Who Is In Charge At APD?; Answer: CAO Sarita Nair; Politics Is No Way To Run APD

Dan Klein is a retired Albuquerque Police Sergeant after 20 years of public service. He has been a small business owner in the private sector now for 15 years. Mr. Klein has been a reporter for both on line news outlets the ALB Free Press and ABQ Reports.

On November 25, 2019, the following article written by Dan Klein, with introductory bullet talking point was published by ABQ Report:

HEADLINE: Who is in charge at APD? It sure isn’t Mike Geier!
August 16, 2020
BY: Dan Klein

— It seems that Geier’s 40 years in law enforcement are just the same year over and over. He has never learned how to command. Geier seems afraid to crack the whip on his friends, instead praying that they “do the right thing” when caught doing wrong.

“I take responsibility for what happens in my office with my chief of staff and my assistant. Any suggestion that I am not in control of the department (is) ridiculous. This is nothing more than petty water-cooler talk.”–Statement provided to the Albuquerque Journal by Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier.

Dear Mike Geier, if you must make a formal statement telling everyone you are in charge at APD, guess what? You aren’t in charge.

What is that giant sucking noise we hear coming from 4th and Roma? It is the sound of the air being sucked out of APD by the command fools on the 5th floor (Chief’s office) who are spending their days and nights in petty fights with each other while crime in Albuquerque continues to spin out of control.

In the coming week ABQReport will have much more to say regarding the allegations leveled against APD Chief of Staff John Ross by Geier and his secretary Paulette Diaz. You can read their memos here:

The link to the entire 7 page memo is here:


The link to Chief Geier’s 4 page memo to Internal Affairs is here:


None of this comes as a surprise to Albuquerque residents who have watched their police department leadership bungle one issue after another for the last 10 years. Albuquerqueans had hoped they were voting for a change from the Gorden Eden/R.J. Berry clown show when they elected Tim Keller. Keller appointed ex-APD, and then-current Rio Rancho Police Chief, Mike Geier, to run APD. City residents and the department were full of hope that finally things would turn around. It didn’t take long for those hopes to be trashed.

Almost immediately Geier let everyone know he was a “good old boy and a girl kinda guy” when he refused to fire his Internal Affairs commander after she was caught tampering with records. Geier didn’t seem to care, and it was only continuous media coverage that finally forced Geier to demote this person.

On the heels of this blunder Geier defended, and got Keller to go along for the ride, APD’s inaction when it came to rescuing the 7-year-old-girl with bloody underwear. Remember her? Her teacher had begged APD to protect her. She had even given the responding officers the girls bloody underwear—evidence—which was promptly tossed into the trash.

Let me remind everyone, little girls don’t bleed from their private parts unless they have been abused or have a serious health issue. Yet Keller and Geier defended APD’s do-nothing response. The child was left with her abusing parents until much later when Attorney General Hector Balderas got involved.

Geier and Keller only retracted their original defense of APD when the media and public demanded it. At one of the strangest press conferences I have ever seen, Keller and Geier admitted that APD’s response was not correct and they would investigate. Then they both sat down and watched APD spokesman Simon Drobik contradict what they had just said. And Geier and Keller did nothing. Right then I began to wonder, “Who is in charge at APD?”

Then came the Civilian Police Oversight Agency investigation into Drobik and his colossal amount of overtime pay. The Police Oversight Board and the CPOA recommended termination for Drobik for violating APD policy more than 50 times! What did Geier do? In a move that stunned everyone in the law enforcement community, he defended Drobik’s violations, whitewashed Drobik’s actions and refused to terminate him!

Now it’s one year later and State Auditor Brian Colon and Attorney General Balderas have both opened serious investigations into APD and how our money is being mismanaged. To make themselves look like they are doing something, Geier and Albuquerque Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair opened an Internal Affairs investigation into Drobik, who promptly retired.

I add Nair’s name because she is listed as overseeing APD. Many people at APD say Geier has been placed on the curb, doing nothing more than collecting his $190,000-a-year paycheck and occasionally making public appearances. They say Nair runs everything at APD because Keller doesn’t trust Geier to make the right decisions. But just like inept former Mayor R.J. Berry couldn’t bring himself to fire his worthless police chief, Gorden Eden, Keller doesn’t have the courage to fire Geier.

Now we have that “water-cooler” talk that Geier complained about. Well, if Geier sees water-cooler talk everywhere, he should read his own memo to Internal Affairs that contains serious allegations against his hand-picked chief of staff, John Ross. If Geier’s allegations against Ross are true, then it is a perfect example of Geier’s “grandpa” style leadership method of do nothing and hope that Ross will “do the right thing”.

I wonder why anyone would want to join APD. It seems that Geier’s 40 years in law enforcement are just the same year over and over. He has never learned how to command. Geier seems afraid to crack the whip on his friends, instead praying that they “do the right thing” when caught doing wrong.

Picking the wrong person to lead happens all the time; not everyone is capable of being a good chief. That’s when the community expects Mayor Keller to do his job and hire someone else. But Keller has the same problem Geier has; he wants to be loved. When you fire someone you normally don’t get a lot of love from them.

Geier repeatedly asks his staff to “do the right thing” because he just can’t do it himself. Now we see the same inept leadership in Keller. Keller can’t bring himself to fire Geier. No matter all the embarrassment, missteps and investigations, Keller doesn’t have it in him to replace Geier.

