On Saturday September 26, the Albuquerque Journal published one of the most damaging investigative reports it has printed against a public official in some time. It was damaging starting with the front page, bold headline blaring “CHECKERED PAST” with subhead line “Interim APD chief Harold Medina tied to three fatal police shooting; cites lack of reforms at the time” all the way to the very last sentence of the article. The Journal added another related story for extra measure with the headlines “Interim Chief seeks post permanently. As “ a street cop” Medina says he is fit for top job.”
The next day, September 27, the Albuquerque Journal published yet another front-page article, this time reporting on Former APD Chief Geier and the circumstances surrounding Mayor Tim Keller’s forcing Geier to retire and Interim Chief Medina’s efforts to replace Geier. The Journal front page, bold headline blared “Ousted chief, Mayor’s Office trade accusations”
The links to all three Albuquerque Journal reports are here:
This blog article is a deep dive into the 3 articles with additional media coverage with Commentary and Analysis.
MEDINA’S REACTIVE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS AND FAILED LEADERSHIP RESULTS IN DEATH
The first Journal story reported on 3 police officer involved shootings that were tide directly to Harold Medina. The report also addresses Medina’s involvement with the June 15 Onate protest where one person was shot.
All 4 cases reveal Medina’s actions, his failure to act and supervise, his reactive decision-making process resulting in disastrous outcomes, even death, and reflecting failed leadership. A short summation of each of the 3 shootings are:
1. THE 2004 SHOOTING OF DOMINIC MONTOYA: Harold Medina has the tragic distinction of shooting and killing a 14-year-old Cibola High School student in 2004 when he was an APD field officer. At the time of the shooting, Harold Medina was 30 years old and was a seven-and-a-half-year veteran of APD. According to news accounts, 14-year-old boy Dominic Montoya went to Taylor Ranch Baptist Church looking for prayer. Montoya was reported as saying he was possessed by demons and went to church for help. Some one noticed the teenager was concealing a weapon and APD was called. It turned out it was a BB gun and when APD showed up, the 14-year-old was fatally shot by police after pointing the BB gun at the officers. It was the APD Officer Harold Medina who fired 3 shots at the 14-year-old, Cibola High School Student with two hitting the juvenile in the abdomen. It was reported that the BB gun was indistinguishable from a real gun and Medina said he was in fear for his life.
2. THE FEBRUARY 8, 2009 SHOOTING OF ANDREW LOPEZ: On February 8, 2009, the shooting of 19-year-old Andrew Lopez by APD officer Justin Montgomery occured. Harold Medina was “off-duty” supervisor when Lopez was killed. The reasons why Medina was off duty have not been disclosed. Medina’s assigned APD’s officers he was supposed to supervise attempted to pull over Lopez when Lopez stopped the vehicle, exited, and ran pursued by Montgomery who shot at Lopez three times with one shot causing a non-lethal bullet wound. Lopez fell to the ground and lay motionless on his back. Lopez was unarmed. The officer fired the fourth and final shot into Lopez’s chest, piercing his lung and heart and causing his death. The officer said Lopez had a gun. The truth is Lopez had no gun and none was found at the scene.
In a bench trial in state court, the judge found that the officers’ testimony about the threat they perceived from Lopez was not credible. The judge concluded that the shooting was unreasonable. The judge further found that the training provided to APD officers on use of deadly force “is not reasonable and is designed to result in the unreasonable use of deadly force.” The judge found the City principally responsible for Lopez’s death and awarded his estate approximately $4.25 million.
3. THE JANUARY 13, 201O SHOOTING OF KENNETH ELLIS: On January 13, 2010, Kenneth Ellis, III, a 25-year-old veteran who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and was shot and killed by APD police officers. The officers suspected Ellis of vehicle theft and pulled him over in a parking lot. Ellis exited the vehicle holding a gun pointed to his head. Ellis continued to hold the gun to his head as he made several phone calls and the officers attempted to negotiate with him. After several minutes, an officer shot Ellis one time in the neck and killed him.
