Thursday, October 26, 2006


The Bernalillo County Commission is debating this month over the issue of early release of convicts. It seems that the Community Custody program may be expanded. Convicts are placed in the program as an alternative to jail, and the program calls for intensive monitoring, work release, electronic bracelets, drug testing, etc. The County accepts the program, because at present a transfer from regular jail to the community program (referred to as “early release”) is approved by the sentencing judge.

The jail authorities think so highly of the program that they want to expand it by adding convicts who have been sentenced to jail regardless of whether the convicts have been cleared by the Judge for such community service. The jail authorities want to make the decision as to who gets early release. Judges want to retain control. The proposal has been deferred in the County Commission for several weeks while a compromise is put forth.

This Community Custody program is a useful tool, another arrow in the Judge’s quiver. The Judge should decide, and the public should hold the Judge accountable for errors of judgment. It is like old-fashioned probation; it can be good, or it can be ill-advised.

Here is a suggestion. The Community Custody program should be monitored by Big Citizen. The citizens should have access to on-line programs to monitor the monitors, and thereby be assured that Joe Sixpack is following his directions. Home at certain hours; no booze; some booze; booze at certain hours; work certain hours; show at school at certain times; and the like.

If this supervision were put on-line, the citizens and police would have confidence that violations would be detected and reported (back to the responsible Judge). We favor house arrest; home detention; drug (including alcohol) monitoring; and other restrictions of liberty. They can be used to punish and to rehabilitate, if applied properly, in deserving cases, and if there is a proper follow up with monitoring. However, this is a program which needs close monitoring by BIG CITIZEN.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


In the news we see that Albuquerque is short at least 100 police officers. That has been the case for years, and the City is at a loss as to how to recruit enough new officers. We submit that the City should change its recruiting policies, regardless of whether and when the City is up to the desired strength.

First, the idea of paramilitary police should be examined. Some police ought to be paramilitary, just like there should be some other specialty teams. Mental health, SWAT, close-encounter rough and ready teams, of one or more, should be available. But the tedious, boring, hard and dangerous work of patrolling and answering calls, may be handled by officers without special qualifications, and without special physical attributes.

There must be hundreds of honest, capable, intelligent men and women of age 50 and over, who would be willing to work 20 hour weeks, either as a moonlight job, or otherwise. Uniformed, armed, in marked vehicles, these auxiliary officers could perform many of the routine services. They would be excellent as investigators, because of their life experiences.

A radio ad for a local alarm company (all retired police officers) states that it may take up to six (6) hours for the APD to respond to a house alarm (because there are 80,000 home alarms in the City). Auxiliary officers could do it. Do you doubt it? Yes, some training will be necessary. Training and continued education are very important.

Not all officers need go through a boot camp type academy to qualify. Why have those people out at 6 a.m. jogging through the Valley? Why have their hair cut short? Why have drill instructor types yelling at the recruits?

People with physical disabilities can serve. What is the difference between them and small women in excellent physical condition?

We can benefit from opening the force to others than young, physically superior, people with two years of college (or military). These other people, too, can protect and serve.

This is all with due respect to the men and women presently serving. With few exceptions, they do their duty, protect and serve, and deserve our respect and gratitude.