“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Dylan Thomas – 1914-1953
On Wednesday, September 9, during it 10:00 pm news cast, KRQE News 13 reported that effective September 30, APD Chief Michael Geier had been relieved of his duties and was out as APD Chief. News 13 also reported Deputy Chief Harold Medina would take over as acting chief on September 30. When News 13 contacted Mayor Keller’s office to see what sparked the move, Keller’s office would not confirm or deny the report.
PRESS CONFERENCE ANNOUNCING GEIER’S RETIRMENT
On Thursday September 10, APD Chief Geier and Mayor Keller quickly called a joint news conference to announce that APD Chief Geier was retiring for a fourth time from law enforcement after a 47-year career. Geier has been APD Chief for close to 3 full years. Before, Gieir retired from the Chicago Police Department after 20 years, came to work for APD and retired after 20 years, went on to become Chief of the Rio Rancho Police Department, retired there in 2016 and was then appointed by newly elected Mayor Tim Keller in December, 2017 as APD Interim Chief and then permanent Chief.
During the September 10 press conference, Geier announced he was retiring and Mayor Tim Keller announced First Deputy Harold Medina as Interim Chief. Keller announced a national search would be conducted to find a new chief.
At the news conference, Geier said he was retiring to spend more time with his two young grandchildren, whom he and his wife are raising, and said “After 47 years in law enforcement, it’s time to pass the baton [to a younger generation.] Keller and Geier both insisted at the time that 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.
Within a few days, it was revealed that former Chief Michael Geier was indeed forced to retire by Mayor Tim Keller and his Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair and that it was First Deputy Harold Medina that helped orchestrate Geier’s removal. Confidential sources provided information that APD Chief Michael Geier was summoned to a city park by Mayor Tim Keller and CAO Sarita Nair during the September 5 Labor Day Holiday weekend. The purpose of the meeting was that Keller had decided to let Geier go, that his services were no longer needed and it was time for Geier to leave APD.
According to sources Keller told Geier he wanted to take APD in a different direction. Geier was given the choice between termination or retirement and Geier agreed that it was time for him to retire. Soon after their walk in the park, sources say that Geier met CAO Nair in her office at city hall and the meeting became hostile. On Thursday morning, September 10, the details of Geier’s “retirement” were worked out and the press conference was held by Keller where Geier read his statement.
A related blog article report is here:
GEIER BREAKS HIS SILENCE AND MAKES THE MEDIA ROUNDS
Since the September 10 press conference, former APD Chief Geier has sought media interviews to disclose the facts and circumstances surrounding his departure from APD. Needless to say, former Chief Geier has made some astounding disclosures to the media. Geier has revealed that Mayor Keller is heavy handed, preoccupied with public relations, obsessed with his failure to keep his campaign promises to reduce high violent crime rates, implementing the Department of Justice reforms and returning to community-based policing.
THE ALBQURQUE JOURNAL INTERVIEW
On Sunday, September 27, the Albuquerque Journal published a front-page article, complete with colored photographs, reporting on Geier’s accomplishments with APD, 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 link to the report is here:
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 shows”. 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 human 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.”
ACTS OF INSUBORDINATION
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.
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 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. Hours after the tweet, Chief Geier sent an email to his officers saying that tweet wasn’t from him. It turns out it was APD Spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos who sent out the TWEET and apologized.
THE CHANNEL 13 INTERVIEW
On September 29, in a remarkable interview with Channel 13, former Chief Geier gave an extended interview making it clear he was forced out as APD Chief by Mayor Tim Keller. The link to the story is here:
In a remarkable and candid extended interview, a relaxed, quiet yet forceful interview, former APD Geier spoke out and told his version about what really led to his dismissal. Geier made it clear that retirement was not something he was ready for yet and said:
“In this case, I feel I was done wrong and I feel sorry for the citizens and the officers that support me.”
According to Geier, the problems started almost immediately after Keller appointed him Chief. Geier said he was never allowed to do his job. Most recently, Geier said he was growing more frustrated with Mayor Tim Keller and said:
“The Mayor’s not accepting resources and funding for things that he actually, you know, fought for or asked for … [that included funding for an anti-crime initiatives Operation Relentless Pursuit and Operation Legend.]”
