would allow for clean transportation fuel standard to reduce carbon intensity emissions.

HB 91, Geothermal Resources Project Funds — Would create funds for geothermal projects. Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, said the measure is essentially the same bill the Legislature passed last year, with a few adjustments so Lujan Grisham doesn’t veto it again.

HB 98, Accounts for Disabled Eligibility — Would raise the age of people with disabilities eligible for ABLE, achieving a better life experience, accounts from 26 years old to 46 years old in 2026. It would also prevent the state from seeking estate recovery payments from an account or the beneficiary’s benefits proceeds, according to the bill’s fiscal impact report.

HB 129, Firearm Sale Waiting Period Crimes — Would require a seven-day waiting period for gun purchases, with a few exceptions.

HB 148, Water Project Fund Projects — Would allow the New Mexico Finance Authority to make loans or grants to qualifying water projects.

HB 151, Post-Secondary Affirmative Consent Policy — Would require higher education institutions funded by state dollars to use trauma-informed policies and responses to sexual violence and train students on affirmative consent.

HB 165, Pharmacy Provider Reimbursement — Would allow independent and local pharmacies to reap the same reimbursement rates as corporate pharmacies from Medicaid managed care organizations.

HB 177, NM Match Fund — The bill, with an emergency clause, would establish a $75 million pot for more than 2,800 eligible entities in New Mexico, including towns, counties and tribal nations, from which to request dollars. The Department of Finance and Administration, the state agency in charge of administering the fund, could match state funding for federal grants.

HB 181, Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Act Changes — This bill aims to protect life and health insurance policy holders if their insurer becomes insolvent by expanding membership and coverage, changing the method for assessing long-term care insurer insolvencies, increasing the number of directors, adding rate increase powers and repealing a health maintenance organization section on the replacement coverage for insolvency, according to the bill’s fiscal impact report.

HB 193, Law enforcement retention disbursements. This bill would change the Law Enforcement Retention Fund, aiming to better recruit and retain law enforcement officers. Lawmakers earlier in the session removed the $1 million appropriation originally included in the bill because it is part of the budget that passed on the floor Monday.

HB 195, Housing Fund and Changes — Would amend the newly named the Opportunity Enterprise and Housing Development Act.

HB 196, Government Accountability Trust and Fund — Would create the government results and opportunity expendable trust and the government results and opportunity program fund. Bill advocates say it’s a way to pay for state pilot projects and test them out while also investing dollars for the future.

HB 207, Public School Capital Outlay Grants — Would change language in the Public School Capital Outlay Fund, making assistance to charter schools from public school capital outlay mandatory.

HB211, Water Project Prioritization — Would amend sections of the Water Project Finance Act, including to make wastewater projects available for funding through the Water Trust Board.

HB232, Infrastructure Planning and Development Division — Would create the infrastructure development division within the Department of Finance and Administration.

HB239, Cannabis as Prison Contraband — Would include cannabis among the list of prohibited contraband in places of imprisonment.

HB 251, Special License Plate Procedures — Would set up the New Mexico Department of Transportation to start issuing Smokey Bear license plates after application.

HB 253, Capital Outlay Changes — Would make changes to the state’s capital outlay program. A non-reverting fund – the capital development and reserve fund – would be created by the bill and managed by the State Investment Council. Money in the fund would be available to the Legislature to go toward capital projects costing less than $5 million and for the planning and design of more costly projects.

HB 270, Higher Ed Tech Enhancement Fund Provisions — Would clarify how higher education entities can use awards from the technology enhancement fund.

HB 298, Service Members Suicide Prevention — The Veterans Services Department would be required to raise suicide awareness for service members and increase suicide prevention resources for veterans and active military and their families.

HB 302, Department of Defense Military Recommendations — Child care programs certified by the U.S. Department of Defense would not be required to meet additional state licensing requirements.

HB 303, TANF Funds Workforce Pilot Program — Would create a workforce training economic support pilot program so people enrolled in accredited workforce training programs could get stipends for costs and living expenses. The max amount of monthly stipends would be $1,000 and not exceed one year.

HB 308, General Bond Obligations — Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bond capacity of roughly $290 million.

OTHER SENATE  BILLS ENACTED

SB 6, Cannabis Regulation Changes — Would tweak several sections of the Cannabis Regulation Act with the goal of tightening regulations of the industry.

SB 14, Health Care Authority — Would make changes to the functions of the Healthcare Authority Department, including changing the name to the Healthcare Authority.

SB15, Health Care Consolidation Act — Would allow the Office of Superintendent of Insurance to rule whether proposed mergers, consolidations or other ownership changes of New Mexico hospitals — except state and university-run facilities — would be detrimental to the quality, cost and accessibility of health care in New Mexico.

SB 17, Health Care Delivery and Access Act — Would impose assessments on most hospitals based on non-Medicare utilization and leverage federal funding to reimburse facilities, increasing Medicaid reimbursement in hospitals up to the average commercial rate. The bipartisan bill aims to address the health care crisis in the state, particularly in rural communities.

