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Dan Lewis

September 14, 2017 07:05 PM

Editor's note: KOB did not edit the responses from the candidate.

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Q: How would your administration select a qualified police chief for the Albuquerque Police Department?

A: I will set up a public safety transition team that will perform a national search for the most qualified chief that Albuquerque can find. No police personnel will be above the rules and policies at APD, and the chief and his staff will be held accountable to the highest standards of ethics and transparency.  The voters elect a mayor who they expect will efficiently manage every aspect of our City, and that includes APD.  With a new Police Chief who the rank and file respects and follows, the mayor will not micro manage the department.  Make no mistake, however, the buck stops with the mayor.  The citizens are not electing a mayor to simply let their police department run on its own.  To a large extent, this is what has nearly paralyzed APD in recent years.  At the end of the day, it is my duty and responsibility and I will not hesitate to step in when necessary.

Q: Using specific language, what do you believe is the appropriate staffing level for sworn officers at the Albuquerque Police Department and how do you plan on achieving that level?

A: I will immediately propose a $15 million dollar increase to APD for an increase in officer pay and to staff the department at 1,200 officers.  60% of sworn officers will be in field services, dedicated to patrolling neighborhoods.  Officers in marked units will be visible in every neighborhood responding promptly to calls.  30% will staff the detective bureau investigating cases, gathering evidence and testifying in court.  We will work to keep veteran officers from retiring before 20 years and give good veteran officers the incentive to complete 25 years of service.  We will aggressively recruit new officers with offers that include incentives such as signing bonuses, student loan assistance, and help with home down-payments.  We will also implement an immediate recruiting surge to hire the best lateral officers from around the nation.  APD has one of the best-funded and most generous pensions in the nation in PERA.  Many good officers nationwide are losing their pensions.  We will recruit only the best of these officers to attend a lateral academy and quickly have them protecting the streets of Albuquerque.

Q: Do you believe that the Albuquerque Police Department is properly funded? Please explain your answer.

A: APD is not currently properly funded.  We have a priorities problem not a money problem in the city budget.  I will put another $15 million dollars into police raises and ensure staffing levels of 1,200 sworn police officers.  I voted against three of the proposed 2018 budgets because they did not properly fund public safety.  All of the budgets put a contingency on public safety.  I will put a contingency on every other line item in the budget, but not public safety.  We will prioritize in the budget officer pay that is competitive with surrounding agencies.  We will not need a “return to work” policy if officers are paid 90% of their retirement.  Officers will return to work and delay their retirement if we prioritize a competitive salary.

Q: From 2010-2016, auto thefts in Albuquerque increased by 177 percent. What specific ideas do you have to reverse that trend?

A: We will reduce auto theft with a comprehensive plan of proactive policing and zero tolerance for all crimes that harm people and property.  I will increase the staffing of detective units including the auto theft unit and ensure that cases are investigated promptly and thoroughly.  With a fully staffed APD, uniformed officers will arrive to calls quicker and detectives will have the capacity to tackle auto theft and reduce all crimes.  Every uniformed officer (911 first responders in all ranks) will have a fully marked and equipped police vehicle.  There will not be a mandatory quota for tickets, but we will demand strict enforcement of all traffic violations, including drag racing, aggressive and reckless driving, speeding, tailgating, running red lights and stop signs, and driving under the influence.  Uniform officers will be writing deserved citations and patrolling the streets proactively, holding accountable the repeat offenders stealing most of our cars. 

Q: In the same time frame, homicides in Albuquerque increased by 52 percent and robberies increased by 97 percent. What specific ideas do you have to reduce violent crime in Albuquerque?

A: I will increase staffing of detective units investigating sex crimes, crimes against children, homicide, robbery, larceny and white collar crimes.  APD will become one of the best-trained departments in the nation.  Officers and detectives will train to consistently perform excellent police work, exonerating the innocent and holding the guilty accountable.  I will fully fund the processing of all sexual assault kits and eliminate the backlog.  Albuquerque is racked by a broken criminal justice system where dangerous, repeat offenders are regularly released from jail before trial.  I will keep my sworn duty to protect the public as my highest priority.  As Mayor, I will hold this broken criminal court system accountable for decisions that endanger our people.  We will work with the District Attorney to clear the bottlenecks slowing APDs submission of evidence the D.A.’s office needs to bring cases to trial.  The people can, should, and when I’m mayor, will have a tracking system to hold judges accountable for decisions that continue to mean the difference between harm or safety, and life or death, for any of our families, neighbors, and police officers.

