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Dinelli’s Plan For Reforming APD

Dinelli’s Plan For Reforming APD

The city council needs to create a Department of Public Safety, appoint a civilian police commissioner and take Internal Affairs out of the APD.


The ABQ Free Press reported what the eight mayoral candidates say they will do to bring down crime rates, as well as their plans for the Albuquerque Police Department if elected. But frankly, what all the candidates have said they intend to do with APD is weak at best.

Many of the candidates have shown a lack of understanding and ignorance of the fact that the federal court has complete authority and total jurisdiction over the Albuquerque Police Department as well as the implementation of the Department of Justice’s settlement agreement-mandated reforms.

Not a single mayoral candidate has ever attended any presentation made by the federal monitor to the federal court on the Court Approved Settlement Agreement, and whatever changes that are desired with the reforms by the candidates must be approved by federal court order.

Many of the candidates say they will terminate APD Chief Gordon Eden and hire more police officers.

A few of the candidates say the city needs 1,200 sworn police officers, but they’re not saying how they will pay for the staffing increase.

All eight candidates show a surprising ignorance of the APD, how it operates and the extent of the law enforcement and crime crisis we are facing. Every candidate for mayor needs to articulate a clear platform on what they will do with APD.

Until aggressive action is taken with APD and the DOJ’s mandated and agreed to reforms, APD will continue to spin out of control, crime rates will continue to rise and Albuquerque will continue to see dramatic spikes in violent crime.

So here are some of my ideas for reforming APD.

The new mayor needs to seek a hearing with the federal court, the independent monitor, the U.S. Attorney, the city attorney and the chief of police to outline all changes to be made to APD. They also need to seek a court order approving modifications to the consent decree if needed, and restructuring in order to continue with the implementation of the DOJ-mandated reforms.

The entire APD chain of command must be removed and replaced with a new generation of leadership and not from within the ranks of APD.

The command staff that created, contributed or who did not stop the “culture of aggression” needs to be replaced.

A national search must be conducted to identify and hire a new management team to take over APD, including a new chief, new deputy chiefs and a new chain of command to assume control of APD.

The City Council, by ordinance, needs to create a Department of Public Safety, which would include both the police and fire departments, the police and fire academies, the 911 emergency dispatch center and the emergency operations center.

And the council should appoint a public safety commissioner.

Until the creation of the public safety department, a police commissioner needs to be appointed immediately to assume civilian control of APD.

The police commissioner would be appointed by the mayor with advice and consent of the city council.

The chief of police would be appointed by the police commissioner but serve at the pleasure of the mayor with advice and consent of the city council.

The police commissioner would assume direct civilian oversight, management and control of APD and could only be removed for cause and would not serve at the pleasure of the mayor.

A police commissioner and chief with extensive and proven leadership in managing a municipal police department must be hired, not political operatives.

The civilian police commissioner would assume primary responsibility for implementation of all the DOJ-mandated reforms.

Implementation of the DOJ consent decree reforms would include continued formulation, writing and implementation of standard operating procedure and changes agreed to under the consent decree, expansion of crisis intervention mandates and certified training of APD department personnel in constitutional policing practices.

The police commissioner, with support assistance from the chief, would assume the responsibility for interacting and reporting to the Police Oversight Board and the Community Policing Councils.

The commissioner would completely overhaul and restructure APD, appoint new chiefs, commanders, lieutenants, academy director and a 911 manager and each would report directly to the chief of police, with the Police Commissioner in the Chain of Command as the Commissioner determines to be necessary and appropriate to carry out their duties.

The positions of APD majors would be abolished and the chain of command would be streamlined where necessary.

Every single APD felony unit would be increased in personnel by anywhere between 40 percent and 60 percent, including the following APD units: Armed Robbery, Auto Theft, Burglary, Homicide, Gang Unit, Narcotics, Property Crimes and Sex Crimes Units and the Criminal Nuisance Abatement Unit.

The number of sworn police officers patrolling the streets is currently 436 and would be increased to at least 650 out of a fully staffed department of 1,200.

The civilian police commissioner would be responsible for preparing budgets, personnel management and enforcement of personnel policies and procedures and imposing personnel disciplinary action.

The police chief would be responsible for day-to-day operations of APD, public safety initiatives, tactical plans and management of sworn staff and report directly to the police commissioner.

The public safety department would consist of four civilian staffed divisions and managed by the police commissioner:

1. Personnel and training, for recruiting, hiring, internal affairs investigations and police academy;

2. Budget and finance;

3. Information technology support and crime lab; and

4. 911 emergency operations center with a civilian manager.