A 12-page transcribed interview taken on January 13, 2010 of then APD Lieutenant Harold Medina reveals his involvement in the shooting and killing of Ken Ellis. Lt. Harold Medina admits that he was at the scene, that he authorized the use of deadly force on Kenneth Ellis and he did not attempt to deescalate the confrontation. APD Lieutenant Harold Medina became “involved” by being armed with a rifle and “covering” Ellis. In his interview Medina states he was prepared to use deadly force himself. A judge in a state civil suit granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that the shooting of Ellis violated the Fourth Amendment. A jury later returned a verdict finding the City and the officer who shot him liable for Ellis’ death and awarding more than $10 million in damages.
A link to an August 9 blog article entitled “APD Chief Medina Says In 2010 Interview He Authorized Use Of Deadly Force In Shooting Of Mentally ILL Ken Ellis” is here:
Former APD Chief Geier was on the critical incident review board at the time of the Kenneth Ellis shooting. Geier said he remembered Medina being told he should have de-escalated the situation or pulled some of the officers back. According to Geier:
“They did a good job of securing that area but he sat there with his rifle out, no commands, no direction. … By today’s standards that would be pretty severe leadership failure to de-escalate. You would have been demoted for something like that, if not worse.”
MEDINA’S INVOLVEMENT WITH THE ONATE PROTEST
First Deputy Chief Medina was heavily involved in overseeing the department’s response to local protests against racial injustice and police brutality. Medina has been severely criticized over the June 15 demonstration for the removal of the Oñate statue where a counter protester shot and seriously injured a protester. APD’s handling of the protest was heavily criticized by Albuquerque City Councilors Pat Davis and Isaac Benton who called for a public accounting of why the officers didn’t intervene sooner. Second Judicial District Attorney Raul Torrez blasted APD for its mishandling of the shooting investigation.
Text messages show that before the shooting Medina and others in the command staff were warned that the heavily-armed New Mexico Civil Guard was there. Medina was asked if there was a plan to de-escalate. The Journal reported that shortly before 6:30 p.m., an APD spokesman, sent a text to 1st Deputy Chief Medina, Chief Geier and another deputy chief, warning that the militia group had shown up. The text sent said:
“This will turn out really bad if those jokers assault the protesters. … Even the intimidation is troubling. Any ideas about de-escalating and getting them to back down?”
Medina replied by texting:
“We are planning … [to] stay neutral”.
Medina ordered that if a crime was committed and the protest became violent, only then would APD move in and make arrests. The peaceful protest did escalate into violence. A man armed with a handgun got into a confrontation with demonstrators and shot and seriously injured a protester.
Medina later said in an interview he had been told from other police chiefs in the country that having officers in riot gear at the protests could escalate tensions and cause the crowd to turn on them.
The exhibit that the Onate statue was part of a commissioned art piece in front of the Albuquerque Museum that cost $800,000 in taxpayer money. Mayor Keller was aware that the Museum Board of Director’s 2 weeks earlier had decided to take the statue down. Keller has never said why he did not order the statue to be taken down before the protest.
During a September 23 interview with radio personality Bob Clark on his morning show, Mayor Keller defended the Onate Protest TACT plan saying it was no different than over 40 other past protests tactical plans that were very successful, which is simply not true. The Onate protest TACT plan was tailored to fit the Onate protest in front of the Albuquerque Museum. The TACT plan states that APD was to “stand down” when it came to the statue while APD waited in the Albuquerque Museum until dispatched to quell a violent protest if in fact one erupted. It was First Deputy Harold Medina that characterized the destruction of the statue as mere “property damage”. The day after the protest, APD was severely criticized and scrutinized over the decision not to send officers into the fray much sooner and failure to infiltrate the crowd.