EDITOR’S NOTE: FBI statistics reveal that Albuquerque has the dubious distinction of having a crime rate about 194% higher than the national average. In 2018, during Mayor Keller’s first full year in office, there were 69 homicides. In 2019, during Mayor Keller’s second full year in office, there were 82 homicides. Albuquerque had more homicides in 2019 than in any other year in the city’s history. As of September 30, the city has had 57 homicide in 2020. In 2018 during Mayor Keller’ first full year in office, there were 6,789 violent crimes There were 3,885 Aggravated Assaults and 491 Non-Fatal Shootings. In 2019, the category of “Violent Crimes” was replaced with the category of “Crimes Against Persons” and the category includes homicide, human trafficking, kidnapping and assault. In 2019 during Keller’s second full year in office, Crimes Against Persons increased from 14,845 to 14,971, or a 1% increase. The Crimes Against Person category had the biggest rises in Aggravated Assaults increasing from 5,179 to 5,397. On June 26, 2019 the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) released its annual list of cities with the most stolen vehicles reported. Despite a 28% reduction in auto thefts over a two-year period, Albuquerque ranked No. 1 in the nation for vehicle thefts per capita for the third year in a row. On July 30, 2020 the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that Albuquerque is now ranked #2 in the nation for auto theft.
Geier says he came up with plans to bring down the city’s crime problem, but his ideas and proposals went unanswered by Keller and Nair. Geier said:
“So I knew these programs would work, but it seemed like no one listened. ”
Ultimately, crime wasn’t getting any better, but in fact has become worse during Keller’s first two years in office. Geier says Mayor Keller blamed him for the high crime rates and it was obvious to Geier that Keller was looking for a scapegoat. Gieir described it this way:
“I mean there were no other earlier red flags or anything like oh, here’s a warning that you’re doing something wrong, or here’s where you’re off track. We all saw every day that violent crime was high, but then when he said this is on you … ”
Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair strongly disputed Geier’s claims that Keller did not want to listen to him and said:
“That’s untrue. He was in charge of implementing his own ideas. So if there was a delay, he would understand why that was happening. There was no push back from here.”
Nair called all of Geier’s accusations as “petty distraction.”
Geier told News 13 that he is willing to admit to any of his mistakes and take responsibility them during his time as chief but said it is time to finally share his side of the story:
“It’s not to be vindictive or get bitter, it’s just to say and point out where people can do better.”
A link to the Channel 13 interview is here:
THE CHANNEL 4 INTERVIEW
On September 30, KOB Channel 4 did extended news coverage of former Chief Michael Geier based upon a lengthy extended interview with former Chief Gieier. The news story lasted the first full 15 minutes of the 30-minute newscast without any commercial interruptions. Once again, Chief Geier gave a remarkable and candid extended interview, appeared relaxed, was soft-spoken but gave forceful interview. Geier made what Channel 4 labeled as “bomb shell” allegations regarding Mayor Tim Keller, CAO Sarita Nair and Interim Chief Harold Medina. A summary of the Channel 4 report is as follows:
Geier said he was forced out of the department, and he believes Interim Chief Harold Medina played an instrumental role in convincing Mayor Keller to remove him as Chief.
According to Geier:
“This is where things kind of went bad. Medina wanted his agenda, he wanted to be chief, he made that clear from way back. … At some point he convinced the mayor that the dog and pony shows were where it’s at.”
Geier said Deputy Chief Medina and Mayor Tim Keller would often met privately without him. Geier believes the two conspired against him so Medina could be his replacement and said:
“People came and warned me. … In my last month, people were warning me, ‘be careful, he’s going to do this [to you]’.”
Geier said a few days after he tried changing Medina’s duties, Keller asked to meet at a park. That’s when Geier said Keller told him his time with APD was up. Geier stated:
“When I asked [Keller] why, he said, ‘well crime is too high and it’s all on you’.”
Geier acknowledged that Albuquerque has a crime problem, and had this to say:
“It’s my responsibility as much as I can, but I have to depend on my people and there are factors outside my control. … I took it personal. When I saw a homicide, it would inspire me to push harder with what we were doing. The mayor didn’t resist actively, but we could have used more help from the feds and gotten more help because we need more officers on the streets.”
Geier said Keller did not express dissatisfaction with the way he was doing his job as Chief and that is why the firing came as a surprise. Geier said:
“I felt blindsided, but when it came to fruition, now looking back, I see the signs were all there. … He never gave me that.”
