Three APD Chief Finalists Interviewed; Two Major Crises That Will Make Or Break New Chief; Remove Sergeants And Lieutenants From Police Union; Empower New Chief To Terminate With Cause For Violation Of DOJ Reforms

Editor’s Note: This is an in-depth report of the 3 APD Chief finalists, their interviews and the 3 critical questions they need to have answered before taking the job.

On September 10, Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Michael Geier held a press conference to announce that Chief Geier was retiring after 2 years and 9 months as APD Chief. Keller announced a national search would be conducted to find a new chief.

Within days after the departure of Chief Geier, the city posted and advertised the position nationally. The Keller Administration hired a consultant to help search for applicants. The search resulted in 39 applicants who submitted their resumes. A screening process was initiated and applicants were sorted into 25 “qualified” candidates and 9 “unqualified” candidates. On January 1, 2021, the names of all applicants were released.

3 FINALISTS ANNOUNCED

The City of Albuquerque has narrowed its search for a new police chief to 3 candidates. On January 20, 2019, Mayor Tim Keller announced 3 finalists for Chief of Police. The finalists are:

1. Joseph Sullivan
2. Clinton Nichols
3. Interim Chief Harold Medina

A link providing Links to each of the 3 resumes can be found here:

http://www.cabq.gov/police-chief-search

1. JOSEPH SULLIVAN, FORMER DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF PATROLS OPERATION FOR PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT

Mr. Sullivan is a native of Philadelphia and spent 38 years with the Philadelphia Police Department and has held all positions within the department except all but two. In February 2020, Sullivan retired as the Deputy Commissioner of Patrol Operations. Sullivan elected to leave the Philadelphia Police Department as a new chief was appointed to take over the department. As the Deputy Commissioner of Patrol Operations, Sullivan oversaw a force of 4,698 sworn and civilian personnel, two and a half times than APD which employees 1,678 full time positions.

According to his resume, Sullivan led data-driven crime fighting strategies and revamped a “poorly performing” Community Relations Unit. Sullivan was appointed as the department’s liaison to the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federation and was the first official liaison to the LGBTQ community. According to Sullivan, he helped craft a “nationally recognized model policy governing police interactions with trans-citizens” and established a dedicated page on the Philadelphia Police website to assist the LGBTQ community in accessing police and city services.

2. COMMWERCE CHIEF OF POLIE CLINTON NICHOLS

Clinton Nichols is the chief of police in Commerce City, Colorado, a northern suburb of Denver. Nichols served in the Marine Corps before starting his career in law enforcement in the early ’90s. Before he went to Colorado, Chief Nichols was employed by the Las Vegas Police Department in Nevada from 1992 to 2015. His last position there was police commander and he oversaw the Violent Crimes Section, the Career Criminal Section and the Robbery Section. Chief Nichols began his work with Commerce City in 2015 as a commander. He worked his way up to the position of chief in 2017.

The Commerce City Police Department has 142-employees, a relatively small department compared with APD that employs 1,678 full time positions that includes 578 civilian staff and funding for 1,100 sworn police. In 2016, at the request of city officials and before Nichols took over as chief, the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services launched a review of the Commerce City Police Department. The review, known as Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance, was in response to “serious internal challenges and concerns pertaining to officer misconduct,” according to a Department of Justice news release.

3. APD Interim Chief Harold Medina

Interim APD Chief Harold Medina was the only named applicant for Chief from within the ranks of APD who has applied for the position. Medina has been serving as interim APD chief since his predecessor, Michael Geier, was “fired-retired” in September. Medina began his law enforcement career with APD in 1995 and work for APD for 20 years before retiring in 2014 as a Commander. In 2014, Medina went to work for the Laguna Pueblo Police Department where he became Chief. Medina was recruited to return to APD in 2017 by then APD Chief Michael Geier where he served as Deputy Chief of Field Services and six months ago he was appointed First Deputy.

It’s common knowledge amongst APD command staff in the Chief’s Office that Chief Medina orchestrated the forced retirement of Chief Gieier with the assistance of Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair. Interim Chief Harold Medina has a very troubling past of police officer involved shootings with reactive decision-making and failed leadership resulting in the killing of two mentally ill people having psychotic episodes. Medina was never disciplined for his conduct relating to 2 high profile shootings proclaiming he did nothing wrong.

Links to related news coverage are here:

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/keller-reveals-3-finalists-for-apd-chief-of-police-position/5984697/?cat=500

https://www.abqjournal.com/1538325/city-selects-three-finalists-for-next-apd-chief.html

WEBINAR INTERVIEW FEATURING FINALISTS

On Saturday, January 23, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, along with CAO Sarita Nair and city leaders and Herb Crosby, the owner of AVTEC, Inc., the Albuquerque consulting firm hired by the city for the hiring process for Chief of Police, held a webinar featuring the 3 finalists for Chief of Police.

A link to the full hour and 18-minute webinar is here:

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/city-officials-give-opportunity-to-meet-police-chief-candidates-saturday/

The webinar presentation began with Mayor Tim Keller saying he wants the next chief to focus on tackling violent crime, enhance community policing, and to be someone with extensive DOJ reform experience.

During the webinar conference all 3 finalists were given an opportunity to speak. They were asked the same line of questioning:

1. What do you feel are the top 3 crime fighting challenges facing the city?

2. Use of force is currently at the top of people’s minds and getting APD through the department of justice settlement agreement reforms. Which parts of the city’s approach to “use of force” are working, what needs to be fixed and how would you fix it?

3. How do you plan to engage with the community and provide a level of transparency between the department and the people you serve?

4. What challenges is the Department faced with in building moral?

The city official who asked the questions did not disclose if the 3 applicants were given the questions in advance. This is important because one applicant appeared to have read or regurgitated answers he had memorized, while the other two applicants appeared to have answered the questions spontaneously.

Following are highlights of what the applicants had to say in the order in which they made their presentations and were asked questions:

CHIEF CLINTON NICHOLS

Clinton Nichols had this to say about the city’s crime rates:

“Your property crime or violent crimes against persons are probably, they need some work. I will tell you, particularly in the area of homicides. One of the first things that I would do is sort of draw down the analytical into some relative data so that I could draw some inferences that will tell me where the problem areas are, and then look for ways to solve them. … It is important for any police department to take a lot of small bites of a very big apple … Crime is something that impacts everybody on a personal level and so making sure we are resolved to reducing the level that most people are impacted by is extremely important.”

Nichols had this to say about the APD reforms under the consent decree:

“I can tell you it isn’t a pretty process, but it certainly can be done. … A police leader does not need to choose between reform and crime-fighting. … Having one take a back seat to another, quite frankly, is nonsense in my opinion. … [The hard work of writing policy and making it operational] is already done and the next step is compliance.”

Nichols added he would be guided by his experience going through U.S. Department of Justice reform efforts first in Law Vegas, Nevada and then in Commerce City, Colorado. According to Nichols, both citys reached a more than 90% compliance rate under consent decrees.

The major take away from Chief’s Nichols interview is that he is very personable, exhibits a confidence of what he has done in the past and what he intends to do with APD taking it forward.

FORMER DEPUTY POLICE COMMISSIONER JOSEPH SULLIVAN

Sullivan identified gun violence as the “top of the list” of issues in Albuquerque and he had this to say:

“I have a passion for policing and I would love to bring that to Albuquerque if I was invited to do so. … Gun violence has to be at the top of the list. I place a heavy emphasis on making the arrests, getting people who are carrying guns illegally off the streets. … If you focus on that you take away the opportunity for gun violence to occur. … I would want to have a meeting with all command staff after every shooting incident to determine the cause and prevent any further violence.”

Sullivan said he believes the APD reform effort was sidetracked by the pandemic and getting it back on track is “critically important.” If appointed Chief, he would temporarily have Internal Affairs review all use-of-force cases until supervisors better learned the review process. Sullivan said he would also personally oversee all discipline and regularly reach out to the monitor to talk and get advice.

Sullivan emphasized his experience in Philadelphia during last year’s Black Lives Matter protests and said he would handle similar demonstrations in Albuquerque the same way. According to Sullivan, it comes down to defusing tensions with police by having police working in plainclothes or basic uniform and being open and honest with the demonstrators. Sullivan summarized it this way:

“We were willing to walk all night long as long as there was no violence and no damage to our city. … We never used gas, we never had to use impact rounds, we used patience. … If you come dressed for a fight, you’re likely to get a fight.”

The major take away from Sullivan’s interview is that he has a clear understanding of the 12 Federal Monitors reports, is aware of the obstacles that are getting in the way of implementing the reforms and understands what needs to be done within the department and how to address the city’s crime rates.

INTERIM APD CHIEF HAROLD MEDINA

Interim chief Harold Medina for his part said he has the “hindsight” to take the department forward, to get it where it needs to be and to reduce crime in Albuquerque and complete the reform effort. Medina stated his biggest priorities with the department are to continue to increase the department’s resources, adding more sworn police to the force, build up and add to the departments investigation capacity and stop “the revolving door” when it comes to arresting and releasing criminals.

Highlights of what Interim Chief Medina had to say include:

“We know we have to increase the quality of our investigations. … The three areas that we will focus on improving is the increase in resources. … We simply need more officers. … The challenge is you have to build the capacity of our investigative units. … We are on track to have our first batch of investigators go to their specific training to through the mid-part of the year.”

Medina emphasized his years of experience with APD and what he is doing now had this to say:

“How can you change a culture if you had not lived and been a part of that culture? … I have already begun the transformation process for the Albuquerque Police Department, and I am asking for the time to complete it. … We will continue to reach out to make sure that all segments of the community have their voice heard with APD. … The success of these relationships will rest on the department being transparent with the public.”

Medina added that there needs to be measures taken to boost the quality of use-of-force investigations while making sure those who break policy are held accountable and he said:

“The narrative has to change. … The focus cannot be that we are disciplining officers but rather we are protecting the integrity of all the great officers of this department.”

One very uncomfortable take away from Interim Chief Medina’s presentation is that he either read or regurgitated answers he had memorize, while the other two applicants clearly answered the questions spontaneously.

In addition to quoting the webinar presentation of the applicants, links to related and quoted news sources are here:

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/finalists-for-apd-chief-position-address-crime-problem-use-of-force-policy-during-public-webinar/5987647/?cat=500

https://www.krqe.com/news/albuquerque-metro/city-officials-give-opportunity-to-meet-police-chief-candidates-saturday/

https://www.abqjournal.com/2336776/3-apd-chief-candidates-meet-the-public-online.html

APD IN A NUTSHELL

Whoever becomes the new APD Chief, that person will be taking control of a law enforcement bureaucracy that is para military organization and under federal court consent decree for the first time in the city’s history.