KELLER’S SEARCH FOR HIS “UNICORN” CHIEF
On September 23, Mayor Tim Keller was interviewed by radio personality Bob Clark on his morning show. Clark asked Keller about the appointment of Harold Medina as Interim Chief. Keller said Medina was the best person for the job, he was part of the original team that former Chief Geier assembled that brought stability to APD 3 years ago and he believed Medina understood APD. Keller noted that Medina when he was with APD worked in field services and after he left APD and retired, Medina went on to be Chief at Laguna Pueblo.
Clark asked about finding a new chief pointing out the DOJ reforms, the city crime problem and the fact that the next Mayors race is next year. Keller’s response was that the finding of a new chief will be “interesting” because of the time line. Keller said he hoped that there would be a lot of applicants who may be Chief elsewhere and who will want to leave their community because of what is happening nationally. Keller even suggested he hopes that there are those who want to retire and come to Albuquerque. Keller did make it clear that he was comfortable with Medina as long as he needs him.
Bob Clark challenged Keller noting when Keller was first elected that Keller brought back as Chief and Deputy Chiefs personnel who had retired with APD and did not hire people from “outside” who could give “fresh eyes’ to the department. Keller’s response was that “our town is unique when it comes to crime and being under a consent decree”. Keller made light of the problem and said “you want a unicorn” who knows crime, knows the community, and who is committed the DOJ reforms. Keller said finding a magical unicorn was not possible and it will hard to find such a person to do the job. Until then, Keller said he had confidence in Medina as the national search continues.
Interim Chief Medina has now said he intends to apply to be appointed permanent APD Chief. Medina added that in the event he does not get the job, he is young enough to find a Chief’s job elsewhere. Medina has applied for a Chief’s job in Colorado but he did not get it.
A link to the entire 16 minute Bob Clark interview is here:
GEIER SAYS HE DID NOT WANT TO RETIRE, MAYOR EXERTS POLITICAL INFLUENCE OVER APD MANAGEMENT DECISIONS
On September 23, when Mayor Tim Keller was interviewed on the Bob Clark Morning show on KKOB he was questioned in no uncertain terms if the “11th floor”, a common reference to the location of the Mayor’s office, is managing the police department. Keller categorically denied the accusation and made a “political pivot” saying it was disrespectful to APD and to law enforcement to question who were making the decisions. Keller went so far as calling the accusations “myth” spread out over the internet. During a previous city council meeting, CAO Sarita Nair, when responding to a similar question from a city councilor, denounced the accusation of micro managing as “internet rumor mongering.”
Link to Bob Clark interview is here:
A PARK BENCH TALK LEADING TO A “FORCED RETIREMENT”
On September 4, then APD Chief Michael Geier told the Mayor’s Office he wanted to reassign First Deputy Chief Harold Medina because Medina was insubordinate and failed to carry out a project aimed at reducing gun violence in Albuquerque by the end of the year. Geier is quoted as saying:
“I told her I really need to switch him; he’s failed in this endeavor; this is a primary goal. … If you’re a deputy chief and you work against something, you might as well be the criminal on the street.”
Geier said he was told by CAO Sarita Nair he could not do that without Mayor Keller’s approval. Three days later, on Labor Day, Geier says he was summoned to a Northeast Heights park for a meeting with Keller. Geier said when he arrived, he sat on a park bench with Mayor Keller who “ had a hat on and sunglasses; he was very much incognito”. Keller asked Geier if he had thought about retiring. Geier said:
“I knew what’s coming, and I said, ‘No I’m not quite ready. I’ve got a few more things’ ‘Well,’ he [Keller] goes, ‘crime is out of control, and that’s on you.’ ”
After his meeting with Mayor Keller, Geier met with CAO Nair and Keller the next day at City Hall. Both of them told Geier he had to retire and that First Deputy Chief Harold Medina would be appointed Interim Chief.
A link to a September 14 related blog article entitled “Geier’s Walk In The Park Ends With His Retirement” is here:
At the news conference announcing Geier’s retirement, Keller said the decision for Geier to retire was a “mutual decision” after lengthy discussions. However, Keller said there were many “small distractions” and “big issues facing the city”. Keller said he saw the need “for increased progress and for a faster rate of change” at APD.
