Here is some of the data given in a story (READ IT HERE) by Channel 4 News (Bravo to 4; it was an accurate and great report.) APD is authorized 1,100 police officers. APD currently has 958 officers. This includes over 100 retirees who are re-hires.
A city the size of Albuquerque should have in the neighborhood of 1,400 police officers to adequately protect the city. As the 100 plus retirees who are re-hires start to age and attrition continues this valuable resource will slowly disappear. The new PERA laws are very strict and prohibit police departments hiring back retirees. Realistically this places APD and Albuquerque in a huge quandary. This does not include the 50 to 100 officers who will become eligible for retirement this year. At this point APD can shrink down to as low as 758 sworn officers. This is more of a worst case scenario but nevertheless, it is a factual reality that should be discussed.
According to the story on Channel 4, Republican Don Harris who sits on the City Council is deep in Berry’s pocket looking for excuses to bail Berry out of the mess that Berry has created. Harris wants the tax payers to shell out $20,000 to conduct a study. This study would analyze such things as salaries, retirement, benefits and quality of life and compare them to other police departments in other cities. The results would not be released till 2014. Does this sound wonderful to you?
Don’t fall for Don ‘Ho’ Harris’s song and dance. Yes, tiny bubbles in the wine will make you feel happy but when you sober up you will see it is all “smoke and mirrors.” Albuquerque one day is going to wake up from Berry’s intoxicant of lies and we will all have to deal with the hang-over aliments he will leave us with.
The APOA sharply responded to Berry’s administration and Harris. The APOA stated in part, “…. However, this crisis at APD should be familiar to anyone in the current administration. The City and this Association had agreed on giving APD the most comprehensive and competitive pay package in the SW United States. This was done AFTER a study was conducted by UNM saying that based on crime rates, assaults, and other key factors; The APD needed to boost the salaries and benefits of the officers who worked in ABQ. The Berry administration has decimated the ranks of the APD and put Public Safety on the back burner all while the crime rates and the levels of violence increase here in ABQ. …” Mister Harris; there was already a study. As an attorney and a city councilor you should have researched it and you should have known about it before suggesting the waste of public money. Harris should be embarrassed by this lousy ploy to take the pressure off of Berry for ruining the City and APD.
Kudos to the APOA for taking a stance for the department and the rank and file.According to the story, “One reason Harris believes the police department has fallen short of its goal is morale.” Harris also stated, “Some of the problems we've had recently, some of the police officers feel that there's not the respect or admiration for police officers that there used to be and I don't know if that's just the City of Albuquerque."
Harris’s statements are true. Mayoral candidate Paul Heh told Channel 4 during his interview that morale was low and to fix the vast majority of problems in APD, “You replace the top chain of command and I mean the whole top chain of command…” He also stated that APD needs a chief that is respected by the officers and a chief who respects the officers.
In addition Heh stated, as part of his plan to correct the problems in APD, “You drop the college requirement. I’m also against giving sign-on bonuses to police officers. Either you want to be a police officer or you don’t.” Heh was adamantly opposed to spending another $20,000 on a study when we all know what the problems and issues are in APD.
Candidate Dinelli stated, “I would think that we need to reinstate the incentive program to pay officers with 20 more years of experience the $5,000 or $7,000 that they used to have in place.” Dinelli also stated, “I also believe they need to take a look at the admission requirements…I think that the requirement on the college education should be reconsidered.” It appears Dinelli has a grip on how he would solve APD’s woes.
Now the conversation turns to our current mayor. Channel 4 asked Berry for his input on his fellow Republican Harris’s proposal. This is a serious issue confronting our city and knowing what our leader thinks is important to all the citizens in Albuquerque. Berry’s response, “He was busy!” Our police department is in melt down and a local station asks for his input and guidance, Berry’s response, “He was busy!” What could Berry be doing that he would be SO BUSY that he could not take five minutes to talk to Channel 4? Watering his grasslands in Four Hills? No, that’s not it, Berry has a grounds keeper. Is Berry attending another $500 per person fundraiser? No, that’s not it Berry never showed up to that fundraiser either. We know the answer; he is an incompetent “leader” who always takes the path of avoidance. Look at Berry’s pattern; he always avoids the public or public issues when he knows he is wrong.
Berry instructed Shultz to provide a response for him. Let’s see, he spent 5 to10 minutes refusing to meet with Channel 4 because he was “busy.” From there Berry drops a dime on Jay McCleskey, Gov. Martinez’s pet snake. This takes another 30 minutes. And then Berry spends another 30 minutes on the phone discussing with Schultz what he wants him to say. That brings the total time lost on Berry avoiding Channel 4 to a grand total of one hour and ten minutes for an interview that would have taken five minutes. Berry should know, when you play with snakes it is only a matter of time before you get bit.
You can’t hide forever varmint! We got our Eye on you…