Real Solutions for Making Albuquerque Safer

Download a copy of Tim's plan "Real Solutions to Make Albuquerque Safer" by clicking here.

It’s time for Albuquerque to aim higher when it comes to our expectations of safety and security. We cannot have a safer city until we own our problems and hold our leaders accountable for reducing crime—and that begins with the mayor. The mayor is ultimately responsible for how well a city can keep its’ citizens safe and the current mayor has neglected his responsibility in this regard.

As mayor, I will take on Albuquerque’s unacceptable crime epidemic head-first with a crime-fighting agenda that gives our police the tools they need to succeed, re-establishes trust between the city and the community, and seeks to end the generational cycles of crime that have bedeviled our city for decades.

Below is an outline of my comprehensive and detailed vision for fighting crime and making our city a safe place to live, work, and play. I want to thank the many current and former law enforcement officials and leaders from our city’s diverse communities who have informed this plan with their direct and indirect input. Additionally, thank you to the officers and investigators who have been kind enough to take me on “ride alongs” so I can experience first-hand what they go through on a nightly basis. Like all aspects of our shared vision, I believe a mayoral candidate should put forward a thoughtful starting place for plan, which will be refined, and can actually be implemented.

Leadership, Structure & Accountability

  1. It’s not personal: any mayor with management experience knows that when you have a department producing the results we are seeing at APD, you simply have to bring in a new leadership team and change the tone at the top from day one. Additionally, a lot of the root challenges facing the department stem from the culture at the top, and the current leadership approach continues to be a driver of low morale and is hurting recruitment and retention. I will replace the current team with interim new leadership on day one so we can stabilize the department and undertake a proper broad search for longer-term leadership.

  2. In this search, we will focus on identifying innovative public-safety leaders with proven track records of turning around troubled jurisdictions and who have a dedicated commitment to the full notion of “community policing.” The new leadership team will also make a distinct turn away from the defensive, bunker mentality that has been a hallmark in recent years.  Historical favoritism, inconsistent promotion and discipline standards will no longer be tolerated.  Additionally, my focus will be on a leadership team committed to excellence in everyday policing rather public safety experiments and fads.  Albuquerque deserves the best and we are going to find the right chief and senior police leadership team for the job, with a focus on familiarity with our diverse and unique city or state.

  3. The city will recommit to a community policing model in full, and will implement department-wide training to root out the culture and policies that directly led to the DOJ consent decree. Effective policing depends on public trust and shifting the department from an adversarial culture to one of protection. This approach is critical to restoring public confidence and will be implemented from the academy to the highest levels of the department.  

  4. I will streamline the leadership structure and remove layers of bureaucracy so there is a more direct line of accountability between the officers on the street and the Mayor’s Office. We’ve had too much head-in-the-sand lack of accountability from Mayor Berry. This stops the day I take office. These strategies include:

    1. Flattening the organization into three divisions: Administration, Investigations, and Field Services.

    2. Streamlining the command structure:

      1. Discard the position of Major, which unnecessarily adds centralized bureaucracy to the current force.

      2. Recognizing that the first line of supervision is critical to officer success in the community, create a new rank of Corporal to bolster the on-the-ground command structure and provide more flexibility and leadership who can step in for Sergeants when necessary.

      3. Include the status of “Senior Sergeant” to recognize those who remain at that rank for an extended period of time.

  5. Albuquerque will have a civilian-led Department of Public Safety to coordinate reforms and oversee all aspects of public safety including police, fire, emergency management, training academies, and the 911 dispatch center. Our citizens must be assured that services are highly coordinated and that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing when it comes to safety and emergency response.

  6. I will stand up for our front-line officers and provide the kind of backup and support they need by prioritizing getting more officers out from behind their desks and into the community. I will put more police on the streets and increase the use of mobile commands in high priority neighborhoods. Officers from the chief on down will be required to take on uniformed field shifts to increase police presence in the community while we work to get crime under control and shore up the department with more officers.