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has an annual budget of $212 Million. APD is the largest budget department in the city out of a $1.1 Billion dollar general fund budget. APD has funding for 1,678 full time positions that includes 578 civilian staff and funding for 1,100 sworn police. As of January 9, 2021, APD payroll shows that there are 953 sworn officers and 48 cadets in the academy. The Albuquerque Police Department (APD ) has five major bureaus with each bureau having a Deputy Chief:

1. The Field Services Bureau
2. Investigative Bureau
3. The Compliance Bureau
4. The Administrative Support Bureau
5. The Support Services Bureau

APD divides the city into six geographical areas called “area commands.” Each area command is managed by an APD Commander (formerly called Captains) and staffed with between 82 and 119 officers, depending on size of the area command and level of calls for service. All officers are dispatched through the police communications operators by calling (505) 242-COPS for non-emergency calls or 911 in an emergency.

APD has 7 Detective Units: Violent Crime Unit (Armed Robbery, Homicide, Sex Crimes, Crimes Against Children), Property Crime Unit (Burglary, Auto Theft, White Collar Crimes) , Special Investigations Unit (Narcotics, Vice and Gangs), Crime Scene Investigations, Traffic Investigations (Motor Unit, DWI, Air Support), Tactical Unit (SWAT, K-9,, Mounted Horse Patrol, Bomb Squad) Training (Basic Training, Advance Training, Recruiting and Background)

https://www.cabq.gov/police/contact-the-police/area-commands

TWO MAJOR CRISES THAT WILL MAKE OR BREAK NEW CHIEF

Without any doubt, there are two on going crises that the next APD Chief will need to address that could easily set that Chief up for failure, and in turn, Mayor Keller’s desire for a second term. Those 2 issues are:

1. The city’s out of control crime rates

2. The Department of Justice Reforms under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

Following is a discussion of both issues:

1. THE CITY’S OUT OF CONTROL CRIME RATES

In August, 2017, New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller and candidate for Albuquerque Mayor had this to say about the city’s high crime rates:

“It’s unfortunate, but crime is absolutely out of control. It’s the mayor’s job to actually address crime in Albuquerque, and that’s what I want to do as the next mayor.”

The crime statistics released for 2018 and 2019 make it clear that despite all of Mayor Tim Keller’s promises to bring down skyrocketing violent crime, he has failed. In 2019, Keller implemented 4 new programs to address violent crime, increased APD personnel by 116, and spent millions. Violent crime is still “absolutely out of control”.

Without any question, the city’s crime rates have become worse during the last 3 years and are still out of control. For that reason, a review of the statistics in in order to give a better picture of what a new APD Chief must confront to be successful

Homicides spike during the last 3 years

In 2018, during Mayor Tim Keller’s first full year in office, there were 69 homicides. In 2019, during Mayor Keller’s second full year in office, there were 82 homicides. Albuquerque had more homicides in 2019 than in any other year in the city’s history. The previous high was in 2017 when 72 homicides were reported in Mayor Berry’s last year in office. The previous high mark was in 1996, when the city had 70 homicides. The year 2020 ended with 76 homicides, the second-highest count since 1996. The decline dropped the homicide rate from 14.64 per 100,000 people in 2019 to about 13.5 in 2020. As of January 18, 2021, there have been 7 homicides recorded in the city, close to one every other day. Only one of the 7 cases has resulted in an arrest. Thus far during the first few weeks of 2021 their have been 7 homicides.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1534762/homicide-numbers-high-despite-pandemic.html?amp=1

Historically Low Homicide Clearance Rates

For the past three years during Mayor Keller’s tenure, the homicide clearance percentage rate has been in the 50%-60% range. According to the proposed 2018-2019 APD City Budget, in 2016 the APD homicide clearance rate was 80%. In 2017, under Mayor Berry the clearance rate was 70%. In 2018, the first year of Keller’s term, the homicide clearance rate was 56%. In 2019, the second year of Keller’s term, the homicide clearance rate was 52.5%, the lowest clearance rate in the last decade. In 2020 the clearance rate has dropped to 50%. Of the 75 homicides thus far in 2020, half remain unsolved. There are only a dozen homicide detectives each with caseloads high above the national average.

Violent Crime

In 2018 during Mayor Keller’ first full year in office, there were 6,789 violent crimes, 3,885 Aggravated Assaults and 491 Non-Fatal Shootings.

In 2019, the category of “Violent Crimes” was replaced with the category of “Crimes Against Persons” and the category includes homicide, human trafficking, kidnapping and assault. In 2019 during Keller’s second full year in office, Crimes Against Persons increased from 14,845 to 14,971, or a 1% increase. The Crimes Against Person category had the biggest rises in Aggravated Assaults increasing from 5,179 to 5,397.
2020 Violent Crime Stats

On Monday, September 21, 2020, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released statistics that revealed that overall crime in the city is down slightly across all categories in the first six months of 2020 as compared with the first six months of 2019. Crimes against persons are all violent crimes combined and include murder, deadly weapons assault and injury and rape. The decreases in “violent crime” from 2019 to 2020 was a decrease by only 21 crimes or a 0.28%. Over a two year, it decreased 4%. According to the FBI statistics released, there were 7,362 crimes against persons reported in the first six months of 2020 and there were 152 more in the second quarter than in the first.

Drug Offenses

“Crimes Against Society” include drug offenses, prostitution and animal cruelty. In 2018 During Keller’s first full year in office, total Crimes Against Society were 3,365. In 2019 during Keller’s second full year in office, total Crimes Against Society increased to 3,711 for a total increase of 346 more crimes or a 9% increase.

Auto Thefts

On June 26, 2019 the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) released its annual list of cities with the most stolen vehicles reported. Despite a 28% reduction in auto thefts over a two-year period, Albuquerque ranked No. 1 in the nation for vehicle thefts per capita for the third year in a row.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2019/06/27/these-are-the-cities-with-the-highest-car-theft-rates/#7c42e7d35146

911 Emergency Response Times

In 2009, under Mayor Martin Chavez, the average 911 emergency response time to calls, whether it was a life or death emergency or a minor traffic crash,was 8 minutes 50 seconds.

In 2011, under Mayor RJ Berry the average response times to 911 emergency calls was 25 minutes.

In 2018 and 2019, under Mayor Tim Keller, the average response times to 911 emergency calls spiked to 48 minutes.

2. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE MANDATED REFORMS

Whoever is appointed permanent APD Chief will be taking over a law enforcement agency still in crisis after 6 years and after spending millions of dollars to implement the 271 mandated reforms under a Department of Justice Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

In 2017, Tim Keller aggressively campaigned to be elected mayor by vowing to implement the Department of Justice (DOJ) mandated reforms agreed to after the DOJ found a “culture of aggression” within APD. Also found was repeated unconstitutional “excessive use of force” and “deadly force” cases. Keller vowed to implement the DOJ mandated reforms even as he received the endorsement of the APD Union who opposed the reforms and that continues with obstructionist tactics.

Upon being sworn in as Mayor, one of the very first appointments Keller made was appointing Chief Michael Geier, first as interim chief and a few months making Geier permanent chief. At the time of the appointment, Keller proclaimed Gieir was the best man for the job and was committed to all the DOJ reforms. Less than 3 years as Chief, Geier was terminated by Keller for his failure to make progress with implementing the reforms.

Keller has spent 3 full years trying to implement the consent decree reforms, the exact same amount of time his predecessor used, for a total of 6 years combined. The difference is that Keller has also spent millions more on the reforms to no avail. Both Mayor Berry and Mayor Keller failed miserably to implement the DOJ reforms. The federal court action has not been dismissed even though the consent decree was to be fully implemented by November 16, 2020.

The number one priority of the APD Chief, and in a real sense, the biggest crisis that Chief faces from day one will be implementation of the DOJ mandated reforms. The crisis is very real when the Federal Monitor told the court on October 6, 2020:

“We are on the brink of a catastrophic failure at APD. … [The department] has failed miserably in its ability to police itself. … If this were simply a question of leadership, I would be less concerned. But it’s not. It’s a question of leadership. It’s a question of command. It’s a question of supervision. And it’s a question of performance on the street. So as a monitor with significant amount of experience – I’ve been doing this since the ’90s – I would have to be candid with the Court and say we’re in more trouble here right now today than I’ve ever seen.”

On November 2, 2020, the Federal Court Appointed Monitor James Ginger filed with the Federal Court his 12th Compliance Audit Report. The 12th Federal Monitors report provides the following scathing overall assessment of APD management, all upper command staff appointed by Tim Keller 3 years ago:

“We have no doubt that many of the instances of non-compliance we see currently in the field are a matter of “will not,” instead of “cannot”! … issues we continue to see transcend innocent errors and instead speak to issues of cultural norms yet to be addressed and changed by APD leadership.”

“… The monitoring team has been critical of the Force Review Board (FRB), citing its past ineffectiveness and its failing to provide meaningful oversight for APD’s use of force system. The consequences are that APD’s FRB, and by extension APD itself, endorses questionable, and sometimes unlawful, conduct by its officers.

“During the reporting period … virtually all of these failures can be traced back to leadership failures at the top of the organization.

“[The federal monitor] identified strong under currents of [resistance to APD reforms] in some critical units on APD’s critical path related to CASA compliance. These include supervision at the field level; mid-level command in both operational and administrative functions, [including] patrol operations, internal affairs practices, disciplinary practices, training, and force review). Supervision, [the] sergeants and lieutenants, and mid-level command, [the commanders] remain one of the most critical weak links in APD’s compliance efforts.”

A FEDERAL MONITOR NOWHERE TO BE SEEN, NO WHERE TO BE FOUND

Ostensibly Federal Monitor James Ginger was not at all involved in the selection process for a new Chief nor has he interviewed any of the applicants. Given what Federal Monitor James Ginger has had to say about APD and its management, and the fact he will have to work and interact with the new Chief, Ginger should have been intricately involved with the application process.

Dr. Ginger has a greedy little habit of taking millions in taxpayer money saying it’s not his job to manage APD but then he blames most of APD’s problems on APD leadership and management. Ginger could very easily give his opinion on all the applicants and even help find and recruit a new chief, but he has very little or no interest in doing so no doubt saying “it’s not my job” as he is paid millions in taxpayer money, $4.5 million and counting to be precise over the last 6 years.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Any person who is involved with human resources and the hiring process knows damn well that the application process must be a two-way street to be successful. The employer obviously is looking to find someone who can do a job. Just as important, an applicant seeking the job wants to know if they are compatible with the employer and must know if they can do the job and make sure they are not being set up for failure with restrictions on their duties.