During the press conference announcing his retirement, Geier said he was retiring to spend more time with his two young grandchildren, whom he and his wife are raising, and to hand over the reins to someone who is younger and has more energy. According to the Journal report, Chief Geier left the news conference early because he “couldn’t stomach” sticking around for the end. Geier told the Journal it was true that he missed spending time with his family but he insisted he asked if he could stay through the end of the year instead of being forced out immediately. Mayor Keller told him no and Medina took over as acting chief.
POLITICAL MICROMANAGING OF A POLICE DEPARMENT
Former APD Chief Geier sharply criticized Mayor Keller and his administration for constant micromanagement of APD. According to Geier, he could not even hold his own press conferences and was told what to say at the ones he was present to participate. Geier said the news press conferences were “dog and pony show”. Geier alleged that the Mayor’s Office set APD’s priorities and dictated staffing structures.
As an example of micro management by the Keller Administration, Geier said he was given a “matrix” that listed projects that needed to be carried out and specific deadlines. Geier said he wasn’t allowed to call his own briefings without including the mayor and was handed talking points from the administration.
One particular and very insulting moment for Geier was when he was told not to speak to the media until after Mayor Keller arrived. It was the time when bones were found buried in a West Side dirt lot that was being made into a park. Initially, it appeared to be a huge development in the notorious West Mesa serial killer case that Geier himself had worked on the investigation years ago after the burial site was found in 2009. The bones turned out to be ancient and not connected to the serial killings.
“The chief should be able to say, ‘We’re going to do the press conference [and] you don’t even have to be there, Mr. Mayor, unless you want to see what’s out there. … I don’t want to get out in front of the cameras, but if someone knows something about it, that’s the person you want out there. … [In the case of the West Side serial killings] … I don’t think anyone knows it better than me. … I’m not a cop anymore; I’m just a politician’s aide is the way I [will] describe it.”
SHARP EXCHANGE OF ACCUSATIONS
The Keller Administration responded to Geier’s accusations by saying that Geier should be taking responsibility for what happened under his watch. Mayor Keller’s Chief of Staff Mike Puelle said in a statement:
“It’s sad to see [Geier] take the low road on the way out. … [a lot of people] put in a lot of hours propping up Geier … Unfortunately, he was an absentee Chief much of 2020, rarely at important incidents like officer-involved shootings, critical COVID actions, protests, staff meetings, or press conferences. … Albuquerque needs the Chief to be able to put in the 80 hours a week this job takes, on scene, on camera and side-by-side with our officers who work so hard in the field. … The job just wasn’t getting done. Crime is still too high, reforms hit snags and HR [Human Resources] squabbles were a distraction. … As a courtesy to Geier and out of respect for his service in law enforcement, he was given the opportunity to retire.”
Former Chief Geier became very indignant to the charge that he was an absentee chief and said he was forced to retire for the wrong reasons. Geier said he put in long hours, was often the last person to leave the office, ate lunch at his desk almost every day and took work home to spend hours on work at night.
Chief Geier put his work ethic this way:
“As chief, I had to delegate many duties to my deputy chiefs in their areas of responsibility because my job was so demanding at times. … I even attended meetings, events and such after work hours and on weekends, so it’s pretty ludicrous to even suggest I was an absentee chief. … Ask my family how much time I spent trying to keep up with the never-ending demands of my job as chief. I never took a sick day and did not take a vacation in 2020. … I don’t have … closure; I just feel a little bit that this was unfair. … I could have been given more time, and I feel like it really was for the wrong reasons that this happened.”