Albuquerque suffers because of this incompetence of leadership.

Albuquerque’s only hope is for Bob Stover to be reincarnated to run APD. If Stover were in charge we would have to replace the windows on the 5th floor because he would have tossed the chief, all the deputy chiefs and chief of staff out of the windows within minutes of his return.

Stover understood leadership; he didn’t care about being loved. He cared about protecting his city and the integrity of APD. Too bad Keller can’t do the “right thing”.”

The link to the ABQ Report article is here:



On Sunday, August 16, 2020, the Albuquerque Journal published a scathing editorial against the APD command staff and Mayor Tim Keller. The editorial comes on the heels of two a front-page stories of APD Chief of Staff John Ross being investigated by Internal Affairs for improper conduct and the release of APD’s tactical plan for the June 15 protest over the Juan de Onate statute. A link to the Albuquerque Journal editorial and a related blog article with further commentary is here:



Sarita Nair was appointed Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) by Mayor Tim Keller in December 2017. As CAO, Ms. Nair is the City’s top senior executive manager, overseeing all 19 departments of municipal government and a budget of over $1 billion. Sarita Nair is the very first woman of color to serve as Chief Administrative Officer for the City. Originally from Pittsburgh, Ms. Nair earned her bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University, a master’s degree from the University of New Mexico School of Community and Regional Planning, and graduated magna cum laude from the University of New Mexico School of Law. As Chief Administrative Office, Sarita Nair is paid at least $186,747.20 a year according to the city’s 250 top wage earners.

Prior to being appointed as the CAO, she was appointed by then State Auditor Tim Keller as the State Auditor’s Chief Government Accountability Officer and General Counsel. Prior to that, Ms. Nair was a shareholder at the law firm of Sutin, Thayer & Browne, representing private companies and public entities in business and governance matters since 2004. As a business lawyer, she worked for a wide range of small and family businesses across New Mexico, to represent both companies and governments in industrial revenue bond and Local Economic Development Act transactions. Prior to her law career, Nair worked in the field of international development and consulted on policy initiatives for a number of organizations including the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the New York City Parks and Recreation Department



Dan Klein asks the very legitimate question “Who is in charge at APD?” Based on the content of the interoffice memos from Chief Geier’s Administrative Support Coordinator Paulette R. Diaz and APD Chief Michael Geier, it would appear that person is Keller’s political operative and Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair. Diaz makes references of interference from the Mayor’s Office and CAO Sarita Nair, saying Chief Geier has been given conflicting directives about how to address the issues with Chief of Staff John Ross and Diaz wrote:

“Those directives do not support you [Chief Geier] running this department and the Mayor’s office should not be entertaining private discussions with John, or even [Deputy Chief of Police] Medina for that matter, that run contrary to adherence to the chain of command or are done for their own personal reasons.”

The statement made by Diaz is clear proof that CAO Nair and ostensibly the Mayor are getting involved into the minutia of enforcing personnel rules and regulations which is very troubling. The transfer of Paulette Diaz from the 5th floor Offices of APD’s Main Office as Chief Geier’s Administrative Support to the Animal Control Department smacks of political retaliation against a whistle blower.

The Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair does have authority under the City Charter the duty and responsibility to enforce the city’s personnel rules and regulations. The facts that Geier and CAO Sarita Nair have not placed Ross on Administrative Leave without pay until the Internal Affairs investigation is completed, have not ordered Ross to return the $2,400 laptop, nor have they rescinded the $10,000 pay raise are clear indications they intend to do absolutely nothing. What is even more troubling is that it was Paulette R. Diaz, who likely falls under the legal definition of a whistle blower, has been transferred to a completely different department, the Animal Welfare Department.

Chief Geier has over 40 years of experience in law enforcement and is a former Rio Rancho Police Chief, he should know what he is doing when managing the Department, but it’s obvious his loyalty to a subordinate is more important to him. Ultimately, its Chief Geier that needs to be held accountable for the mismanagement of the department. Preferential treatment and a sense of entitlement sends the wrong message to APD’s chain of command and in turn the rank and file of the department.

City Hall confidential sources report that Mayor Tim Keller was in constant contact with CAO Sarita Nair during the June 15 Onate Statue Protest at the Albuquerque Museum where a person was shot and that they gave Chief Geier or his Deputy Chief Harold Medina instructions on how they wanted the protest to be handled and how city property was to protected. Neither Nair nor Keller have prior management experience with any law enforcement department and have no experience with tactical plans nor how they are implemented. If Keller and Nair were directly involved and gave instructions on how they wanted APD to handle the June 15 protest, they infused politics in the management of APD.

APD continues to crumble around an inept Mayor that has a difficult time cutting people lose because of a sense of “loyalty.” Former Republican Mayor Richard Berry had what amounted to a blind loyalty relationship with Chief Gordon Eden and could afford to keep Eden, despite his incompetence, to the very end because Berry did not run for a 3rd term. Mayor Tim Keller on the other hand has made it known he is running for a second term in 2021 and still has over a year before the next election and anything can happen.

Things are only getting worse with Sarita Nair trying to run APD with mixed messages and politics. Mayor Tim Keller is more concerned with public relations and being well liked and lacking any real substance in reducing our high crime rates. Mayor Tim Keller needs to get a grip on the fact that its time to thank Chief Geier for his work and to find a new Chief who is willing to run a department without interference, and if that person can’t do the job, move on to someone who can.

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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.