Absent from the resumes and the interview process was any in depth questioning or discussion on what conditions the 3 applicants want for themselves before they will take the position of APD Chief. Three areas in particular that need to be asked of the 3 applicants are:

1. SHOULD APD MANAGEMENT POSITIONS OF SERGEANTS AND LIEUTENANTS BE ALLOWED TO BE MEMBERS OF THE POLICE UNION OR BE “AT WILL” EMPLOYEES?

It was on September 10, 2018, at a status telephone conference call held with the US District Court Judge that Federal Monitor Dr. James Ginger first told the federal court that a group of “high-ranking APD officers” within APD were trying to thwart the reform efforts.

The Federal Monitor revealed that the group of “high-ranking APD officers” were APD sergeants and lieutenants.

In his 10th report Federal Monitor Ginger referred to the group as the “Counter-CASA effect” and stated:

“Sergeants and lieutenants, at times, go to extreme lengths to excuse officer behaviors that clearly violate established and trained APD policy, using excuses, deflective verbiage, de minimis comments and unsupported assertions to avoid calling out subordinates’ failures to adhere to established policies and expected practice. Supervisors (sergeants) and mid-level managers (lieutenants) routinely ignore serious violations, fail to note minor infractions, and instead, consider a given case “complete”.

“Some members of APD continue to resist actively APD’s reform efforts, including using deliberate counter-CASA processes. For example … Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) disciplinary timelines, appear at times to be manipulated by supervisory, management and command levels at the area commands, letting known violations lie dormant until timelines for discipline cannot be met.”

The 2-year, city contract negotiated by the Mayor Tim Keller Administration with the Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) was for the time period of July 7, 2018 to June 30, 2020 and therefor expired on July 1, 2020. All police union contract negotiations have been put on hold amidst the pandemic. As a result, the terms and conditions of the expired contract, including who is in the bargaining unit and hourly pay, remain in effect until negotiations can take place at an undetermined date in the future. It’s likely the contract negotiations will not commence until the pandemic is over. If the city and Mayor Keller has learned anything at all over the 3 years it should be just how destructive the union has been to the reforms process because of their resistance.

New Mexico statutory law is clear that management cannot be members of public employee unions. Section 10-7E-5 provides for the rights of public employees:

“Public employees, other than management employees and confidential employees, may form, join or assist a labor organization for the purpose of collective bargaining through representatives chosen by public employees without interference, restraint or coercion and shall have the right to refuse any such activities.”

The statute is very clear that “management employees” are prohibited from joining the police union, yet the City has allowed APD Lieutenants and Sergeants to be part of the collective bargaining unit in violation of state law.

A link to related blog article is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/12/15/apd-police-union-contract-violates-state-law-by-allowing-management-positions-of-lieutenants-and-sergeants-into-bargaining-unit-empower-apd-chief-to-immediately-terminate-cops-for-cause/

The Chief, the 5 Deputy Chiefs, Assistant Deputy Chiefs and all APD Area Commanders are “unclassified” positions and they can be terminated “without cause” at any time. They are prohibited from being members of the police union and are management. The Chief serves at the pleasure of the Mayor and Deputy Chiefs and Area Commanders serve at the pleasure of the Mayor and Chief and can be terminated without cause.

APD Lieutenants and Sergeants, Detectives and Patrol Officers are all are “classified” positions and can only be terminated for cause. APD Lieutenants and Sergeants are included in the police collective bargaining unit . Any and all disciplinary actions taken against APD Lieutenants and Sergeants, Detectives and Patrol Officers are governed by the union contract. APD Lieutenants and Sergeants are management positions but are classified positions and can only be terminated with cause. They have due process rights including progressive disciplinary actions and rights of appeal.

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Interim Chief Harold Medina has already answered this question during the last hearing on the consent decree before Judge Federal Judge James Browning. Medina has said he has been “pro union” all of his life, he had no problem with sergeants and lieutenants being members of the union and he said he was and could work with the union.

2. SHOULD THE APD CHIEF BE GIVEN DISCRETIONARY AUTHORITY TO IMMEDIATELY TERMINATE A POLICE OFFICER AT ANY LEVEL FOR EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE OR DEADLY FORCE OR OTHER DEFINED CIRCUMSTANCES?

The APD Chief has no discretionary authority to fire police officers immediately and a termination process is mandated by union contract. The APD Chief cannot fire a police officer immediately for any clear or obvious police misconduct that is found or reported upon. The only option the Chief has under such circumstance is to refer such charges to the Internal Affairs Unit for what is termed as “progressive” discipline. The APD Chief cannot fire union members without cause. Any and all disciplinary action against any member of the police union is governed by the collective bargaining unit contract. The police union contract outlines police officers’ personnel rights and remedies, provides for personnel hearings, provides for internal affairs investigations, and provides for progressive discipline and the use of a matrix for discipline available.

3. WILL THE NEW CHIEF BE ALLOWED TO REPLACE AND APPOINT HIS OWN DEPUTY CHIEFS OR ORDERED BY MAYOR KELLER AND CAO NAIR TO KEEP THOSE ALREADY APPOINTED?

Many years ago, the Mayor Jim Baca upon being elected made the commitment to recruit and hire an out of state Chief of Police and not hire someone within APD’s ranks. At the time, APD was again riddled with scandal. Mayor Baca, after a national search appointed APD Chief Gerry Galvin, a career law enforcement Chief of Police from Cleveland, Ohio. When Galvin was appointed Chief, he was order by Mayor Baca to retain all the appointed Deputy Chiefs. Galvin’s appointment by Mayor Baca resulted in extensive bitter infighting amongst Deputy Chiefs who felt that they deserved to be and earned the right to be Chief. One Deputy Chief in particular announce after a Chief’s meeting after Galvin left the room, that he would never support the efforts of Galvin nor Galvin’s changes in policy. In hindsight, Galvin was essentially set up for failure. The same scenario has played out once again with what Harold Medina did to Chief Geier, and it will happen again if Medina is not named Chief and kept as a Deputy Chief by whoever is appointed.

When Mayor Keller was sworn into Office on December 1 ,2017 he immediately appointed Chief Michael Geier and appointed as Deputy Chiefs officers who represent the “old guard” of APD style of management. The “new” command staff was a reflection of APD’s past. The “new” command staff of Deputy Chiefs were not outsiders at all but had been with APD for some time.

The Deputy Chiefs of Police appointed by Mayor Keller included Harold Medina who retired from APD as commander after serving 20 years, Rogelio Banez who was the area commander in southwest Albuquerque, and Eric Garcia who was a Deputy Chief under APD Chief Gordon Eden. Deputy Chief Eric Garcia did receivee high marks for his work on the DOJ reforms, but he was part of the previous administration’s management team and eligible to retire. The new command staff appointed by Mayor Keller did not reflect a new generation of police officer fully committed and trained in constitutional policing.

In the event Keller does indeed appoint someone from outside the agency, that new Chief needs to ask if they will be allowed to replace the Deputy Chiefs and bring in their own management team, otherwise they are being set up for failure.

HAROLD MEDINA ADMITS HE IS PART OF THE PROBLEM

Interim Chief Harold Medina during his interview said:

“How can you change a culture if you had not lived and been a part of that culture? … I have already begun the transformation process for the Albuquerque Police Department, and I am asking for the time to complete it.”

With those words, Interim Chief Harold Medina admitted he was and still is part of the problem with APD. Medina has a history of reactive decision-making and failed leadership resulting in the killing of two mentally ill people having psychotic episodes. Interim Chief Harold Medina spins the two tragedies as a positive credential to run the APD saying because of the shootings he now understands the DOJ reforms, their need and can implement them. Medina’s conduct in the two shootings is the very type of conduct that resulted in the Department of Justice investigation in the first place.

With two separate fatalities involving the mentally ill, Interim Chief Harold Medina represents the total opposite of what a large majority of survey respondents want in a police Chief. Survey respondents said it was “very important” to have a chief with “experience with reducing use of force”, “crisis management”, “protecting civil rights” and able “to tackle issues such as mental illness. ” Further, Harold Medina, as a Deputy Chief, was part of the very management for the past 3 years that has failed to implement the DOJ reforms.

Any one in APD command staff who assisted, contributed or who did not stop the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice and who has resisted the reform process has no business being APD Chief or Deputy for that matter and that includes Interim Chief Harold Medina.

JUST ANOTHER SHAM PUBLIC RELATION NATIONAL SEARCH BY MAYOR KELLER

In announcing the 3 finalist, Mayor Tim Keller had this to say:

“I think we have three good finalists, and I think that’s a great thing for the city of Albuquerque. … The goal for our search is that we need to find the leadership for the city of Albuquerque in terms of public safety.”

It is more likely than not Keller has already decided he will appoint Harold Medina permanent chief. What Keller is doing now with Harold Medina is exactly what he did when he appointed Chief Michael Geier almost 3 years ago. First, he appoints an Interim Chief who he intends to appoint as permanent. Keller then has people go through the motions of getting public input. Keller then turns around and appoints who he wanted all along saying “ Gee Wiz folks, the most qualified person has been amongst us all the time”.

Experience with a law enforcement department both in crisis and under a DOJ consent decree must be an absolute requirement. If Mayor Tim Keller is truly committed in conducting a national search to find someone who will change the culture within APD, he should order AVTEC, Inc., the Albuquerque consulting firm he hired, to find far more than just two qualified law enforcement professionals who have the experience to manage a department in crisis. Both applicants Chief Clinton Nichols and former Deputy Commissioner John Sullivan should be considered with others, but not Harold Medina.

Another option is to put on hold the selection of a permanent chief until after the November election for Mayor. Otherwise, Mayor Tim Keller has engaged in just another pathetic, public relations sham of a national search only to appoint and make Harold Medina the permanent chief as Keller seeks a second term.

In 2020, Dinelli Blog Had 105,793 Total Reader Views, 70,208 Total Blog Visitors; Thanks For Viewing And Visiting; Onto A Better 2021 New Year! PLEASE WEAR THE DAMN MASK!

ABQ Reports: Keller’s Last Year’s 2020 State Of The City Address Full Of Lies About APD And Unkept Promises; Vile Attempt To Deceive

EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed in these two articles are those of Dan Klein and do not necessarily reflect those of the political blog www.petedinelli.com blog. No compensation has been paid. Links to the original articles can be found at the end of the articles.