SB 37, Meat Inspection Act — Would allow for the New Mexico Livestock Board to conduct inspections of meat-producing and -processing plants in the state. Proponents said it would positively impact ranchers and allow for meat to be fully produced and processed within the state.

SB 76, School Local Share Adjustment Waiver — Would clarify that a school district is eligible for waivers of the local match for projects bankrolled by the Public-School Capital Outlay Council if its local match is greater than 50%.

SB 88, Electronic Driver’s License Credentials — Would allow the New Mexico Department of Transportation to issue electronic driver’s licenses.

SB 106, Declaration of Independence Anniversary — Would appropriate $250,000 to use for a commission to plan and conduct a celebration for the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.

SB 108, Distribution to Election Fund – Would distribute money from the tax administration suspense fund into the state election fund until it reaches $20 million.

SB 116, Tobacco Fund is Not a Reserve Fund — Would remove the tobacco settlement permanent fund balance from the general fund. Moving the funding out would allow the fund to be invested to reap higher returns for health campaigns, according to the bill’s fiscal impact report. Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, said the bill would also allow for a more accurate picture of the state’s reserves.

SB 127, Professional Psychologist Act Changes — Would give licensed psychologists with a special type of certification to prescribe and administer injections for psychotropic drugs as well as intramuscular and subcutaneous injections. It would also change the structure of the Board of Psychologist Examiners and the committee which reviews complaints against prescribing psychologists.

SB 128, State Fire Retirement — Would add a definition for “state fire member” to the Public Employees Retirement Act, for non-volunteer firefighters.

SB 129, Cybersecurity Act Changes — Would amend the Cybersecurity Act, including adopting more cybersecurity rules and standards.

SB 135, Step Therapy Guidelines — Patients with cancer or autoimmune diseases would no longer need prior authorization from their insurance provider to be approved for treatment or prescription medications. Additionally, anyone who already had a medication approved by prior authorization or step therapy would no longer need to annually repeat the process to keep using that medication. That approval would now apply as long as it still had a therapeutic effect for the patient.

SB 142, Behavioral Health Facility Notification — This legislation wouldn’t allow residential behavioral health facilities to admit patients without trying to get family contact information for patients, so patients could notify their family of admission.

SB 148, Tax & Fee Admin Fees — Would remove administrative costs and fees withheld by the Taxation and Revenue Department for administration of local government revenues by fiscal year 2029. The fees would continue on certain distributions.

SB 151, Premium Tax to Emergency Services Fund — Would appropriate $22 million from the general fund and distribute 10% of the health insurance premium tax to the emergency medical services fund.

SB 152, CYFD Investigations and Background Checks — Would require background checks for certain people working with the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department and Early Childhood Education and Care Department.

SB 153, Early Childhood Fund Transfers — Would increase the distribution of the early childhood education and care program fund for programs such as child care assistance, doula and lactation support home visits, and pre-K. The distributions from the fund would increase by $95 million. Any excess money would be returned to the fund.

SB 159, Higher Education Trust Fund — Would create a trust fund to cover tuition and financial aid programs for students at higher education institutions in the state.

SB 161, Acute Care Facilities Subsidies — Would create grants for a dozen rural hospitals in the state to help make up for lost revenue for certain services, including emergency medical services, child and maternal health, for which they may not be fully reimbursed.

SB165, Legislative Retirement Changes — Would increase pension payments for future retirees from the New Mexico State Legislature.

SB 169, Land and Water Conservation Fund — Would appropriate $10 million from the general fund to the state land and water conservation fund.

SB 175, Law Enforcement Fund Distributions — Would appropriate funds to recruit and retain law enforcement officers.

SB 176, Athletic Competition Act Changes — Would add fighter weight classes and increase, by an average $74, annual licensing fees for almost a dozen license types. It would also increase the required insurance coverage for licensed fighters, including pro boxers, kickboxers, martial artists and wrestlers from $1,000 to $2,500.

SB 216, NMFA Affordable Housing Projects — Would amend the Finance Authority Act to provide financing for affordable housing projects and amend the local government planning fund to provide financing in order to develop affordable housing plans and flood maps.

SB 217, Severance Tax Bond Fund Distribution — Would provide for a minimum distribution from the severance tax bonding fund to the severance tax permanent fund every year for nine years.

SB 230, Disclosure of Certain Health Info — Would broaden the list of instances in which confidential information on children can be shared, according to the bill’s fiscal impact report. Bill sponsor Sen. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, has said the measure would allow for the collection of health data for research purposes.

SB 236, Metro Development Project GRT Increments — Would impact the procedure for determining gross receipts tax increments paying for metropolitan redevelopment area projects, including allowing new, approved construction in determining the gross receipts tax base.