“Deadly use of force” cases would continue to be investigated by the Critical Incident Review Team and the final reports with finding and recommendations submitted to the police commissioner.

APD has consistently shown over many years it cannot police itself, a situation that contributed to the “culture of aggression” found in the department by the DOJ.

The APD Internal Affairs Unit needs to be abolished and its functions absorbed by the Office Independent Council.

The investigation of police misconduct cases including excessive use of force cases not resulting in death or nor serious bodily harm would be done by civilian personnel investigators.

The function and responsibility for investigating police misconduct cases and violations of personnel policy and procedures by police would be assumed by the Office of Independent Council in conjunction with the City Human Resources Department and the Office of Internal Audit where necessary.

The Office of Independent Council would make findings and recommendations to the Police Commissioner for implementation and imposition of disciplinary action.

The city needs to fund and implement a non-negotiated major hourly rate increase for entry level sworn officers, excluding management, to improve recruitment, retention and morale.

Sign on bonuses, tuition debt payoff and mortgage down payment bonuses need to be offered to new recruits. Yearly experienced officer retention bonuses must be made permanent.

APD needs to “triple down” on recruitment and dramatically increase the size and number of police academy classes per year.

If necessary, the city council needs to enact a public safety tax to pay for APD’s staffing expansion, pay incentive programs, needed training programs, DOJ-mandated reforms, equipment acquisitions and 911 emergency operations, staffing and equipment.

Dinelli is a former city councilor, two time mayoral candidate and political blogger.

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  • David M. Gilmore
    July 14, 2017, 6:15 pm

    I need to take exception with Mr. Dinelli’s plan.

    Community Based Policing has never been a reality in Albuquerque. In a staff meeting I attended shortly after the philosophy was first brought up, most all of the upper echelon said "to hell with it" after the Chief left the room. The philosophy is extremely manpower intensive.

    It appears other agencies are filling their staffing levels. Mr. Dinelli is correct in saying APD cannot recruit enough. Why? He is correct in pointing out the scrutiny by the DOJ.

    Mr. Dinelli is calling for removing the entire chain of command. That statement would include every Sgt. and above. Now we are going to be under 750 officers at best. Even if he wants to remove all the Lts. and above you will have numerous legal challenges.

    Mr. Dinelli has been long pushing for a civilian police commissioner, for civilian control of the APD. Last I checked we elected a "civilian" mayor to oversee the APD. For all the power he wants to give the commissioner he might as well get rid of the chief. This commissioner would overhaul and restructure APD. He would appoint every Lt. and above. The Chief would basically be a figurehead and once again history would repeat itself at APD. We went thru this once before and it was a mess. Now comes the commissioner appointing the chief who serves at the pleasure of the mayor. Makes no sense to me.

    Mr. Dinelli wants to increase "every felony unit" by 40-60%. I’m all for that but where are you currently or in the near future going to get the detectives?

    The difference between Mr. Dinelli and I is the fact that I spent 25 years inside APD. I commanded two area commands, the traffic division, crime lab, and evidence/records. I created the Inspections Unit and oversaw the first accreditation process. One of my final assignments was classified as administrative assistant to the chief. I point all this out to give credence to my ability to speak about these issues. Finally, all of this experience was gather before the current problems came into existence.

    • Norm@David M. Gilmore
      July 15, 2017, 3:06 pm

      Mr. Gilmore,

      Your first paragraph clearly states what is and continues to be wrong at APD. Clearly you and the other members of APD command staff are cowards. Not willing to confront the chief who wanted to bring in community policing. Instead, by your own admission, you acted as cowards, subverting his plan behind his back. This is why the community doesn’t want any of you to come back. Cowards.

      • David M Gilmore@Norm
        July 16, 2017, 1:26 pm

        Coward no. No subversion on my part. You speak out of ignorance.

        • Nancy B@David M Gilmore
          July 16, 2017, 6:12 pm

          David Gilmore, I think you were rightly called out. If you did not report the undermining of the Chief of Police your served then you were in on the dirty deed. Why didn’t you stand up and put a stop to what the other APD echelon were planning? Either you were in on it, or you were too scared to back your chief. Either way I agree with the others, you were the problem, glad you are no longer there. PS, I would never do that to my boss.

      • David M Gilmore@Norm
        July 16, 2017, 1:27 pm

        Coward no. No subversion on my part. You speak out of ignorance.

