I can guarantee you one thing: a $60,000 consultant isn't going to blame Berry or his administration for the rising crime rate
Berry’s aides are scared to tell him his policies and personnel decisions have caused ABQ’s woes
Berry fiddles and hands our money to his friendly consultants, developers and contractors, all the while, Albuquerque is burning down
BY DAN KLEIN
If Mayor Richard Berry’s most recent intellectual paralysis weren’t so ridiculously outrageous—and expensive—I’d be taking up a collection to buy the guy some common sense. You see, Berry can’t figure out why crime in Albuquerque has risen dramatically in the last four years and why city residents are starting to become genuinely afraid to stick their heads out their front doors.
You would think that the mayor who once vowed to make Albuquerque a really, really bad place for criminals would want answers fast—like right now before there’s no one left here to ride his $119 million buses back and forth on Central Avenue with all the hookers, probation violators and druggies.
And you would think that after nearly seven years in office and scores of ribbon-cuttings later, Berry would have honed his fact-finding skills to the point where he would be able pick up a phone and call someone who should have some answers to that important question.
Like maybe his police chief? Maybe the cops who are out there every day chasing and arresting the thugs, car thieves, fiends and murderers? Maybe some citizens whose homes have been shot at, businesses robbed and neighborhoods terrorized?
But naah. This mayor who constantly reminds us of what a fiscal conservative he is and how he acts as the holy steward of our scarce tax dollars, decided to spend $60,000 of our money to pay a “consultant” to do the research and figure out why crime has soared under his watch.
I can guarantee you one thing: a $60,000 consultant isn’t going to blame Berry or his administration for the rising crime rate.
He’ll most likely say that crime is out of control because the courts are releasing suspects because of the new case management system for Bernalillo County. Then Berry’s friend, errr, consultant, will say that crime is up because of the new bond rules which are causing criminals to be out of the streets. Finally, the consultant will say that because the Legislature has rebuked Berry on his return to work (aka double dipping) legislation, he can’t hire enough officers.
This is life in the Hermit Kingdom known as Albuquerque. I call it the Hermit Kingdom because, just like North Korea, Berry’s aides are scared to tell him that his policies and personnel decisions have caused Albuquerque’s woes. Berry didn’t seem to even take notice when a neighbor of his was murdered at Christmas last year. Maybe his staff didn’t tell him.
So let me save us all $60,000 and tell you why crime has gone up here.
Most importantly, we don’t have enough cops. And that’s Berry’s fault. And secondly, Berry has failed at almost every turn in managing APD.
Berry was elected in 2009 and promised to get rid of Chief Ray Schultz. But he broke that campaign promise. Then he hired Darren White as Public Safety director, which was another mistake. Schultz oversaw APD’s descent into violence, causing the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.
Between 2009 and 2013, APD paid tens of millions in civil judgments for excessive force and civil rights violations. White had to resign after allegations that he spirited his wife away from an accident where she may have been impaired. Schultz finally left after the DOJ announced its investigation of APD, but not before he “greased” the Taser lapel camera contract.
Berry then hired political insider and GOP loyalist, Gorden Eden, to run APD. Within two months Eden showed his lack of qualifications with his famous news conference where he said that cops were justified in shooting and killing homeless camper James Boyd.
Following that, Albuquerque was rocked by rioting for eight days and Berry was AWOL.
Aside from not holding his police command staff accountable, Berry made three huge missteps in his first year as mayor. First, he enacted a college requirement for APD recruits, without paying college salaries. Surprise, APD couldn’t recruit new officers. Second, he ended a successful veteran officer retention program (129 officers delayed retirement because of it). Once ended, these officers all retired. Third, Berry refused to honor a legally signed contract between Albuquerque police officers and the city. This caused many more officers to quit. Who wants to work for someone you can’t trust?
Berry fiddles and hands our money to his friendly consultants, developers and contractors, all the while, Albuquerque is burning down.
Dan Klein is a retired Albuquerque police sergeant. He can be reached through Facebook.