Editor’s Note: This is an in-depth report of the 3 APD Chief finalists, their interviews and the 3 critical questions they need to have answered before taking the job.
On September 10, Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Michael Geier held a press conference to announce that Chief Geier was retiring after 2 years and 9 months as APD Chief. Keller announced a national search would be conducted to find a new chief.
Within days after the departure of Chief Geier, the city posted and advertised the position nationally. The Keller Administration hired a consultant to help search for applicants. The search resulted in 39 applicants who submitted their resumes. A screening process was initiated and applicants were sorted into 25 “qualified” candidates and 9 “unqualified” candidates. On January 1, 2021, the names of all applicants were released.
3 FINALISTS ANNOUNCED
The City of Albuquerque has narrowed its search for a new police chief to 3 candidates. On January 20, 2019, Mayor Tim Keller announced 3 finalists for Chief of Police. The finalists are:
1. Joseph Sullivan
2. Clinton Nichols
3. Interim Chief Harold Medina
A link providing Links to each of the 3 resumes can be found here:
1. JOSEPH SULLIVAN, FORMER DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF PATROLS OPERATION FOR PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT
Mr. Sullivan is a native of Philadelphia and spent 38 years with the Philadelphia Police Department and has held all positions within the department except all but two. In February 2020, Sullivan retired as the Deputy Commissioner of Patrol Operations. Sullivan elected to leave the Philadelphia Police Department as a new chief was appointed to take over the department. As the Deputy Commissioner of Patrol Operations, Sullivan oversaw a force of 4,698 sworn and civilian personnel, two and a half times than APD which employees 1,678 full time positions.
According to his resume, Sullivan led data-driven crime fighting strategies and revamped a “poorly performing” Community Relations Unit. Sullivan was appointed as the department’s liaison to the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federation and was the first official liaison to the LGBTQ community. According to Sullivan, he helped craft a “nationally recognized model policy governing police interactions with trans-citizens” and established a dedicated page on the Philadelphia Police website to assist the LGBTQ community in accessing police and city services.
2. COMMWERCE CHIEF OF POLIE CLINTON NICHOLS
Clinton Nichols is the chief of police in Commerce City, Colorado, a northern suburb of Denver. Nichols served in the Marine Corps before starting his career in law enforcement in the early ’90s. Before he went to Colorado, Chief Nichols was employed by the Las Vegas Police Department in Nevada from 1992 to 2015. His last position there was police commander and he oversaw the Violent Crimes Section, the Career Criminal Section and the Robbery Section. Chief Nichols began his work with Commerce City in 2015 as a commander. He worked his way up to the position of chief in 2017.
The Commerce City Police Department has 142-employees, a relatively small department compared with APD that employs 1,678 full time positions that includes 578 civilian staff and funding for 1,100 sworn police. In 2016, at the request of city officials and before Nichols took over as chief, the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services launched a review of the Commerce City Police Department. The review, known as Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance, was in response to “serious internal challenges and concerns pertaining to officer misconduct,” according to a Department of Justice news release.
3. APD Interim Chief Harold Medina
Interim APD Chief Harold Medina was the only named applicant for Chief from within the ranks of APD who has applied for the position. Medina has been serving as interim APD chief since his predecessor, Michael Geier, was “fired-retired” in September. Medina began his law enforcement career with APD in 1995 and work for APD for 20 years before retiring in 2014 as a Commander. In 2014, Medina went to work for the Laguna Pueblo Police Department where he became Chief. Medina was recruited to return to APD in 2017 by then APD Chief Michael Geier where he served as Deputy Chief of Field Services and six months ago he was appointed First Deputy.
It’s common knowledge amongst APD command staff in the Chief’s Office that Chief Medina orchestrated the forced retirement of Chief Gieier with the assistance of Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair. Interim Chief Harold Medina has a very troubling past of police officer involved shootings with reactive decision-making and failed leadership resulting in the killing of two mentally ill people having psychotic episodes. Medina was never disciplined for his conduct relating to 2 high profile shootings proclaiming he did nothing wrong.
Links to related news coverage are here:
WEBINAR INTERVIEW FEATURING FINALISTS
On Saturday, January 23, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, along with CAO Sarita Nair and city leaders and Herb Crosby, the owner of AVTEC, Inc., the Albuquerque consulting firm hired by the city for the hiring process for Chief of Police, held a webinar featuring the 3 finalists for Chief of Police.
A link to the full hour and 18-minute webinar is here:
The webinar presentation began with Mayor Tim Keller saying he wants the next chief to focus on tackling violent crime, enhance community policing, and to be someone with extensive DOJ reform experience.
During the webinar conference all 3 finalists were given an opportunity to speak. They were asked the same line of questioning:
1. What do you feel are the top 3 crime fighting challenges facing the city?
2. Use of force is currently at the top of people’s minds and getting APD through the department of justice settlement agreement reforms. Which parts of the city’s approach to “use of force” are working, what needs to be fixed and how would you fix it?
