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Tim Keller

September 13, 2017 07:10 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: It’s not personal: any mayor with management experience knows that when you have a department producing the results we are seeing at APD, you simply have to bring in a new leadership team and change the tone at the top from day one. I will replace the current chief and team with new interim leadership on day one so we can stabilize the department and undertake a proper broad search for longer-term leadership.

In this search, we will focus on identifying innovative public-safety leaders with proven track records of turning around troubled jurisdictions and who have a dedicated commitment to the full notion of “community policing.” The new leadership team will also make a distinct turn away from the defensive, bunker mentality that has been a hallmark in recent years.  Historical favoritism and inconsistent promotion and discipline standards will no longer be tolerated. Additionally, my focus will be on a leadership team committed to excellence in everyday policing rather public safety experiments and fads.  Albuquerque deserves the best and we are going to find the right chief and senior police leadership team for the job, with a focus on familiarity with our diverse and unique city or state.

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: The city will undertake aggressive recruitment efforts to attract well-trained officers from other, perhaps nearby, jurisdictions to get more officers out into the community at a faster pace with a goal of at least 1,000 officers on the street within 2 years, 1,200 total in four. There is simply no way we can adequately police our town with an officer shortage regardless of the method, technology or who is in charge.

We must begin at the start of the pipeline, at the application process for the police academy, by filling it with more well-qualified candidates. We can do this by working with APS and CNM on the establishment of memorandums of understanding on the creation of educational pathways in law enforcement, so that Albuquerque’s youth can enter an educational track in policing that will create a direct line to a law enforcement job with their hometown police force.

I will also explore the establishment of academic alternative programs in law enforcement. Such programs allow well-qualified students to receive police training and achieve many necessary certifications before entering a police academy. This “farm system” will increase the pipeline of potential officers who know our local communities.

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

A: I believe lack of funding is a myth perpetuated by politicians unwilling to make tough choices. I will not hide behind the usual budgetary excuses and will push for raises, retention bonuses, and signing bonuses for proven top notch lateral transfers to keep the best and brightest officers we have and attract quality officers from other jurisdictions.

My public safety budgets will prioritize the hiring of new officers and providing them with the latest and best technology to do their jobs. We need more officers on the street—plain and simple—and that will be my priority. At least 1,200 officers working in the community is what we are budgeted for and we must make it happen, and we can start with filling the 100 vacancies already funded in the current budget.

We will also utilize DOJ grants to fund overtime and equipment costs as we ramp up our crime-fighting efforts, including capturing hundreds of thousands of dollars available for community oriented policing.

We will then retain our best officers by developing ‘graduated steps’ of retirement. These assignments could include variations on chief’s overtime, special events, public transit, and high-crime pedestrian areas like downtown in cooperation with local business partners.

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

A: As mayor, I will take on Albuquerque’s unacceptable crime epidemic head-first with a crime-fighting agenda that gives our police the tools they need to succeed, re-establishes trust between the city and the community, and seeks to end the generational cycles of crime that have bedeviled our city for decades.

I will develop a multi-agency Safe Streets Task Force for targeting high-crime areas with saturation enforcement. We must recognize that criminals don’t pay attention to jurisdictional boundaries. The more we can coordinate with our local partners, the better positioned we will be to root out organized criminal activity. Cross-jurisdictional collaboration will be a huge force multiplier. If each agency were to assign just two individuals to this task force and cross-commission officers, they would be able to saturate high-crime hotspots anywhere in the metro area.

I will then order the expansion of drastically cut task forces dealing with car theft and recognize that we can also address auto theft not just through policing, but also by holding auto “chop shops” and pawn shops accountable through the city’s permitting and inspection process. For too long we have not engaged the ‘buyers’ of illicit vehicles to help in the fight against auto theft.

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 bring together the District Attorney's office and the courts to identify the top 100 "revolving door" criminals in our city and develop specific tactical plans to break through any bureaucracy or technicalities that cause these high-priority offenders to be released.

We will immediately identify the city's most prolific violent crime offenders followed by meetings with applicable federal agencies to address cross jurisdictional issues.

As Mayor, I will ensure that APD shows up and our detectives support our District Attorney and judges in ‘no bail’ violent crime offender situations to reduce ‘revolving door’ criminals.

To address many root causes of violent crime, we will also increase funding for teen drug courts and other diversionary programs, including the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program that is already showing results in Santa Fe, that have a proven track record of turning around the lives of young people who are on a path to becoming criminals. The sooner we can intervene, the more quickly we can keep teens away from a life of escalating crime and violence.

