“APD Party Patrols” No Solution To Teenager Murders, Gangs and Drugs

On Sunday, September 29, 17-year-old Sean Markey, a senior at Sandia High School, was shot while at a high school homecoming party. APD received multiple calls about gunshots and officers responded to several calls of shots fired in the 3900 block of Garcia, near Montgomery and Eubank. Markey was rushed to Presbyterian Kaseman Hospital by a friend and the teenager later died.

In September alone, 5 teenagers were shot and killed in four incidents across the city. An APD spokesman said he did not know how many teenagers have been shot during parties this year, but “we have identified 20 shooting incidents tied to house parties.”

According to APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos:

“Over the last several weeks, we have noticed an uptick in the number of house parties throughout the city that have resulted in dangerous and deadly gunfire. … We [are seeing] … both the offenders and victims in a lot of these cases are teenagers involved in this deadly violence. … It is hard to stomach. … These are our kids. They shouldn’t be in that position, either side, they shouldn’t have a gun, and they shouldn’t be in that kind of confrontation. … One of the things we’re immediately moving toward is holding the owners of these homes accountable for providing alcohol to minors. … We want parents to be responsible and to look out for their kids. ” Gallegos added that authorities will be exploring whether adults could be prosecuted if they know there are guns at a party.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1372815/sandia-high-school-senior-killed-at-homecoming-party.html

PARTY PATROL PROPOSED

Just a few days after the murder of the Sandia High teenager, Albuquerque City Councilors Trudy Jones, Ken Sanchez and Brad Winter announced a proposal to renew and finance APD’s “party patrol” program that existed in the early 2000’s but was discontinued in 2007. The 3 city councilors are proposing $150,000 to provide funding and to renew the party patrol program.

Under the “Party Patrol” program, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) officers would work special overtime shifts to specifically answer party calls. APD would issue citations to underage partiers and call their parents. Councilor Winter said he was uncertain exactly how APD would run the program now, including whether it would issue citations to those found drinking under age 21.

According to Councilor Winter:

“I think the administration needs to look at what part of [the party patrol program] worked and didn’t work and adjust it”.

Mayor Tim Keller’s administration made it clear it has no intent on duplicating the old strategy. APD Police Chief Michael Geier said in a statement:

“To be clear, we are not bringing back the same ‘Party Patrol’ of the past that mainly targeted teen drinking, but rather working with the community on teen violence intervention”.

The Keller administration, including police and city attorneys, are in the process of deciding on the details of the program, including using a totally different name. Keller’s office announced plans for what it wants to call a “Youth Violence Intervention” strategy. It is a strategy that incorporates police and social services, including supporting diversion programs for young offenders and programs that “build relationships between youth and first responders” according to a news release.

HISTORY OF APD PARTY PATROL

City Councilor Brad Winter is credited for starting the Party Patrol in 2001. At the time, Winter was an assistant principal at La Cueva High School. As a City Councilor, he went to APD when he heard there was a lot of underage drinking happening around the city.

The original APD “Party Patrol” used federal and city council appropriations to pay 12 police officers overtime every Friday and Saturday night to check out calls about loud parties. The dozen officers were broken up into two teams, one for the East Side and one for the West Side. When a person called 911 and complained about a loud party, APD would dispatch the Party Patrol and APD would go straight to the party to see if there was underage drinking. APD would issue the kids “minor in possession of alcohol” citations and arrested the homeowner for giving alcohol to minors.

APD went so far as to advertise the Party Patrol and bought billboards, took out radio commercials and used a “hearse” to advertise that the Party Patrol was going to be out. In its advertising APD used the phrase “Party Meet Poopers” and showed a police officer or an APD badge with the words Party Patrol on it.

The party patrol became very controversial. Critics of the party patrol program objected to the early practice of citing all underage kids at a party, regardless of whether they were drinking or in possession of alcohol. APD eventually stopped the practice. In 2007, a civil rights lawsuit was filed and a federal judge ruled that party patrol officers who entered a home without a search warrant had violated the owner’s constitutional rights.

At the height the program, the Party Patrol was giving out about 2,000 citations a year. The Party Patrol busted up hundreds of parties, wrote thousands of citations and the affect was teenagers were scared to go out drinking. Eventually, the APD party patrol was stopped in part because of the federal lawsuit and in part a victim of its own success. Program funding stopped and there were not enough officers to assign to it.

George Luján, the executive director of the South West Organizing Project, expressed concerns about reinstating APD party patrols, and about officers arresting and citing teenagers and had this to say about bringing Party Patrols back:

“I would say that that would fall under the category of a recycled, failed idea that we tried before and it didn’t work. … I think a lot of us are worried about our kids and the safety of young people. But we have to be sure that we don’t fall into these traps where, in the pursuit of safety, we do more harm than good.”

https://www.koat.com/article/do-cops-need-to-become-party-poopers-again/29357535

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/albuquerque-city-councilor-wants-to-bring-back-regular-party-patrols/5512395/

GANGS AT THE CENTER OF DRUG AND GUN VIOLENCE

On May 24, 2019, it was reported by APD that gangs are driving much of the drug and gun violence crime and that city gangs are at the center of much of the city’s gun violence and drug trafficking. The report showed that APD can barely keep up with the problem and gave a summary of a number of gang and drug related murders, including teenager murders.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1321616/apd-makes-several-arrests-in-crackdown-on-gun-violence.html

The story reported something law enforcement has known for decades and that is gangs are a serious problem in New Mexico. In July 1990 the New Mexico Judicial Council did a survey that queried 30 local law enforcement agencies across the State on the extent of gang activity in their jurisdictions. The 16 responding agencies identified 127 gangs statewide with an estimated membership of between 4,200 and 5,800. A total of 111 of these gangs are in Albuquerque and comprise the majority of the total gang membership.

Evidence indicates that 80% of the State’s street gangs are involved in narcotics trafficking. Twenty percent of reported crimes committed by gang members are narcotics violations, 36% are violent crimes, and 40% are property crimes. Of the 111 Albuquerque gangs, 61 are Hispanic, 31 black, and 19 white.

https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=130829

Fast forward to October 15, 2012. It was reported that the then Mayor responded to rising violent crime rates by tripling the size of its Gang Unit to a fifteen-member team split into a plain-clothes squad dedicated to undercover investigative work and a uniformed task force to patrol the entire city of Albuquerque. According to APD at the time, there were as many as 246 active gangs in Albuquerque at the time and a total of 7,700 documented gang members.

https://underabq.tumblr.com/post/33669501709/gangs-of-albuquerque

TEENS, GANGS, DRUGS AND GUN VIOLENCE

APD has not said if the murder of 17-year-old Sean Markey was gang or drug related or if it was a drive by gang shooting. Notwithstanding, the murder does fit a definite pattern of a gang related drive by shooting and with what is going on with teenagers in Albuquerque.

According to APD Commander Mizel Garcia, commander of APD’s Special Investigations Division Gang Unit, gang activity is at the center of much of Albuquerque’s gun violence and the trafficking of narcotics.

The following recent reported murders support the point of drugs and gangs as being at the center of the problem:

In December, 2018, 15-year-old Collin Romero and 14-year-old Ahmed Lateef went reported missing on the west mesa. Weeks later, Sandoval County authorities found the boys dead in a shallow grave. Investigators say two Albuquerque teens were tortured and killed over marijuana. The Office of Medical Investigators (OMI) autopsy reports revealed that 15-year-old Romero was shot nine times and he was beaten and stabbed in his joints. 14 year old Lateef was shot 19 times. Police say 19-year-old Stephen Goldman is the suspect in the murders.

https://www.krqe.com/news/crime/autopsy-reports-reveal-grisly-details-about-murders-of-albuquerque-teens/

On April 10, APD detectives arrested Ryan Winter, 46, and his three children, who APD police say are gang members, Keith, 16, Kevin, 16, and Faith, 17, in connection with the vicious beating of a man and a woman on Feb. 9. Allegedly, the family tracked down the victims after a fight between Faith Winter and others, including the female victim. The Winters beat the woman with a gun and shoved a shotgun in the man’s face outside a gas station.

On April 16, APD detectives arrested Donald Crapse “a self-admitted motorcycle gang member” after allegedly witnessing him snort drugs outside a southwest Albuquerque home during a surveillance operation.

On May 7, police arrested Cesar Marquez and Adrian Marquez after APD received a call of a juvenile running around with a gun in a Walmart parking lot. According to a police spokesman “As officers entered the parking lot they heard multiple gunshots. ” Police found the 2 men in a blue Ford Mustang and identified Adrian Marquez as the suspect who fired off shots. Inside the car, detectives found a loaded gun and an ounce of cocaine.