A link to a September 17 related blog article entitled “Who Is In Charge At APD? Answer: CAO Sarita Nair” is here:
MEDINA UNDERMINES GEIER’S GUN VIOLENCE PLAN
As gun violence continued to increase, many plans were formulated to address it. In 2019, in response to the continuing increase in violent crime rates, Mayor Keller scrambled to implement 4 major crime fighting programs to reduce violent crime: the Shield Unit, Declaring Violent Crime “Public Health” issue, the “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP program) and the Metro 15 Operation program. Based upon the statistics, the Keller programs have had very little effect on reducing violent crime. Geier told the Journal that he and a commander created a violence reduction plan that included scheduling regular meetings and brainstorming sessions for officers to talk with their supervisors about patterns in fatal shootings and shootings with injury in their area commands and come up with plans to address it.
Graphs provided by Geier to the Journal showed that between January 1 and Tuesday, September 22, there was a 16% increase in shooting murders from 37 to 43. The goal was 31 or fewer. Shootings with injury increased 27% citywide, from 152 to 193, and 5 of the 6 area commands saw more or as many shootings with injury as this time the year before. The Valley Area Command, which encompasses Downtown, was the only one to see a decrease; shootings dropped 38% from 34 to 21, which is below the goal. However, Geier speculates, that could be because bars and activities that typically draw crowds and violence have been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Geier told the Journal that Medina never embraced the gun violence plan and that Medina went so far as to not instruct his officers to follow it through. Geier said the program was delayed in launching by six weeks, and those under Medina’s command had to undergo remedial training on the project again because they still didn’t understand it. Medina told Geier it was too confusing.
Geier wrote in a memo to Medina dated August 31:
“We had a number of discussions over the next several months and it appeared that you made little effort to bring your people on board. … On May 19, 2020, I had to issue Special Order 20-40 in an effort to make up for lost time in our efforts to reduce gun violence. Rather than reductions, APD saw significant increases for over 4 months in this regard.”
In his memo to Medina, Geier wrote the startling comment that he felt like it’s “almost as if you made an effort to make this program fail … [and your] behavior has “bordered on insubordination.” Geier wrote Medina that he intended to move him from the field services bureau. “I plan on discussing this with [CAO] Sarita [Nair] at our weekly update meeting this coming Friday, September 4th. I expect you to handle your new position as a professional so as to renew my faith and trust in you.” Geier made the very serious mistake of giving Medina a heads up that he would be talking to Nair because what Medina did was run right away to Nair.
Geier said he left the memo on Medina’s desk and didn’t see him again until after he was told to retire. “He probably just threw it away,” Geier said. Medina for his part said he never saw the memo. Given subsequent events, it’s highly likely Medina threw it away by giving the memo to CAO Sarita Nair.
When the Journal reporter asked if Geier’s gun violence plan will continue now that Geier has left, Keller’s Chief of Staff Puelle said:
“This is the kind of finger pointing and petty refusal to take responsibility for the department that we want out of the way. We are now optimistic that APD will now be able to ramp up our gun violence reduction efforts.”
THE GHOST WRITER “TWEET”
Geier described instances in which the mayor’s communications staff, and his own spokesman, attributed statements to him that he didn’t make. The most egregious example was a TWEET about Jacob Blake, the African American who was shot 7 times in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August.
On August 25, the following tweet about the Blake shooting was sent out on the APD Twitter Account attributed to APD Chief Michael Geier:
“The senseless shooting of Jacob Blake once again shows why our community and communities across the nation are seeking justice and change. On Behalf of APD, I offer my sympathy to Jacob Blake’s family and his children who witnessed this disturbing act. I sincerely hope he makes a full recovery.”
Hours after the tweet, Chief Geier sent an email to his officers saying that tweet wasn’t from him. In the email to his officers, Geier said:
“Earlier today a statement was posted attributed to me that I had not prepared or approved. This was an error and will be addressed. With respect to the officer involved shooting in Wisconsin, I have faith in the justice system that the facts of the incident will ultimately be revealed and comments by me about that incident without all the facts would be premature and inappropriate.
I would hope that this is not similar to the incident like we saw in Minneapolis since that had a negative impact on the reputations of all officers across our nation. I was not even aware of this incident in Kenosha until after this statement was posted. I would never have prejudged or jumped to conclusions without having more information. I apologize for any misunderstanding and want to assure everyone that these were not my words.”