SB 239, Lottery and Opportunity Scholarship Changes — Would change some eligibility requirements for lottery and opportunity scholarships, including the allowance of coverage of summer semesters under the lottery scholarship and not counting high schoolers’ dual credits toward credit-hour caps under the opportunity scholarship.

SB 241, Aging Dept. Background Checks — Would require employees and volunteers with the Aging and Long-Term Services Department working in adult protective services, the long-term care ombudsman program and consumer and elder rights to undergo criminal history records checks. Selected applicants would also have to undergo background checks.

LEGISLATION THAT FAILED

Legislation worth noting that failed to be enacted during the 2024 legislative session are as follows:

PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT FAILS

Senate Bill 3 would have created a fund for paid family and medical leave, up to nine to 12 weeks, to be administered by the Department of Workforce Solutions. Senate Bill 3 was meant to give all New Mexico workers paid time off when they need it most, even if their jobs don’t currently offer it.  Workers would have been able to take up to 12 weeks of paid time off to bond with a new child or grieve the death of a child. Workers would have been able to take nine weeks off in order to care for themselves or family members dealing with serious medical issues. There was also a “safe leave” category for employees recovering from domestic violence.

The Senate changed the leave from calendar year to application year to ensure that employees can’t take more than 12 weeks off in a year. Another change on the Senate floor was adding a required 20-day notice when possible. The Seante also expanded the time employees have to pay into this fund before they can apply for paid time off. The original bill only required 90 days but that was expanded to six months, a move that was popular with small business owners.

As for funding, both employees and employers with more than five workers would contribute to a state fund to pay the workers on leave. For every $1,000 in wages, it would cost $5 for workers and $4 for employers.  Opponents of the bill said 12 weeks off is just too much for most businesses to manage and argued the list of qualifying circumstances was too broad. Small business owners argue this bill would be a financial burden on employers and limit the ability of business owners to help out their employees on their own terms.

Senate Bill 3 passed the Senate on February 9 on a  25-15. It was then  heard on the House floor February 14  but the House  lawmakers rejected the proposal on a 34-36 vote.

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/paid-family-medical-leave-act-fails-by-34-36-vote/

FAILURE OF PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT UNEXPECTED LOSS

The failure of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act was without a doubt  the biggest notable failure to pass in that it has been a major priority of Progressive Democrats in both the House and Senate. The defeat of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act in the House was an unexpected loss to progressive Democrats. The defeat of the bill in the House resulted in great anger  when it was defeated by 2 votes and it was a stunning set back to House Democrats and Progressive Democrat House Speaker Javier Martinez.

What brought on the defeat of the legislation in the House was 11 conservative to moderate Democrats who joined forces with all the House Republicans to kill the measure. The House defeat of the paid family and medical leave act occurred on the next to last day of the legislative session.   House Speaker Javier Martinez was accused of calling for a vote to “get people on the record” and being out maneuvered lobbyist who  persuaded him to bring the act to a floor vote when he was  uncertain but was assured the votes were there by the lobbyists.  Martinez responded to the  accusations saying this:

“I put the paid family leave bill on the floor because it deserved a floor hearing and debate, and while there were other tough bills that I could have brought to the floor on the final day, I prioritized family medical leave because it’s been a long time in coming. I knew there was an even chance of it going either way. … I didn’t put that bill on the floor simply to “get people on the record.” That’s not how I operate.” 

Martinez said the 2025 session could be the one where the bill could meet with success.

Republicans celebrated the failure of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act calling it a win for New Mexico businesses and employees. House Minority Leader Lane called that measure’s failure a “resounding win” for New Mexico’s businesses and employees. Lane said this:

“The fact that [the] bill came to a screeching halt on the House floor, I think, sends a huge message. … It’s not flexible for business owners [or] for employees that don’t want to participate in that system. And so I think that should be a resounding wake-up call.”

REBUTABLE PRESUMPTION FAILS THIRD TIME

On Monday, January 29, the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee voted on a 5-4 vote to table Senate Bill 122 know as the Reputable Presumption Bill.  The Reputable Presumption Bill provides that a criminal defendant who is charged with specified serious violent crimes, such as murder, is presumed to be a danger to the community and upon arrest must remain in jail until trial with no exceptions.

The aim of rebuttable presumption” is to make it easier for more defendants to be held in custody before they’ve been convicted and to keep them from committing new crimes. Proponents of rebuttable presumption say it will reduce violent crime.  Opponents of rebuttable presumption say courts can already keep a defendant behind bars and that reputable presumption shifts the burden of proof to defendants and violates the basic constitutional right of presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Under the United State Constitution and the New Mexico Constitution, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty and has the right to post bond to be released until trial. Under existing New Mexico law, whenever prosecutors ask a judge to hold someone accused of a crime in jail until trial, they must prove that no release conditions will reasonably protect the safety of another person or the community.  The prosecution is required to prove “by clear and convincing evidence that (1) the defendant poses a future threat to others or the community, and (2) no conditions of release will reasonably protect the safety of another person or the community.”  Rebuttable presumption shifts the burden of proof from the state to the accused to show they are not a danger and should be released pending trial