3. How do you plan to engage with the community and provide a level of transparency between the department and the people you serve?
4. What challenges is the Department faced with in building moral?
The city official who asked the questions did not disclose if the 3 applicants were given the questions in advance. This is important because one applicant appeared to have read or regurgitated answers he had memorized, while the other two applicants appeared to have answered the questions spontaneously.
Following are highlights of what the applicants had to say in the order in which they made their presentations and were asked questions:
CHIEF CLINTON NICHOLS
Clinton Nichols had this to say about the city’s crime rates:
“Your property crime or violent crimes against persons are probably, they need some work. I will tell you, particularly in the area of homicides. One of the first things that I would do is sort of draw down the analytical into some relative data so that I could draw some inferences that will tell me where the problem areas are, and then look for ways to solve them. … It is important for any police department to take a lot of small bites of a very big apple … Crime is something that impacts everybody on a personal level and so making sure we are resolved to reducing the level that most people are impacted by is extremely important.”
Nichols had this to say about the APD reforms under the consent decree:
“I can tell you it isn’t a pretty process, but it certainly can be done. … A police leader does not need to choose between reform and crime-fighting. … Having one take a back seat to another, quite frankly, is nonsense in my opinion. … [The hard work of writing policy and making it operational] is already done and the next step is compliance.”
Nichols added he would be guided by his experience going through U.S. Department of Justice reform efforts first in Law Vegas, Nevada and then in Commerce City, Colorado. According to Nichols, both citys reached a more than 90% compliance rate under consent decrees.
The major take away from Chief’s Nichols interview is that he is very personable, exhibits a confidence of what he has done in the past and what he intends to do with APD taking it forward.
FORMER DEPUTY POLICE COMMISSIONER JOSEPH SULLIVAN
Sullivan identified gun violence as the “top of the list” of issues in Albuquerque and he had this to say:
“I have a passion for policing and I would love to bring that to Albuquerque if I was invited to do so. … Gun violence has to be at the top of the list. I place a heavy emphasis on making the arrests, getting people who are carrying guns illegally off the streets. … If you focus on that you take away the opportunity for gun violence to occur. … I would want to have a meeting with all command staff after every shooting incident to determine the cause and prevent any further violence.”
Sullivan said he believes the APD reform effort was sidetracked by the pandemic and getting it back on track is “critically important.” If appointed Chief, he would temporarily have Internal Affairs review all use-of-force cases until supervisors better learned the review process. Sullivan said he would also personally oversee all discipline and regularly reach out to the monitor to talk and get advice.
Sullivan emphasized his experience in Philadelphia during last year’s Black Lives Matter protests and said he would handle similar demonstrations in Albuquerque the same way. According to Sullivan, it comes down to defusing tensions with police by having police working in plainclothes or basic uniform and being open and honest with the demonstrators. Sullivan summarized it this way:
“We were willing to walk all night long as long as there was no violence and no damage to our city. … We never used gas, we never had to use impact rounds, we used patience. … If you come dressed for a fight, you’re likely to get a fight.”
The major take away from Sullivan’s interview is that he has a clear understanding of the 12 Federal Monitors reports, is aware of the obstacles that are getting in the way of implementing the reforms and understands what needs to be done within the department and how to address the city’s crime rates.
INTERIM APD CHIEF HAROLD MEDINA
Interim chief Harold Medina for his part said he has the “hindsight” to take the department forward, to get it where it needs to be and to reduce crime in Albuquerque and complete the reform effort. Medina stated his biggest priorities with the department are to continue to increase the department’s resources, adding more sworn police to the force, build up and add to the departments investigation capacity and stop “the revolving door” when it comes to arresting and releasing criminals.
Highlights of what Interim Chief Medina had to say include:
“We know we have to increase the quality of our investigations. … The three areas that we will focus on improving is the increase in resources. … We simply need more officers. … The challenge is you have to build the capacity of our investigative units. … We are on track to have our first batch of investigators go to their specific training to through the mid-part of the year.”
Medina emphasized his years of experience with APD and what he is doing now had this to say:
“How can you change a culture if you had not lived and been a part of that culture? … I have already begun the transformation process for the Albuquerque Police Department, and I am asking for the time to complete it. … We will continue to reach out to make sure that all segments of the community have their voice heard with APD. … The success of these relationships will rest on the department being transparent with the public.”
Medina added that there needs to be measures taken to boost the quality of use-of-force investigations while making sure those who break policy are held accountable and he said:
“The narrative has to change. … The focus cannot be that we are disciplining officers but rather we are protecting the integrity of all the great officers of this department.”