  7. I will develop a multi-agency Safe Streets Task Force for targeting high-crime areas with saturation enforcement. The interim chief should immediately meet with the local heads of federal law enforcement agencies, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office, the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office, and the State Police commands serving central New Mexico. We must recognize that criminals don’t pay attention to jurisdictional boundaries. Our crime problem demands a cross-jurisdictional approach. The more we can coordinate with our local partners, the better positioned we will be to root out organized criminal activity. Cross-jurisdictional collaboration will be a huge force multiplier. If each agency were to assign just two individuals to this task force and cross-commission officers, they would be able to saturate high-crime hotspots anywhere in the metro area.

  8. I will order the expansion of the heretofore drastically cut task forces dealing with car theft, burglary, sex crimes, homicide, gangs and organized crime, and property crime; and I will establish a special unit on opioid-abuse related crimes.

  9. I will restructure Internal Affairs so that citizens and officers can be assured of a fair and accountable process and reduce arbitrary and disproportionate conclusions. This starts with moving Internal Affairs outside of main chain of command. We will also include retirees and officers from other jurisdictions to help ensure consistency, proportionality, and objectivity when it comes to discipline.  

  10. We will utilize Department of Justice grants to fund overtime and equipment costs as we ramp up our crime-fighting efforts, including capturing hundreds of thousands of dollars available for community oriented policing.

  11. We will enforce quality of life ordinances regarding litter, public defecation, intoxication, vandalism and others designed to make public spaces safe again. By enforcing what some would consider minor laws, police can establish a proactive presence in troubled neighborhoods to send a signal to criminals to get out of the area. We will follow up with saturation patrols in all areas on a random basis which catch criminals off guard. This method seeks to eradicate criminal activity in high priority areas and will be employed as a near-term strategy to lower crime rates and make neighborhoods safer while the department staffs up.

  12. We will add ‘teeth’ to the Police Oversight Commission when it comes to making policy recommendations for training, resource allocation, review, academy curriculum, and recruiting and promotional practices.  While final disciplinary actions should rest with the chief, I will restore chain of command discipline and require them to present actions to the Police Oversight Board to provide transparency and accountability.

  13. Police Oversight Board members without previous law enforcement experience will go through the Citizen’s Police Academy and all members will participate in at least one ride along each year.

  14. Whenever possible we will have “police on your corner” with locations around the city where officers can hold shift change meetings, fill out paperwork, and conduct other activities out in the community rather than inside their car, City Hall, or a police station.

  15. We will increase recruitment and fully staff 911 dispatch and 242-COPS call centers to ensure that every call is received by a person and not placed on hold.

  16. Our substations will once again be working centers for safety in our community, staffed with not only law enforcement, but other support services with the goal of keeping each open 24/7.

Immediate Action Items To Bring Crime Relief to ABQ

  1. I will immediately schedule a meeting with the Albuquerque Police Officers Association to address imminent changes in APD actions that will be expected of all union members.

  2. We will publish daily and weekly performance objectives for APD personnel with respect to officer initiated contacts. This will not be a quota, as enforcement action will not be mandatory.

  3. We will pool overtime funds for the chief's overtime funded tac-plans for officers to do saturation patrols, closely supervised by field sergeants, at various times and locations throughout the city in 4-6 hour time blocks.

  4. All plainclothes detectives will engage in officer initiated encounters at least one day during their weekly work schedule.

  5. All sworn personnel not engaged in criminal investigative work will engage with detectives or officers at least two days of their work week in support of officer initiated encounters.

  6. All ranks of officers will be required to participate in officer initiated encounters, including sergeants on up, and will schedule a time to commit to such activities immediately.

  7. All officer initiated encounters will be documented with at least a logged out call, citations or arrests, and reports where required.

  8. We will increase use of APD video monitoring vehicles at various locations throughout the city on a rotating basis to bolster presence in high property crime areas.

  9. We will increase use of decoy APD units at various locations throughout the city.

  10. We will flood officers in high traffic areas in support of increased officer visibility.

  11. One new civilian and one new sworn Public Information Officer will be installed.

  12. I will work with Independent Monitor Dr. James Ginger to prioritize recommended changes in APD actions.

  13. Visibility will be increased (sirens and lights) on all priority 1 & 2 calls for service.

  14. I will initiate weekly, in-person meetings with the chief and area commanders to review the data of the previous week, including detailed summaries of efforts for each day.