Q: There is much distrust in local law enforcement right now. According to the 2017 Garrity Perception Survey, only 55 percent of respondents stated police officers are trustworthy people. How would you change that perception?

A: No police personnel will be above the rules and policies at APD.  All police officers will reflect the highest ethical standards.  The funding and staff of the Citizen Police Oversight Agency (CPOA) will be increased so that all citizen complaints on police officers will be reviewed and, where necessary, be investigated by the CPOA.  This will ensure the people are being heard and action is being taken on their specific complaints.  I will work with the APOA to ensure officers rights are protected.  Internal investigations will still be handled by APD Internal Affairs.  As Mayor, I will maintain an open dialogue and a responsive relationship ties the Citizen Police Oversight Board (CPOB).  The CPOB will have access to valuable data to help detect patterns of abuse and work to solve them before they become systemic problems.  The CPOB will have a real and legitimate seat at the table to develop policy.  I will bring the CPOB into the discussion with the DOJ and the reform effort.  Standard operating procedures will be reviewed by the Board before finalized.  We will build the most trusted and respected police agency in the country.

Q: In recent months, APD’s public information staff has been accused of lying, destroying and tampering with evidence to help APD’s image and intentionally misleading the public and local media. What expectations would you set to ensure the public has a transparent view into the Albuquerque Police Department?

A: I am committed to radically change how our City government, particularly APD, approaches being transparent with the people they are to serve and protect.  My administration will be honest and truthful with our citizens, and re-establish the public’s trust in those - beginning with the mayor - who are sworn to serve and protect the people who live in and visit our City.  We will redefine transparency in Albuquerque and in APD in particular.  Telling the truth starts with not hiding the truth.  The City and APD has made a habit of illegally withholding information the public has a legal right to know, and it has cost taxpayers many hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay the court costs of those who had to sue the City to force the release of information that should have been made available at the outset.  That bad and illegal habit ends upon my inauguration as mayor.  IPRA will not be used or abused to unnecessarily delay or withhold information the public pays to produce.

Q: What kind of legislative bills would you instruct City of Albuquerque lobbyists to advocate and advance in the New Mexico State Legislature? Please be specific.

A: We will work with the state legislature to specifically advance the “Three Strikes You’re Out” laws that hold repeat offenders accountable and put violent career criminals in jail.  We will also lobby the state legislature to work with the New Mexico Supreme Court to change dangerous new rules that send violent criminals to pre-trial services, out on their own recognizance, and unaccountable to their crimes.  A massive effort to reform the criminal court system has led to unintended consequences where she judges do not appropriately evaluate the pre-trial risks of some criminals.  These decisions have now effectively frozen the bail bond industry that previously helped law enforcement hold criminals accountable, and been replaced with questionable programs such as “Pre-trial Services” where no one is actually held accountable for decisions that send violent criminals back into our community while they await their trial dates.

Q: Conversations about reducing crime must go hand-in-hand with addressing the city’s economy and job opportunities. What will you do to improve Albuquerque’s economic health?

A: The best economic development is community development.  I will ensure a safe and fair place for business and job creation.  We will focus on the many strengths and potential of job-creation with the industries that have the greatest potential to start and grow in our city.  Our growing strengths include our creative economy, directed energy, big data, health and bio sciences, data visualization, technology leading to autonomous vehicles, and home-grown companies with proven job-creation success. I will double down on our growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, attract talented people that will start businesses and create jobs, encourage the investment of private capital, and utilize the local economic development act (LEDA) to help home-grown business expand.  I believe the best companies in the United States will start and grow in Albuquerque in the next few years.  Our city will be an innovative platform and catalyst for job-creators to thrive.

Q: Are there best practices from other cities that have a proven record of success in reducing crime that you would like to try in Albuquerque? What are those ideas and how would you implement them?

A: The City of El Paso is considered one of the safest cities in America, while bordering the most dangerous city in the world.  El Paso has a police force staffed at 25 officers per 10,000 residents.  Officers are considered “Peace-keepers” and not just enforcers of the law.  Neighborhood policing starts with having enough officers on the beat and enough detectives to investigate crime.  We will have officers who know every corner of our City, performing shoe-leather policing and becoming a critical part of the fabric of the neighborhoods they serve.  People in our City can be confident when they need help, to look to the man or women behind an APD badge.

KOB

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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