Dan Klein is a retired Albuquerque Police Sergeant after 20 years of public service. He has been a small business owner in the private sector now for 16 years. Mr. Klein has been a reporter for both on line news outlets the ALB Free Press and ABQ Reports. On Tuesday, January 12, and Friday, January 14, the following articles written by Dan Klein and published on line news ABQ Reports:

ABQ REPORTS HEADLINE: Keller’s APD lies, unkept promises

— Three years after Keller became mayor APD is still a mess. Albuquerque is still overrun with crime.

— It is clear from Keller’s 2020 speech that he would rather fudge facts and numbers to appease Albuquerque instead of taking ownership of this mess.

I have a calendar on my desk, like most of you have, where I make notes for future reference. One of those notes said, “Tim Keller State of the City speech January 11, 2020”. You can watch it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-93RRmjiGZU

The reason I marked this date is because Keller made several announcements one year ago, that I wanted to fact check a year later. I do this because of past lies (false APD crime stats and Geier’s so-called retirement jumps to mind) whenever Keller and his management team at APD speak. Unlike most local media outlets, I refuse to simply regurgitate press releases and canned statements from politicians.

Readers deserve better reporting.

Tim Keller is all about visual charisma and charmingly good looks. Studies have shown that people support those they believe are handsome and good looking. Elections are not about policy, ideas and ability, they are a popularity contest like a high school prom and plain-looking candidates need not apply. Which is why I decided to listen and not watch Kellers’ state of the city speech. I recommend that you do the same.

At 51 minutes Keller talks about the Albuquerque Police Department and the Department of Justice monitoring. Keller stated:

“When it comes to APD we need to talk about the DOJ settlement. I will tell you there are 276 requirements that APD has to develop policies for, train officers on, implement and then show the monitor that he can trust us to do it on our own. Only after we do all of those 276 requirements will the DOJ actually end their oversight. We decided to make a compliance bureau to work with the DOJ instead of against them. Because of the hard work of that bureau and every single police officer at APD we are announcing that next month we are walking into court and asking to end the outside monitoring of nearly one-quarter of all those requirements”

Every person in the audience applauds enthusiastically, but did it happen? NO.

February 2020 came and went without the city asking the court to end the monitoring. In the summer of 2020, the city filed and then withdrew the request to end some of the monitoring. Why?

“The Albuquerque Police Department has failed miserably in its ability to police itself…. I would have to be candid with the court and say we’re in more trouble here right now today than I’ve ever seen.”

A link to a related blog article on the 12th Federal Monitor’s Report entitled “12th Federal Monitor’s Report: APD “On The Brink Of Catastrophic Failure”; “Failing Miserably To Police Itself”; Police Union Obstructs Reforms; COMMENTARY: Remove Sergeants And Lieutenants From Union; Abolish APD Internal Affairs” is here

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/11/09/12th-federal-monitors-report-apd-on-the-brink-of-catastrophic-failure-failing-miserably-to-police-itself-police-union-obstructs-reforms-commentary-rem/

If APD was failing so miserably why did Keller tell us differently? Why indeed.

Keller then makes the following statement about APD:

“We set an ambitious goal to hire 100 officers per year for the next four years and we got our first batch on the streets just a few months ago. I am so proud to announce the next 100 are on the way. They are in the academy right now and in 2020, for the first time in years, our department (APD) is going to be at 1,000 officers strong.”

Once again this is met with applause from the audience, but a year later does APD have 1,000 officers? NO.

At the same time Keller was giving his January 2020 State of the City speech, APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos reported to the ABQREPORT that APD had about 950 sworn officers. On January 3, 2021, the Albuquerque Journal reported that APD had 974 sworn officers (with another 55 cadets slated to graduate in March of 2021). Keller has hired more officers since he took over, but it seems that APD is now stuck, unable to stay above 1,000 officers (the number Keller promised). The reason APD is stagnant is because APD is losing veteran officers at a rate that does not allow it to grow.

I researched the entire police payroll for the first pay period in 2021. As of January 9, 2021, APD payroll shows that there are 953 sworn officers and now only 48 cadets in the academy. Why the discrepancy from January 3 to January 9?

I am sure APD and Keller knew that the end of the year brings a lot of retirements for APD. Why did Keller / APD give the Journal the end of 2020 numbers instead of the reality of the real 2021 numbers? Because 2020 would make Keller look better.

If APD payroll records are correct, and why wouldn’t they be, APD has only the slimmest chance of getting to Keller’s 1,000-officer goal in March 2021, a year later than he promised. Keller would have to pray that no cadets nor officers leave the department in the next three months. Based upon past performance that certainly does not seem likely. Knowing the number of officers that APD continues to lose on a yearly basis to retirements, terminations and resignations, my hunch is APD will still hover around 950 officers when January of 2022 comes around.

Mayor Keller promised us a year ago that his police department would attain 1,000 cops in 2020, it didn’t happen. Keller promised that APD was doing great with the DOJ consent decree when they weren’t. Keller clearly mislead the public in these two issues during his 2020 speech, it makes me wonder what else has he mislead us on?

Three years after Keller became mayor APD is still a mess. Albuquerque is still overrun with crime. It is clear from Keller’s 2020 speech that he would rather fudge facts and numbers to appease Albuquerque instead of taking ownership of this mess. 2021 is an election year, I hope Albuquerque is fed up with smiling untruths and elects a mayor who will fix this mess.”

The link to Abq Reports is here:

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/keller-s-apd-lies-unkept-promises

JANUARY 15, the following article also written by Dan Klein was published on ABQ Report

ABQ REPORTS HEADLINE: TIM KELLER’S VILE ATTEMPT TO DECEIVE US

What would you tell your kid if he came home from school with all Ds on his report card and when you questioned him about it, his response was, “You should be happy with me because my classmate, Jimmy, got all Fs.” Would you be happy? Well, you aren’t little Jimmy’s parent so you could care less about the grades Jimmy received and so you yell at your kid and tell him he needs to get his butt in gear, study and work harder and get better grades, or else.

That’s the way the real, normal and responsible world works. If you fail you acknowledge it and work harder to fix the problem and to get better. You don’t try to hide and explain away your miserable performance by saying someone is worse at it than you. Because saying that someone is worse than you at something is really low and sick, and it shows defeatism, a willingness to accept failure and a totally reprehensible attempt to deceive oneself and everyone else. In short, it’s ugly debasement.

Well, guess what, Albuquerque. Your mayor, Tim Keller, is that sick little kid who is getting Ds when it comes to fighting crime and who is trying to deceive you, his bosses, by saying that his failure is OK because other cities are doing worse than Albuquerque. Yes, welcome to the crime-fighting world of little Timmy Keller, who is failing miserably at his job. This is exactly what Failing Timmy did this week to cloak the fact that Albuquerque is just as crime-ridden under his leadership as it was under R.J. Berry.

Albuquerque has already had our fourth homicide since the start of 2021! At this rate we will eclipse the record high homicide rates of the last three years of Mayor Tim Keller’s administration.

So how does smiling Tim Keller respond to the tsunami that is the Albuquerque crime wave?

In 2019 Keller told Albuquerque residents that crime was going down, and he produced stats to support his statement. The crime stats were subsequently found to be a lie—fake, false and simply not true. Keller later apologized for the “mistake,” and soon enough real crime stats confirmed what everyone living in Albuquerque knew: crime here is really bad.

In 2020 Keller praised APD Chief Mike Geier for doing a great job (state of the city address) only to get rid of Geier months later. In what could only be described as cowardly behavior, Keller didn’t act like a strong mayor by calling Geier into his office and telling him he was done. Instead, Keller had Geier meet him, incognito, at a park on the Labor Day Holiday weekend. As Geier described it Keller was in disguise when he sat down with Geier on a park bench and asked him to resign. Weird. And cowardly.

How did this Forrest Gump, err Tim Keller park bench meeting turnout? Scandalous and embarrassing for all of Albuquerque. It’s worse than a soap opera, with Geier accusing Keller and Interim Chief Medina of plotting against him. In response Keller and Medina now say Geier was the worse chief ever (weird how Keller praised Geier just months earlier). While Keller was diverted into this stupid tit-for-tat with Geier, Albuquerque crime continued to grow unabated.

The year 2020 got worse for Keller and his police department as Attorney General Hector Balderas and State Auditor Brian Colón announced investigations and audits into APD overtime and spending. Balderas got involved when Colón requested that his office investigate potential criminal activity related to APD overtime. Once again, Albuquerque’s crime wave took a back seat to a profoundly serious issue within APD.

Again, I ask where was Tim Keller? APD overtime issues were well reported by ABQReport and other media outlets for years, so why didn’t Keller address them when the Albuquerque Police Oversight Board investigated and recommended termination for one of the officers involved? (A recommendation ignored by Keller and Geier.) Just where is Tim Keller when it comes to doing something about crime in our city?

As Albuquerque is reporting its fourth murder since the start of 2021, Keller and APD come to the citizens with one of the worse PR spins I have ever seen. Instead of focusing on Albuquerque and fixing our crime epidemic, Keller holds a press conference where he tells Albuquerque citizens that it’s worse in other cities. You heard me right. Keller is so lost when it comes to fighting crime in Albuquerque that he wants us to divert our attention to other crime-ridden cities.

Keller is telling us that the next time you get robbed at gunpoint, know that in Baltimore you could have gotten shot. Oh boy, that certainly will make everyone feel better. I can see it now, Keller and Medina will begin ordering APD officers to tell every crime victim that they should stop complaining because they could live in Detroit where crime is so much worse.

APD dispatcher: “911 what’s your emergency?”
Caller: “Help! I have been robbed!
APD dispatcher: “Sir, do you know how lucky you are to live in Tim Keller’s Albuquerque? In Memphis you would probably have gotten shot. Thank God for Tim Keller.”
Caller: “You are right, it would be worse if I lived in Memphis. Thank God I live in Albuquerque where I am warmed and comforted by Tim Keller’s smile. I am sorry to take your time. Disregard”

Note to Mayor Keller: You are the mayor of Albuquerque and it’s pretty clear you have no idea what you are doing when it comes to stopping the crime crisis and managing APD. Stop feeding us citizens with PR bullcrap about how it’s worse in other places or that you have a 20th crime initiative that looks like the 1st failed crime initiative. Victims of crime in Albuquerque don’t care about other cities and their problems; we only care about Albuquerque. I wish Keller would care more about Albuquerque than he cares about re-election and his PR spin.