The defeat of Senate Bill 122 came as no surprise. This is the third time that Rebuttable Presumption has failed to make it out of committee. Simply put, rebuttable presumption is unconstitutional.  The New Mexico Constitution is very clear that the prosecution bears the  burden of proof. The use of a rebuttable presumption and relying on different burden of proof and evidence by the prosecution to meet that burden is directly contrary to that constitutional provision. The New Mexico Supreme Court has also repeatedly made it clear the prosecutors burden of proof has two requirements: the accused person is dangerous, and no conditions of release will reasonably protect the community from them.

https://sourcenm.com/2023/01/31/some-lawmakers-unconvinced-rebuttable-presumptions-bill-would-make-it-through-the-courts/

Governor Lujan Grisham took strong exception to Reputable Presumption once again failing to pass and she  took note of the failure which was made possible by opposition from her own party. The Governor said this:

“I am dismayed that our Legislature has once again refused to undertake an honest, robust debate on the state of our pretrial release system. Crime is out of control and something needs to change. We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in behavioral health services, education, economic opportunity – critical components that ensure every New Mexican gets a fair shake. However, I will not stand by as repeat violent offenders walk in and out of our courthouses without consequence. A rebuttable presumption is not an extreme policy, and ours is modeled after federal law that has been in place for decades. It is time for the Legislature and the public to stand up and give this proposal the robust debate that New Mexicans agree it deserves.”

CREATION OF OFFICE OF HOUSING FAILS

Senate Bill 71  would have created an Office of Housing that would be attached to the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration. The governor would appoint the office’s director, who would oversee studies on housing issues and work with government agencies and private developers to plan and fund projects.  The office will require three or four full-time employees, which will be funded from the Governor’s office budget. The office would be tasked with working hand in hand with the quasi-governmental New Mexico Mortgage Finance (MFA) Authority and other organizations. But according to the the legislative analysis, the Mortgage Finance Authority has raised concerns about overlap with the MFA noting the office would duplicate much of the work it already does,” the report said.

On February 8, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham showed up to the  Senate-House Public Affairs Committee to push personally for enactment of the bill. The Senate-House Public Affairs Committee voted 5-4 to advance the bill to the Senate Finance Committee with no recommendation, instead of the more common “do pass” recommendation. The bill never made it out of the Finance committee  to the Senate floor for enactment.

Notwithstanding, the Legislature did send along $125 million for housing development. Governor Lujan Grisham pointed out that lawmakers sent money to the Mortgage Finance Authority, New Mexico Finance Authority and homelessness, and there still other dollars the Department of Finance and Administration can give out.

ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN BILL FAILS

HOUSE BILL 137  ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN BIILL.  This bill did not make it through either chamber. It would ban gas-operated semi-automatic guns. It would also prohibit detachable magazines that hold more than 10 bullets, bump stocks, and other “machine gun” attachments which are designed to increase the rate of fire. It mimics a bill U.S. Sen. Martin Hein introduced in the Senate known as the GOSAFE Act. There are exceptions in the bill for government agencies, as well as Native American tribes and pueblos.

The New Mexico Department of Justice and the Administrative Office of the Courts warned the bill may result in lawsuits against the State of New Mexico. The estimated cost of defending against legal challenges is $450,000 and an additional $5,500 per event to provide security to court personnel. Analysts also noted the bill is expected to result in more people ending up in prison, raising the costs of housing inmates.

Links to quoted or related news sources are here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/capitol-recap-here-s-what-happened-on-the-last-tuesday-at-the-legislature/article_b3625588-cabf-11ee-83ca-9b7751f5a2bc.html

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/capitol-recap-here-s-what-happened-at-the-legislature-on-wednesday/article_689c5478-cbb8-11ee-8711-1fcf304f3286.html#tncms-source=home-featured-7-block

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/capitol-recap-lawmakers-zoom-through-final-efforts-on-last-day-of-session/article_576f44a6-cc3c-11ee-ad72-0bfaeca462d4.html#tncms-source=home-featured-7-block

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/thirty-days-is-tough-gov-and-party-leadership-reflect-on-session/article_5cede730-cc5e-11ee-a5db-1307ec6dd807.html#tncms-source=home-featured-7-block

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Before any legislation can become law, it must go through the committee process of each chamber, and if amended referred back to the originating chamber to approve changes, and be enacted by both chambers and sent the Governor for signature to become law and even then, it could be vetoed by the governor.

A whopping 780 bills and memorials were introduced for consideration. There were 344 separate House Bills, 3 House Joint Memorials, 15 House Joint Resolutions, 60 House Memorials, 1 House Resolution. There were 317 separate Senate Bills, 2 Senate Joint Memorials, 18 Senate Joint Resolutions, 19 Senate Memorials and 1 Senate Resolution. Most of the Bills never received a single committee hearing. Some weren’t even printed.