  • Pete Dinelli
    July 15, 2017, 4:13 pm

    First of all I want to thank Mr. Gilmore for his 25 years of service to the City as a police officer. With that said, I respond to his comments as follows:

    Mr. Gilmore has always strongly opposed Community Based Policing, including when he was with APD. When he says Community, Based Policing has never been a reality, it is because he was already gone from APD when it hit its peak in Albuquerque. It is likely it was Mr. Gilmore who shouted, “to hell with it” when the Chief left the room after talking about community based policing.

    Community Based Policing was initiated by Mayor Marty Chavez during his very first term in the mid 1990’s and continued under Mayor Jim Baca with Chief Gerry Galvin. Mr. Gilmore retired from APD about 2000, or some 17 years ago, and was not around when Community Based Policing was in full force in 2009 and when APD had 1,100 sworn officers. The only thing I agree with Mr. Gilmore is that Community Based Policing is labor intensive. APD is now down to 856. If APD in fact had 1,200 sworn as proposed, Community Base Policing could be accomplished.

    The appointment of a Police Commissioner is not at all a novel concept. New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Kansas City all have Police Commissioners, while Las Angeles and Detroit have Police Boards Commissions. The big issue is what extent of civilian oversight is needed.

    What Mr. Gilmore strongly opposes is any meaning full civilian oversight of APD. Notice he did not even discuss the proposal of abolishing Internal Affairs with the Internal Affairs Functions assumed by the Office of Independent Counsel. Mr. Gilmore feels it was right to point out DOJ scrutiny as hurting APD. What he forgets is what brought DOJ here in the first place which was all the shootings and civil rights violations by APD. Mr. Gilmore has also said he feels we do not need the “Community Policing Counsels” nor the “Police Oversight Board” required under the consent decree and has said both interfere with the job of the Chief.

    I stand by my original proposed plan that the entire command staff from the Lts on up need to all be replaced with a new generation of police officer who will accept and embrace change, civilian oversight and constitutional policing policies. All Captains, Majors, Deputy Chiefs, the Assistant Chief and Chief are at will and can be demoted or replaced if asked to leave. If litigation ensues as Mr. Gilmore suggests, then so be it in that it will be a lot cheaper than the $61 million dollars we have paid out over the last 8 years in deadly force and excessive force cases.

    • David Gilmore@Pete Dinelli
      July 16, 2017, 2:32 pm

      Hold your tongue and or pen until you can speak with accuracy regarding myself and Community Policing. How wrong you are and don’t know it. I guess your inaccurate statements and verbiage are meant to impress your followers. Your comment "to hell with him" would be like me telling all your friends you support Republican positions. We know both statements to be untrue.

      Civilian oversight currently exists in the form of an elected mayor and city council. You don’t like what they do then then throw them out. Again you are wrong about me and IA. Let them investigate all they want but when it comes to findings and discipline it needs to be the Chief’s call. Appeal to the mayor or his CAO.

      Admit it Pete, you and I have never had much in the way of discussions regarding civilian oversight and especially Community Based Policing. Not having these discussions and making the charges you do is irresponsible.

      • Pete Dinelli@David Gilmore
        July 17, 2017, 8:20 pm

        David Gilmore: You forget the following exchange we had after posted that APD was resisting Police oversight:

        David Gilmore to Pete Dinelli, as you know I’m not a big fan of Civilian Police Oversight. As I see it CPO is the result of mayors in general abdicating their sworn duty for any of a number of reasons. This amounts to management by committee. Imagine an oversight co…See More

        Pete Dinelli Its the findings of the Federal Monitor in 5 separate reports that are very damaging and grounds for removal of the command staff.

        David Gilmore Not arguing Fed. Monitor and his position. Arguing civilian oversight

        Pete Dinelli I understand but civilian oversight is mandated by the Court Approved Settlement and willful violation is grounds for contempt of court. You would think Eden and Berry would be intelligent enough to assign personnel to work with both and not the PIO who has little or no credibility.

        David Gilmore True but they are just going to ride it out.
        LikeShow more reactions · Reply · June 16 at 8:49pm

  • Stephen
    July 17, 2017, 10:24 am

    A lot of interesting ideas and insights here. Pete Dinelli is often worth hearing out.

    I’ll just note that ONE candidate, Ricardo Chaves, has actually said just what he has here, that the command staff must be individually reviewed as well as replacing the chief.

    Chaves is also the only candidate who has said that he would seek a new chief from OUTSIDE the APD, utilizing a nationwide search.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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