Justice Delayed, APD Style
- Police Department's PIO takes forever to provide basic and simple information.
- This number of sworn officers is simple to obtain. Without it, Chief Geier would not know where officers were assigned and where new officers are needed. When I worked at APD, Chief Jerry Galvin had it on a big erasure board in the conference room. It wasn’t, and shouldn’t, be a secret number.
It seems like everything at APD is on a delay.
Over a month ago I began requesting the number of APD sworn officers from APD PIO Gilbert Gallegos. All I needed was how many sworn officers does APD have (broken down by rank) and how many cadets in the academy.
Gilbert sent me a read receipt and nothing more. After a week I tried the regular APD PIO email (this was different from Gilbert’s email). Again, I received a read receipt acknowledging they received the request, but nothing more.
This number is simple to obtain. Without it, Chief Geier would not know where officers were assigned and where new officers are needed. When I worked at APD, Chief Jerry Galvin had it on a big erasure board in the conference room. It wasn’t, and shouldn’t, be a secret number.
After 30 days I asked Mayor Keller’s PIO, Jessie Damazyn, if she could get me the number. Within 24 hours I had my email from Gilbert (with a cc to Jessie). You can see it at the end of this column.
I appreciate Mayor Keller and Jessie for getting this information to me so promptly. As for Gilbert, well, this is just how APD rolls isn’t it?
Delay, delay and hope that it and any criminals (and the public) go away.
Which leads me my next delay with APD. Recently, I witnessed a domestic dispute on the streets of Albuquerque. Yes, I know, how shocking. It was a guy and a gal, and they were pushing and shoving each other outside of their vehicle, which was parked the wrong direction on the street.
I pulled over and parked, and as a good citizen, I called this into 911. I explained to the operator what was happening, descriptions, license plate number, etc. The operator was very professional and took down all the information. Then I asked the operator if APD officers would be in route now or would there be a wait? Without hesitation the operator said something to the effect of, “this is Albuquerque, there is always a wait.”
With that I drove home.
It only took my wife about 15 minutes at home to get off my butt to go and check on the two people who were fighting. To appease her (guys you know what I mean), I drove back, and yep, there were still there. Still arguing, but I guess they had gotten tired because they were now sitting on the trunk of the car. And you guessed it, no APD.
Which takes me to the meat of this story, APD has more cops! I don’t think they are going to get to 1,000 officers anytime soon, but under Mayor Keller they have hired a lot of officers. Remember, in 2011 APD had 1,097 cops (and less crime). That number dropped to 821 in 2016.
How many cops does APD have right now? The number is 959, with 56 cadets in the academy that will graduate in March of 2020.
It’s a story of two steps forward and one step back when it comes to APD recruiting. In an Albuquerque Journal article in June 2019, APD stated they had hired 116 officers and were up to 957 total sworn, with an expectation that they would reach 1,000 in a few months. By August 2019, APD was telling KOBTV that they were now at 972 and growing.
APD hasn’t responded to my question as to why APD has lost 13 officers since August.
With no other academy classes set to graduate before the end of the year, and with December being a historically big month for police retirements, I think it is safe to assume that APD will probably shrink below 950 before the next academy class graduates in March 2020.
Recruiting and keeping officers is a struggle for all police departments, APD included.
In the next installment of this report I will look at some of the reasons why APD is struggling and what it means for citizens who just want lower crime and a safer community. Stay tuned.
Here's a breakdown of APD's sworn officers:
Sworn officers as of 9/27/2019
959 sworn officers
4 Deputy Chiefs
1 Chief of Staff
1 Deputy Chief of Staff
1 Deputy Commander
56 cadets in the 122nd Academy, which graduates March 2020.