INTERIM CHIEF HAROLD MEDINA RESPONDS
Interim APD Chief Medina denied the allegations made by Geier and said the mayor doesn’t need to conspire with anyone to get rid of a police chief. Medina categorically denied that he and the mayor worked together to get rid of Geier. Medina went so far to say that it is he who was stabbed in the back by Geier and said:
“When I returned to Albuquerque, I returned because Chief [Geier] asked me to. And it was his hope that he would give me the experience, and like he stated, he was going to leave after the first four years. … Look back in my personnel file. He sent me to chief developmental classes because it was his hope that he would gain, I would gain enough experience.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Confidential sources have said that in 2017 then Rio Rancho Chief of Police Michael Geier met with State Auditor and candidate for Mayor Tim Keller back 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, to see how he performed before he was made permanent. Keller supposedly also gave Geier a full 4-year commitment to keep Geier during Keller’s first entire term. Keller went so far as to tell city hall observers and insiders that Geier was going nowhere until the end of his first term.
MIXED MESSAGING FROM MAYOR TIM KELLER
Geier accused Mayor Keller of political posturing in an election year for the sake of publicity and not public safety. Geier pointed specifically when President Trump announced Operation Legend to send 35 federal agents to the city and $9 Million in funding to target violent felons. Keller called the federal authorities Trumps “secret police” such as those sent to Portland, Oregon to quell the protests.
According to Gieir he was surprised by Keller’s public comments in that Keller had agreed to apply for the federal funding and actually knew that the federal agents were already here. Keller had been fully briefed by United States Attorney John Anderson.
Geier believes Keller politicized public safety when he commented about Operation Legend. Keller claimed he was concerned that federal agents would be targeting protesters, which was a false accusation. Geier said those concerns were disingenuous because federal agents had been working in Albuquerque for weeks. Geier went so far as to say he even briefed Keller personally and said:
“When we had the conversation, it was right before he gave the big, ‘Trump, it’s going to be like Portland’ [speech], it will be troopers and it will be secret police and everything.”
Geier said Keller spoke with the U.S. Attorney before President Trump made the Operation Legend announcement. Geier said Keller was reassured the agents were not going to have a riot-control mission. According to Geier:
“The next day it’s ‘oh, we don’t want Trump here, it’s all Trump’s fault,’ and I was thinking, how did this become political. … It’s just a simple thing, they are already here. They were already doing results under Relentless Pursuit without the funding.”
CAO SARITA NAIR REACTS
Albuquerque Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair said it’s not uncommon for the city to work with federal agents. However, she said there was a huge outpouring of concern from the community about Operation Legend. She said they had more questions than answers when the initiative was announced. According to Nair:
“We talk to U.S. Attorney John Anderson on a regular basis, whether it’s about DOJ reform, or about operations going on in the city, and again, you know, he is always speaking from his best knowledge. But he, he had not, I don’t think been given the heads up necessarily on the change of branding from Operation Relentless Pursuit to Operation Legend. And we don’t expect him to be able to speak for the unpredictable Trump administration. … When the questions are that big, we want to give him time to make sure that he has the right answers, and to put those in writing so that there’s no question.”
ALLEGATIONS OF MICROMANAGING
Geier claims his job as APD Chief was crippled by the level of micromanagement from Keller and Nair and said:
“The mayor’s office would micromanage in terms of the details of these processes. … For example, I was told I wouldn’t be able to do the final discipline anymore.”
Nair claims the oversight of Geier was necessary because the job wasn’t getting done. She added that there was little engagement from Geier and said:
“You know, this is a specific concern that we had. And when we talk about sort of spending the whole summer expressing our concerns about Mike’s performance, this is a great example of that. So, you know, both the officers within the department and the Department of Justice had huge concerns about Mike’s discipline. It was unfair, it was uneven, and it was unpredictable. And so when we confronted him with these concerns, he said that he didn’t believe he had it in him to improve, and to do discipline better, and he actually chose the deputy chiefs that he wanted to delegate his disciplinary authority to.”