  15. We will immediately discontinue the use of acronym-named units or plans -- fundamental community policing is what we need.

  16. We will immediately identify the city's most prolific property and violent crime offenders followed by meetings with applicable federal agencies to address cross jurisdictional issues.

  17. APD's Junior Police Academy will be reconstituted.

  18. We will implement a process of 360-degree reviews of chain of command staff by officers and detectives.

  19. Officers will be able to use their discretion and make arrests for all types of crime.

  20. Address auto theft not just through policing, but also by holding auto “chop shops” and pawn shops accountable through the city’s permitting and inspection process. For too long we have not engaged the ‘buyers’ of illicit vehicles to help in the fight against auto theft.

Ending the Law Enforcement Shortage

  1. The city will undertake aggressive recruitment efforts to attract well-trained officers from other, perhaps nearby, jurisdictions to get more officers out into the community at a faster pace with a goal of at least 1,000 officers on the street within 2 years. At one point our city had 1,200 officers; today with roughly 850, we need to be very direct about this issue. There is simply no way we can adequately police our town with an officer shortage regardless of the method, technology or who is in charge. To solve the shortage, we have to work the problem through the law enforcement recruiting, retention, and retaining pipeline.

    1. First, we must begin at the start of the pipeline, at the application process for the police academy, by filling it with more well-qualified candidates. We can do this by working with APS and CNM on the establishment of memorandums of understanding on the creation of educational pathways in law enforcement, so that Albuquerque’s youth can enter an educational track in policing that will create a direct line to a law enforcement job with their hometown police force.

    2. Next, to help with recruitment and provide a career path, we have to restore a merit based system that enables a clear promotional path for frontline officers that includes competitive pay grades, in-pay band compensation, and special assignment opportunities.

  2. I will also explore the establishment of academic alternative programs in law enforcement. Such programs allow well-qualified students to receive police training and achieve many necessary certifications before entering a police academy. This will increase the pipeline of potential officers who know our local communities.

    1. Academic alternative programs in law enforcement have been incredibly effective in other jurisdictions. In Central Texas, for example, an Academic Alternative Law Enforcement Program has supplied that region with more than 400 officers to local departments, and has been a large source of cultural, economic, and ethnic diversity in local police forces, as many students in these programs were able to participate because of the availability of night and weekend courses.

    2. Similarly, by following state academy entrance standards we can enable more candidates to attend the academy without getting held up by ineffective CABQ criteria that screen out to many candidates who may be able to play a positive role in public safety.

  3. We will supplement junior officer recruiting with mid-level well qualified lateral hires. We will use best practices for recruitment and retention as outlined in a RAND study: Police Recruitment and Retention for the New Millennium. Such practices include:

    1. Bring back our best officers, from around the metro area, with strong track records who have left APD in the wake of the challenges the department faced. This means reaching out, targeting, and hiring back the hundreds of officers who have voluntarily left APD, who are now in Rio Rancho, APS, UNM, Bernalillo County, Los Lunas, and the east mountains.  

    2. Providing referral bonuses for officers who successfully attract candidates to APD.

    3. Better engaging with current officers—learning their needs and struggles—so the overall culture can be improved for them and for officers we will be looking to recruit.

    4. Developing a retention and recruitment working group made up of current and retired officers to better understand APD’s attrition challenges. Understanding all the causes of why we lose officers will help us implement strategies to retain and attract new ones. Knowing employees and their needs is a hallmark of a strong organization.

  4. We will retain our best officers by enhancing and better utilizing the alumni officer program, crime response specialists, and public private partnership programs. By developing ‘graduated steps’ of retirement, we can get the most out of our quality officers. These assignments could include variations on chief’s overtime, special events, public transit, and high-crime pedestrian areas like downtown in cooperation with local business partners.  

  5. My public safety budgets will prioritize the hiring of new officers and providing them with the latest and best technology to do their jobs. We need more officers on the street—plain and simple—and that will be my priority. At least 1,200 officers working in the community is what we are budgeted for and we must make it happen.

