The term “power couple” can be loosely defined as two people who are married to each other and both have extremely successful careers or hold high ranking management positions in the same company, organization or profession.
APD has its own version of a power couple when it comes to APD Commander Jennifer Bell Garcia of the Albuquerque Police Department’s Internal Affairs unit and APD Interim Deputy Chief Eric Garcia who are married.
APD Commander Jennifer Garcia is paid $95,000 a year and was promoted by APD Chief Michael Geier.
APD Deputy Chief Eric Garcia is paid $135,000 a year and was appointed by APD Chief Geier.
DEPUTY CHIEF ERIC GARCIA
Deputy Chief Eric Garcia is a holdover Deputy Chief from the Chief Gordon Eden and the Berry Administration.
The Keller Administration has charged Deputy Chief Eric Garcia with implementing the Department of Justice mandated reforms.
From 2013 to 2017, Deputy Chief Eric Garcia was in charge of Investigations and the Crimes Against Children Unit and Homicide Unit answered to him which is problematic given what happened during that time frame on his watch that helped create, cause or did not stop the culture of aggression.
Deputy Chief Garcia is now in charge of implementation of the DOJ mandated reforms.
April 2014 was when the Department of Justice found that there was a “culture of aggression” within APD and when police officer involved deadly shootings were at an all-time high.
Deputy Chief Eric Garcia was ultimately in charge of the Victoria Martens murder investigation where a 10-year-old child was raped, murdered and dismembered in the bathtub of her own home in that the murder investigation occurred under his watch when he was Deputy Chief in charge of Investigations.
The Victoria Martens Child abuse case is also the same case where two APD Public information Officers were found to have lied to the media and public that Victoria Martens and her mother had been contacted and interviewed by APD regarding a referral from Children Youth and Families Department.
District Attorney Raul recently announced that his office did a two-year investigation and review of the evidence found Michelle Martens, the mother of Vitoria, falsely admitted to committing the crimes she was charged.
According to Torrez, the forensic evidence revealed Martens and her boyfriend were not even present and did not participate in the murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens.
District Attorney Raul Torrez announced he was forced to dismiss numerous felony charges against the three suspects in the murder case because of severe deficiencies in the evidence gathering and interviews conducted by the APD Homicide Unit in the murder case
There were many mistakes made by the APD Homicide Unit with the Victoria Martens murder case involving the interview and the evidence gathering process.
Nothing has ever been disclosed about Deputy Chief Eric Garcia’s management involvement with the Victoria Martens murder case nor of his involvement with the false information disseminated by APD spokespersons, even though he was in charge of Investigations for Crimes Against Children and Homicide and he knew or should have known what was going on with case.
INTERNAL AFFAIRS COMMANDER JENNIFER BELL GARCIA
In 2015, Jennifer Bell Garcia became the Lieutenant in charge of Internal Affairs and then her position was upgraded to Commander of Internal Affairs by Chief Michael Geier.
Internal Affairs is responsible for providing fair, thorough, and comprehensive administrative investigations of claims relating to police misconduct and evaluation of department policies, practices, procedures, and training.
All sworn police officers assigned to the Internal Affairs Unit are held to a higher standard in order to have any credibility investigating police misconduct cases.
A few months ago, the City of Albuquerque hired a private agency to investigate allegations of wrongdoing against APD Internal Affairs Commander Jennifer Bell Garcia.
It has now been reported that the investigation against Commander Jennifer Garcia has been completed.
APD has not announced what the specific allegations against Jennifer Garcia were nor how they were brought to the department’s attention nor who made the allegations.
Confidential sources are saying that Jennifer Garcia falsified public documents and lied in an Internal Affairs Investigation.
On July 10, 2018, ABQ Report asked APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos whether APD could confirm rumors that Garcia was under investigation, that she had been transferred to the Traffic Division and that she had been suspended for five weeks.
Gallegos was also asked whether Geier would move to revoke Garcia’s law enforcement license and whether he had referred the case to the District Attorney’s office.
In response to ABQ Reports inquiry, APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos issued the following statement:
“An investigation was initiated following a complaint of alleged misconduct by Commander Jennifer Garcia earlier this year. She had been recently promoted as Commander assigned to IA at that time [by Chief Michael Geier]. Following a preliminary review by command staff, the investigation was assigned to a private investigations agency. The agency conducted a thorough investigation and presented its findings to the Chief, Human Resources Department and members of the City Attorney’s staff. The Chief reviewed their report and is currently in the process of making a final determination in this matter. No final action has been taken. As a high-ranking officer in APD, she will be held to a higher standard of accountability due to her position and assignment at the time. She was transferred from that assignment in IA to Traffic Division at the onset of this investigation.”
The APD Internal Affairs Unit needs to be abolished and its functions absorbed by the Office Independent Council.
APD has consistently shown it cannot police itself which contributed to the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice.
The pending disciplinary action against Commander Jennifer Garcia and her relationship with Deputy Chief Eric Garcia in the APD upper command staff is further evidence that APD cannot police itself because of the inherent biases of one police officer investigating another.
The function and responsibility for investigating police misconduct cases and violations of personnel policy and procedures by police should be assumed by the Office of Independent Council in conjunction with the City Human Resources Department and the Office of Internal Audit where necessary.
The investigation of police misconduct cases including excessive use of force cases not resulting in death or serious bodily harm should be done by “civilian” personnel investigators.
The Office of Independent Council would make findings and recommendations to the APD Chief for implementation and imposition of the recommended disciplinary action.
The investigation of police misconduct cases including excessive use of force cases not resulting in death or nor serious bodily harm should be done by “civilian” personnel investigators.
APD’s chain of command is clear: Commanders report to Deputies who report to the Chief with the Chief selecting the Commanders and Deputies and who serve at the pleasure of the Chief.
The APD Deputy Chiefs and the Internal Affairs Commander are responsible for and in charge of enforcement APD’s professional standards and involved with imposition of disciplinary action as well as carrying out the Department of Justice mandated reforms.
Deputy Chiefs and Commanders must be held to a higher standard, including being held responsible and accountable by the Chief for their own conduct and management decisions and mistakes and failures of the past.
The fact that the Commander of APD Internal Affairs unit has now been found to have engaged in wrongdoing is by all accounts totally unacceptable and demands swift action by Chief Geier without biasness or influence to restore some semblance of confidence in his own management team.
By virtue of the high-ranking positions held by Deputy Chief Eric Garcia and his wife Commander Jennifer Bell Garcia, it is difficult to comprehend how APD Chief Michael Geier could not understand nor appreciate the danger of conflicts of interests or appearance of impropriety that could arise with one overseeing or being involved with the review of the other’s conduct and management decisions.
APD Chief Geier is now faced with a difficult personnel management decision on how to deal with a “power couple” within his department of his own creation.
Geier must now to deal with the ramifications of taking disciplinary action against one of his appointed Commanders that will likely have an affect on his working relationship with his appointed Deputy in charge of implementing the Department of Justice mandated reforms.
Geier has already taken steps and has asked at least two APD Commanders to retire or be demoted to Lieutenant because of their job performance under the previous administration.
One consideration Geier should take into account now is deciding if it is time thank Deputy Chief Eric Garcia for is 25 years of service and ask him to retire and move on because of his past job performance in managing the Homicide Unit and Crimes Against Children Unit.
Rest assured Geier’s entire upper command are watching just how committed he is to holding his chain of command responsible and accountable for their past and present conduct.