On May 9, APD Detectives arrested Chris Salcido after a month’s long investigation alleging that he is gang member involved in several shootings and a “driver of crime and gun violence.” Salcido was caught at a southwest Albuquerque home after a standoff with police. Inside the home, they found three ounces of cocaine, two pistols and an assault rifle that had been reported stolen. Salcido has also been tied to several shootings and associated with 36 calls for service, including shots fired, suspected narcotics trafficking and aggravated battery.

On May 9, police arrested Dana LaMonda and Juan Carlos Pacheco at a home in southwest Albuquerque after following up on reports of possible gang activity and suspected ties to several shootings. LaMonda was booked on a felony warrant for aggravated burglary of a firearm and Pacheco for separate charges.

On September 14, it was reported that 5 people were murdered and at least five injured in connection with three shootings in Albuquerque. APD Police said 3 of the 5 victims that were murdered were teens. Police identified them as Daniel Alexis Baca (17), Victoria Cereceres (16), and Noah Tafoya (18). The two other adults who died were identified as Christine Baca (36), and Manuelita Sotelo (77). The friends of 17 year old Daniel Alex Baca said friends said he died because of “the life he chose” and that was drug dealing and drugs.
For news coverage see:

https://www.koat.com/article/six-people-dead-in-separate-shootings-in-albuquerque/29029926

https://www.abqjournal.com/1321616/apd-makes-several-arrests-in-crackdown-on-gun-violence.html

https://www.krqe.com/news/crime/autopsy-reports-reveal-grisly-details-about-murders-of-albuquerque-teens/

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

If only Albuquerque was the same as it was from 2001 to 2007 when the Party Patrol first existed and violent crime was down and one of APD’s biggest worries was underage drinking at high school homecoming and graduation parties. Albuquerque’s biggest worry in 2019 and going into 2020 is drugs, gangs and gun violence.

Albuquerque City Councilors Trudy Jones, Ken Sanchez and Brad Winter have good intentions but are kidding themselves if they believe that the problem is alcohol and guns used by high school teenagers. Bringing back a version of the “party patrol” from nearly 20 years ago in which APD was dispatched to break up house parties, issue misdemeanor citations to underage partygoers and calling parents to pick up their children is simply not going to cut it.

In recent months before civic groups such as the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP), the Economic Forum and the Albuquerque Bar Association, Mayor Tim Keller has produced charts, graphs and statistics showing that violent crime is indeed in all parts of the City and not confined to any particular area of the City. One chart used is a series of red dots showing crime sites and reflects the city literally bathed in red dots throughout. Crime may be down according to FBI statistics, but the crime rates have gotten so out of control that even after progress of reducing our crime statistics are still extremely high. Albuquerque still has some of the highest crime rates for murder and violent crimes in the country.

The Keller Administration and Chief Michael Geier have said they are disinclined to revive the party patrol, which had mixed results and resulted in civil rights violations. Chief’s Geier’s reluctance is noteworthy because 19 years ago he was the APD Captain in charge of the party patrol, and although he defended its work at the time, he does understand how it operated and more importantly its weaknesses.

The Keller Administration rightly is considering a more holistic approach involving law enforcement, social services and the community to deal with the cycle of violence with more youth programs and more services that give back a sense of trust, hope and support to the community. It is commendable that such an approach is being taken, but no doubt it will take years to show any affect.

The City Council needs to step aside and let APD do its job. APD needs to again increase the size of the gang and narcotics unit and initiate an aggressive and unrelenting number of tactical plans against the city’s gangs and widespread drug dealing to the youth of our community. Fugitive warrant sweeps would be a good start.

The Albuquerque Public School System (APS) has its own police force employing many retirees and former law enforcement officials assigned to the individual schools. You would think APS security would know the students and have insightful information about high school parties. If there is a high school party problem involving alcohol use, APS could initiate its own Party Patrol Program during homecomings and graduation season. APD also provides police officers to the schools. The Albuquerque Public School System and APS Security along with APD assigned to the schools could implement APS “party patrol” to deal with high school homecoming parties, graduation parties and other high school related parties involving the individual schools.

Until APD acts more aggressively to curb gang violence and narcotics dealing to our youth, parents of teenagers and residents can expect to see more teen killings followed by outrage, more candlelight vigils, more funerals, more condolences, more rhetoric demanding action and more promises never kept.

2019 ABQ City Council Candidates And Issues

The Local Election Act (LEA) was passed by the New Mexico Legislature in 2018. The Local Election Act provides for consolidated local elections to be conducted in New Mexico.

The upcoming November 5, 2019 election will be the first consolidated elections for the City of Albuquerque, which will include City Council elections and capital improvement bonds, the Villages of Tijeras and Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Public School Board, CNM, the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control District and the Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation Board. Voters will get one ballot for the races that pertain to them when they go to vote based on their voter registration.

ALBUQUERQUE CITY COUNCIL RACES

There are 4 Albuquerque City Council races that will be on the November 5, ballot:

City Council District 2 is the city-center district encompassing downtown, old town, parts of the University of New Mexico and the entire valley east of the river and is heavily Hispanic. District 2 incumbent City Councilor Isaac Benton has 5 opponents who qualified for the ballot seeking to replace him. The candidates are: Steve Baca (D), Joseph Griego (D), Robert Raymond Blanquera Nelson (D), Zack Quintero, (D) and Connie Vigil, (I).

City Council District 4 is Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights District now represented by Republican Brad Winter who is not running for another term. District 4 has candidates who qualified for the ballot and running to replace Brad Winter. Those candidates are: Athena Ann Christodoulou, Democrat Ane C. Romero and Republican Brook L. Bassan

City Council District 6, Albuquerque’s Southeast Heights encompassing the University of New Mexico, Nob Hill and the International District Hill and the International District. District 6 is represented by Democrat City Councilor Pat Davis and he has one opponent and she is Democrat Gina Naomi Dennis who is an attorney, neighborhood activists and who was a Bernie Sanders delegate in 2016 to the Democratic National Convention.

City Council District 8 is Albuquerque’s District 8, Far Northeast Heights and Foothills represented by Republican City Councilor Trudy Jones who is running for another term on the council. Jones has one challenger and she is Democrat S. Maurreen Skowran who qualified for public financing. Trudy Jones has elected to finance her campaign with private financing and has never sought public financing of her campaigns.

QUESTIONS AND ISSUES

All too often, city council races are ignored by many voters and the campaigns do not really heat up until the very last month of the campaign. Most city council races are won with direct voter contact and candidates going “door to door” looking for support and votes. With this in mind below are areas of concern and a few questions that could be addressed at candidate forums and when a candidates go door to door:

GUN CONTROL

The City Council has 3-gun control ordinances now pending:

One ordinance bans all guns on “any city structure, building, or office space which is owned, leased or otherwise occupied by the City for purposes of hosting the public, or conducting business with the public”. The proposed ordinance would include City Hall, all parks, libraries, and any place the City Council, city commissions or elected officials are holding an open meeting. The Mayor has issued and executive order banning guns on municipal property.

The second would require gun owners to keep their firearms locked up when outside of their immediate possession and control. The proposed laws would require people in Albuquerque to keep their guns locked in a safe at home or with a secure device in the car when they are not with them.

The third would make it illegal to threaten mass violence in Albuquerque, including over social media.

1. What is your position on all 3 pending ordinances and how would you vote?

2. Do you feel the Albuquerque City Council should enact gun control legislation seeing that exclusive authority on gun control is given to the New Mexico legislature and municipalities are barred by the New Mexico constitutions from enacting such legislation?

LEGALIZATION OF RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA

In the event the New Mexico legislature enacts legalization of the recreational use of marijuana, do you feel municipalities should still have the option to opt out of allowing it in the community or have zoning authority over businesses who sell recreational marijuana?

APD AND CRIME:

1.The Albuquerque City Council plays a crucial oversight role of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) including approving its budget. What oversight role do you believe the Albuquerque City Council should play when it come to the Albuquerque Police Department (APD)?

2. What is your position on the APD and the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree and mandated reforms?

3. Should the City seek to renegotiate or set aside the terms and conditions of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) and if so why?

4. Should the City Council by ordinance create a Department of Public Safety with the appointment of a Chief Public Safety Officer to assume management and control of the Albuquerque Police Department, the Albuquerque Fire Department, the Emergency Operations Center and the 911 emergency operations call center?

