Susan Wheeler-Deichsel

September 08, 2017 07:02 PM

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


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

A: The city of ABQ will conduct a nationwide search including our own region,  following the receipt of input from a search committee comprised of very well qualified and diverse community members and stakeholders.  Their expertise and the lens through which they view the necessary qualifications of an effective chief are essential to bringing about a fair and thorough examination of applicants that will lead to the best “fit” for a new police chief.

All qualified applicants will be encouraged to apply for the position.  The committee will review applications, conduct interviews and narrow the number to no more than three applicants who will then be referred to the mayor for final selection. 

In the meantime, an interim Chief will be appointed by the mayor to hold the place of Chief while the search and interview processes are being conducted.

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: This candidate’s due diligence indicates that the most optimum staffing level of sworn police officers at APD lies somewhere between 1100-1300. 

In order to steadily increase officer staffing, several factors must be in place:

  1. The economic environment of the city must continue upward at a positive pace
  2. The city must, in collaboration with the APOA, bring back retired officers who wish to continue their tenure with the department, and make it worth it to all sides, including the public.
  3. Where officer pay at a certain numbers of years is no longer competitive with that of other municipalities, the city must give pay raises to assure that positions remain competitive.  No more “table-scraps” will be offered to our seasoned officers who put their lives on the line every day.
  4. Decide upon which face to face services sworn officers must provide to the public and which the public will need to provide for themselves with the various tools now offered online, with an app. And at substations.
  5. Grow the number of PSA 2’s and CSS staffs to levels adequate to do the kinds of reporting and crime scene investigations that do not require sworn officers to complete, and then pay those para-professionals competitively as well.
  6. While also gradually enhancing specialty investigation units such as property crimes, sex crimes, homicide, etc. require that officers with other specialties such as SWAT, mounted patrols and motorcycle officers,  return to patrol more often until the ranks are built back.
  7. Carefully evaluate and implement the inputs received via Community Policing Councils into future training scenarios and policies. 
  8. Commit to avoiding investigations such as the one that occurred last year designed to “sting” homeless meth addicts.
  9. Provide resources to officers twenty-four hours per day in which they will be able to immediately access referrals they need to provide immediate actions for those who they are called upon to serve- especially those who require shelter, medical attention, drug and alcohol abuse attention, mental/behavioral health care or counseling, or any of a myriad of other possible scenarios.  Ideally these items will be made available using an app and constantly updated by non-sworn staff. 
  10. Update officer training on a predictable basis at least twice per year.
  11. Create a judicial atmosphere that does not exacerbate the “revolving-door” that has in recent history put repeat criminals back on the street before the ink is dry on the crime report, so that officers can have a feeling of satisfaction with the results of their policing.
  12. Do every kind of public outreach to help the non-policing public act more like communities that care about one another with Neighborhood Watch Programs, utilization of apps to make reports and to accept that the process of rebuilding our police department adequately will take many years.

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

A: APD is well funded for up to 1000 sworn officers. There is an abundance of data to support that fact.  Since 2010 the city has added over $20M to APD funding and a great deal of those funds have been used to fund DOJ mandated items such as all officers wearing body cameras, and related equipment.  Data indicates that these kinds of investments are likely to show high returns for ABQ, but in the meantime, local crime data does not support that idea. 

Now that monetary investments have been made, the continuing task of recruiting new officers is moving along at a steady pace. The main stone remaining unturned is the judicial reform to stop the “revolving door” phenomenon of repeat criminals being released ROR.  If not for that piece of the puzzle remaining unaddressed, so far, the city would be likely to see a quicker turnaround in crime for their dollars invested.

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

A: First understand that vehicle thefts and or theft of items contained in vehicles have  effects on those who own them that extend far beyond the loss or damage to the vehicle itself. The City of ABQ must:

  • Carefully analyze the strategy implemented in the state of Texas 20+ years ago in which a fee (first $1. Eventually $2.) was added to annual car insurance premiums to fund the salaries and expenses related to investigating and recovering stolen vehicles.
  • The city must do much better outreach to owners of vehicles to have VIN #’s etched on windows by APD at no cost.  This programs will be expanded and offered in more places around the city.
  • Better public outreach on common-sense advice to keep vehicles secure, including, never let a vehicle idle unattended, lock it every time you leave it, remove all valuables, never leave a weapon in an unattended vehicle, (very common in ABQ) and leave all other personal items out of sight.
  • The City of Albuquerque must require that owners of private parking lots must have them fenced and allow only limited access.  The lots should be in good repair, and well-lighted.
  • Rebuild the Auto-theft unit of APD
  • Prioritize multi-modal means of transit other than automobiles to assist the population to get to and from the places they wish to go for both business and pleasure.  A vibrant and well-functioning system of public transit options is a must to make the ownership of individual vehicles optional among our population.
  • Recognize that loss of a vehicle may also cause a loss of income to the owner for having missed work, or even the loss of a job, which could affect  not only to individual victims, but their families.  
  • Loss of personal property contained by automobiles that could have similar effects to those of loss of the entire vehicle.
  • Aid and abet other crimes: organized crime in theft of more vehicles, parts of vehicles, illicit drug d. trade, human trafficking.  Possibilities are myriad.
  • Increasing auto insurance rates for all vehicle owners
  • Among the personal and economic consequences of vehicle theft are: Loss of the use of the vehicle, loss of work time, loss of income, the necessity buy replacement of stolen property, which has a negative ripple effect upon individuals and families.  The reputations of the places that provide the parking spaces from which vehicles were stolen, broken into, or vandalized are damaged. When guns are stolen from vehicles they likely go on to be used in other criminal acts.

