Judge Browning needs to hear this
Albuquerque is burning
By Dan Klein
– When you have more detectives investigating other police officers for frivolous infractions than you have detectives trying to solve homicides, there is a problem.
– It seems that those running the consent decree believe that APD officers are more dangerous to the community than the person(s) who murdered four people and left them to bake in the sun at the airport.
– We are in a fight to save the soul Albuquerque. If we lose, Albuquerque becomes a narco city.
– Officers fear that doing their job will cost them their job.
At the February 2021 federal court meeting for the Albuquerque Police Department CASA agreement, federal court judge James Browning asked an interesting question of the attorneys. He stated that his office had received emails and phone calls from citizens of Albuquerque alleging that the crime spike we're experiencing was, in part, caused by the DOJ consent decree. Judge Browning asked if the DOJ consent decree adding to Albuquerque’s crime problems.
If you have ever been in a courtroom you know that justice and truth are usually absent from the building. Attorneys in a courtroom are more like characters from a Shakespearean play, trying to feed egos, dodge direct questions and craft answers of appeasement. I don’t believe anything any attorney tells me when they are in a courtroom. It’s just a stage play and drama; justice and truth are not the main players.
So it was when the attorneys involved in the CASA responded to Judge Browning. All the attorneys present, including the Albuquerque Police Officers Association attorney, denied that the DOJ consent decree had anything to do with the rising crime in Albuquerque. Nada, nothing.
I write this hoping that Judge Browning truly wants to hear what the common person in Albuquerque believes about our crime tsunami. Has the DOJ consent decree added to Albuquerque’s crime issues? Yes, but it is only part of the problem.
Why is the DOJ consent decree adding to Albuquerque’s crime woes? One obvious reason is that when you have more detectives investigating other police officers for frivolous infractions than you have detectives trying to solve homicides, there is a problem. It seems that those running the consent decree believe that APD officers are more dangerous to the community than the person(s) who murdered four people and left them to bake in the sun at the airport.
I believe the consent decree has caused some APD officers to slow down getting to dispatches and to not act when they need to. Just look at Dr. Ginger’s “catastrophic” reports where he nitpicks the slightest of issues. Making mountains out of molehills, molehills that end up getting officers disciplined and making their job impossible to do. It's easier for an officer to take a report after the mayhem has finished than to arrive and use force to stop the mayhem from continuing.
Albuquerque has had six years of reform and has spent millions of dollars, yet the people that manages the CASA still believes APD officers are a rogue out of control group. Well, to the best of my knowledge it is not APD officers who murdered the four people at the Sunport, or the person outside Cornonado Mall, or repeat 27 more times for the number of people murdered this year. If the people involved in the CASA still believe APD is the problem, then they should disband the police department and start over. To continue putting more officers in Internal Affairs positions, instead of Homicide and uniform patrol, is and has been a recipe for failure. It has done a disservice to victims in our community and this is owned by the DOJ consent decree.
It’s all not negative when it comes to the DOJ and crime. Another reason crime has spiked dramatically in Albuquerque is the arrest and trials of upwards of 150 Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico members (SNM) by the DOJ. SNM is a prison gang that has strong ties to the drug cartels. For years many of us in Albuquerque saw the cartels taking over the drugs in our city, but the feds were uninterested when it came to stopping them. That changed a couple years ago with a major federal crime initiative targeted at SNM. It has been so successful that it created a power vacuum in SNM. This has resulted in many of the murders and violence we are witnessing today. The prisons are full of future SNM recruits and with over one hundred SNM members taken out of the game you can bet there are a lot of lower level SNM members wanting to grab their power. I only hope the DOJ recognizes that this is not a “one and done” indictment of SNM. To be successful this must be a long-term effort to continue putting SNM members in prison and give them real rehabilitation. We also must admit that some are so violent that they must be kept away from society forever.
The power struggle between SNM and the cartels, created by the good work of the DOJ, is one reason why violent crime in Albuquerque has surged. It is to be expected. We are in a fight to save the soul Albuquerque. If we lose, Albuquerque becomes a narco city.
APD Chief Harold Medina recently stated that property crime had decreased in Albuquerque, so crime isn’t all bad, is it? Why has property crime statistics decreased? I have two theories. First, APD solves about 10 percent of property crimes, therefore why would a crime victim waste their time reporting them? As an editor of the Albuquerque Journal noted, APD didn’t even watch the video of the criminals who stole her property. Property crimes haven’t diminished; citizens have just given up on APD caring. Second, many victims are scared to report crime for fear of retribution from criminals. They believe APD cannot protect them from retribution.
This is the current state of Albuquerque, where the consent decree has more cops being used to investigate other cops than are used to investigate murders. Where officers fear that doing their job, will cause them to lose their job. Where a successful crime initiative by the DOJ against SNM has created a vacuum struggle of violent proportions. Where citizens have so little faith in APD that they have stopped reporting property crimes. Where citizens have lost faith in APD’s ability to protect them from retribution, so it is safer for them to remain silent and not report crimes at all.
Judge Browning won’t hear this from the attorneys in the courtroom, but he needs to hear it from the citizens of Albuquerque.