5. Should the function of Internal Affairs be removed from APD and “civilianized” under the City Office of Inspector General, the Internal Audit Department and the City Human Resources Department?

6. What are your plans for increasing APD staffing levels and what should those staffing levels be?

7. Should APD staffing be “work load” based or “population” based?

8. How do you feel the Albuquerque City Council can enhance civilian oversight of APD and the implementation of the Department of Justice mandated reforms?

9. Since 2010, there have been 41 police officer involved shootings and the city has paid out $60 million to settle deadly force and excessive use of force cases, with all settlements negotiated by the City Attorney’s office and the Mayor’s Office . Do you feel the City Council should have representation on the City Risk Management Committee that approves settlements or have ultimate and final authority to approve settlements?

10. Should the City return to a “no settlement” policy involving alleged police misconduct cases and require a trial on the merits or a damages jury trial?

11. What are your plans or solutions to bringing down high property and violent crime rates in your district and Albuquerque and does your plan include community-based policing?

12. Should APD personnel or APD resources be used in any manner to enforce federal immigration laws and assist federal immigration authorities?

13. Should the City of Albuquerque consolidate law enforcement and fire services with Bernalillo County and create a single agency under one governing authority?

14. Should the City Council reinstate the “red light camera” program where civil traffic citations are issued to combat and reduce red light violations and intersection traffic accidents?

THE ALBUQUERQUE ECONOMY:

1.What strategy or policies should the Albuquerque City Council implement to bring new industries, corporations and jobs to Albuquerque?

2. Albuquerque’s major growth industries include health care, transportation, manufacturing, retail and tourism with an emerging film industry. What should the City Council do to help or enhance or grow these industries?

3. To what extent should the Albuquerque City Council use tax increment districts, industrial revenue bonds and income bonds to spur Albuquerque’s economy?

5. What financial incentives do you feel the city can or should offer and provide to the private sector to attract new industry and jobs to Albuquerque, and should the Albuquerque City Council implement a policy that includes start-up grants or loans with “claw back” provisions?

6. What sort of private and public partnership agreements or programs should the City Council promote to spur economic development?

7. What sort of major projects or facilities, such as a multi-purpose arena or event center, if any, should the City Council consider to spur economic development or downtown redevelop? Should such a project be placed upon the ballot for voter approval?

8. What programs can the City Council implement to better coordinate its economic development with the University of New Mexico and the Community College of New Mexico (CNM) to insure an adequately trained workforce for new employers locating to Albuquerque?

9. Are you in favor of the enactment of a gross receipt tax or property tax dedicated strictly to economic development, programs or construction projects to revitalize Albuquerque that would be enacted by the City Council or be voter approved?

11. What programs can the Albuquerque City Council enact to implement to insure better cooperation with Sandia Labs and the transfer of technology information for economic development?

CITY PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT:

1. On June 16, 2014, the Albuquerque City Council by a unanimous vote of 9 to 0 approved and adopted R-14-23 entitled “Railyards Master Development Plan and Site Development Plan” for the rail yards. The 3 separate development proposals are being considered: low density development, medium density development and a high-density development. One financial report projects $50 million will be needed for the low-density development, $55 million preparation work for the medium density and $80 million for high density development. What is your position on the Railyards redevelopment?

2. What is your position on the two-year rewrite of the City’s comprehensive plan known as ABC-Z project now known as the integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) which is an attempt to bring “clarity and predictability” to the development regulations and to attract more “private sector investment”? Many sector development plans designed to protect the historical nature of neighborhood have now been repealed by IDO and ctitics of the IDO plan claim it is “gentrification” made official policy of the city and that it has reduced neighborhood input on zoning and development.

3. What do you feel the Albuquerque City Council can do to promote “infill development” and would it include the City acquiring property to be sold to developers and the formation of public/private partnerships?

4. What do you feel the City Council can do to address vacant residential and commercial properties that have been declared “substandard” by city zoning and unfit for occupancy?

5. Should the City of Albuquerque seek the repeal by the New Mexico legislature of laws that prohibits City and City Council resolutions annexation of property without county approval?

6. What is your position on City and County consolidation for all government services, including zoning and development?

7. What plan do you propose to deal with abandoned and vacant properties that have become magnets for crime?

8. The installation of “roundabouts” is being considered in a number of areas of the city. Do you feel roundabout are a viable traffic control option?

CAMPAIGN PUBLIC FINANCE REFORM

1. If you did not participate in the city campaign finance system to receive funding to run your campaign, why not?

2. Do feel that the city’s campaign finance laws should be repealed?

3. Are you in favor of the “Dollars for Democracy” program where city voting residents would be given “city vouchers” of upwards of $25 that voters can give to candidates for office and the candidates can redeem the vouchers with the city?

4. Currently, only 6 weeks are allowed to collect $5.00 qualifying donations for public financing. Do you feel that the city campaign finance laws should be changed to allow upwards of 4 months to collect the $5.00 qualifying donations?

5. Do you feel candidates should be allowed to collect qualifying donations from anyone who wants, and not just residents or registered voters of Albuquerque. Privately finance candidates now can collect donations from anyone they want and anywhere in the State and Country?

EDUCATION:

1. Should the City of Albuquerque have representation or be included on the Albuquerque School board, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents and the Community College of New Mexico Board?

2. What should the City do, if anything, to help reduce high school dropout rates?

3. Should the City of Albuquerque advocate to the New Mexico legislature increasing funding for early child care development programs and intervention programs with increased funding from the permanent fund?

4. What education resources should or can the City make available to the Albuquerque school system?

THE HOMELESS:

1. What should be done to reduce the homeless population in Albuquerque in your District?

2. What services should the City provide to the homeless and the poor if any?

3. Should the City continue to support the “coming home” program?

4. What is your position on the funding and locating “Tiny Home” housing to be offered to the homeless within city limits as what is being done by the county?

5. Should the city be more involved with the county in providing mental health care facilities and programs?

6. Do you feel a zoning “cap” should be placed on the number of homeless shelters in each city council district?

7. Are you in favor of centralized or decentralized services and health care for the homeless?

8. Are you in favor of the city’s proposal for the construction of a homeless shelter and the enactment of the bonds for the project that will house upwards of 350 homeless?

9. The city’s panhandler ordinance was struck down by the federal court as a violation of first amendment rights. What do you feel needs or can to be done to curb and reduce panhandling?

PROJECT PLANNING AND FUNDING:

1.The Albuquerque Rapid Transit Project (ART) is a $129 million-dollar project including $69 million Federal Transportation (FTA) grant. Should ART project be abandoned, the bus platforms removed and Central restored to its orginal traffic flow?

2.Do you feel that all increases in gross receipts taxes should be voter approved?

3. The City Council has approved over $63 million dollars over the past two years to build “pickle ball” courts, baseball fields and the ART bus project down central by bypassing voters and using revenue bonds as the financing mechanism to pay for big capital projects. Do you feel revenue bonds is an appropriate funding mechanism for large capital improvement projects?

ANIMAL WELFARE

1.. What is your position on the City’s “catch and release” program for feral cat’s that upon being caught by the city’s Animal Welfare Department, they are spade or neutered and then released?

2. What would you do to promote dog and cat adoptions or should the city euthanize all animals after a thirty (30) day hold?

3. What is your familiarity with the HEART ordinance and do you feel it is too restrictive and should it be amended or repealed?

OTHER INITIATIVES:

1. What is your position on the mandatory sick leave initiative mandating private businesses, no matter the size of the business, to pay sick leave to employees?

2. Should the City Council by resolution instruct the City Attorney’s office enforce the increase in the minimum wage enacted by voters?

3. Should the City Council by resolution instruct the City Attorney’s office to enforce the mandatory sick leave initiative if it is enacted?

4. Are you in favor of increasing public financing for Mayoral and City Council candidates or should Albuquerque’s public finance laws be repealed by the City Council?

5. Do you feel changes to the city public finance laws should be made expanding the time frame to collect contributions and making it easier for candidates for Mayor and City Council to qualify for public finance?

6. Do you intend to ask for or rely upon your political party affiliation to promote your candidacy for City Council?

7. Should major capital improvement projects such as the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project (ART), be placed on the ballot for voter approval and should there be a specified amount before a public vote is required?

8. The City Council has enacted a resolution making it an “Immigrant friendly” city. Should Albuquerque be a “sanctuary city?”

9.Should the issue of Albuquerque becoming a “sanctuary city” be placed on the ballot for voter approval?

