ABQ Reports: Ax Falls On APD’s Command Staff

This is what you call the first major step to real reform of the Albuquerque Police Department and what should have been done four years ago.

Following is the December 9, 2017 ABQ Reports article written and published by Dennis Domrzalski on his blog ABQ Reports:


Ax Falls On APD’s Command Staff

Massive Reorganization Begins!

Entire Command Staff Demoted, Three Quit

Jessica Tyler Resigns

Over the past several years, many people in the community have said that the Albuquerque Police Department’s command staff needed a complete change if the department was ever going to reform itself.

On Friday, that change, or call it a massive cleanup effort, began. Sources tell ABQReport that all of the department’s commanders – at least 15 people – were demoted to acting commanders and were told they will have to reapply for their jobs while their roles and performances at APD are being evaluated.

(Photo: APD Chief Michael Geier.)

Three of those commanders chose to retire instead of accepting the demotions, sources said. And, Maj. Jessica Tyler, whose hiring in July of 2015 as head of APD’s training academy caused a massive controversy, resigned from the department on Friday.

In addition, Police Chief Michael Geier made good on his insistence on Wednesday of this week that members of the command staff would no longer receive retention bonuses of $6,000 to $12,000 a year. Sources said that the commanders who were receiving the bonuses were called on Thursday afternoon by human resources people and told they would no longer be getting the extra money.

The personnel actions on Friday were part of a of a total re-evaluation and restructuring of APD that Mayor Tim Keller promised after he took office. During a Dec. 6 news conference with Geier in front of police headquarters in Downtown Albuquerque, Keller gave a hint of the massive changes that were coming to APD.

“Reforming the police department to better attack crime from all sides has been one of the most important and difficult roads that lie ahead,” Keller said. “Change began at the Mayor’s office just November 14th, and continued yesterday with the swearing in of these chiefs behind me…..they are charged with evaluating, restructuring and turning around APD.”

To many in the community, the demotions of the current command staff will be welcomed. For three years now, James Ginger, the independent monitor in APD’s reform settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, has ripped the command staff to the federal court judge who is overseeing the case. Ginger has accused the command staff of deliberately sabotaging the reform process.

Tyler’s hiring in mid-2015 was controversial because then-APD Chief Gorden Eden broke the department’s rules to hire her. Tyler came from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department. But, at the time of her hiring, she was the subject of a Sheriff’s Department Internal Affairs investigation. APD’s rules said that an officer who was under investigation by their former department couldn’t be hired.

And, the command staff retention bonuses were a sore point for APD’s rank-and-file officers. The City Council authorized the bonuses in late 2014, but those bonuses were intended for rank-and-file officers. However, the command staff found a loophole in the council’s legislation and were able to claim the bonuses for themselves as well.

When the city council ended the bonus appropriation in 2015, the command staff still found a way to give it to themselves. The department shifted money within its budget – most likely from savings from vacant positions – and kept giving commanders the bonus.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.