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: Reinstate the policy that police officers may use their own discretion to make arrests for minor misdemeanor crimes.  The idea that the “broken windows” theory is no longer valid in an ethnically and economically diverse city would be no loger valid when there is data to the theory that small infractions, when ignored, could snowball into more serious crimes. Immediately revisit the 2015 NM Supreme Court decision to release those accused of felony crimes being released ROR.   Even though this matter effects the entire state, the next mayor will make it one of the very first tasks of the city to lobby the State High Court to get that decision reversed.  The electorate of the state never intended, by voting in favor of that referendum, the consequences of the mandates to criminal court judges that would follow it.  And the use of the Arnold Foundation Risk Assessment tool that is summarily being used by judges around the state has to be critically re-examined.

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: Harkening back to the founding of modern models of policing which started in the first part of the 20th Century, and predating the use of motorized vehicles APD must return to  models of policing which are updated versions of old fashioned community policing, which emphasize the use of all of the high-tech tools available today, but also a high level of personal relationships built through familiarity with individuals and businesses throughout the community.

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: There must be new policies in place that will allow police administration to terminate officers and staff who have been proven to have lied to the public or the media on police matters.

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: As mayor I will instruct the City of ABQ lobbyists to advocate that criminal court judges be provided a risk assessment tool other than the now utilized Arnold tool.  Though it is widely considered to be the gold standard of assessment tools and has worked well in the criminal courts of 18 other states, it has not proven to be an effective assessment tool in New Mexico.  The same tool has also been proven to be ineffective in the state of New Jersey.  NM state legislators must be tasked with finding either a tool that works optimally for our state’s judges, or to address the larger task of amending the state constitution on this matter.  Since this measure was passed by the voters of NM, criminal court judges have been forced to release criminals ROR when they are not suitable candidates for release.

Secondly, I would absolutely prioritize improving schools throughout the state, and therefore in our city. 

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: This question is not uncomplicated and involves strategies and solutions that spring out of multi-faceted efforts of city government, the private sector and private citizen commitment to the process.

Among and even more extensive list, here are a few ideas:

  • Under a new city administration commit to completion of the DOJ settlement agreement. If we wish to establish new businesses, grow ones that are already here, or to bring them to Albuquerque from other places we must offer a city that is safe and desirable place in which to locate that gamble.
  • My administration would prioritize facilitation of public/private partnerships to provide additional programing throughout the city to make available to all children before and after-school programs that are also open on weekends, holidays and during the summer.  To both children and their parents my administration will prioritize classes in financial literacy and English language literacy so that everyone who lives in the city is functional in English and can prepare their children for optimum success in school by reading to them, but to also understand how to manage their life personal finances. knowledge, vs ignorance will create an atmosphere more conducive to the development of our local economy.
  • Make it easier to establish and maintain businesses in the city, not only by redeveloping the entire, very antiquated city website, but create a one-stop portal for those wishing to establish or maintain businesses in the city one of the offerings of the new site.
  • Promote at every opportunity understanding and utilization of, especially by those who import or export manufactured goods, to avail themselves of the Albuquerque Free-Trade Zone.
  • Promote at every opportunity the idea that neighborhood by neighborhood, residents participate in programs such as Neighborhood Watch, participate in neighborhood associations, keep their vicinities clean, and report all suspicious behaviors to 242-COPS. 
  • Carefully scrutinize the Iceland Model of coping with teenage addiction.  This too will create a more desirable and inviting circumstances which will host a livelier future for not only the economy but for the residents.

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: Throughout our country and in many, many police jurisdictions there is an increasing recognition that policing strategies which have shown most promise of success are community policing models.  To quote many sources “no place can arrest its way out of community problems.”

Where DOJ settlement agreements exist, they have summarily all needed to be extended to allow more time to complete, but those agreements have also led to measurable improvements in the regions where the agreements were completed.

Other jurisdictions. Such as Dallas, TX and Camden, NJ, where communities were introspective enough to catch themselves mired in systemically untenable circumstances before needing to seek assistance form the DOJ, made their own plans to update policing practices, and followed through on them, ultimately settling on community- centered plans. 

We can and will do the same here in Albuquerque by setting a tone of leadership at the mayor’s office, all the way to the most basic city employees.  We will ask that the public weigh in on which policies should change and which should remain in place through Citizen’s Policing Councils, and other resources of thought, but we will also seek public participation in performing the small things that elevate communities from good to great: 

  • establishing and maintaining Neighborhood Watch programs
  • reporting activities and behaviors that seem out of place to Neighborhood Watch members and to 242-cops
  • Knowing the stories of, and contact information for our neighbors, while always being mindful of our own community “best practices” in our everyday lives.
  • Always pitch in to keep public spaces clear of trash and our landscapes in good order, to deter crime and enhance a sense of pride.
  • Resist impulses to allow wedges that could divide us, such as: partisanship, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, religion, economic status or anything else do so.
  • Love one another.
  • Love our city.


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