10. All municipal elections in the State of New Mexico are supposed to be none partisan. Notwithstanding, should the City Clerk be required to disclose party affiliation of candidates running for municipal office on the ballot?

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Each City Council District has approximately 75,000 residents. Historically, only 2,000 to 4,000 votes are cast in each City Council District. Low voter turnout in city elections with any luck will be a thing of the past with the municipal elections moved from October to November and with the consolidated election ballot.

Each vote can and does make a difference. Voters should demand and expect more from candidates than fake smiles, slick campaign flyers, and no solutions and no ideas. Our City needs more than promises of better economic times and lower crime rates for Albuquerque.

Voters need to demand answers and find out what candidates really stand for and what they intend to do once elected. Unless you vote, real change can never occur and if you do not vote you have no business complaining about the condition of our city.

Please vote on Tuesday, November 5 and get involved.

ABQ Reports: ABQ Has Brought Mexican Drug Cartel Upon Itself

Dan Klein is a retired Albuquerque Police Department Sergeant after 20 years of public service. He has been a small business owner in the private sector now for 15 years. Mr. Klein has been a reporter for both on line news outlets the ALB Free Press and ABQ Reports. On September 26, 2019, ABQ Reports published the following article entitled “Albuquerque, can you handle the truth about crime? Mexican drug cartel already here” written by Dan Klein and followed by the link to ABQ Reports:

(NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are those of Dan Klein and do not necessarily reflect those of the www.petedinelli.com blog).

In just three hours on September 13, 2019, Albuquerque exploded in the worse outbreak of violent crime this city has ever experienced. Five people murdered, six more shot, in three separate incidents in three different areas of town. You would think the citizens of Albuquerque would be enraged and demanding an end to the violence, but you would be wrong.

Albuquerque has become numb to the obvious: we are living in a violent crime-ridden city. How do I know this? One reason is the local mainstream media. Instead of staying on top of this horrible story, within days the local TV news was back to stories about dogs and cats. Apparently, dog and cat stories get viewers, murdered residents don’t.

It’s not just the media that has grown numb to the crime epidemic, it’s our local politicians too. Just three days after these horrendous murders, City Councilor Pat Davis decided to write an op-ed in the Albuquerque Journal going after Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales for having his deputies patrol parts of Albuquerque. Davis makes this ridiculous assertion, “If the sheriff wants to achieve lasting results and lower crime in the city, we can show him how.” Really Pat? Do you really believe crime is going down, or is it just going unreported? Ask the citizens in your district, or anywhere in Albuquerque, and they will tell you that crime is not going down; if anything, it is heading the other direction.

That is the problem, the local media is tired of reporting on crime and our elected officials are either oblivious or trying to tell us not to believe our lying eyes.

The truth is, Albuquerque crime is out of control.

Murders are on track to surpass record-setting past years. For the last ten years Albuquerque has found itself unable to solve a number of these murders. This brings me to the ugly truth of what is happening to Albuquerque.

I asked an expert, Alex Marentes, about his thoughts of Albuquerque crime epidemic. Marentes is a good friend. He is a retired Albuquerque Police Officer and he is the owner and founder of the website www.borderlandbeat.com which gathers information on the drug wars going on in Mexico. He also has written a book with the same name, Borderland Beat, that I highly recommend to everyone to read. Marentes’ insight into the Mexican cartels is frightening.

Marentes states that most of the drugs in Albuquerque are being distributed by the Sinaloa Cartel. THE MAJORITY OF ALL DRUGS IN ALBUQUERQUE! Albuquerque has become a drug distribution center for the rest of the nation. He is positive that there are safe houses (and warehouses) full of illegal drugs, smuggled people and guns. He said that APD is sorely unprepared to handle this invasion.

He says that the drug murders here are not like what is happening in Mexico. Here you have low-level drug dealers killing each other. In Mexico you have murder on such a large scale, and it encompasses everyone. Rich and poor, police and criminals, cartel leaders and low-level mules. Whereas in Albuquerque Sinaloa keeps a low profile. Very rarely do sicarios (cartel assassins) come to town to knock off someone who has crossed (most probably stolen from) the cartel. But it has happened.

He told me of a man in the east mountains kidnapped by cartel sicarios and murdered on the southwest mesa of Albuquerque. He said that last year Bernalillo County deputies stopped a car and arrested the occupants. He believed the occupants were clearly Sinaloa members. They had assault rifles, drugs and lots of money. Marentes said that the local media barely reported it when the feds took over the case.

The Albuquerque Journal just produced an excellent investigative report on SNM (Syndicate Nuevo Mexico), our prison gang. SNM assassinated one of their own who turned police informant in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Marentes said that that instead of bringing cartel sicarios into the United States, they have just outsourced keeping their drug dealers in line by hiring SNM. I suppose it’s just business.

Which leads me to my theory of why Sinaloa decided upon Albuquerque.

Albuquerque is close to the border, but far enough away that you don’t have the large law enforcement presence that El Paso has. Albuquerque has two major interstate highways, an international airport, a big railroad hub and a trucking hub. And ten years ago, when Sinaloa took over Juarez, Albuquerque had a police department that was in shambles. It was the perfect storm of an opportunity for a drug cartel to move in and set up operations.

During the last ten years APD removed their detectives from federal task forces, thereby limiting intelligence. APD lost hundreds of police officers, therefore reducing the chances that cartel members would get stopped. Albuquerque economically had nothing to offer. Think about it, if you are a young man or woman in Albuquerque and the only economic engine that is making money is dealing drugs, you are going to become a drug dealer. It’s that simple.

So how does Albuquerque turn this around? Can Albuquerque turn this around?

Part of this will be handled by Sinaloa itself. Marentes said they own Albuquerque, so they are not fighting with other cartels here. He also said that they will not put up with local drug dealers whose illegal activities start drawing too much attention. That is where the local media must do more reporting. The Journal’s report on SNM was just the beginning. We need KOB, KRQE and KOAT to join in and report, investigate and expose. Every newscast should expose what is happening in Albuquerque. Shine light on Sinaloa.

Instead of politicians like Davis lying about our crime problem and attacking our BCSO, we need them to join ranks and commit to working together. We need our Senators Udall and Heinrich to push hard for more federal judges to handle criminal cases. We need our entire congressional delegation to ask the Department of Justice to put more federal agents (FBI, DEA, ATF etc) into Albuquerque.

Make no mistake, this is not a continuation of the failed war on drugs, this is different. Law enforcement in Albuquerque must focus on Sinaloa itself as a criminal enterprise. We don’t need low level drug raids, we need to go after the top dogs who are here, living quietly amongst us (read Borderland Beat to find out more about this).

Now entrenched I doubt, we will ever get rid of Sinaloa. The thirst for drugs in this nation is too strong. Most drugs coming into Albuquerque are heading out of town to Chicago, Denver, Kansas City etc. We are just a distribution point for an illegal business. A business that brings in billions.

The ugly truth is, Albuquerque has brought this upon itself. This is what happens in the real world when an entire community fails to elect and hold accountable their leaders. When a community decides it is better to stick their heads in the sand and pretend everything is OK. Haven’t we had enough of this?

https://www.abqreport.com/single-post/2019/09/26/Albuquerque-can-you-handle-the-truth-about-crime-Mexican-drug-cartel-already-here

POSTCRIPT

For additional news coverage related to this article see:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1369434/feds-crack-down-on-resurgent-snm-prison-gang.html

https://www.abqjournal.com/1372158/you-got-to-know-the-right-people.html

Domestic Violence ABQ’s Dirty Little Secret; APD And AG Balderas Right to Prioritize Domestic Violence; DA Torrez Should Reinstate Domestic Violence Unit and TAC Unit

In 2018, 20% of Albuquerque-area homicides were related to domestic violence. This year, there have been 19 homicides or 14% of 65 homicide cases that were related to domestic violence.

Within the last few weeks, APD has arrested 39 individuals with warrants for domestic violence including for battery against a household member, battery with a deadly weapon, criminal sexual penetration and child abuse. Upwards to half arrested by APD are considered “habitual domestic violence offenders” or individuals who have been charged with or convicted of domestic violence offenses in the past.

On October 2, 2019, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) along with Attorney General Hector Balderas announced plans to collaborate with others in an effort to prevent, investigate and prosecute New Mexico’s domestic violence cases, which are major contributors to deadly violence. The new initiative will target repeat offenders. APD is seeking help from city officials, the Office of the Attorney General, state senators and local nonprofit organizations that help victims of domestic violence.