It turns out it was APD Spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos who sent out the TWEET and Gallegos issued the following statement:
“Understanding that our own community in Albuquerque has concerns about the use of force by police, I recommended a statement from Chief Geier to acknowledge the incident in Wisconsin and demonstrate our hardworking officers’ commitment to our ongoing reform efforts. The statement was posted on social media before chief had an opportunity to review it. When we realized the oversight, the post was removed.”
A Link to related news coverage is here:
According to Geier, the original TWEET that he did not write and sent out caused a firestorm and Geier had this to say:
“[Union President Shaun] Willoughby was already wanting to do a no-confidence vote [on me], the APD wife group was ready to hang me, and there was a law enforcement group with 55,000 members that had my picture on it saying it’s not enough that I have bad shootings in my own town, I have to criticize some others.”
The link to a September 8 related blog article entitled “An Unauthorized Tweet Reported Across The City Reflects APD Chief Michael Geier Not In Charge of APD” is here:
MEDINA’S DENIAL OF RUMOR MILL INVOLVEMENT
In November, 2019, Chief Geier felt compelled to email all APD officers refuting rumors that he planned to retire in December. The email, with the subject line “rumor control,” said that he knows of at least 12 people in the department who perpetuated this rumor and that it was detrimental to the organization and him.
Throughout the year, Geier said, the rumors escalated, and it was said he had COVID, and then, Alzheimer’s disease. According to Geier:
“Two to three weeks before Labor Day, Medina started saying, ‘They’re going to fire you, put me in as interim chief, and do a nationwide search. … So about three to four times, he tells me that. …They didn’t fire me, but they forced me out.”
For his part, Medina said he did not spread any rumors and says he told others to stop. He also said the department continues to be rife with rumors, but he’s willing to send a message from the top that he’s not going to tolerate that kind of behavior.
According to Medina:
“I think that’s where a good strong, 24/7, engaged chief is important for the city, for any police department. … I have the personality that there is a little bit of fear that the chief is going to do something if something comes up.”
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
All 3 Albuquerque front page stories cut all the way to the bone discrediting Mayor Tim Keller and CAO Sarita Nair. Geier makes Keller and Nair look like fools and it’s likely the public will believe Geier over Keller and Nair. It is highly likely Keller’s trade mark smile on his face and grin in his voice will be gone for at least a few days after reading the articles and Geier’s article in particular.
On September 23, Mayor Tim Keller was interviewed on the Bob Clark Morning show on KKOB. Keller was questioned in no uncertain terms if the “11th floor”, a common reference to the location of the Mayor’s office, is managing the police department. Keller categorically denied the accusation and said it was disrespectful to APD and to law enforcement to question who were making the decisions and he called such accusations “myth” spread out over the internet.
During a previous city council meeting, CAO Sarita Nair, when responding to a similar question from a city councilor, denounced the accusation of micro managing as “internet rumor mongering.”
A CRISIS OF HIS OWN MAKING
Mayor Tim Keller is now looking like a fool, wringing his hands, unable to deal with yet another APD crisis. This time it’s a crisis of Keller’s own making. Keller has forced his first, handpicked appointed APD Chief to retire in order to appoint an insubordinate Harold Medina with a nefarious past who was hell bent on orchestrating Geier’s removal and taking his job as Chief. Keller better watch his back, because if Medina betrayed a Police Chief he will have no problem betraying a politician.
Confidential sources have said that then Rio Rancho Chief of Police Michael Geier met with candidate for Mayor Tim Keller back in late 2016 before Keller announced for Mayor in January, 2017 and before Geier retired as Chief of the Rio Rancho Police Department on February 18, 2017. The very same sources have said that it was during the 2017 election Keller made the commitment in private to appoint Geier Interim chief to keep him for a while and to see how he performed before he was made permanent. Keller supposedly also gave Geier a full four-year commitment and to keep Geier during Keller’s first entire term. Keller went so far as to tell people that Geier was going nowhere until the end of his first term.