Tim Keller you need to know you are the mayor of Albuquerque, and citizens here don’t give two-shits about Baltimore or any other city. We care about the job you’re doing, and right now your failing. Timmy, you’re coming home with Fs on your report card. And when you try to explain away your failures by saying that other cities are more dangerous we see it for what it really is: a pathetic attempt to hide your incompetence and an attempt to debase this entire community.

So Timmy, stop the PR crap and just do your job of making us safe. If you can’t do this, then we’ll have to find a mayor who can do the job better than you.

And Timmy, stop your pathetic and sickening game of trying to hide your incompetence and to deceive us. It’s vile.

The link to the January 15 ABQ Report column is here:

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/tim-keller-s-vile-attempt-to-deceive-us

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Dan Klein in his second article states “In 2019 Keller told Albuquerque residents that crime was going down, and he produced stats to support his statement. The crime stats were subsequently found to be a lie—fake, false and simply not true”. With the one sentence, Klein glossed over just how bad Keller mislead the public.

KELLER’S FALSE CLAIMS OF REDUCING CRIME

When Keller took office on December 1, 2017, every quarter when APD released the city’s crime statistics, Mayor Keller would do a press conference to proclaim and to some extent take credit for crime going down in all categories. He did so on July 1, 2019. Mayor Keller reported that crime was down substantially, with double-digit drops, in nearly every category.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1335502/crime-declining-in-albuquerque-new-numbers-show.html

On Sunday, December 1, 2019 the Albuquerque Journal reported that all the crime rate reductions Keller reported in his July 1, 2019 press conference were in fact seriously flawed by big percentages. Both the 2019 mid-year statistics and the statistics released at the end of 2018 were revised dramatically to include hundreds, and in some cases thousands, more incidents than were initially reported. The final numbers for all of 2018 showed violent crime actually increased.

At an October meeting of the City Council, APD provided the revised statistics but failed to disclose to the council that the numbers had changed drastically. Mayor Keller also did not hold any kind of a press conference to correct nor announce the corrected statistics. The Keller Administration blamed the false numbers on antiquated software programs, but only after the Keller Administration had essentially been caught by the Albuquerque Journal. Mayor Keller for his part has never issued his own personal apology for misleading the public and trying to take credit for bringing down crime rates by using false statistics.

The corrected crime statistics from those announced by Keller are:

Auto burglaries decreased 16%, not 38% as previously announced by Keller
Auto theft decreased 22%, not 39% as Keller reported
Commercial burglary decreased 3%, not the 27% Keller reported
Residential burglary decreased 16%, not 39% as Keller reported
Homicide decreased 2.5%, not 18%, but homicides have since increased substantially and the city has tied the all-time record of 71.
Rape decreased 3%, not the 29% Keller reported
Robbery decreased 30%, not 47% reported by Keller
Aggravated assault decreased 7.5%, not 33% reported by Keller

The link to the full December 1, 2029 Journal article is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1396782/flaws-discovered-in-apds-crime-statistics.html

Given the references to the city’s crime rates in both Dan Klein’s articles, a review of crime statistics under Mayor Tim Keller is in order.

HOMICIDES SPIKE DURING THE LAST 3 YEARS

In 2018, during Mayor Tim Keller’s first full year in office, there were 69 homicides. In 2019, during Mayor Keller’s second full year in office, there were 82 homicides. Albuquerque had more homicides in 2019 than in any other year in the city’s history. The previous high was in 2017 when 72 homicides were reported in Mayor Berry’s last year in office. The previous high mark was in 1996, when the city had 70 homicides. The year 2020 ended with 76 homicides, the second-highest count since 1996. The decline dropped the homicide rate from 14.64 per 100,000 people in 2019 to about 13.5 in 2020.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1534762/homicide-numbers-high-despite-pandemic.html?amp=1

HISTORICALLY LOW HOMICIDE CLEARANCE RATES

For the past three years during Mayor Keller’s tenure, the homicide clearance percentage rate has been in the 50%-60% range. According to the proposed 2018-2019 APD City Budget, in 2016 the APD homicide clearance rate was 80%. In 2017, under Mayor Berry the clearance rate was 70%. In 2018, the first year of Keller’s term, the homicide clearance rate was 56%. In 2019, the second year of Keller’s term, the homicide clearance rate was 52.5%, the lowest clearance rate in the last decade. In 2020 the clearance rate has dropped to 50%. Of the 75 homicides thus far in 2020, half remain unsolved. There are only a dozen homicide detectives each with caseloads high above the national average.

ARRESTS

The number of arrests for the four years of 2016-2019 are as follows:

2016: 14,022 total arrests made
2017: 13,582 total arrests made
2018: 15,471 total arrests made
2019: 15,151 total arrests made

FOUR YEAR TOTAL OF ARREST MADE BY APD: 58,226

Editor’s Note: Statistics for 2020 unavailable

VIOLENT CRIME

In 2018 during Mayor Keller’ first full year in office, there were 6,789 violent crimes, 3,885 Aggravated Assaults and 491 Non-Fatal Shootings.

In 2019, the category of “Violent Crimes” was replaced with the category of “Crimes Against Persons” and the category includes homicide, human trafficking, kidnapping and assault. In 2019 during Keller’s second full year in office, Crimes Against Persons increased from 14,845 to 14,971, or a 1% increase. The Crimes Against Person category had the biggest rises in Aggravated Assaults increasing from 5,179 to 5,397.

2020 VIOLENT CRIME STATS

On Monday, September 21, 2020, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released statistics that revealed that overall crime in the city is down slightly across all categories in the first six months of 2020 as compared with the first six months of 2019. Crimes against persons are all violent crimes combined and include murder, deadly weapons assault and injury and rape. The decreases in “violent crime” from 2019 to 2020 was a decrease by only 21 crimes or a 0.28%. Over a two year, it decreased 4%. According to the FBI statistics released, there were 7,362 crimes against persons reported in the first six months of 2020 and there were 152 more in the second quarter than in the first.

Links to related Dinelli Blog articles are here:

Mayor Tim Keller’s Record Of Broken Promises, Failures And High Murder Rates As He Seeks A Second Term

Anemic Opposition And Incumbency Gives Mayor Tim Keller Upper Hand As He Seeks A Second Term; Expect Another $1.3 Million Race From Keller

Bernalillo County Awards $10 Million In Behavioral Health Tax Grants To 11 Programs

Studies suggest that nearly 50% of Bernalillo County residents needing mental health or addiction treatment services are not getting the help they need because of gaps in New Mexico’s behavioral health care. Untreated behavioral health conditions have led to increased and sometimes tragic interactions with law enforcement, over incarceration, overuse of hospital emergency and inpatient services, and unnecessary suffering on the part of patients and their families.

“SHE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED”

It should come as absolutely no surprise that behavioral health services in New Mexico are limited. Bernalillo County residents can give a big thanks and shout out to our former Republican Governor “She Who Shall Not Be Named” who was in office for a full 8 years and who almost single handedly destroyed New Mexico’s behavioral health care system. The single cruelest thing that former Republican Governor “She Who Shall Not Be Named” did was when she ordered an “audit” of mental health services provided by nonprofits in New Mexico. She did so based on questionable information. The audit eventually devastated New Mexico’s behavioral health care system.

In June 2013, under the direction of the former Republican Governor, the Human Services Department (HSD) cut off Medicaid funding to 15 behavioral health nonprofits. In 2014, more than 160,000 New Mexicans received behavioral health services, with most of those services funded by Medicaid. After the audits were completed, the former Republican Administration said that the outside audit showed more than $36 million in over billing, as well as mismanagement and possible fraud.

In early 2016, following exhaustive investigations, Attorney General Hector Balderas cleared all 15 of the healthcare providers of any wrongdoing and exonerated all of them of fraud. Even though the New Mexico Attorney General found no fraud and cleared the nonprofits of fraud, the damage had been done to the nonprofits. With the Medicaid funding freeze, many of the 15 nonprofits could not continue and just went out of business leaving many patients without a behavioral health service.

After a full 5 years, the behavioral health care system has made some progress in being restored.

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/07/28/nm-suicide-rate-highest-in-country-a-long-road-ahead-before-behavioral-health-system-restored/

BERNALILLO COUNTY BEVHAVIORAL HEALTH TAX FOR SERVICES

On February 26, 2015, the Bernalillo County Commission approved a 1/8% gross receipts tax increase on a 3-2 vote to fund new behavioral and mental health services to improve access to mental and behavioral health care services in the county. The tax generates approximately $20 million annually.

When enacted, the county commission announced the intent for the tax was to invest the funding “in proven ways to better manage the high cost of addiction, homelessness and mental health problems”. According to a county commission announcement, “these issues impact families throughout the community and drive up the cost of public services, especially at the Metropolitan Detention Center.” The gross receipts tax costs shoppers one cent on a $10 purchase of goods and services.

https://www.bernco.gov/uploads/files/BH%20news%20release%20PDF.pdf

The 1/8th% gross receipts tax was enacted to be used for the purpose of providing more mental and behavioral health services for adults and children in the Albuquerque and Bernalillo County area. The intent is to provide a safety net system for those in need of mental health not otherwise funded in New Mexico.

In 2015 when the Bernalillo County Commission approved the tax, it failed to develop a plan on how all the money would be used, including not identifying services to be provides, location of facilities and qualifiers to obtain the services offered. As a result of having no spending plan or identifying priorities, the tax was collected but not spent. Since enactment of the tax in 2015, the tax has generated $91.6 million. Bernalillo County approved $20 million toward Behavioral Health Initiative projects with $70 million in tax revenue having accumulated but not spent. But that began to change.

The county has earmarked the bulk of what it has amassed for one-time expenditures. Those expenditures include $30 million for a new crisis triage center, $12 million for supportive housing and $4 million for the Bernalillo County CARE campus, formerly known as the Metropolitan Assessment and Treatment Services center, or MATS. The renovations to the CARE campus when complete will create an outpatient behavioral health clinic and living room space for peer-to-peer counseling sessions.

NEW SYTEM TO AWARD FUNDING

The Bernalillo County Commission established the Behavioral Health Initiative representing a significant step forward in local efforts toward addressing and preventing the mental health, substance abuse, addiction, and homelessness crisis in Albuquerque/Bernalillo County and the middle Rio Grande region of New Mexico.

In November, 2019, County Manager Julie Morgas Baca asked the Bernalillo County Commission to approve a resolution that permits “stakeholders, providers, community members, staff, commissioners, or other interested parties” to propose behavioral health service ideas through a website. Up until now, only county staff had been authorized to propose behavioral health service ideas. All program appropriations will require final approval of the County Commission.