For his part, Attorney General Hector Balderas promised to prosecute domestic violence offenders quickly and said his office will start implementing statewide multidisciplinary domestic violence training for law enforcement officers. By working along with partners, Balderas said, he hopes people charged with domestic violence offenses won’t be able to cheat the system any more, which he said happens frequently.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1373860/apd-initiative-aims-to-combat-domestic-violence.html

REQUIRING DOMESTIC ABUSERS TO SURRENDER FIREARMS

The 2019 New Mexico Legislature passed Senate Bill 328 which prohibits gun possession by someone who’s subject to an order of protection under the Family Violence Protection Act. The bill was jointly sponsored by Democratic Senators Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez of Albuquerque and Democratic Representative Deborah Armstrong of Albuquerque.

Under the enacted legislation domestic abusers must surrender their firearms to law enforcement. The gun possession prohibition also applies to people convicted of other crimes. State Representative Debra Armstrong had this to say in support of the legislation:

“When a gun is present in a situation of domestic violence, it is five times more likely that a woman will be killed.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1292493/lawmakers-pass-gun-restrictions-for-domestic-abusers.html

NEW MEXICO RANKS 10TH HIGHEST IN COUNTRY FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Representative Armstrong was not exaggerating given New Mexico’s domestic violence crisis.

On September 16, 2017, according to an annual study published by the Violence Policy Center, it was reported women are more likely to be killed by men in New Mexico than nearly any other states.

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/new-mexico-s-rate-of-women-killed-by-men-among/article_eb7e4a2c-273d-5eb6-8007-e5936639b64f.html

The study found the state has the 10th-highest rate of women killed by men, marking the third straight year New Mexico had appeared toward the top of the list, while New Mexico’s overall homicide rate ranked lower.

A New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee study described New Mexico’s response to domestic violence as fragmented and uncoordinated. The Legislative Finance Committee report also highlighted the judiciary’s inability to provide effective oversight of domestic violence offenders.

Battery on a household member is a misdemeanor but the magistrate courts and the metro court which handle misdemeanor cases have limited ability to monitor offenders serving probation for domestic violence.

The report found that New Mexico spends little on treatment programs for domestic violence offenders and has little evidence of the effectiveness of those programs. The study counted 16 women killed by men in New Mexico during 2015, the most recent year for which data was are available at the time.

The rate of 1.52 victims per 100,000 women is higher than the national rate of 1.12. Nearly all the woman killed were by someone they knew. Most of the killings were not connected to any other felony. Half followed arguments between the victim and her killer.

New Mexico has ranked among the top 10 states with the highest rates of women killed by men during the last decade. The Violence Policy Center promotes gun control and found that each state at the top of the list of women killed by men have a high rate of firearm ownership which no doubt includes New Mexico’s gun culture.

Children exposed to domestic violence often come from broken homes and live in poverty. Study after study reveal that domestic violence involving children usually results in the child growing up with mental health problems and become an abuser of their own children and spouse.

For more see the following links:

https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/domestic-violence/effects-domestic-violence-children

https://www.unicef.org/media/files/BehindClosedDoors.pdf

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Bringing down violent crime involving guns, such as murders and domestic violence, is always more difficult because of issues such as inadequate mental health care and substance abuse problems. Domestic violence is clearly the most difficult category to bring down when it comes to violent crime because of the “cycle of violence” involved with such crimes.

All too often in domestic violence cases, the abused decline to charge and prosecute and return to their partner or spouse with the “cycle of violence” continuing. New Mexico has ranked among the top 10 states with the highest rates of women killed by men during the last decade.

Years ago, early on in my legal career, as an Assistant District Attorney, I was assigned to the violent crime’s division and prosecuted murders and rape cases, and even reviewed child abuse cases. Years later, as Chief Deputy District Attorney for Bernalillo County, I had supervisory authority over all the felony divisions, including the Violent Crimes Division and the Domestic Violence Division.

What I learned as Chief Deputy District Attorney is that Albuquerque’s dirty little secret is that domestic violence is the number-one reason why a woman is admitted to the emergency room of the University of New Mexico Hospital. Statics in Albuquerque showed that after about the 10th or 11th time there is a call out of the Albuquerque Police Department to a home for domestic violence, it is usually to pick a woman up in a body bag.

Studies reveal that domestic violence involving children usually results in the child growing up and become an abuser of their own children and spouse. Children exposed to domestic violence often come from broken homes and poverty.

The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Division had three of the most seasoned and most skilled trial attorneys in the office. The Domestic Violence Division had some of the highest caseloads in the office between 150 and 200 active pending cases and one of the highest conviction rates.

One major initiative then Bernalillo County District Attorney Jeff Romero order me to implement as Chief Deputy District Attorney was the “Target Abuser Call” prosecution team, known as the TAC team, in Metro Court. The program was modelled after the Chicago’s District Attorneys Office. District Attorney Jeff Romero assigned 2 experienced prosecutors, an investigator, a victim advocate and they reviewed all domestic violence APD reports filed and initiated charges in Metro Court. Within a year, the TAC team had a 98% conviction rate.

The TAC Unit was long ago abolished. Currently, there is no Domestic Violence Division at the Bernalillo District Attorney office and domestic violence cases are spread out over the entire office. Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez should follow the lead of APD and Attorney General Hector Balderas and reinstate the Domestic Violence Unit and the Tac Unit within the Bernalillo county District Attorney’s Office.

Albuquerque and New Mexico must find solutions to what contributes to the most horrific crimes: domestic violence, substance abuse, children living in severe poverty, a poor education system, the breakdown of the family unit, the failures of our social services and child protective services, a failed mental health system, an ineffective criminal justice system, and a failing economy.

NM’s Mental Health Crisis; APD’s Handling Of Behavioral Heath Calls; Rebuilding A Decimated Behavioral Health Care System

From 2010 to 2019, there were 32 police officer involved shootings and the city paid out $61 million dollars in settlements to family’s who sued APD for wrongful death. A significant number of those lawsuits involved the mentally ill.

In 2012, United States Department of Justice DOJ began a yearlong investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and found a “culture of aggression” within the department and patterns of excessive use of force and deadly force. The April 10, 2014 (DOJ) investigation that found a “culture of aggression” within APD dedicated a significant amount of the force review against persons with mental illness and in crisis and APD’s specific responses to suspects that were having mental illness episodes.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation found APD’s policies, training, and supervision were insufficient to ensure that police officers encountering people with mental illness or in distress do so in a manner that respected their rights.

In November, 2014, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the City of Albuquerque entered into a Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) mandating reforms. What differentiates the DOJ’s investigation of APD from the other federal investigations in the country and consent decrees of police departments is that the other consent decrees involve in one form or another the finding of “racial profiling” and use of excessive force or deadly force against minorities.

A recent report revealed the extent of New Mexico’s mental health crisis. A second report discussed APD’s handling of behavioral health calls and a third report was on APD’s use of force.

This article is an in-depth discussion on the reports and how they inter relate to law enforcement, the DOJ consent decree and what the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County are doing when it comes to addressing our mental health crisis.

NEW MEXICO’S MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

In 2018, more people killed themselves in New Mexico than during any other year in at least two decades. According to New Mexico Department of Health reports, 535 people committed suicide which translates to a rate of 24.8 per 100,000 residents which is a 6.7% increase over the 2017 rate. According to Department of Health Official Carol Moss, the 24.8% suicide rate is the highest rate on record since the state began consistently keeping track in 1999. The increase is a trend that exists throughout the country and the world.

In 2017, New Mexico was ranked as having the 4th highest rate of suicides in the nation with 23.51 suicides per 100,000 people. According to an analysis released by the Violence Policy Center, New Mexico ranked behind Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. A 2017 report from the Office of the Medical Investigator found 2.6% of deaths in New Mexico were suicides, compared to 1.6% across the United States.

According to a Violence Policy Center study, a little more than 50% of New Mexico’s suicides involved guns, compared to upwards of 60% in the other top states. The study found those states also have much higher rates of gun ownership, between 54% and 69% compared to New Mexico’s 37%. According to a 2017 NM Office of Medical Investigation report, 25% of those who committed suicide hanged themselves, and about 13% died from substance abuse or drug overdose.

In 2017, 46 New Mexico youths between 10 and 19 committed suicide. New Mexico has the 5th highest youth suicide rate in the country, approximately 16 per 100,000 residents, which is double the national average. According to data from the New Mexico Department of Health, the group of young people ages 10 to 14 experienced the largest increase in the rate of suicide over the past decade, rising from 4 in 2009 to 13 in 2018.

