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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Still All APD All The Time: Mental Health Crisis And Police Shootings, Plus: A Federal Monitor For APD Or Not? Sen. Udall Speaks, Plus: Mayoral Candidate Felled By Berry Wants Him Recalled 

Mayor Berry
At this stage in the game a million bucks seems like a drop in the bucket. . .

Mayor Berry's budget proposal released this week proposes $1 million for additional training for police, much of which would be focused on how APD deals with the mentally ill. The mental health crisis has resulted in dozens of confrontations with city police--many of them fatal--and which have blackened the city's national image.

The most sensational of them is the APD killing of homeless and mentally ill camper James Boyd.  The video of that incident is unforgettable and may do to ABQ's image what the Rodney King beating did to Los Angeles for so many years. . .

Tuesday night City Council President Ken Sanchez, appearing on the MSNBC program "Last Word," said Berry needs to double that amount.

APD reform advocates took note of Berry's proposal to the city council to fund APD for 1,050 officers when in reality there are only about 900. The leftover money will revert to the general fund for the mayor and council to spend. Why not earmark some of that money for sorely needed 75 bed in-patient  mental health hospital as proposed this week by the ABQ Westside Chamber of Commerce? After what we've been through a lot of folks are getting weary of hearing the argument that mental health is solely a state responsibility. . .

On that front, Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen--a Las Cruces Democrat and often a kind face for Governor Martinez--came with a blistering op-ed on how the state has mishandled behavioral health:

It’s time to be honest about the even greater mental health role that has been shifted to law enforcement under this administration’s dismantling of already fragile community behavioral health resources. It’s time for the administration to listen to the families of the severely mentally ill who want better training for police officers and, most importantly, someone else to call when a loved one has deteriorated to the point of being a danger to self or others.

In reaction to that piece, a reader asks if the Legislature would consider asking the Governor for a special session of the legislature to deal with needed mental health programs--just as they are considering a special session to attract a giant battery factory being built by electric car maker Tesla.. . .

MONITOR OR NOT?

Sen. Udall
On this blog Tuesday ABQ Westside legislators Rep. Moe Maestas and Sen Jacob Candelaria said a Federal Monitor is needed to implement the reforms that will be ordered by the Justice Department. Such a monitor would have full control of APD. He or she would work in conjunction with a Federal judge. Some are already suggesting that NM's respected Senior US District Court Judge James Parker would be a good choice.

The New Mexico congressional delegation has been hearing plenty about the Boyd killing and APD and the Justice investigation. Sen. Tom Udall came with this comment on the possibility of a Federal Monitor being appointed to oversee APD:

Udall also said it is quite possible that the feds will send a monitor to oversee Albuquerque’s police department. “It may well be as a result of that that we end up with a monitor but that’s all going to depend on having the Justice Department complete their investigation."

We saw a headline on a TV news website that said appointment of a Federal Monitor is "unlikely." But our insiders point out that this is one of the longest ever investigations of a police department by Justice. They say that could indeed mean a Federal Monitor will be appointed to oversee APD. And then there is Udall's statement that a Federal Monitor "may well be" the end result of the probe.

Mayor Berry earlier came out against the monitor, but when asked again Tuesday--after Maestas and Candelaria urged him to accept one--Berry said he would wait to see the results of the investigation before commenting on the Monitor.

Berry was opposed to the Justice Department investigating APD, vetoing a city council resolution that invited the department in 18 months ago. He now refers to Justice as the city's "partner."

CYNICS CORNER

After over three years of relentless APD controversy, this is a city drenched in cynicism. In response to a deputy US Marshall shooting and wounding a man described as a fugitive in ABQ's South Valley Tuesday, a reader writes:

How does the city deescalate the problems with the police shootings? I guess by having the US Marshall shoot people instead.

CAUTION ADVISED

Extremely graphic video of the aftermath of this shooting has been posted. Protesters gathered at the shooting scene and berate the authorities as they attend to the victim who lay bleeding in the street as they await medical transport. Viewer caution is advised. . . .

BLAME THE MANAGEMENT

Reader Keith Miller writes:

The problem isn't the police officers nearly as much as it is the management of those officers. If it is clear that no one cares what you do, then there are no limits. The average age of these officers is likely  around 28 years old. When I was 28 I  "thought" I was mature, but at my age now I realize that outside supervision of my behavior sometimes was necessary. No less these officers. 

"Shoot from the hip" is clearly the mind set of management. As the police force is managed by a chief, that chief is managed by the city's chief administrative officer who reports to the mayor. This is exactly where the responsibility falls. This police force sees what the situation is daily and a political appointee as their new chief probably disgusts them more than any one else. They have a tough job and need the support of the people; the management needs to go!

BERRY RECALL PLAY

Republican Paul Heh, a retired 25 year veteran of APD who tried and failed to beat Berry in the October election, agrees with Miller that it's time for "management to go." He's circulating a petition to recall Berry. The signatures of 11,203 registered voters would be needed to have a recall election.  That sounds like a lot but if there is another police shooting like the one involving Boyd, all bets are off.

The other candidate who took Berry on last year and finished a distant second was Pete Dinelli. A friend of his wonders if Dinelli will end up writing a letter to the editor--a very short one--that says "I told you so.". . . .

POLITICAL FODDER?

An employee at the attorney general's office writes:

Joe, among the Governor's line-item vetoes were the measly 3% cost of living adjustment for AG employees? With the cost of living continually increasing using public servants' ability to pay our bills (state employees health insurance costs just went up 10% for the second year in a row) as political fodder in the war for the governorship is deplorable and just plain wrong.

Attorney General King is one of five Dems seeking the Guv nomination in the June primary and the right to take on Martinez in November.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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