It is no secret at city hall that Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair is very much involved with the day to day management of APD and that Interim Chief Harold Medina have developed a strong working relationship with CAO Nair. That relationship has now been fully exposed for the world to see. According to city hall sources Interim Chief Harold Medina will do whatever he is told to do by CAO Nair and Mayor Tim Keller. Confidential APD command staff also reported that Deputy Chief Harold Medina made it known to them that he intended to be the next Chief of APD sooner rather than latter even if took orchestrating Chief Geier’s departure relying upon CAO Sarita Nair’s support.
When asked if the mayor’s office was aware of Medina’s past, Keller’s Chief of Staff Mike Puelle wrote in a statement:
“Acting Chief Medina has been very open about these lessons learned and how he applies them to the ongoing reform efforts at the department.” If this is true, why the hell did Mayor Keller himself go forward with making Harold Medina Interim Chief unless Keller was never told of Medina’s past and Keller needed a quick scape goat to blame for the city’s high crime rates which turned out to be Geier. After all, Keller told Geier on a park bench “crime is out of control, and that’s on you.”
A TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE “WHITE KNIGHT”
When then State Auditor Tim Keller was running for Mayor in 2017, he was swept into office riding on a wave of popularity he orchestrated as State Auditor for a mere one year and six months of his 4 year term in office combating “waste, fraud and abuse” in government and promising “transparency”. Keller no doubt crafted his “white night” image as NM State Auditor with the help of his longtime political consultant Alan Packman who Keller paid literally thousands for “consulting services” while Keller was still New Mexico State Auditor. Packman is now working for the city’s 311 call center and paid over $80,000 a year.
A link to a related blog article dated August 9, 2018 entitled “Keller and Packman Together Again” is here:
During his successful 2017 campaign for Mayor, Keller promised sweeping changes with APD. Keller promised a national search for a new APD Chief and a return to Community based policing and increasing the size of APD. He proclaimed he was uniquely qualified to be Mayor because of his background. In 2017, Democrat Tim Keller was elected Mayor in a runoff with a 62.2% vote against Republican Dan Lewis who garnered 37.8% of the vote.
Keller looks great on paper, he is young, charismatic, has a beautiful young family and he is likeable. More importantly to an ever-increasing Democrat city, Keller is a “progressive democrat.” Truth was and still is, Tim Keller is too good to be true. When running for Mayor, Keller had zero knowledge of the extent of how serious the problems that were found by the Department of Justice and the “culture of aggression.” Keller was not interested in learning about the APD “culture of aggression” in that he did not bother to attend any one of the many Federal court hearings on the APD reforms when he was running for Mayor. Keller has no background nor practical experience in law enforcement and now his inexperience is showing, as is the inexperience of the political operatives he has surrounded himself with in his office.
During Mayor Tim Keller’s first 8 months in office, Keller did not make the dramatic management changes he promised. Keller appointed APD retired past management of the department and past practices. The appointed Chief and Deputy Chiefs were not outsiders at all but have been with APD for a number of years and are eligible for retirement whenever they want.
HIGH APPROVAL RATING
A recent poll found that Mayor Keller has a 60% approval rating after almost a full 3 years of his 4 year term and his approval rating makes him the automatic front runner as he seeks a second term. Mayor Keller’s approval rating may be high now, but that may be short lived. The poll was taken before Keller forced APD Chief Geier out and the cautionary statements made by the pollster that crime is still lurking as the biggest issue facing the city. The City’s homicide rate is now at 57 and likely to break the all-time record of 82 for a second year in a row under Keller’s term. There has been negligible change in the violent crime rates.
It was a very high voter turnout of progressive democrats that swept Keller into office. The progressives want and demand strong police oversight and the DOJ reforms. Both Geier and Medina are part of the very “culture of aggression” created and that brought the DOJ to Albuquerque. The progressive and Sanders supporters are purists and its speculative at this point if they will be happy with Keller appointing Medina. If it’s actually enough for the progressives to find another candidate for Mayor, only time will tell.