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

A: The city will recommit to a community policing model in full, and will implement department-wide training to root out the culture and policies that directly led to the DOJ consent decree. Effective policing depends on public trust and shifting the department from an adversarial culture to one of protection. This approach is critical to restoring public confidence and will be implemented from the academy to the highest levels of the department. 

I will have a civilian-led Department of Public Safety to coordinate reforms and oversee all aspects of public safety including police, fire, emergency management, training academies, and the 911 dispatch center. Our citizens must be assured that services are highly coordinated and that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing when it comes to safety and emergency response.

We will also stand up for our front-line officers and provide the backup and support they need by prioritizing getting more officers out from behind desks and into the community. Officers from the chief on down will be required to take on uniformed field shifts to increase police presence in the community while we work to get crime under control and shore up the department with more officers.

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: Overall I will streamline the leadership structure and remove layers of bureaucracy so there is a more direct line of accountability between the officers on the street, and throughout the department, and the Mayor’s Office. We’ve had too much head-in-the-sand lack of accountability from Mayor Berry. This stops the day I take office.

Specifically, on day one, I will appoint one new civilian and one new sworn Public Information Officer to restore trust and legitimacy to those positions.  If any PIO knowingly misleads or deceives the public, they will be terminated.

As State Auditor, I’ve brought transparency and accountability in government to the forefront and held politicians of both parties accountable to restore trust in government. As Mayor, I will take the same approach, focusing on raising the bar when it comes to our expectations of government.

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 a former state Senator, and Majority Whip, i’m uniquely qualified to guide the cities lobby efforts, and can even perform those duties personally if needed.  As crime is the absolute top priority for our city, I will first and foremost stand with our District Attorney and the Courts as they advocate for adequate funding of their operations. If we’re serious about attacking crime in the metro area, it will take all of us pulling together.

I will also prioritize legislation that supports anti-poverty, behavioral and mental health, diversion, and more ‘housing first’ programs in coordination with the county and local housing authority, including supportive-housing units for addicts and the chronically homeless.

We will support other agencies and service-providing non-profits on their efforts for addiction-treatment, poverty-alleviation, and anti-domestic violence bills to reduce recidivism so we can reduce drug-related crime.

And, like most cities in America, we will step up and partner with the county, to create a city diversion and treatment center to provide facilities and programs for mandatory addiction treatment instead of incarceration, and transitional treatment for prisoner reintegration.

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: In recent years our success has been limited by slow economic growth and unemployment. For too long we have lived under a myth of scarcity, a myth that local leadership utilizes to consolidate power. I’ve spent the past three years as State Auditor debunking this myth and shedding light on what we do have: the power to prioritize. Past leadership prioritized the search for an economic hero to bring us success. We spend millions of dollars on programs designed to lure in out-of-state companies. This is not working. Albuquerque is lagging behind in jobs despite a surplus of local talent and entrepreneurship.

It is time that we give this big issue the big transformation - by making it small. Let’s invert the way we think about employment and create jobs on the local level by an “increment of one.” One more job at each local business. We can water the seeds of our industries, like photonics and intermodal logistics, that already grow here. As mayor, I will connect people to jobs and jobs to people by prioritizing local businesses and creating routes to success. Together we can stimulate our local economy and provide sustainable opportunity for all Burqueños.

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: Academic alternative programs in law enforcement have been incredibly effective in other jurisdictions. In Central Texas, this type of program has supplied more than 400 officers to local departments, and has been a source of cultural, economic, and ethnic diversity in local police forces, as many students in these programs were able to participate because of the availability of night and weekend courses.

Another area includes providing ‘use of force’ clarity based on the Seattle model. This will provide a fair and appropriate system that balances the need for accountability and individual discretion of an officer and ends unneeded paperwork that pulls officers off the streets.  Houston is also a national leader in positive community policing processes and procedures.

Many cities have had success enforcing quality of life ordinances regarding litter, public defecation, intoxication, vandalism and others designed to make public spaces safe again. By enforcing what some consider minor laws, police can establish a proactive presence in troubled neighborhoods to send a signal to criminals to leave the area. This seeks to eradicate criminal activity in high priority areas and will be employed as a near-term strategy to lower crime rates and make neighborhoods safer while we staff up.

KOB

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

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