For those that don't know, every Tuesday, APD's Chief Schultz holds a weekly staff meeting with all of his commanders, lieutenants, many sergeants, and senior civilian department personnel like Karen Salazar and Bill Slauson. Occasionally there are guest attendees like Nate Korn, proprietor of Kaufman's West, or others as well at this "Chief's Staff" meeting. This meeting has a set agenda which includes weekly reviews of significant events, unfolding challenges, new issues, and of course there is a weekly review of personnel. As anybody who works, or has worked with, Schultz knows that he is a stickler for certain details. Nobody can say that Chief Schultz does not involve himself in all matters of APD. From the MDT on his desk (which is more commonly found in an officer's patrol car) to the constant spread sheets with data, APD's Chief Schultz has a vast array of sensitive department data at his finger tips.
In addressing personnel concerns there is a weekly memo drawn up that identifies how many sworn officers in total there are on given week. Then there line items that address how many officers are on extended leave, are on injury duty, are on administrative leave. Directors of the the police academy also provide an update as to how many cadets are still in basic training, how many applicants have applied for the next class, how many applicants are having their background investigation being done, and how many conditional offers of employment have been extended for prospects to enter the next academy.
The point is, at any given week, Chief Schultz knows exactly how many officers are employed in APD, how many are leaving, and how many are coming in. Likewise, Chief Schultz knows exactly how many incidents of force there are pending bubble sheet review by his Operations Review lieutenant--this includes shootings.
Over the last week or so, our Eyes have been flooding us with internal memos and documents from recent and past "Chief's Staff" meetings. And what we have learned is alarming at least and shockingly frustrating at worst. Documents show us that when Mayor-elect Berry started his transition shortly after his election, Mayor Chavez's former Public Safety Director Pete Dinelli provided Mayor-elect Berry with a transition report. This report details that on October 13, 2009, APD had a total of 1,094 sworn officers. Then in a memo provided to us from the August 24, 2010 Chief's Staff meeting, the total sworn count of officers had dropped slightly to 1084. Now the latest personnel memo provided to us from the September 4, 2012 meeting shows us that 997 sworn officers. Our Eyes tell us that over one hundred additional officers will be retiring before next year's officer bid in late March/early April. In addition to these officers will be many high ranking officers including virtually the entire command staff will be leaving out the back door for greener pastures we are told.
While all of this manpower is fleeing APD like the sinking ship that it is, the department is not attracting many new candidates. As evidenced by this past Friday's graduation where not even a dozen new officers now go on to OJT training with Field Training Officers, the freshly minted officers are not being instructed under accepted standards of basic police instruction. Instead of an environment where the new officers will be trained to operate together as a unit and to experience stress so that they can cope with the experience out on the street, they are being handled like "students." While the APD Academy must follow the state's DPS curriculum in order to gain certification by the state, the delivery of that curriculum is at the discretion of the agency. Unlike NMSP or BCSO, or even docile DPS, APD's new approach is to create a learning environment absent of stress and structure. No longer do you here "Yes Sir" or "Sergeant" or "Lieutenant," but you hear "excuse me" and supervisors called by their first names! No longer is there "stress days" to help build cohesion or even D & C at lunch to identify weaker cadets. The current model is more akin to the FBI academy model where college graduates are turned into investigators who, when they need help, call upon the local police for the hands on work.
We at the Eye are not surprised about this at all. We've been addressing this concern since last March when we charted out that this year's patrol officer bid was a shocking step back from prior years. As any officer knows, the number of patrol officers at the start of the bid only dwindles as the months go on. As our intrepid friends at the city's paper noted as an after thought in a recent editorial, there is a manpower crisis looming upon APD. Well this manpower crisis is not looming--it's here. With less than 1000 officers currently employed, over a 100 leaving in the next few months, and upwards of two dozen command staff officers leaving as well, APD will be functioning with less than 900 officers very soon.
The city has grown, the department's budget has spiraled out of control (and not because of labor Mr. Perry), citizen confidence in the department is as bad as its ever been, and personnel staffing has fallen off of a cliff. Yet Chief Schultz stands there saying all is well and his assistant Mayor Berry boasts about APD's accomplishments. Albuquerque's city leaders have either failed to anticipate this challenge or they have been chronically indifferent about it. We think its a bit of both. Of course this will not be addressed by the local paper because that would mean criticizing their own. While we're sure Mayor Berry will "unremember" this as he likes to say. Our response is, we'll see.
Mr. Berry and soon to be Mr. Schultz, the proof is in the pudding and this recipe is losing its primary ingredient: sworn officers. To the rank and file, we say thank you! To Mayor Berry and Chief Schultz, the writing is on the wall.