According to NM Department of Health Official Carol Moss, it is difficult to identify exactly what causes some states to have higher rates of suicide than others. Some studies suggest less restrictive gun laws and high numbers of gun ownership and the rural nature of a state may have an effect.

According to Molly McCoy Brack, the clinical director at the Agora Crisis Center, in rural states like New Mexico, it can be hard for people living in small towns to get access to mental health care, a factor that could contribute to higher suicide rates. Brack said:

“For one thing that makes it more difficult to access care, when you need it. Even when somebody realizes they need help and they are willing to accept help, it’s not always easy to get it. If you live in Vaughn, New Mexico, the closest counseling agency might be two hours away.”

In 2000, the Agora Crisis Center took about 1,200 calls and now they take about 30,000 calls a year. McCoy Brack added:

“Of all the calls we take, about 20% of them involve suicide as a topic of discussion at some level. About 5% of our calls involve someone who is in imminent danger from suicide.”

https://www.abqjournal.com/1366345/nm-had-record-number-of-suicides-in-2018-ex-in-2017-state-had-fourth-highest-rate-in-nation.html?fbclid=IwAR1dE7gQfPj8pOUW2SPCKKtdJ2ZWu25_fYgYl6jVcQBR01mjU-khdsTSS4Y

APD’S MENTAL HEALTH CALLS

Under the federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) consent decree and settlement, a yearly “Use of Force” Report is mandatory. APD did not published a Use of Force Annual Report since 2015 with the primary reason being that the previous Republican administration failed to implement adequate data gathering processes and procedures for accurate reporting. After more than two years, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) finally released a “Use of Force Report” combining a single report for the years 2016 and 2018.
You can read the entire Use of Force Report here:

https://www.scribd.com/document/402811641/APD-Use-of-Force-Report-2016-2017#from_embed

When you read and review the entire 2017- 2018 consolidated “Use of Force Report”, a major omission in the report is that there are no statistics regarding APD’s crisis intervention incidents and interactions with the mentally ill, especially by the SWAT unit. You can read a general summary of APD’s consolidated Use of Force Report in the postscript to this article below.

On Friday September 6, 2019, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released its 37-page Crisis Intervention Unit Data Book consisting of statistical charts and graphs covering the 2018 calendar year. You can read the entire data book at the below city link:

https://www.cabq.gov/mental-health-response-advisory-committee/documents/apd-crisis-intervention-unit-data-book-2018-12-17.pdf

The Crisis Intervention Unit Data Book APD is a detailed report that provides raw statistical data on how APD is dealing with people in mental health crisis. The report outlines the types of behavioral health-related calls coming into the 911 dispatch center, what officers are encountering on the streets and how those calls are being handled by sworn police dispatched. Much of the data released by APD was compiled from worksheets filled out by field officers after behavioral health-related encounters. The police reports detail the nature of each call, describe the person, whether they were armed and how the incident was resolved.

According to the Crisis Intervention Unit Data Book:

1. In 2018, 65% of the 4,069 of APD’s calls involving someone experiencing behavioral health issues were related to suicide.

2. Behavioral health-related calls across the city in 2018 decreased slightly for the first time in at least eight years, from an average of 17.9 calls per day in 2017 to 17.3 calls per day in 2018. Such calls had surged by 72% going from 3,797 to 6,535 between the years of 2010 and 2017. There were 6,302 behavioral health calls in 2018.

3. A statistical map published in the data book shows that the calls received in 2018 were spread evenly across the city. There were large clusters along Central, particularly East Central, and parts of Gibson.

4. APD Officers arrested about 3%, or 169 people, they encountered during a crisis intervention situation. In 72% of those encounters, police officers transported the individual for emergency services. Another 20% were resolved with little or no action. In 57 of the encounters, just under 1%, the individual committed suicide.

5. Slightly more than 10% of the individuals with behavioral health issues that officers encountered last year were armed. Of those, 151 had a firearm; 410 had a knife or other cutting instrument; 32 had a blunt object and the other 35 had a different or unknown weapon.

6. Officers suffered 20 injuries in 2018 while dealing with crisis intervention situations. Those injuries ranged from abrasions in 12 cases to bite marks in 2. One incident was classified as a bio-hazard contamination.

7. Use of force was avoided in 98% of crisis intervention encounters. Officers used force in 1%, or 65, of those incidents. Although most use-of-force involved empty hand techniques or takedowns, police used a Taser on 17 people and shot at four, striking only one. It is unclear if that person died in the shooting. Of the 10 police shootings that occurred in 2018, nine of them were fatal but it is unclear in the report which one the data is referring.

REPEAT ENCOUNTERS TRACKED BY APD

The released Crisis Intervention Unit Data Book report outlines the number of individuals with repeated crisis intervention encounters with officers tracking 4,440 behavioral health encounters with police. Of the 4,440 behavioral health encounters tracked by APD, 806, close to one in five, involved someone they encountered more than once. 741 of those individuals had 2 to 5 encounters with the officers; 48 had six to 10 encounters; 13 had 11 to 19; three had 20 to 25 encounters; and one person had 52. The vast majority, however, nearly 82%, had only one encounter with officers.

The data report provides behavioral health-related calls over the years as follows:

2010: 3,797
2011: 4,036
2012: 4,394
2013: 4,663
2014: 5,320
2015: 5,616
2016: 6,092
2017: 6,535
2018: 6,302

https://www.abqjournal.com/1363333/apd-report-shows-decrease-in-behavioral-health-related-calls.html?fbclid=IwAR11ONfdlbMPE3DjMRDgI4u0gTCs2_x2amszjrSZ-8AjQ3OuDyNnctf46Gk

APD’S CRISIS INTERVENTION TEAM (CIT)

The 2014 DOJ investigation found APD’s policies, training, and supervision were insufficient to ensure that officers encountering people with mental illness or in distress do so in a manner that respects their rights. During the last 10 years, there have been 32 police officer involved shootings and the city has paid out $61 million dollars in settlements to family’s who have sued APD for wrongful death. A significant number of those lawsuits involved the mentally ill.

The most memorable shooting was the killing of homeless camper and mentally ill James Boyd in the Sandia foothills in April, 2014 where both SWAT and the K-9 units were dispatched. The Boyd case was settled for $5 million paid to his family for his wrongful death. Two SWAT officers were charged and tried for murder ending in a deadlock jury and no acquittal and the charges later dropped against both police officers.

The number of incidents involving the killing of people having psychotic episodes by law enforcement compelled the city and county to invest more in crisis intervention funding. APD’s Crisis Intervention Unit (CIT) team consists of 13 detectives, the civilians in the Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST), a psychiatrist and two mental health clinicians.

The Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) respond to a variety of calls ranging from family disputes, suspicious people to high-stakes situations such as someone threatening to commit suicide. APD’s crisis intervention officers use to respond to every behavioral health call. Now, virtually all APD officers in the field have been given at least 40 hours crisis intervention training on the basic method of “Question, Persuade, Response” (QPR) to deal with people who are threatening to commit suicide.

In the first eight months of 2019, CIT has responded to 2,921 calls related to suicide, including threats and attempts, about 50% of the unit’s behavioral health calls. According to APD Lt. Matt Dietzel who heads the CIT Unit:

“The scary [calls] and the ones you know are not going to end well when you get there is where they call and say the address and they hang up. Generally, that is somebody who is … [dead] … when you get there. It’s not going to be good. … In terms of mental health, [suicide is] the number one call APD responds to hands down, no question. We’ve done so much work to train the field and uniformed officers in general on how to deal with [suicide] calls we only do follow up. The field has gotten so good with what they do.”

APD Chief Mike Geier said in a statement:

“We continue to invest in quality training for field officers, while building and expanding our successful Mobile Crisis Teams that go to high-priority mental health emergency calls. We are also being proactive with a team of home visit detectives and clinicians who work with people and attempt to prevent crisis situations.”

DECIMATION OF NEW MEXICO’S MENTAL HEALTH 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 operating in New Mexico. In 2014, more than 160,000 New Mexicans received behavioral health services, with most of those services funded by Medicaid, according to the Human Services Department.

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. Under the orders of the Republican Governor, Human Services Department agency brought in 5 Arizona providers to take over from New Mexico providers.

In early 2016, following exhaustive investigations, the Attorney General cleared all 15 of the healthcare providers of any wrongdoing and exonerated all of them of fraud. Even though the NM 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 provider. Lawsuits against the state were initiated by the mental health care providers.