According to Bernalillo County Manager Morgas Baca:

“I just really think it needs to be opened up, and we need to realize there’s a lot of people out there who have real life experience. … I want to solicit their input to see how much of a difference we can make in addition to what we’re already doing.”

On Tuesday, November 12, the resolution passed by a 5-0 vote unanimous vote.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1391385/c

In November, 2019, the Bernalillo County Commission approved a resolution that permits “stakeholders, providers, community members, staff, commissioners, or other interested parties” to propose behavioral health service ideas through a website. Up until then, only county staff had been authorized to propose behavioral health service ideas. All program appropriations are required final approval of the County Commission.

Under the new ordinance passed, each idea from stakeholders, providers, community members, staff and commissioners will go through a vetting process. A county commission appointed committee ensures each proposal meets the criteria for an expenditure based on the behavioral health tax language approved by voters. A separate subcommittee of stakeholders and subject matter experts will also review the idea and recommend the next steps.

Links to news sources are here:

https://www.bernco.gov/county-manager/news.aspx?2db258aa42a04430b8b8a83f4c866d4ablogPostId=0b8d62dfaab34851990ee817818ece04#:~:text=The%20Bernalillo%20County%20Department%20of,startup%2C%20and%20expansions%20of%20behavioral

https://www.petedinelli.com/2019/12/18/a-day-late-but-not-a-dollar-short-behavioral-health-tax-collected-but-few-programs-funded-leadership-void-created-with-departure-of-hart-stebbins/

$10 MILLION AWARDED

On Oct. 15, 2019 he Bernalillo County Commissioners (BCC) voted and approved funding of up to $10 Million out of the behavioral health tax. The county typically awards contracts based on established areas of focus. In the past, priorities have included mobile crisis teams and programming for at-risk youth. The new funding approach of asking community input is much less narrowly defined. County officials said that a total of 47 providers ultimately submitted proposals. The county is funding 11 of the private providers at varying amounts by contract lasting up to 3 years.

On December 9, 2020, the Bernalillo County Manager Julie Morgas Baca announced the award of the $10 million allocation to help support local providers for capital, startup, and expansions of behavioral health services. According to a news release:

“This allocation of funding will provide an opportunity for behavioral health providers to expand or develop services that are not otherwise funded and address a gap in the behavioral health continuum. Funds will be available for up to three years and are non-recurring after that time. These programs will be closely monitored by the Department of Behavioral Health Services and aim to measure causal relationships between service delivered and short-term and long-term outcomes.”

The expansion of behavioral health services, while also incentivize the providers to create sustainable, effective linkages between service providers and the people they serve, will improve patients’ access to preventative and chronic care services. The creation of these linkages can help develop and support partnerships between organizations that share a common goal of improving the health of the people and the community in which they live. The expansion will also promote improved outcomes for persons living with a behavioral health diagnosis, a more knowledgeable public, and increased referrals to appropriate services.”

Links to the county news release and news report are here:

https://www.bernco.gov/county-manager/news.aspx?”>https://www.bernco.gov/county-manager/news.aspx?

https://www.abqjournal.com/1529983/county-awards-10-million-for-behavioral-health-ex-money-will-help-providers-add-or-upgrade-facilities-and-cover-certain-costs.html

The $10 million in behavioral tax funding is the very first-time awards have been made to private providers since the county called on local providers to identify and offer services that are needed in the behavioral health care system.

The 11 providers sharing the $10 million award include:

A New Day
AMI Kids
ARCA
Children’s Grief Center
Crossroads for Women
Endorphin Power Company
First Nations Community
Healthsource
Los Puentes Charter School
NM Veterans Integration Center
Recovery Services of New Mexico

According to executive director Jade Richardson Bock for The Children’s Grief Center of New Mexico, the funding wll be used to:

“expand even further and to meet the demand caused by the COVID pandemic, caused by overdoses, DWI deaths, cancer, heart attack (and) all of the tragic causes of death that affect our citizens.”

Crossroads for Women, which provides housing and other support to formerly incarcerated women, will buy a new property to accommodate its growing programs.

ARCA will use its money to help clients recovering from an acquired brain injury, any type of brain damage that happens after birth from a wide variety of causes. The money will go toward a planned intake and assessment facility that the nonprofit’s leaders say will help bridge the gap between acute injury care and the possible return to independent living. The center will include bedrooms for temporary stays, therapy areas and more, said Michele Cody, ARCA’s chief development officer.

ENDORPHIN POWER COMPANY

The Endorphin Power Company (EPC) outlay of $195,000 of the behavioral health tax is very noteworthy of the awards in that the allocation essentially embodies the spirit, purpose and intent of the behavioral tax. The mission statement of the Endorphin Power Company says it best:

“To provide single occupancy, transitional housing for people experiencing homelessness as a result of substance abuse. [It provides] a safe, clean and sober living environment where people become part of a healthy community and are encouraged to set and reach goals. The Endorphin Power Company see substance abuse and homelessness as both an individual and social problem. [The] goal is to address that problem on both levels at once. We want to contribute to the greater good of local and global communities by promoting the benefits of healthy-living, healthy connections and environmental consciousness. We seek to cultivate an environment in which individuals and communities foster health, happiness, and awareness through the “Four Pillars” of education, exercise, community and service to others.”

https://www.endorphinpower.org/about-us/

EPC is arguably the most sought-after transitional living facility in New Mexico. It offers a very unique program designed to help individuals dealing with addiction and homelessness. The EPC program also offers intensive case management and therapy for those in need of it and want it without being forced. EPC also operates a community center, fitness center and a step-down housing triplex to help clients with their transition process while also building a rental history (if necessary).

EPC has operated out of an old church located at 509 Cardenas Dr, SE, in Albuquerque’s International District, but that is about to change. Executive Director Jeffrey Holland announced a $3 million new facility at the location. EPC will demolish its “community building” and build a new facility that will offer a place for its live-in clients to get everything they need, from counseling to social support to physical fitness programs in one place, while also further extending its reach into the larger community. According to Holland, people who do not live on the premises there could come to see therapists and attend support group meetings or simply walk in from the street for help navigating the city’s larger social services landscape.

Executive Director Jeffrey Holland had this to say:

“[The Endorphin Power Company is in] a high need area … We want to reimagine the idea of a communal building. … We all know what ‘community centers’ look like, with basketball courts and that stuff, but have we ever thought of an idea of a ‘community services’ building?”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYIS

Although it took a little over a full year to allocate and distribute the $10 Million in accumulated funding of behavioral tax revenues, the long wait was worth it and so was the process. When Bernalillo County announced the new process to award funding, it generated an exceptional amount of interest from mental health care providers throughout the city. When the county held its first meeting to explain the proposal process, so many people showed up to the hearing room that the fire marshal had to be called to intervene. The county proceeded to reschedule the meeting for a later date and held the meeting at a larger venue.

Despite the pandemic, 47 providers ultimately submitted proposals to the County all of which had to be reviewed and analyzed. This is how government is supposed to work. Bernalillo County Government and taxpayers can take great comfort to know that the county is indeed spending the behavioral health tax on programs that will reach those that are in need of it the most.

President Joe Biden’s Inaugural Address

FOLLOWING IS THE FULL TEXT OF PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN’S IGNAUGURAL ADDRESS:

Chief Justice Roberts, Vice President Harris. Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, McConnell, Vice President Pence, my distinguished guests and my fellow Americans, this is America’s day.

This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope of renewal and resolve through a crucible for the ages. America has been tested anew and America has risen to the challenge. Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people, has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded.

We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.

From now, on this hallowed ground, where just a few days ago, violence sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible to carry out the peaceful transfer of power, as we have for more than two centuries.

As we look ahead in our uniquely American way: restless, bold, optimistic, and set our sights on the nation we can be and we must be.

I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here today. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. And I know, I know the resilience of our Constitution and the strength, the strength of our nation. As does President Carter, who I spoke with last night, who cannot be with us today, but whom we salute for his lifetime of service.

I’ve just taken the sacred oath. Each of those patriots have taken. The oath, first sworn by George Washington. But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us, on we the people who seek a more perfect union.

This is a great nation. We are good people. And over the centuries, through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we’ve come so far. But we still have far to go. We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities, much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain.

Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now. Once-in-a-century virus that silently stalks the country. It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. A cry for racial justice, some four hundred years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.

The cry for survival comes from planet itself, a cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear. And now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.

To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity, unity.

In another January, on New Year’s Day in 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. When he put pen to paper, the president said, and I quote, “if my name ever goes down into history, it’ll be for this act. And my whole soul is in it.”

My whole soul was in it today. On this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause.

Uniting to fight the foes we face: anger, resentment, hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness. With unity, we can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward, reward work and rebuild the middle class and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world.

I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real, but I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial and victory is never assured.

Through civil war, the Great Depression, world war, 9/11, through struggle, sacrifice and setbacks, our better angels have always prevailed. In each of these moments, enough of us, enough of us have come together to carry all of us forward. And we can do that now. History, faith and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other not as adversaries, but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos.

This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge. And unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail. We have never, ever, ever, ever failed in America when we’ve acted together.

And so today at this time in this place, let’s start afresh, all of us. Let’s begin to listen to one another again. Hear one another see one another, show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.

My fellow Americans. We have to be different than this. America has to be better than this. And I believe America is so much better than this. Just look around. Here we stand in the shadow of the Capitol dome, as was mentioned earlier, completed amid the Civil War, when the union itself was literally hanging in the balance. Yet we endured, we prevailed.

Here we stand looking out in the great mall where Dr. King spoke of his dream. Here we stand, where 108 years ago, at another inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote. And today we marked the swearing in of the first woman in American history elected to national office: Vice President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can’t change.

Here we stand across the Potomac from Arlington Cemetery, where heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion rest in eternal peace. And here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground.

It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.

To all those who supported our campaign, I’m humbled by the faith you’ve placed in us. To all those who did not support us, let me say this. Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart. If you still disagree so be it. That’s democracy. That’s America. The right to dissent, peaceably, the guardrails of our republic is perhaps this nation’s greatest strength.

Yet hear me clearly: disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you, I will be a president for all Americans. All Americans. And I promise you I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.

Many centuries ago. Saint Augustine, a saint in my church, wrote to the people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love. Defined by the common objects of their love. What are the common objects we as Americans love, that define us as Americans? I think we know. Opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honor and yes, the truth.

Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is truth and there are lies, lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies.

