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Wayne Johnson

September 12, 2017 07:16 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: Part of creating an empowered work environment for officers will be setting a new tone. That will be the first mission of the new APD’s Chief of Police. I will bring in a Chief who shares my value of managing through empowerment and trust.  It’s important for the department and the public to see that we’re headed in a new direction. I won’t rush, but will do a national search and hopefully have a new team in place in the first few months. 

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 appropriate number of officers will be determined by low response times, few to no calls waiting, and high conviction rates. I’ll make APD the best place work in the country. Empowered, enthusiastic officers are our best recruiters.  Staffing should not be based on an arbitrary number of officers but rather on metrics such as the number of calls waiting; investigative units having the time required to do thorough investigations; response times; criminal activity. That being said, it is obvious that staffing levels are too low; response times are too high; and officers are not given the amount of time necessary to solve crimes in the City of Albuquerque. We start at 1,100 officers. If 1,100 officers are able to meet the main objective of keeping crime low, then that’s where we stop. If on the other hand we have not met our objectives, we continue to increase staffing until our goals are met.

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

A: Money isn’t the problem. We are budgeted for 1000 officers. Recruiting is the problem. The Bernalillo Sheriff’s Department is fully staffed and we pay less.  Officers want a positive work environment and they don’t have it at APD . The fact is, recruitment and retention are a reflection of work environment. Creating an empowered work environment for officers will have a huge impact on recruitment and retention. My goal is to make APD the top law enforcement agency in the country and to have recruits fighting to get in. 

Q: From 2010-2016, auto thefts 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: Crime affects everything from quality of life to job creation. We need to give back the keys to APD from DOJ; build better coordination with the DA; and demand judges send repeat offenders to prison where they belong.  

In the short-term, I’ll look to create partnerships and bring those resources to stamp out our crimewave. One potential partner is the fully-staffed Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department. Use budgeted city dollars to strategically deploy Sheriff’s deputies in the city. Deterrence requires the very public belief that if you commit a crime you will be caught, you will be convicted, and you will serve time in prison. For many years we have had only one of those elements. The DOJ has caused officers to spend more time policing each other rather than policing criminals. With the interference of the DOJ, the attack on police officers by the media and fringe groups, and APD’s staffing shortage, criminals are emboldened and do not believe they will be caught. And even if they do, they know the courts are broken, they’ll likely not serve any time in prison, and it’s even possible their arrest could lead to a big payday from the city.

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: In addition to the above answer, the 2nd Judicial District is broken. It has been for a long time. The unintended consequence of the Case Management Order was that the terribly flawed system was exposed.

For justice to be served and the public to be protected, we must have better data sharing between law enforcement, the DA’s office, the courts, and the jail. We must fix the broken pre-trial services program that is currently being misused by a criminal court system that places pre-trial release above public safety. We must also work together to convict dangerous criminals and send them on to prison where they belong.

The city can help by creating and funding systems and policies to better communicate with the DA, the courts, and the jail. Any criminal justice partner should be able to track an offender through the system at any time. We should target for enforcement action repeat and violent offenders and make sure that each partner has the resources they need to move these offenders off the streets and on to prison.

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 public needs to stop creating a culture of distrust and suspicion as it relates to the police officers. Officers are working to keep our community safe.

And we must create a new culture of accountability and support into the system.  When officers follow the law, policy, and their training, they should not be made to pay the price for the failure of the policy itself. We will address policy failure at the command level and support officers when they follow that policy. Officers should not be held responsible for a failure of policy that they are required to follow.

I will not tolerate those who willfully and knowingly violate policy and the rights of others. I have high expectations of the men and women who serve in the Albuquerque Police Department. The standards of conduct are rightfully high and I will expect them to be exemplary in their conduct.

As mayor, I will back up my officers. Body cameras often fail to show the full incident. Criminals have a tendency to lie. The media often reports a story without having or understanding what actually happened. As mayor, it’s my responsibility to explain what happened and to ensure that every officer receives the benefit of the doubt and that they are not publicly flogged simply for doing their job.

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 expect my department to not lie, destroy evidence or tamper with evidence or mislead media. The mayor needs to be in front of and walking with APD. The public needs to stop creating a culture of distrust and suspicion. . Command micromanagement leads to paralysis in a paramilitary organization as it creates a culture of distrust and suspicion. This culture must change if the department is going to be effective at reducing crime and recruiting officers.    As mayor, it will be my responsibility to back up officers.   As mayor, it’s my responsibility to explain what happened and to ensure that every officer receives the benefit of the doubt and that they are not publicly flogged simply for doing their job.

In November of 2012 as a Bernalillo County Commissioner, I sponsored “An Ordinance Providing for Openness and Transparency in County Government”. Transparency is essential to accountability and to truly embrace transparency it requires a culture change with an expectation that everything you do can and will be reviewed by the public.

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: I believe that the current tax structure in New Mexico is devastating.  By reforming our tax code we could more easily recruit companies to invest in our state. We are at the crossroads of two interstates and we should be creating goods to be shipped across the country.

I will also support efforts to pass Right to Work. Contrary to what many on the left claim, Right to Work is not anti-union rather it’s pro-worker. I believe that the choice to associate with a group – any group – is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and that right carries the implicit right not to associate. Right to Work is one of the key questions asked by companies looking to locate here in New Mexico and in all too many cases our current answer leads them to another state.

I will also oppose job-killing policies like increasing the minimum wage and the sick leave proposal that only serve to kill jobs and leave more people out of work. Bad policies like these are the true enemies of small businesses which employ some eighty percent of workers in our community.

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: Get out of the way. Cultivate the innovation, technology, and creative sectors. Use tools like IRBs, LEDA, and JTIP to attract new and expand existing businesses. Support small business by reducing the burdens of city bureaucracy, taxation, and labor policy.

At the county we have used IRBs to incentivize job creation through a tax abatement process that generates more in revenue. As a result we have helped to create over 3,500 jobs and brought in $600 million in private investment.

As mayor, I will use JTIP, LEDA, and IRB as tools to create jobs in the short term while supporting long-term job creation through entrepreneurial efforts like InnovateABQ, ABQID, UNM Science and Technology Center, the Sandia Science and Technology Park, UNM Bio Science Center, and many others who are currently working to bring investment and new companies to the metro area.

The right number of jobs is when the Albuquerque citizens have productive and meaningful jobs and we do not rank at the top of the unemployment lists.   And when people have jobs, and a good education, I believe the crime rate will fall.

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: Albuquerque can certainly look to other cities but we need to find the right solution for us. As mayor I will implement a law enforcement surge where we work with our law enforcement partners on the county, state, and federal levels to bring in manpower and resources to prosecute repeat offenders.

The goal will be to identify the 20% of criminals who commit 80% of the crime and send them to prison where they belong. Collaboration and data analysis are the cornerstones of this strategy to continue and expand programs like the ABQ i-team, Security Camera Analytic Network and Crime Strategy Unit.

I will use every resource, every law, every agency, and every available avenue – including immigration – to remove these violent criminals from our streets and our communities. Our goal will be to protect the public from those who would do harm and to make sure that officers make it home safely.

Crime is inextricably linked to the prosperity of our community. Public safety is the first responsibility of government. Once we stamp out the crime fire burning across our city, we will have gone a long way to achieving the prosperity we all desire.

KOB

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

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