Three of the five Arizona providers brought in by the previous Republican Administration in 2013 to replace the New Mexico nonprofits pulled out of the state. New Mexico’s mental health system is still struggling to recover.

https://www.abqjournal.com/749923/third-arizona-behavioral-health-provider-to-pull-out-of-state.html

It has never been fully reported on how the 5 Arizona Heath Care providers were selected to replace the New Mexico nonprofits. It has also never been revealed to what extent the former Republican Governor was involved with the selection nor what orders her office gave in the selection of the out of state providers.

BUILDING THE BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SERVICE SYSTEM

Studies suggest that nearly 50 percent 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.

In 2014, Albuquerque and Bernalillo County voters overwhelmingly voted to impose a one-eighth percent gross receipts tax to improve access to mental and behavioral health care services in Bernalillo County. The one-eighth percent gross receipts tax voted by taxpayers for mental health is being used for the purpose of providing more mental and behavioral health services for adults and children in the Albuquerque and Bernalillo County area, and to provide a safety net system that develops mental health care not otherwise funded in New Mexico.

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.

https://www.bernco.gov/health-and-public-safety/behavioral-health.aspx

On September 30, 2016 the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Government Commission and the Bernalillo County Commission approved support and $5 million in funding for behavioral health proposals. Those proposals included:

A. Creation of community engagement team that helps people and their families to voluntarily cope with the effects of mental illness and substance abuse disorders in the comfort and familiarity of their home.

B. Supportive housing for individuals with behavioral health needs coming out of the jail.

C. Implementing reduction of adverse childhood experiences project to develop a system that maintains a strong collaboration of professionals who work with children across the full continuum of services for at-risk children and families including primary prevention, identification, early intervention, support and treatment, harm reduction, outreach, and services in children’s homes and within communities.

D. Hiring a behavioral health advisor who will provide guidance on the development and implementation of the behavioral health initiative.

E. Transitional living for the youth program to serve at-risk youth who are precariously housed or homeless with a mental health or addiction diagnosis.

On December 14, 2016, the Bernalillo County Commission approved two additional behavioral health initiatives that provide for mobile crisis teams and a supportive housing program.

The mobile crisis teams and scattered site supportive housing program were both approved and the county solicited requests for proposals to implement the initiatives. The housing program has increased supportive housing throughout Bernalillo County for persons with behavioral health conditions who are homeless.

The mobile crisis teams respond to individuals experiencing a nonviolent behavioral health crisis that necessitates a 911-response. Three teams were formed initially, one by Bernalillo County and two by the City of Albuquerque. Each team consists of a crisis intervention unit deputy paired with a master’s degree level behavioral health clinician.

The Bernalillo County Behavioral Health tax will fund the mobile crisis teams in the amount of up to $1 million per year. The mobile crisis teams provide a range of services, including clinician response to a scene within 20 minutes of an initial call and evaluations with referrals to appropriate behavioral health services and support systems.

The site supportive housing program consists of providing housing and case management services for persons with behavioral health conditions who are homeless or who are at risk of becoming homeless. A minimum of 55 supportive housing units will be available throughout the county.

https://www.bernco.gov/general-news.aspx?aa431b263de84365b8eaae43ab63bd6dblogPostId=178786b84c34406b97d28a81f7ce1a68

On January 10, 2017, the Bernalillo County Commission approved spending $1.3 to develop and fully fund a Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) Transition Planning and Re-entry Resource Center using funds from the Bernalillo County behavioral health tax fund. The Re-entry Resource Center is located at 401 Roma NW, the former Public Safety Center, and serves individuals leaving the MDC and returning to the community.

The Re-entry Resource Center is designed to reach individuals who may have behavioral health challenges and a high need for resources, such as temporary shelter, food, and re-connecting with family members or community providers who can help former inmates gain footing after leaving jail.

There are two primary components to the project:

The first component begins before the individual is released from jail. It is transition planning for clients still at MDC who are at high risk for returning to jail. Planners inside the jail would administer risk/needs assessments, create transition plans and coordinate with case managers at the Re-entry Resource Center to facilitate a smooth transition for the individual being released back to the community.

The second component is that individuals released from jail would be discharged to the Re-entry Resource Center where they can receive immediate assistance linking them to community-based services, achieve long term stability and have a safe place to transition back into society.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Molly McCoy Brack, the clinical director at the Agora Crisis Center, highlighted the mental health crisis in rural states like New Mexico, when she said it’s hard for people living in small towns to get access to mental health care, a factor that contributes to higher suicide rates. Brack said:

“Even when somebody realizes they need help and they are willing to accept help, it’s not always easy to get it. If you live in Vaughn, New Mexico, the closest counseling agency might be two hours away.” Brack’s disturbing observation has not always been the case. In 2013, there were 15 nonprofit mental illness and drug addiction providers that provided services throughout New Mexico.

The cruelest things that former Republican Governor “She Who Shall Not Be Named” did was when she ordered an “audit” of mental health services by nonprofits in New Mexico based on questionable information. The audit eventually devastated New Mexico’s behavioral health system.

The former New Mexico Republican Governor never understood the need for mental health services. The mental health care providers were easy targets for her conservative antigovernment philosophy to freeze Medicaid funding to bring 15 nonprofits to their knees and forcing them out of business. To the former prosecutor, the answer was always increasing penalties and incarceration.

What is known is that legacy of Republican Governor “She Who Must Not Be Named” is a legacy of shame when it comes to the destruction of New Mexico’s nonprofit mental health care system. Her political wrath and cost cutting measures affected thousands of New Mexico residents in need of mental and behavioral health care services and she simply did not give a damn.

The 15 behavioral health programs-initiated lawsuits against the state. The Governor Lujan Grisham administration continues to move forward to ending long-running lawsuits that have cost the state millions of dollars. 5 have reached settlements with the state. There are still other lawsuits pending.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham when she was the New Mexico Secretary of Health was a champion for mental health services. After 8 very long years, New Mexico has a Governor that truly understands the need for effective and critical mental and behavioral health care services. After 8 very long years, New Mexico has a Governor that truly understands the need for effective and critical mental and behavioral health care services. The process to rebuild the state’s behavioral health care services will be a slow process that no doubt will take years.

With respect to Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Department tremendous progress has been made in dealing with our mental health crisis. According to the Crisis Intervention Unit Data Book, use of force was avoided in 98% of crisis intervention encounters. Officers used force in 1%, or 65, of those incidents. Although most use-of-force involved empty hand techniques or takedowns, police used a Taser on 17 people and shot at 4, striking only one. These statistics are a dramatic improvement to what the city was experiencing in 2014 that resulted in the Department of Justice investigation.

With the federal consent decree, the Mental Health Advisory Committee has been implemented and APD sworn have received crisis management intervention training. The CIT unit has made significant progress in dealing with the mentally ill so much so that APD’s programs have been identified and commended as best practices.

With voters overwhelmingly voting to impose a one-eighth percent gross receipt tax to improve access to mental and behavioral health care services in Bernalillo County, the gross receipts tax is slowly but most assuredly being used to mental and behavioral health services for adults and children in the Albuquerque and Bernalillo County area. A safety net system is being developed to offer mental health care not otherwise funded in New Mexico.

Not withstand all the progress that has been made in Bernalillo County, far more needs to be done to address New Mexico’s mental health care crisis.

________________________________

POSTSCRIPT ON USE OF FORCE REPORTS

Under the federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) consent decree, a yearly “Use of Force” Report is mandatory. APD did not published a Use of Force Annual Report since 2015 with the primary reason being that the previous administration failed to implement adequate data gathering processes and procedures for accurate reporting. After more than two years, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) finally released a “Use of Force Report” combining a single report for the years 2016 and 2018.
You can read the entire Use of Force Report here:

https://www.scribd.com/document/402811641/APD-Use-of-Force-Report-2016-2017#from_embed

According to the report, the current police administration encountered major problems analyzing data collected by the previous administration, calling the previous methods “poor at best” in the report release. The DOJ court-appointed monitor in his audit reports to the federal court over the last 3 years has taken sharp issue with the APD’s data collection and analysis methods with APD ignoring recommendations. Consequently, the report examines the use of force by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) over the two-year period of between January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2017.

The CASA was designed to strengthen APD’s s ability to provide:

1. officer safety and accountability;
2. constitutional, effective policing;
3. high quality police services.

The report presents aggregated statistics regarding use of force by type of force, call types, individual demographics, area commands and other measures. The Use of Force Report was prepared by APD’s Compliance Bureau in conjunction with the Force Division of APD Internal Affairs.

The following definitions were provided in the Use of Force Report to help understand the data reported:

“A ‘Use Of Force Case’ involves an incident with one or more individuals, one or more police officers, and one or more uses of force.