In total, lawmakers passed 72 pieces of legislation over 30 days, or about 2.4 bills per day. Any particular bill’s chance stood about an 11% chance of making it to the governor’s desk.  The Governor is now suggesting that she will call a special session to deal with crime measures that failed.

During the last week of the session, lawmakers endured longer days and nights, packed schedules and marathon sessions getting bills through the House and Senate committees and ultimately voting on the chamber floors.  Simply put, trying to squeeze in so much work into a 30 session is crazy and no way to do business. 30-day sessions should be a thing of the pass as should be 60 days sessions and a full time, pay legislature with much longer sessions is long overdue.

APD Chief Medina And Wife In Car Crash While Fleeing Gunfire In City Vehicle; Driver Of Other Car Sent to Hospital In Critical Condition; Chief Medina Likely Violated Numerous Standard Operating Procedures; Mayor Tim Keller Should  Place Medina On Administrative Leave And Request BCSO Or State Police To Investigate Incident

On Saturday, February 17, Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina and his wife were in an unmarked APD truck when the APD vehicle crashed into a classic Mustang after Medina ran a red light as he tried to avoid gunfire on East Central.  The driver of the Mustang was taken to a hospital in critical condition but according to an APD spokesman the driver is expected to make a full recovery.

REPORTED CAR CRASH AND SHOOTING

APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said Medina and his wife were driving to a news conference to be with Mayor Tim Keller sometime before 9:15 a.m. when Medina saw a homeless encampment on Alvarado, north of Central.  The planned news conference was scheduled for 10 a.m. outside Adam Food Market  convenience store known for crime and homelessness at Central and Pennsylvania.  Medina and Keller were going to talk about addressing crime around the store, which has been the site of several homicides, a police shooting and open-air drug use. The news conference was postponed as Keller and APD officials gathered at the site of the crash.

Gallegos said Medina and his wife were driving to the news conference when Medina saw a homeless encampment on Alvarado, north of Central.   Gallegos said it appeared to Medina that the encampment was blocking the sidewalk.  APD and city workers have for the past year have been stepping up enforcement against unhoused encampments.

Gallegos said Medina parked his truck on Alvarado, facing Central,  to call and request that officers remove the encampment. Gallegos reported that Medina was in the process of notifying the commander of the area so they could remove the encampment when 2 people started physically fighting. Gallegos said a fight broke out between 2 men on the sidewalk west of Medina’s truck and one of the men pulled out a gun and fired at least once at the other man. It is unclear if the fight and subsequent shooting was related to an encampment or those living on the streets.

APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said this:

“As [Chief Medina] was turning on his police radio to call it out, he noticed that one of them brandished a gun. One person kicked the other individual and that individual started firing shots in the direction of where the chief was in his truck. … That’s when [Medina’s] wife saw the muzzle of the gun pointed at them… They heard the shot fired [and Chief Medina] stepped on the gas to get out of the situation. … At that point, the chief pulled forward in his vehicle. Another car was coming in a different direction, and they crashed into each other. … Investigators [have] located one bullet casing, which is being tested to determine if the gun has been involved in any other shootings.”

Gallegos said Chief Medina was in the direct line of fire and tried to drive away, but as he took off, he hit a Ford Mustang on the driver’s side door. The Mustang struck a curb and skid down the road. Police say Chief Medina went to the driver’s aid, however, that driver was seriously injured and was taken to UNM Hospital.

According to Gallegos, the driver of the Mustang is currently in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery. ShotSpotter technology detected a single shot and investigators found one bullet casing, which is being tested.

Gallegos said nobody was injured by the gunfire and APD is looking over video footage and interviewing witnesses to find the person who fired the shots. APD says they’re searching for the 2 men involved in the fight in that both men fled the scene

According to APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos, APD investigators determined the driver of the Mustang had a green light at the time of the accident. Ostensibly Medina ran a red light and drove into the intersection at Central and Alvarado NE and hit the driver’s side of the  Mustang  with the right front side of his APD  issued truck.  After the crash, the shooter ran and the person who was shot at “stuck around for a little bit” before leaving. He said Medina checked on the other driver and used his radio to call for an ambulance.

Chief Medina and his wife were not hurt in the crash and Gallegos said this:

Chief Medina is okay his wife’s okay. You know it was a scary incident and unfortunately one individual was injured during the car crash so we’re keeping an eye on him and he’s an adult male, we hope he’s okay.”   

Gallegos said Medina took a breathalyzer and drug test after the crash and asked the Superintendent of Police Reform to open an Internal Affairs review because he did not turn on his lapel camera during the incident.

MAYOR KELLER REACTS

At 11:06 am, close to 2 hours after the incident, Mayor Tim Keller posted on his official TWITTER account the following:

“Today @ABQPoliceChief [Medina] was checking on an encampment when a gun was pulled during a fight. He was in a car crash getting out of the line of fire, but thankfully he is okay. I’m grateful four our Chief and officers who put their lives on the line every day to make our city safe.”

