APD officers leaving in huge numbers
By Dan Klein
- APD has lost 28 officers in just two months!
The Albuquerque Police Department has lost a staggering number of officers this year. It appears that Mayor Tim Keller’s promise of 1,000 APD officers will continue to be a promise broken.
In March of this year APD graduated a class of new officers. APD PIO Gilbert Gallegos stated in March that APD had 998 officers. At that time Gallegos said he anticipated APD would achieve 1,200 officers in 2022. Gallegos then made this prophetic statement to KOB,
“We’ve hired over 300 right now. This next year is looking really good. I think we’re going to get there. The trick is, at the same time, keeping people from retiring and keeping that steady pace.”
Gallegos statement has proven to be correct, because the most recent APD payroll shows only 972 officers (from chief to patrolman). This includes two new deputy chiefs of police that APD Chief Harold Medina just hired (Hartsock and Torrez). Had Medina not hired them, APD would be at 970. That means APD has lost 28 officers in just two months!
Albuquerque Police Officers Association President Shaun Willoughby told ABQREPORT that several officers have left APD for other departments in New Mexico. It used to be that APD was the top paid agency in the state, but a quick check of Santa Fe County Sheriff and Santa Fe City reveal that both agencies now match APD’s with $30 / hour for lateral officers. ABQREPORT has been told that the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department has hired several veteran APD officers.
Funny how times change. Remember how other police departments complained that APD was stealing their officers with higher pay? That was just a few years ago, but now it’s the reverse. Why? Willoughby believes that it's because officers are tired of the constant review of all their actions, the constant threat of discipline, the constant Monday morning quarterbacking by the Department of Justice, the never-ending civil war between APD command factions that support ex-chief Mike Geier or current chief, Harold Medina, the exploding violence in Albuquerque and a progressive mayor who is turning Albuquerque into Portland.
Why would an officer continue to put his life and career on the line for a city administration that seems hell bent on ruining them for the smallest infraction? These officers can take their experience to other departments, with the same pension and the same pay and none of the DOJ mandates, nor the progressive craziness that is plaguing Albuquerque.
Another group of officers have been spending considerable amounts of their own money to buy their military time and just retire. Getting out of law enforcement altogether after only 15 to 20 years because the stress at APD is overwhelming. We heard this firsthand in the audio tapes ABQREPORT released of Medina addressing the Emergency Response Team members who had quit in protest over how Medina’s command staff had mishandled the recent protest at Civic Plaza. A veteran sergeant told Medina that he knew at least two APD officers who had just spent tens of thousands of their own dollars to purchase their military time to get out of APD.
There will be those who state, “good riddance” to these officers who are leaving. That they were the “old APD,” and needed to go. Except that the DOJ has been here for six years now. All APD officers have been trained in the DOJ philosophy of “do as we say, not as we do.” These officers who are leaving are good officers, veteran officers whose training was paid for by the citizens of Albuquerque, officers who just can’t take what is going on with APD any longer. This should be a wake-up call to everyone in Albuquerque, but especially to Mayor Keller and the city council. How long will they continue to stick their heads in the sand and not admit something is wrong at APD and the DOJ CASA?
How long will Albuquerque taxpayers continue to pay for officers who can’t stand the work environment at APD and take their experience and training elsewhere?
Albuquerque is facing two massive issues with its police department. First, you have a crime wave that is just getting worse, with the city on track for a record-breaking year of homicides. Second, officers are leaving APD in large numbers. Keller needs to figure out why APD officers are fleeing and fix it before that becomes a blue tsunami. If Keller continues with his smiling, head-in-the-sand attitude, Albuquerque will be left with a police department staffed with officers who have less than five years-experience and the political appointees who command them.
APD is a gutted department with zero morale, where officers leave just as soon as they get experience. It won’t matter how many detective academies that APD puts on when those detectives leave soon after graduating. APD is destined to always be inexperienced until there is a dramatic change in the philosophy of the chief’s and mayor’s office. APD needs a mayor and chief who find a way to have a police department that is transparent and answerable to the citizens, at the same time valuing and respecting every police officer. As one officer stated to me, “APD is not a fun place to work at right now”. That’s putting it mildly.
Albuquerque looks and feels like a city that is wrapped in anarchy. It’s out of control, and Keller’s progressive police and law reforms have only exacerbated the problems.
Is this what Keller’s progressives and the DOJ mandate view as success?
Is this what Albuquerque citizens view as a success?