Tools and support for our crime-fighters

  1. I will not hide behind the usual budgetary excuses and will push for raises, retention bonuses, and signing bonuses for proven top notch lateral transfers to keep the best and brightest officers we have and attract quality officers from other jurisdictions.

  2. In addition, I will champion a program of student-loan repayment support so that we are attracting officers with higher levels of education, and I will increase recruitment efforts at our colleges and universities. I will also incentivize additional educational attainment by current officers, who will be compensated for increased training.

  3. I will not keep the Justice Department at arm’s length (as the Mayor and Chief have done). The Justice Department has tools, training, expertise, and grant opportunities that can all be brought to bear in the effort to improve the department and keep our citizens safe. I will actively engage with the DOJ monitor in this regard, complete the reforms, and then take back our police department.

  4. I will provide ‘use of force’ clarity based on the Seattle model of proportional use of force and associated reporting requirements. This will provide a fair and appropriate system that balances the need for accountability and individual discretion of an officer and ends unneeded paperwork that is currently pulling officers of the streets, creating a moral hazard when it comes to promptly responding to calls.  

  5. Use of force incidents will be reviewed in an efficient and timely manner; I will create a streamlined committee review process and force review board to properly enable officers to be in the field and still provide appropriate public accountability in a timely manner.  

  6. I will restore arrest protocols to the discretion of the officer within the bound of the McClendon ‘guidelines’ so officers have clear rules of the game when it comes to the fundamental authority we as society bestow upon them in order to protect our communities and to combat the ‘revolving door’ criminal problem.  

  7. APD will show up and support our District Attorney and judges in ‘no bail’ violent crime offender situations to reduce ‘revolving door’ criminals.  

  8. I will prioritize the deployment of innovative technology and data-driven policing to assist our officers in the field. This approach does not need a study—it has worked to reduce crime in similar-sized cities. We can get started here with well-tested programs by employing the strong IT tools and brainpower already in Albuquerque to better manage our deployment of officers and put more resources into high-crime hot-spots.

  9. We will enhance academy training with local cultural and community education, including civic groups and neighborhood leaders into the police academy and ongoing training that reflects and complements the diversity of Albuquerque.

  10. We will improve recruitment efforts with fair and equitable opportunities for all so that we are developing a future force that reflects our city and is made up of officers who want to work in their neighborhoods.

  11. We will better engage retired officers, through great usage of the ‘reserve’ program, with creative opportunities and positions that enable mentorship, community involvement, and public safety support for officers on the frontline.

  12. I will bring together the District Attorney's office and the courts to identify the top 100 "revolving door" criminals in our city and develop specific tactical plans to break through any bureaucracy or technicalities that cause these high-priority offenders to be released.

Ending the generational cycle of crime

  1. We will increase funding for teen drug courts and other diversionary programs, including the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program that is already showing results in Santa Fe, that have a proven track record of turning around the lives of young people who are on a path to becoming criminals. The sooner we can intervene, the more quickly we can keep teens away from a life of escalating crime and violence.

  2. I will establish an Albuquerque Youth Corps to be made up of high-risk, non-violent troubled youth age 14-20 and will work collaboratively with local businesses, nonprofits, and government partners on establishing meaningful internships and mentorships to get these kids off the streets and onto career pathways.

  3. I will use the bully pulpit of the mayor’s office to kick-start a collaborative effort among the city, county, DA, APS, local service-providing nonprofits, UNM, and CNM to better share resources and intervene (on an individual basis) with troubled youth before they become professional criminals.

  4. Our police department is already understaffed and overworked, I do not believe we need to spread our city’s resources thin, or pull critical officer time needed to address violent crime to support any Washington, DC agenda. Immigrant communities will feel unsafe reporting crimes to police or assisting in investigations, making it even harder for APD to address our homicide and auto theft epidemics. Put simply, you cannot have actual community policing when the people are afraid to engage the police about drugs and crime. As Mayor, I will stand up to the arm-twisting from Washington and will not be blackmailed into bending on our values, when it comes to attacking our crime crisis, we also must own our solutions.