11:06 AM Feb 17, 2024 2,833 Views

Mayor Tim Keller reacted to the incident by saying this to the news media:

“[Getting the call about the crash was]  one of those types of calls that I dread. … It always starts with, ‘There’s been an altercation with an officer, there’s been a shooting,’ and then I hear it’s the chief. So that is the worst way I ever want to start the day.  … Fortunately, in this case, I quickly learned he was OK.  … [Chief Medina is] arguably the most important person right now in these times in our city. … [The shooting incident is an example of] why we are never quitting when it comes to trying to make our city safer. … But it’s hard. It is extremely hard. It affects everyone, including our chief of police on a Saturday morning.”

Mayor Tim Keller also commented on Chief’s actions by saying this:

“This is actually him on a Saturday morning, disrupting an altercation, a shooting, trying to do what’s right, trying to make sure that folks are okay after on scene. This is above and beyond what you expect from a chief, and I’m grateful for Harold Medina.  … For us, we need to continue that clarion call for at every single level to do everything we can to make our city safer.  We don’t know any details, but would not be surprised if there was fentanyl, or whatever other illegal substance could have been exchanged. These are the kinds of things that we absolutely have to address. And this is not going to change unless we have major steps that we can take at every level.”

Links to quoted news sources are here:

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/abq-police-dept-asks-public-to-avoid-area-of-central/

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/albuquerque-police-chief-runs-red-light-while-fleeing-gunfire/

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/apd-chief-involved-in-car-crash-shooting/

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/law-enforcement-discuss-efforts-to-curb-crime-on-central/

https://www.koat.com/article/police-activity-near-central-and-alvarado/46832937

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/albuquerque-police-chief-involved-in-crash-while-fleeing-gunfire-on-east-central/article_2143cfa8-cdbf-11ee-b8c1-ffa351fe516f.html

https://www.abqraw.com/post/chief-medina-and-his-wife-patrolling-the-war-zone-allegedly-gets-shot-at-crashes-into-classic-musta

https://www.abqraw.com/post/wild-car-crash-and-shootout-happens-down-the-street-before-mayor-keller-s-press-conference-news-con

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The general public can be thankful that Chief Medina and his wife were not seriously injured.  However, the general public should be very concerned about the fate of the injured driver and the extent of personal injury and property damages caused to the driver by Chief Medina.

It was reported that the injured driver had a green light which means Medina ran a red light and was at fault.  From the looks of the news coverage, significant damage was done to the victims Mustang, it is probably totaled and the significant damage was also done to Medina’s vehicle. Medina’s SUV is a department issued vehicle and as such has a high-end value of probably upwards of $75,000 and equipped with law enforcement equipment. Medina’s city vehicle is also likely totaled.

Then there is the matter of the extent of personal injury suffered by driver of the Mustang. It was reported the driver was in “critical condition” and taken to the hospital yet APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos proclaimed the injured driver is expected to have a “speady recovery” without disclosing the actual extent of the victim’s injuries.

Keller totally ignored and did not even mention the innocent driver of the Mustang who was hit by Medina. Keller did not even mention Chief Medina’s wife nor express any concern for her as well.  What is downright embarrassing and pathetic is the lengths to which Mayor Tim Keller went to praise Chief Harold Medina for his actions especially when he said “[Chief Medina is] arguably the most important person right now in these times in our city.”  Medina is only the most important person to Keller within the city because city hall observers keep asking  what does Medina have on Keller?

QUESTIONS BEGGING FOR ANSWERS  

Based on all the news accounts and the comments made by APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos, APD Chief Harold Medina has in fact violated one or more of APD’s Standard Operating Procedures that would lead to disciplinary action against any rank-and-file police officer when  violated.  The POSTSCRIPT to this blog article outlines the Standard Operating Procedures Chief Medina likely violated directly or indirectly.

There are any number of questions that need to be answered that relate to Chief Medina’s car crash and violating APD’s standard operating procedures:

  • Why was Medina’s wife going with him at 9:15 am to attend a 10:00 AM news conference with Mayor Keller? Was she approved as an APD ride along for patrols?
  • When Medina decided to investigate the homeless encampment, why did he not engage his vehicle’s emergency lights or siren equipment?
  • Medina admitted he was taking an enforcement action by calling it in but why did he not make any effort to take his wife to a safe and convenient location as required by standard operating procedures before he attempted take action against the encampment?
  • Why did Chief Medina not have his lapel camera on which  he admitted which is serious violation of Standard Operating procedure?
  • Police officers involved in car accidents with their vehicles are required to take breathalyzer and drug test within one hour of the car accident. APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said Chief Medina took a breathalyzer and drug test after the crash, but he did not say when and where the tests were administered nor what the results were.
  • Will a complete Uniform Incident report be made and release to the public, including interviews of witnesses, and who will prepare it?