CRIME ALL THE TIME “DOG AND PONY” SHOWS
Geier claimed Keller puts on “dog and pony shows” that do not yield any true results and said:
“There were a lot of press conference, more than I ever saw before. In the past, and I’ve spoken with other chiefs, when it’s about policing, the chief should be doing it. I got called out one time where I did one, somebody from the mayor’s office was watching, and they went back to the mayor and said, ‘Well the chief said this.” I got called in. After that, I saw less and less. It was more orchestrated … It was like, we are going to do this, we are going to rehearse what the questions might be from you guys [in the press]– just anticipate so that it was a scrub version of what may come our way. There is nothing wrong with that, but it became where the order of who was going to speak, and what was going to be said and it couldn’t overlap.”
Geier believes Keller was more interested in controlling the message and his image rather than releasing important information on public safety. Nair claims the mayor was not trying to take credit when he held press conferences. Instead, she said he was trying to give credit to the department, and recognize the officers for their work. According to Nair:
“If Mike had been more engaged on that content, I think he would have actually come forward and say, ‘hey, we should talk to the community because my officers are doing some great work.’ But because he was distracted and dealing with the petty interpersonal disputes, rather than focusing on fighting crime, it was up to the rest of the department and us to say like, ‘let’s recognize some of these great initiatives.’
The link to the full KOB story is here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
APD Chief Michael Geier knew what he was getting himself into when he accepted the job as APD Chief. After all he learned his lessons well under former Chief Ray Schultz, rose up through the ranks under Schultz to become a commander where he met then State Senator Tim Keller. Geier knew that being APD Chief is a political appointment. Mayor’s demand and expect results and Geier knew that he served at the pleasure of the Mayor, but he took the job anyway. Geier knew that he could be terminated without cause or reason, anytime and anywhere, including sitting on a park bench, so he has only himself to blame on many levels for taking the job.
What is painfully obvious is that what former Chief Geier said during the press conference with Mayor Tim Keller announcing his retirement was just another “dog and pony show” done in an attempt to save face and to allow Keller, Nair and Medina deniability that he was being terminated. Geier gave essentially the same reasons for retiring from APD as he did from Rio Rancho as chief. Instead of trying to mislead the public and the press with the joint press conference to save face, Gieir should have cleared out his office, left city hall with his head held high and with an extended middle finger to Keller, Nair and Medina and he should of held his own press conference. Instead, he now makes the media rounds saying he has been wronged and back stabbed and the media are all over it with great relish.
Based on the news coverage of the forced retirement of Chief Michael Geier, it is clear he is not going gently into the good night, and there is no reason he should. Former Chief Geier has devoted 47 years of his life to law enforcement, he returned to Albuquerque to serve as Chief, and he really did not need the job. But Mayor Tim Keller, Sarita Nair and Interim Chief Harold Medina have thrown Geier under the bus looking for someone to blame for all the city’s high crime rates without taking any sort of responsibility themselves, especially Tim Keller.
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”. 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.
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 such as CAO Sarita Nair he has surrounded himself with in his office.
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.
Mayor Tim Keller has now been exposed as nothing more than a publicity seeking political opportunist with a smile on his face and a grin in his voice with his eyes focused on another 4 year term or higher office unable to deal with yet another APD crisis. This time it’s a crisis of Keller’s own making and he has little to show for what he has done to bring down the city’s crime rates. 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 who he considered a friend and one who brought him back to APD, he will have no problem betraying a politician like Tim Keller.
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.
Given all the interviews given by former APD Michael Geier regarding his forced retirement and the Albuquerque Journal front page coverage, it is not at all likely this will be the last time the press and the public hears from former APD Chief Michael Geier. It is more likely than not Geier will want more than his pound of flesh out of the rear ends of Keller, Nair and Medina especially when crime increases.
Keller now has an Interim Chief who wants to be made permanent and who has a nefarious past who will lead APD in the reactionary manner that will result in disastrous outcomes. All former Chief Geier has to do at this point is sit back and watch as APD continues to disintegrate under the dynamic duo of Harold Medina and Sarita Nair both whose pay each approach $200,000 a year making them the highest paid city hall employees. It’s good to be retired and
“Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. …
Do not go gentle into that good night.”
Dylan Thomas – 1914-1953
LINKS TO RELATED BLOG ARTICLES ARE HERE
Mayor Keller On Bob Clark Morning Show Expresses Confidence In Interim Chief Harold Medina; The DOJ Investigation Of APD’s Culture Of Aggression, APD’s Killing Of Mentally ILL Ken Ellis, The Harold Medina Interview