A “Show Of Force Case” involves one or more individuals, one or more police officers, and one or more displays of weapons, but no actual use of force during that incident.

A “Use Of Force Type Or Show Of Force Type” is the specific application of a force type or types in a Use of Force or Show Of Force incident. For example, one police officer may display or use several kinds of force (e.g., display handgun, or empty hand techniques and ECW) with one individual during one encounter. Thus the number of Use Of Force Types Or Show Of Force Types will be higher than the number of individuals involved in Use Of Force or Show Of Force Cases.

Police officers may display weapons, a show of force, as part of an incident which includes an actual use of force. Those cases are categorized as a “Use Of Force Case.” (Use of Force Report, page 6.)

The “Use of Force” report for the 2016 and 2017 contains not data regarding APD’s crisis intervention efforts regarding the mentally ill.

GENERAL FINDINGS IN USE OF FORCE REPORT

General findings contained in the report can be summarized as follows:

1. Use of force was low for both years of 2016 and 2017.
2. APD officers were dispatched to approximately 450,000 calls to provide service in 2016 and that number increased to 480,330 in 2017.
3. Individuals involved in uses of force represented less than one tenth of one percent (0.09%) of those dispatched calls which was an increase from 2015. The 2015 report found that .04% of dispatched calls resulted in an officer using force.
4. The 2015 report found .04% of dispatched calls resulted in an officer using force. City officials believe the increase in use of force 2015 over 2016 and 2017 is likely due to more accurate reporting.
5. Fewer than 2% of all APD arrests involved use of force.
6. In 2016, 48.5% , of people involved in use of force cases were unarmed but about 30% were classified as “unknown.”
7. In 2017, 74.8% of people involved in use of force cases were unarmed.
8. In 2016 and 2017, there were three times as many use-of-force incidents as there were “show of force incidents”, defined as an officer pointing a firearm or other impact weapon at a person. ( NOTE: The 2015 Use of Force Report, compiled by the previous administration does not track “shows of force” incidents which explains the increase according to the report.
9. From 2016 to 2017, show of force incidents rose 35% while at the same time use of force incidents remained constant.
10. Firearm discharges made up to 2% of all use of force cases over the two years, but still rose slightly from 2016 to 2017.
11. Empty-hand techniques such as strikes, grabs, kicks, take downs and distraction techniques made up the majority of use of force cases at 70% in 2016 and 60% in 2017.
12. Fewer people were injured in use-of-force cases. In 2016, 68% of the injured needed to be hospitalized while in 2017, 94% needed to be hospitalized.
13. APD Officers were injured in 23% of use of force cases but had to be hospitalized in less than 3% of those cases.
14. Use of electronic control weapons (TAZERS) increased while other types of use of force decreased.

Do Not Place Population Cap On The Number Of Recreational Marijuana Licenses

On March 7, 2019 the state House passed House Bill 356 (HB 356) with a two-vote majority of 36 to 34 that would have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. HB 356 bill included a provision for state run and regulated stores. House Bill 356 was a broad marijuana legalization proposal and dedicated some of the tax revenue from cannabis sales to research into cannabis impairment, purchasing roadside testing equipment for law enforcement and to train police officers as drug recognition experts when drivers are stopped.

HB 356 was legislation that was the result of bipartisan efforts and talks involving House Democrats and Senate Republicans. Every Republican Representative in the House voted against HB 356 joining 10 Democrats in opposition to it. The bipartisan proposal to allow cannabis sales at state-run shops narrowly cleared the state House but failed to make it through the Senate.

After the Legislature adjourned on March 21, 2019, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said that she would add the issue of legalizing recreational marijuana use to the 2020 legislative agenda which will be a 30-day session. To that end, on June 28, 2019, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the creation of a “Cannabis Legalization Working Group.” The task force consists of 19 members including the Democratic and Republican legislators who sponsored unsuccessful legislation this year to authorize and tax recreational marijuana sales at state run stores. The group also includes representative of a labor union, sheriff’s department, health care business, Native American tribes, medical cannabis businesses, a county government association, and commercial bank and hospital company.

The Working Group held a series of public hearings, listening to the public and compiling recommendations for the governor that will be incorporated into proposed legislation to be introduced in the 2020 legislative session. The Governor’s working group is now winding down its work and is beginning to make recommendations formal.

TRADITIONAL LICENSING SYSTEM PROPOSED

On September 10, 2019, the Governor’s task force endorsed and is recommending a traditional licensing system for private companies that would grow and sell marijuana. The state would not operate the stores. The licensing system is the same system as used for the State’s medical cannabis program. The proposal is a complete shift from the legislation that advanced through the state House last session where Democratic lawmakers embraced the idea of state-run cannabis shops as a part of a compromise with Republicans.

The task force also recommended against allowing local governments to ban marijuana sales entirely within their jurisdictions. Notwithstanding, the task force is recommending that Cities and counties be permitted to impose zoning restrictions and similar regulations for cannabis retail stores. Some states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana allow local communities to opt out of legalizing sales.

Remaining issues the task force intends to address include how to handle prohibitions on driving under the influence and roadside testing for marijuana intoxication and other changes to the state’s medical cannabis program.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1364425/pot-task-force-recommends-licensing-system.html?fbclid=IwAR1Fc82VYfGAAw014_cRb2aqpeMbuXtmagRB5-bzszosfooTTUpWvSy00y8

FULL SERVICE LIQUOR LICENSES ARE TRADITIONAL LICENSING

Guest commentator John Strong explained the traditional licensing system New Mexico has for full-service alcohol licenses this way:

“Decades ago, the New Mexico legislature created a system of a set and limited number of licenses to be able to serve or sell liquor by the drink. This is not the same as wine and beer licenses. There are currently 1,411 licenses in the state for this purpose, and they trade as a commodity and can be bought and sold to the highest bidder. The state derives no economic benefit from the purchase, sale , or leasing of these licenses at all. They simply allow the owner to then go to the State Alcohol and Gaming Commission and apply for a license that allows them to sell alcohol.

Since there are a limited quantity of these licenses there has been a constant upward push in the price to acquire them. About 10 years ago these licenses cracked the $200,000 mark. Recently the last two licenses sold were reported by the state to be $500,000 and $590,000. Originally most if not all of these licenses were owned by local small businesses scattered across the state, but over the years the increased prices began to tempt small family owned businesses to simply sell them as they became worth much more than the actual business they were attached to.

Therein begins the problem. Many of these licenses began to migrate away from small locally owned businesses to large out of state corporations. Companies like Marriott and Hilton Hotels, Cheesecake Factory, Applebee’s, and other large chains. Then groups formed here to acquire licenses and lease them out rather sell them, both in anticipation of ever-increasing values for them as well as increasing lease payments.”

For full John Strong commentary see:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2019/07/24/a-serious-conversation-on-liquor-license-reform-in-new-mexico/

LEGALIZATION OF RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA FAR FROM CERTAIN

Even though Democrats hold majorities in both the New Mexico State Senate and the House of Representative the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in the 2020 session is far from certain. There are still many members of the Senate and House that have staunchly opposed all previous efforts to legalize marijuana.

Although Governor Lujan Grisham supports the general concept of legalization of recreational marijuana, she has stressed repeatedly that any new law allowing recreational marijuana must not interfere with the state’s medical cannabis program, it must address driving while under the influence and it must protect workplace safety.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

When it comes to the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana, the legislature needs to avoid a traditional licensing system like it created for full-service alcohol licenses. With present alcohol full-service licenses, the number of licenses are capped and based on population numbers. Liquor licenses are now being sold for upwards of $1 million where only the wealthy or major restaurant chains can only afford them.

The result and unintended consequence will be identical with recreational marijuana licenses purchased for a few thousand dollars from the state and held onto for a windfall profit.

The exact same thing will happen with recreational marijuana licenses unless the licenses are not tied to population. There should be no limit on the number of recreational pot licenses that will create a market of licenses that increase value and are considered an investment by the private sector as opposed to regulation by the state to protect the public health safety and welfare.

One option that should be considered is placing the issue on the ballot for voters to decide, which has been done in other states like Arizona and Colorado. However, if a strong consensus can be achieved and if a recreational legalization program can be supported by large majorities in both the House and Senate, they should proceed and vote to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

Legalize, regulate, tax recreational marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes.

For a related blog article see:

Legalizing Recreational Pot Will Be Economic Boost To New Mexico; Legalize, Regulate, Tax Like Alcohol And Cigarettes.