ROOT CAUSES OF CULTURE OF AGRESSION
It was APD’s past management practices that resulted in the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice that lead to the federal consent decree. The DOJ reviewed at least 18 police officer involved shootings and made findings that APD had a pattern of excessive use of force and deadly force. The litany of cases includes 4 Cases where $21.7 Million was paid for APD’s excessive use of force and deadly force. $64 Million has been paid out in taxpayer money for 42 police officer shootings in 8 years. A link to a related blog is here:
APD leadership and management is now crumbling around Mayor Tim Keller who is failing to keep his campaign promises of reducing high crime rates, returning to community-based policing, increasing the size of APD and implementing the DOJ reforms. Keller, after close to 3 years in office and making it know he is running for another term, says himself that he is not satisfied with the high crime rates and the DOJ reforms have stalled. The abrupt departure of Chief Geier no doubt will have an impact on implementing the DOJ mandated reforms as will the appointment of Harold Medina as Interim Chief.
ANOTHER SHAM NATIONAL SEARCH
Mayor Keller is now faced with the very difficult task of finding and hiring a new APD Chief 13 months before the November 2021 election for Mayor. That may not happen because whoever is appointed by Keller likely will know they will be out of a job if Keller is not elected to another 4-year term.
Interim Chief Harold Medina has already said he will apply to be permanent Chief when the national search starts. If this sounds at all familiar, it is. This is the exact same sham strategy Keller used to make Michael Geier permanent Chief. Soon after being appointed Interim Chief, then Interim Chief Geier made it know he was applying to be permanent chief. After the so-called national search, Keller waived his magic wand and “presto chango”, Keller appointed Geier as permanent APD Chief saying that it turned out that the most qualified person to be Chief was already here and it was Interim Chief Geier.
MEDINA PART OF THE PROBLEM
Interim Chief Harold Medina is part of the very problem that brought the Department of Justice (DOJ) here in the first place. Any one in APD command staff who may have assisted, contributed or who did not stop the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice and who have resisted the reform process has no business being APD Chief or Deputy Chief for that matter Interim Chief. Harold Medina was and still is part of the problem and culture of aggression within APD. It is not at all likely, despite whatever public comments he makes, that Interim APD Chief Medina will ever get behind the Federal mandated reforms which should disqualify him from being the interim APD Chief and for that matter the new permanent Chief.
APD needs a clean sweep in management and philosophy to remove anyone who assisted, contributed or who did not stop the culture of aggression found by the Department of Justice and who have resisted the reform process during the last 3 years of the consent decree, including Harold Medina. Keller is now running our of time and it is very doubtful Medina will be able to deliver.
One thing is for certain, Interim Chief Harold Medina is not the magical “unicorn APD chief” that Keller is looking for nor what APD and the City needs right now. For that reason, Mayor Tim Keller needs to bite the bullet, thank Medina for his years of service and replace Medina immediately as Interim Chief. If not, Mayor Tim Keller needs to wait until after the 2021 Mayor’s election which is a mere 13 months away.
Perhaps the time has come for voters to also change who is Mayor because Keller’s job performance of selecting competent and effective Police Chiefs and APD management is just not cutting it. Who knows, Former APD Chief Michael Geier just may be approached by the Republican party to run for Mayor in 2021 against Democrats Mayor Tim Keller and Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales. If that happens, the City will have a repeat of the 2009 Mayor’s race between Mayor Chavez, Richard Romero and RJ Berry.
One thing for certain, given all the media attention involving Geier’s forced retirement and the Journal front page coverage, with a scathing editorial anticipated, it is highly likely this will not be the last time the public hears from former APD Chief Michael Geier. It is more likely than not Geier will want his pound of flesh out of the rear ends of Keller, Nair and Medina especially when crime increases and Chief Harold Medina leads a department in the reactionary manner he is known for that has resulted in at least two deaths.