COMICAL REQUEST

It is somewhat comical that Superintendent of Police Reform is being asked to open an Internal Affairs on APD Chief Medina. The truth is that is not the Superintendent’s responsibility to do such investigations and the responsibility is to review completed cases. It’s an investigation that should be done by another law enforcement agency such as the Bernalillo County Sherriff’s Office or the NM State Police to ensure complete objectivity and avoid any conflicts of interest.

NO CHIEF IS EXEMPT FROM STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES

No sworn law enforcement officer, including a Police Chief is above enforcement of police standard operating procedures. A chief must follow standard operating procedures and be held accountable for any violations just like he holds all those officers of lesser rank he manages and even disciplines.

This whole crash incident further erodes the credibility of Chief Medina and Mayor Tim Keller whose reputations have already been damaged to a great extent  by the ongoing Federal Investigation of the entire DWI Unit that has been implicated in a bribery and conspiracy scheme involving a prominent DWI defense attorney to dismiss cases.

PLACE MEDINA ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE 

Keller does himself no favors as he blindly promotes the merits of an incompetent Chief of Police. Mayor Keller should immediately place APD Chief Harold Medina on Administrative Leave until a complete investigation of the crash and an incident report is prepared. Mayor Keller should also ask the Bernalillo County Sheriff or State Police to investigate and prepare final reports on the car crash.

If Mayor Keller does not act against Medina, the City Council should step in and seek to terminate Chief Medina.

___________________________________________________________

POSTSCRIPT  

Below are the Standard Operating Procedures that were  likely violated in the Medina auto crash:

APD STANARD OPERATING PROCEDURES

It is Standard Operating Procedure 1-6 the deals with the APD “Patrol Ride Along Program”

1-6-4 entitled Rules outlines ride alongs with police.

Eligibility for Participation in the Patrol Ride-Along Program

  1. The Patrol Ride-Along Program is neither a public relations program nor is it intended to satisfy a community member’s curiosity about police work.
  1. Professional Staff members and community members are permitted to participate in patrol ride-alongs for the purpose of meeting their training and educational needs.
  2. A professional staff member or community member who wants to participate in the Patrol Ride-Along Program must be eligible for the Department’s Volunteer Program or Internship Program, consistent with SOP Volunteer and internship Programs …

…  .

Unauthorized Patrol Ride-Along

Officers and PSAs shall abide by the Patrol Ride-Along requirements prior to authorizing any community member or professional staff member to ride along on patrol.

_____________________________________________________________

It is 2-5 of APD Standard Operating Procedures that deal with use of APD issued department vehicles.  Section 2-5-4 specifically deals with General Procedures For Department-Issue Vehicles and provides in part:

       1. When operating a Department-issued vehicle, sworn personnel shall:

A. Have their police radio on and tuned to the proper frequency for their location;

B.  While on-call, carry all necessary equipment for a call-out;

C.   Consistent with SOP Personnel Code of Conduct and SOP Uniforms, have in their possession a jacket or vest that clearly displays the Department insignia, their badge, identification card, handcuffs, body armor, radio, on-body recording device (OBRD), and firearm to effectively perform a police function. …

D. When responding to a felony call with non-sworn personnel as passenger(s), except for approved ride-along, first drop off the passenger(s) at a convenient and safe location, then respond to the call consistent with Department Standard Operating Procedures (SOP);

… .

__________________________________________________________

It is 2-6  of APD Standard Operating Procedures that deals with Use of Emergency Warning Equipment.

Section 2-6-4 entitled Procedures states as follows:

Authority for Code Response.

When sworn personnel respond to an emergency call, or when in pursuit of an individual who has violated or is suspected of violating a law, sworn personnel shall be authorized to exercise the right-of-way privilege , pursuant to the New Mexico state statute on authorized emergency vehicles, if the officer is driving an authorized emergency vehicle and properly using authorized emergency warning equipment.

This authority does not:

  1. Relieve the officer who is driving an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of others; or

      2.  Protect the officer from the consequences of reckless disregard for the         safety of others.

 _____________________________________________________________

It is 2-7 of APDs Standard Operating procedures that deals with DAMAGE TO CIVILIAN PROPERTY

Section 2-7-2  entitled Policy provides:

It is the policy of the Department to document when Department personnel damage civilian property …  during the course of their official duties.

…  .

Section 2-7-4 entitled  Procedures provides:

  1. Civilian property may include, but is not limited to:

….

Vehicles

When Department personnel damage civilian property, they shall:

  1. Complete a Uniform Incident Report documenting the damage;
  2. If the primary officer caused the damage, they shall document the information in their Uniform Incident Report. 
  3. If another officer caused the damage, they shall document the information in a Supplemental Report.

…  .