Taking on substance abuse and homelessness

  1. We will create 911 diversion teams consisting of a paramedic and social worker to provide onsite services on the streets and at homes to treat substance abuse and homelessness. These community paramedicine and engagement teams will bring aid directly to street corners, homes, and public spaces throughout the city, without clogging up the 911 and first responder systems.  Instead of law enforcement taking the thousands of house calls for the sick and elderly and mentally ill, we are going to send trained professionals in those areas, and save our emergency rooms and first responders for where their training is needed most.

  2. I will prioritize anti-poverty, behavioral and mental health, diversion, and more ‘housing first’ programs in coordination with the county and local housing authority, including supportive-housing units for addicts and the chronically homeless.

  3. We will support other agencies and service-providing non-profits on addiction-treatment, poverty-alleviation, and anti-domestic violence programs to reduce recidivism so we can reduce drug-related crime.

  4. We will step up like most cities in America, and will partner with the county, to create a city diversion and treatment center to provide facilities and programs for mandatory addiction treatment instead of incarceration, and transitional treatment for prisoner reintegration.

Broad Community Support for Tim's Plan

Sam Baca, former Albuquerque Police Chief, 36 years in law enforcement

“After reviewing Tim's strategy on real solutions for making Albuquerque safe, I believe this plan is excellent. It is both realistic and contains many common sense approaches that will have immediate impact as well as long-term benefit for our city. Community policing is a true way of cutting down crime and bringing the community together. The community policing plan Tim has outlined is effective and progressive.”

Paul Heh, former mayoral candidate, APD Sergeant (Ret.), & veteran

"Tim Keller's plan for giving our city relief from our crime crisis on day one is exactly what we need. I know firsthand what it's going to take to turn things around and that's why I trust Tim Keller to get the job done right."

State Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero

“Tim Keller has a proven track record. He absolutely has done everything he set out and said that he would do, on behalf of this community, and he's done so by demonstrating what progressive values and principles really mean when a job has to be done. And he not only exemplifies what it means to not just carry a label, but to actually work and truly be committed to what he says and is going to do. I whole heartedly support Tim's approach to public safety.”

Terry Brunner, President Obama’s former USDA New Mexico State Director & neighborhood activist on crime

“I recently organized a tour with neighborhood leaders to show mayoral candidates how crime impacts our community every day. Tim Keller came ready to listen and equipped with realistic solutions to our crime problems. The anti-crime plan Tim released today is by far the most thoughtful, hard-hitting and detailed of any candidate. He’s the only one of the leading candidates that isn’t part of the mess at City Hall and brings to the job public sector management experience that gets results."

Dennis Maez, Secret Service (Ret.)

“I’m an Independent; labels like Republican or Democrat aren’t what I care about, I care about substance. The plan that Tim Keller is proposing is solid, it’s broad and it is based on what needs to be done for the future of Albuquerque and its police department. I support his plan for many reasons, the most important being that it will increase the number of officers patrolling the streets of Albuquerque immediately after he becomes Mayor, and it provides the resources and support to fight crime the day he becomes Mayor Keller. Tim Keller’s plan is realistic, and it’s specific as opposed to that of others, the same old “firing the current Chief and hiring more officers.”

Read Dennis’ full letter of support here.

Thomas Grover, attorney and former police sergeant

"As someone who has worked as an APD officer immersed in many of the most crime plagued neighborhoods in the community, as a sergeant in charge of other officers, and as an attorney working to ensure the fair imposition of justice in Albuquerque, I wholeheartedly support Tim's plan. His approach is geared around common sense initiatives, short and long terms goals, and a commitment which shows he'll take care of our community's diverse needs while also supporting the officers who will be on the frontline of turning this crime trend around."

Charlie Bennett, La Mesa Neighborhood

"This is a balanced, common-sense approach that is inclusive of communities and will yield real results for our neighborhoods. It's time we had a mayor like Tim who is willing to face these challenges directly."

Tom Romero, Town of Bernalillo Chief of Police; former APD

“I face crime challenges every day in the Albuquerque metro area and I’m very supportive of Tim's approach to actually make a difference.

Herb Crosby, government HR & organizational specialist

"I support this plan, an inclusive model that can bring different facets of our city together."