Look, I understand that many of my fellow Americans view the future with fear and trepidation. I understand they worry about their jobs. I understand, like my dad, they lay in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering, can I keep my health care? Can I pay my mortgage? Thinking about their families, about what comes next. I promise you, I get it.

But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like look like you or worship the way you do, or don’t get their news from the same sources you do. We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts. If we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes, as my mom would say, just for a moment, stand in their shoes. Because here’s the thing about life. There’s no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days, when you need a hand. There are other days when we’re called to lend a hand. That’s how it has to be. That’s what we do for one another. And if we are this way, our country will be stronger, more prosperous, more ready for the future. And we can still disagree.

My fellow Americans, in the work ahead of us, we’re going to need each other. We need all our strength to to persevere through this dark winter. We’re entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus. We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as One Nation. One Nation.

And I promise you this, as the Bible says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” We will get through this together. Together.

Look, folks, all my colleagues I served with in the House of the Senate up there, we all understand the world is watching, watching all of us today. So here’s my message to those beyond our borders. America has been tested and we’ve come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again. Not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. And we’ll lead, not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.

We’ll be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress and security. Look, you all know, we’ve been through so much in this nation. And my first act as president, I’d like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer to remember all those who we lost this past year to the pandemic. Those four hundred thousand fellow Americans, moms, dads, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends, neighbors and coworkers. We will honor them by becoming the people and the nation we know we can and should be. So I ask you, let’s say a silent prayer for those who’ve lost their lives, those left behind and for our country.

Amen.

Folks, this is a time of testing. We face an attack on our democracy and on truth, a raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis, America’s role in the world. Any one of these will be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is, we face them all at once, presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we’ve had. Now we’re going to be tested. Are we going to step up? All of us? It’s time for boldness, for there is so much to do. And this is certain, I promise you, we will be judged, you and I, by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era.

Will we rise to the occasion, is the question. Will we master this rare and difficult hour? Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world to our children? I believe we must. I’m sure you do as well. I believe we will. And when we do, we’ll write the next great chapter in the history of the United States of America. The American story. A story that might sound something like a song that means a lot to me. It’s called American Anthem. There’s one verse that stands out, at least for me, and it goes like this:

The work and prayers of a century have brought us to this day.

What shall be our legacy? What will our children say?

Let me know in my heart when my days are through.

America, America, I gave my best to you.

Let’s add. Let us add our own work and prayers to the unfolding story of our great nation. If we do this, then when our days are through, our children and our children’s children will say of us: They gave their best, they did their duty, they healed a broken land.

My fellow Americans, I close the day where I began, with a sacred oath before God and all of you. I give you my word, I will always level with you. I will defend the Constitution. I’ll defend our democracy. I’ll defend America and I will give all, all of you. Keep everything I do in your service, thinking not of power, but of possibilities, not of personal interest, but the public good. And together we shall write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness. A story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness. May this be the story that guides us. The story that inspires us and the story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history. We met the moment. Democracy and hope, truth and justice did not die on our watch, but thrived. That America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world. That is what we owe our forbearers, one another and generations to follow.

So, with purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasks of our time. Sustained by faith, driven by conviction, devoted to one another and the country we love with all our hearts. May God bless America and may God protect our troops. Thank you, America.

GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnel “The Mob Was Fed Lies” By Führer Trump

A simple majority of members of the House of Representatives was all that was required to pass the one Article of Impeachment charging Führer Trump with the high crimes and misdemeanor and sedition. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has yet to forward the article of impeachment to the United States Senate for a trial and a vote to convict.

A two thirds vote to convict is required to convict. In the United States Senate The final vote therefor would have to be 67 to 33. The United States Senate is split evenly with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, but Democrats are in control the Chamber with Vice President Kamala Harris having the power to break any tie meaning all 50 Democrat Senators and 17 Republican Senators would have to vote to convict. Upon conviction, the Senate by a simple majority vote can bar Führer Trump from ever holding any elective office again.

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL’S ASTONISHING SENATE COMMENTS

A mere 24 hours before President Joe Biden is to be sworn in as the 46 President of the United States, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had this to say on the Senate floor the last full day of Führer Trump’s presidency:

“The last time the Senate convened we had just reclaimed the capitol from violent criminals who tried to stop congress from doing our duty. The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like. But we pressed on. We stood together and said an angry mob would not get veto power over the rule of law in our nation, not even for one night. We certified the people’s choice for their 46th president.”

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/19/mcconnell-trump-provoked-capitol-attackers-460372

COMMENTARY

It is clear that Trump is the first fascist ever elected President of the United States who put himself above the law and his own country and who has no respect for our constitution nor free elections. Trump’s strongest and closest allies and supporters need to come to their senses and the realization that Trump is a traitor to his own country, to them, to all of us and to our democracy. Attempting to set aside the vote of the American people was an attempt to undermine our very democracy. It was a coup d’é·tat that failed.

The Senate trial should be very short and should last just a few days. The evidence should consist of the United State Senate seeing and hearing Führer Trump’s January 6 speech followed by all the video coverage of the insurgents breaking into the capitol building. Footage of house and senate members cowering in fear and then being swept to secured locations to remind them they were victims of an insurgency. Evidence of the 6 people who were killed as well as injuries to the capitol police should be presented.

What is shameful and disgusting is that what unfolded on January 6 was an attack on our country, our very democracy, by an elected President of the United States who lost his election for a second term and then attempted a COUP D’É·TAT of his successor who won not only the electoral college vote but the popular vote.

Let’s hope McConnel and at least 16 other Republican Senators along with all 50 Democrats will vote to convict Führer Trump of the one article of impeachment for “willful incitement of insurrection”. But that is not enough. The United States Senate needs to bar him from running for office ever again. If inciting a violent mop to storm the United States Capitol and to commit sedition to hold onto power is not enough to convict the facist, then what the hell is?

The extent of the physical damage is to the United State Capitol is easily repaired. The damage to our democracy by Führer Trump and his coup d’é·tat that failed will take years to recover from.

Führer Trump’s January 6 Speech Was Insurgency To Overthrow Government; Senate Must Vote to Convict And Prohibit Trump From Holding Office

2021 Begins With 7 Homicides In 18 Days; Mayor Keller’s APD Programs To Bring Down Violent Crime Rates Not Stopping Blood Flow

In 2017, then State Auditor Tim Keller campaigned to be elected mayor on the platform based in part on promising to bring down the cities skyrocketing violent crime rates and murder rates. Candidate for Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller had this to say about the city’s high crime rates at the time:

“It’s unfortunate, but crime is absolutely out of control. It’s the mayor’s job to actually address crime in Albuquerque, and that’s what I want to do as the next mayor.”

2021 BEGINS WITH 7 MURDERS IN 18 DAYS

As of January 18, 2021, there have been 7 homicides recorded in the city, close to one every other day. Only one of the 7 cases has resulted in an arrest. On Monday, APD released details on all 7 homicides. A link to a news report is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1537603/woman-shot-killed-off-east-central.html

During the week of January 11, APD spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos said APD believes new crime-fighting programs are working to bring down violent crime and had this to say:

“We have our Gun Violence Reduction Unit, we have our Street Crimes Unit, we now have the VIP program, that’s shown to be very effective on the intervention side. So, we really need to tackle this from every angle. … It’s reasonable [to believe the city will see homicides will go down in 2021] … We’re really shooting for that. … We need to get these guns off the streets and arrest these guys and keep them behind bars.”

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/2021-off-to-violent-start-in-albuquerque/5982418/?cat=500

Technology is also playing a role with the investigation of gun violence. APD has implemented the “Shot Spotter Gunshot Detection System” which is part of APD’s Real Time Crime Center. The device alerts APD officers when a shooting occurs in certain areas of the city so they can be dispatched to the scene.

APD VIOLENT CRIME PROGRAMS INITIATED 2019

In 2019, Mayor Tim Keller reacting to the spiking violent crime rates, announced 4 programs in 9 months to deal with and bring down the city’s high violent crime rates . Those APD programs are:

The Shield Unit
Declaring Violent Crime “public health” issue,
The Metro 15 Operation and
The “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP Program).

This blog article is a discussion of all 4 programs with an emphasis on updating progress made with the VIP program. The VIP program is viewed as having the biggest potential to bringing down violent crime.

THE SHIELD UNIT

In February 2018 the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) created the “Shield Unit”. The Shield Unit assists APD Police Officers to prepare cases for trial and prosecution by the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office. The unit originally consisted of 3 para legals. It was announced that it is was expanded to 12 under the 2019-2020 city budget that took effect July 1, 2019.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1325167/apd-expands-unit-that-preps-cases-for-prosecution.html

DECLARING VIOLENT CRIME “PUBLIC HEALTH” ISSUE

On April 8, 2019, Mayor Keller and APD announced efforts that will deal with “violent crime” in the context of it being a “public health issue”. The program is intended to deal with crimes involving guns in an effort to bring down violent crime in Albuquerque. Mayor Keller and APD argue that gun violence is a “public health issue” because gun violence incidents have lasting adverse effects on children and others in the community that leads to further problems.

APD is tracking violent crime relying on the same methods used to track auto thefts, weekly reports summarizing shootings, refining policies, and learning from best practices used by other law enforcement agencies. One goal is for APD to examine how guns are driving other crimes, such as domestic violence and drug addiction.

METRO 15 OPERATION

On Tuesday, November 26, Mayor Tim Keller held a press conference to announce a 3rdOn program within 9 months to deal with the city’s violent crime and murder rates. At the time of the press conference, the city’s homicide count was at 72, matching the city’s record in 2017. Before 2017, the last time the City had the highest number of homicides in one year was in 1996 with 70 murders that year. As of Friday, December 17, 2020 there have been 75 homicides in 2020.

Keller dubbed the new program “Metro 15 Operation”. It is part of the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) Keller announced on November 22. According to Mayor Keller and then APD Chief Geier the new program is designed to target the top 15 most violent offenders in Albuquerque. In other words, it’s the city’s version of the FBI’s 10 most wanted list. According to Keller, the top 15 will be identified by the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office. Once a violent offender is caught, another violent offender will be added to the list.

“VIOLENCE INTERVENTION PLAN” (VIP PROGRAM)

On November 22, Mayor Tim Keller announced what he called a “new initiative” to target violent offenders called “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP). The VIP initiative was in response to the city’s recent murders resulting in the city tying the all-time record of homicides at 72 in one year. Mayor Keller proclaimed the VIP is a “partnership system” that includes law enforcement, prosecutors and social service and community provides to reduce violent crime.

The VIP program is modeled after the City of Oakland’s “Operation Ceasefire” and developed with the help of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. The goal of the VIP program is to reverse the spike in gun violence that has left hundreds injured or dead.