______________________________________________________________________

It is 2-8 of APD’s standard operating procedures that deals with  “USE OF ON-BODY RECORDING DEVICES”

Section 2-8-4 entitled Rules provides as follows:

All uniformed and plainclothes sworn personnel, Police Service Aides (PSA), Crime Scene Specialists (CSS), PTU personnel, and all uniformed personnel shall wear a Department-issued OBRD while on-duty. Exceptions to wearing the OBRD include:

  1. Written approval by the Chief of Police, which will be limited to Department personnel who do not routinely interact with the public and only when those personnel are not engaging in law enforcement or investigative encounters with the public, including any mandatory recording events. Notwithstanding this exception, all Department personnel shall record mandatory recording events.
  2. During training, unless required to wear the OBRD for training purposes;
  3. Bomb Squad personnel, while actively working a scene with suspicious or hazardous items; and
  4. Any duty assignment where sworn personnel do not carry a Department-issued badge and firearm, including restricted duty, administrative assignment, or administrative leave.

____________________________________________________________________

Section 2-8-5 of APD’s standard operating procedures delineates “Mandatory Recordings” by APD sworn personnel and provides as follows:

  1. Department personnel shall activate their OBRD [ON BODY RECORDING DEVICE] for any call for service that involves a law enforcement encounter, for any other law enforcement encounters that involve contact with community members, and for any investigative encounters involving community members.
  2. For all mandatory recording events, Department personnel shall activate their OBRD prior to contact with individuals, except during emergency situations that require immediate action to preserve life or safety. At the first available opportunity, Department personnel shall activate their OBRD immediately.
  3. Examples of mandatory recording events include, but are not limited to: Law enforcement encounters; Traffic crashes;

___________________________________________________________________

Standard Operating Procedure 2-47 deals with “Crashes Involving Department Issued Vehicles”

2-47-4 outlines the following Procedures:

General Procedures for Crashes that Involve Department-Issued Vehicle Department personnel who are Involved in the crash shall:

A. Request Albuquerque Fire Rescue (AFR) for any injuries;

B. Secure the scene to prevent further damage;

C. Preserve evidence;

D. Request that an on-duty supervisor respond to the scene of the crash;

E. Request for an available officer or Police Service Aide (PSA) to be dispatched to investigate the crash and to complete a Uniform Crash Report (UCR) to include the vehicle or unit number on the UCR diagram or narrative;

F. The responding officer or PSA who completes the UCR shall gather sufficient information concerning the cause of the crash to testify at the Crash Review Board (CRB) Hearing, if necessary; and

  1. Request for a supervisor, a Crime Scene Specialist (CSS), or a Police Service Aide (PSA) to photograph the crash.
  2. Photographs shall include close-ups, mid-ranges, and the overall scene.
  3. Photographs shall be tagged into evidence as outlined in SOP Collection, Submission, and Disposition of Evidence and Property (refer to SOP Collection, Submission, and Disposition of Evidence and Property).
  4. Supervisors with Axon training may take the photographs for non-injury crash investigations.

G.  The investigating supervisor shall:

  1. Determine whether the crash involves serious personal injury, death, or substantial damage to any involved Department personnel or the Department-issued vehicle before clearing the scene of the crash;

2. Notify the following personnel to respond to the scene of the crash if it involves life-threatening injuries or death:

i. Internal Affairs Professional Standards (IAPS) Division investigative personnel;

ii . An on-duty CSS; and

iii. The on-call Metro Traffic Division Fatal Traffic Team supervisor.

3. Based on the damage to the Department-issued vehicle and the extent of injuries, determine whether the on-call Metro Traffic Division Fatal Traffic Team will investigate the crash;

4. Ensure that all crashes involving Department-issued vehicles, no matter how minor, are documented in a UCR;

5. Submit an Internal Affairs (IA) database web application entry for vehicle crashes, which includes copies of the completed UCR and City of Albuquerque Substance Abuse Program Post-Accident Decision Making Form;

6.  Forward the completed UCR and the City of Albuquerque Substance Abuse Program Post-Accident Decision Making Forms to the lieutenant or division  head within five (5) calendar days;

7. Examine any damage to Department-issued vehicles and physical evidence present to ensure that there is consistency with the reported circumstances; and

8. Determine whether the Department-issued vehicle is safe enough to remain in service or if the vehicle should be transported to the City of Albuquerque Fleet Management (Pino Yards) at 5501 Pino Ave NE.

9. The on-scene supervisor or investigating officer may allow the involved vehicles to be moved if they impede the safe flow of traffic.

10. The on-scene supervisor or investigating officer may only allow the vehicles to be moved from the scene for non-injury crashes or when moving the vehicles does not significantly impact the investigation.

11. Operations Review Section personnel shall review the UCR and the IA database web application entry for accuracy and to ensure that all required documents are attached to the IA database web application entry.

12.  After reviewing the UCR and the IA database web application entry, the Operations Review Section Fleet Coordinator shall:

Send the IA database web application entry information to IAPS Division personnel; and

Forward the UCR to the Metro Traffic Division Administrative Assistant.

… .