The 4 major components of the VIP program are:

LAW ENFORCEMENT: APD was “restructured” to create a first-of-its-kind “Violence Intervention Division” with its own Commander. The division is designed to make cross-functional partnership as productive as possible.

PROSECUTION PARTNERS: Prosecutors from all systems including the Attorney General, District Attorney, US Attorney and Office of Superintendent of Insurance will collaborate to share information and make sure cases are going to the appropriate teams and courts.

SOCIAL SERVICES: The City has always funded social services aimed at violence reduction. However, for the first time Family and Community Services is specifically working with the community to identify the most effective evidence-based violence reduction strategies, and requiring providers to work together in the Violence Intervention Program.

COMMUNITY PARTNERS: The City will reach out to community partners, including the Bernalillo County Community Health Council, that are dealing with the causes and effects of violent crime to work together on this program.

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/mayor-keller-touts-new-plan-to-tackle-violent-crime/5561150/?cat=500

https://www.abqjournal.com/1394576/city-launches-violence-intervention-program.html

On August 18, Mayor Tim Keller introduced his Violence Intervention team and said in part:

“This isn’t about Power Point slides or interesting analysis. … This is about trying to get these people not to shoot each other. …This is about understanding who they are and why they are engaged in violent crime. … And so, this actually in some ways, in that respect, this is the opposite of data. This is action. This is actually doing something with people. This is not just running reports and I think that’s a marked difference with what the city has done in the past.”

According to Keller vulnerable communities and law enforcement will be working together and building trust has proven results for public safety. The goal of the team is to find crucial common ground, build new relationships, and significantly reduce gun violence in our neighborhoods.

The four individuals introduced as part of the program are:

Jerry Bachicha, Violence Intervention Program Manager
APD Commander Luke Languit
Tonya Covington, Division Director of Rapid Accountability
Angel Garcia, Social Services Coordinator

All 4 work as a team to deliver “custom notifications” to people affected or involved with gun violence in an effort to get them help so they can avoid further involvement with violent crime.

UPDATE OF “VIOLENCE INTERVENTION PROGRAM” (VIP)

It has been over a year since Mayor Keller and APD announced the Violence Intervention Program (VIP). On December 27, an update on the success of the VIP program was given where APD Commander Luke Languit , Social Services Coordinator Angel Garcia and Program Manager Gerri Bachicha were interviewed. A link to the full report is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1530537/city-program-sends-personal-message-about-gun-violence.html

HOW THE VIP PROGRAM WORKS

According to APD Commander Luke Languit, the VIP Program process first starts when they consult with law enforcement partners in the FBI and the District Attorney’s Office about whom to approach. Almost all of those chosen to be approached are involved in criminal groups or gangs. Some of the people selected for an “intervention” have been victims of crimes while others were at the scene of a shooting or were otherwise connected to the violent crime.

VIP Program Manager Gerri Bachicha had this to say about those selected for the program:

“Mostly these are all group-involved folks who have been harmed through gun violence and are, according to statistics, more likely than other people in our community to be harmed again through gun violence, or even killed, or to maybe end up in jail because of gun violence. … We want to intervene in that cycle so they don’t have to live that type of life anymore.”

According to VIP Social Services Coordinator Angel Garcia, an intervention is then scheduled once a person is identified for the VIP Program. APD Commander Luke Languit goes to a person’s house that have been identified to perform what is called a “customs” visit. The person is presented with a letter personalized outlining their criminal history. The person is told they could face more serious legal consequences, or get seriously hurt or killed, if they continue to engage in gun violence. According to Garcia, the VIP program offers to connect them with resources they might need, such as job training, food banks, rental assistance or help getting into school.

LIMITED PROGRESS REPORTED

On December 27, VIP Program Manager Gerri Bachicha said that there has been progress made with the program. According to Bachicha, 74 interventions have been conducted since late March and none of those people interviewed and counseled have been reported for committing a gun crime, or any other crime at least that they know. Notwithstanding, Bachicha said the VIP program will monitor those brought into the program for a long time and said:

“We know that it’s not falling off within six months, but we need to continue to track that to see if it falls off within a year, within a year and six months, within two years, and then we need to increase our ability to lengthen that.”

Bachicha said the VIP program will be considered successful if shootings decrease overall in the City. Reviewing the data reflects that shootings decreased in in the last few month of 2020, but there were more shootings in 2020 than in 2019. Shootings in the few first weeks of January are up.

SORTING OUT WHAT’S WORKING DIFFICULT

With at least 4 major crime-reduction initiatives going on across the city it is difficult to tell which are actually bringing down violent crime if at all. However, an attempt will be made. VIP Program Manager Gerri Bachicha put it this way:

“Sorting that out, what correlates to which program, what really helped, what really worked, that’s going to be important research going forward. … We are going to be partnering with [the University of New Mexico] for some of that research. It’s going to take a lot of research, and it’s going to take a couple of years to have enough data to look at those correlations.”

The city did issue grants to two entities to help with the VIP program of reaching out to help those identified for the program. Youth Development Inc. (YDI) received a$468,090 and the University of New Mexico Young Hospital Children’s Health Center received $264,910.

During last year’s January 2020 legislative session, $10 million was asked for to start the VIP program across the state with $2 million of that to go to Albuquerque program, but the funding failed to make it through the 2020 session.

SOBERING STATISTCS

The cities record breaking number of murders for the last 3 years are only a small part of the city’s overall violent crime problem. The crime statistics that gage the success or failure of the city’s programs must include not just actual murders but the arrest rates and high violent crime rates. For that reason, those statistics merit review.

HOMICIDES SPIKE DURING THE LAST 3 YEARS

In 2018, during Mayor Tim Keller’s first full year in office, there were 69 homicides. In 2019, during Mayor Keller’s second full year in office, there were 82 homicides. Albuquerque had more homicides in 2019 than in any other year in the city’s history. The previous high was in 2017 when 72 homicides were reported in Mayor Berry’s last year in office. The previous high mark was in 1996, when the city had 70 homicides. The year 2020 ended with 76 homicides, the second-highest count since 1996. The decline dropped the homicide rate from 14.64 per 100,000 people in 2019 to about 13.5 in 2020.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1534762/homicide-numbers-high-despite-pandemic.html?amp=1

HISTORICALLY LOW HOMICIDE CLEARANCE RATES

For the past three years during Mayor Keller’s tenure, the homicide clearance percentage rate has been in the 50%-60% range. According to the proposed 2018-2019 APD City Budget, in 2016 the APD homicide clearance rate was 80%. In 2017, under Mayor Berry the clearance rate was 70%. In 2018, the first year of Keller’s term, the homicide clearance rate was 56%. In 2019, the second year of Keller’s term, the homicide clearance rate was 52.5%, the lowest clearance rate in the last decade. In 2020 the clearance rate has dropped to 50%. Of the 75 homicides thus far in 2020, half remain unsolved. There are only a dozen homicide detectives each with caseloads high above the national average.

ARRESTS

The number of arrests for the four years of 2016-2019 are as follows:

2016: 14,022 total arrests made
2017: 13,582 total arrests made
2018: 15,471 total arrests made
2019: 15,151 total arrests made

FOUR YEAR TOTAL OF ARREST MADE BY APD: 58,226

Editor’s Note: Statistics for 2020 unavailable

VIOLENT CRIME

In 2018 during Mayor Keller’ first full year in office, there were 6,789 violent crimes, 3,885 Aggravated Assaults and 491 Non-Fatal Shootings.

In 2019, the category of “Violent Crimes” was replaced with the category of “Crimes Against Persons” and the category includes homicide, human trafficking, kidnapping and assault. In 2019 during Keller’s second full year in office, Crimes Against Persons increased from 14,845 to 14,971, or a 1% increase. The Crimes Against Person category had the biggest rises in Aggravated Assaults increasing from 5,179 to 5,397.

2020 VIOLENT CRIME STATS

On Monday, September 21, 2020, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released statistics that revealed that overall crime in the city is down slightly across all categories in the first six months of 2020 as compared with the first six months of 2019. Crimes against persons are all violent crimes combined and include murder, deadly weapons assault and injury and rape. The decreases in “violent crime” from 2019 to 2020 was a decrease by only 21 crimes or a 0.28%. Over a two year, it decreased 4%. According to the FBI statistics released, there were 7,362 crimes against persons reported in the first six months of 2020 and there were 152 more in the second quarter than in the first.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It was very difficult to keep a straight face when Mayor Keller said in describing the “Violence Intervention and Rapid Accountability Diversion Programs”:

“This is about trying to get these people not to shoot each other. … This is about understanding who they are and why they are engaged in violent crime. …”

What Keller was attempting to describe was VIP program professionals reaching out and sitting down with violent criminals to discuss their propensity to murder and to stop them from committing another violent crime. Good luck with that! Violent repeat offenders who have killed are more likely than not going to change their violent ways with interventions. Violent gang members usually take some degree of pride in taking a life, with some having a tattoo of a tear drop under their eye.

VIP Program Manager Gerri Bachicha said that 74 interventions have been conducted since late March, 2020. She added that none of those people in the program who have been interviewed and counseled have been reported for committing a gun crime, or any other crime that they know. That’s all fine and good, but 74 interventions is not even a drop in the bucket when it comes to the cities arrests, homicides and violent crime that are in the thousands.

To be perfectly blunt, what the VIP outreach program is doing is what is done by state probation officers who manage thousands of convicted violent felons a year, including those convicted of armed robbery, murder and rape. The efforts being made by the VIP program are commendable with a very idealistic approach being taken to try to intervene and provide counseling and direction.

In 2017, Candidate Tim Keller campaigned to get elected Mayor on the platform of implementing the Department of Justice (DOJ) mandated reforms, increasing the size of APD, returning to community-based policing and a promise to bring down skyrocketing crime rates. Mayor Keller no doubt sincerely thought he could do a better job than his predecessor and he could actually make a difference. The truth is, he has not and crime in the city has only become worse since Tim Keller has taken office, especially in terms of violent crime.

In order to have any real success, all 4 programs Keller initiated IN 2019 need to be ratcheted up way beyond where they are today, otherwise they will continue to fail. The VIP program will have to be increased with hundreds of interventions, not a mere 74, otherwise it will have very low or no impact on violent crime. Working with the state probation office would in all likely help to identify those the VIP program are trying to reach.

A link to a related blog article is here:

Mayor Tim Keller’s Record Of Broken Promises, Failures And High Murder Rates As He Seeks A Second Term