One very uncomfortable take away from Interim Chief Medina’s presentation is that he either read or regurgitated answers he had memorize, while the other two applicants clearly answered the questions spontaneously.
In addition to quoting the webinar presentation of the applicants, links to related and quoted news sources are here:
APD IN A NUTSHELL
Whoever becomes the new APD Chief, that person will be taking control of a law enforcement bureaucracy that is para military organization and under federal court consent decree for the first time in the city’s history.
The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has an annual budget of $212 Million. APD is the largest budget department in the city out of a $1.1 Billion dollar general fund budget. APD has funding for 1,678 full time positions that includes 578 civilian staff and funding for 1,100 sworn police. As of January 9, 2021, APD payroll shows that there are 953 sworn officers and 48 cadets in the academy. The Albuquerque Police Department (APD ) has five major bureaus with each bureau having a Deputy Chief:
1. The Field Services Bureau
2. Investigative Bureau
3. The Compliance Bureau
4. The Administrative Support Bureau
5. The Support Services Bureau
APD divides the city into six geographical areas called “area commands.” Each area command is managed by an APD Commander (formerly called Captains) and staffed with between 82 and 119 officers, depending on size of the area command and level of calls for service. All officers are dispatched through the police communications operators by calling (505) 242-COPS for non-emergency calls or 911 in an emergency.
APD has 7 Detective Units: Violent Crime Unit (Armed Robbery, Homicide, Sex Crimes, Crimes Against Children), Property Crime Unit (Burglary, Auto Theft, White Collar Crimes) , Special Investigations Unit (Narcotics, Vice and Gangs), Crime Scene Investigations, Traffic Investigations (Motor Unit, DWI, Air Support), Tactical Unit (SWAT, K-9,, Mounted Horse Patrol, Bomb Squad) Training (Basic Training, Advance Training, Recruiting and Background)
TWO MAJOR CRISES THAT WILL MAKE OR BREAK NEW CHIEF
Without any doubt, there are two on going crises that the next APD Chief will need to address that could easily set that Chief up for failure, and in turn, Mayor Keller’s desire for a second term. Those 2 issues are:
1. The city’s out of control crime rates
2. The Department of Justice Reforms under the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).
Following is a discussion of both issues:
1. THE CITY’S OUT OF CONTROL CRIME RATES
In August, 2017, New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller and candidate for Albuquerque Mayor had this to say about the city’s high crime rates:
“It’s unfortunate, but crime is absolutely out of control. It’s the mayor’s job to actually address crime in Albuquerque, and that’s what I want to do as the next mayor.”
The crime statistics released for 2018 and 2019 make it clear that despite all of Mayor Tim Keller’s promises to bring down skyrocketing violent crime, he has failed. In 2019, Keller implemented 4 new programs to address violent crime, increased APD personnel by 116, and spent millions. Violent crime is still “absolutely out of control”.
Without any question, the city’s crime rates have become worse during the last 3 years and are still out of control. For that reason, a review of the statistics in in order to give a better picture of what a new APD Chief must confront to be successful
Homicides spike during the last 3 years
In 2018, during Mayor Tim 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. The previous high was in 2017 when 72 homicides were reported in Mayor Berry’s last year in office. The previous high mark was in 1996, when the city had 70 homicides. The year 2020 ended with 76 homicides, the second-highest count since 1996. The decline dropped the homicide rate from 14.64 per 100,000 people in 2019 to about 13.5 in 2020. As of January 18, 2021, there have been 7 homicides recorded in the city, close to one every other day. Only one of the 7 cases has resulted in an arrest. As of January 27, there have been 13 homicides in the city.
Historically Low Homicide Clearance Rates
For the past three years during Mayor Keller’s tenure, the homicide clearance percentage rate has been in the 50%-60% range. According to the proposed 2018-2019 APD City Budget, in 2016 the APD homicide clearance rate was 80%. In 2017, under Mayor Berry the clearance rate was 70%. In 2018, the first year of Keller’s term, the homicide clearance rate was 56%. In 2019, the second year of Keller’s term, the homicide clearance rate was 52.5%, the lowest clearance rate in the last decade. In 2020 the clearance rate has dropped to 50%. Of the 75 homicides thus far in 2020, half remain unsolved. There are only a dozen homicide detectives each with caseloads high above the national average.
In 2018 during Mayor Keller’ first full year in office, there were 6,789 violent crimes, 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.
2020 Violent Crime Stats
On Monday, September 21, 2020, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released statistics that revealed that overall crime in the city is down slightly across all categories in the first six months of 2020 as compared with the first six months of 2019. Crimes against persons are all violent crimes combined and include murder, deadly weapons assault and injury and rape. The decreases in “violent crime” from 2019 to 2020 was a decrease by only 21 crimes or a 0.28%. Over a two year, it decreased 4%. According to the FBI statistics released, there were 7,362 crimes against persons reported in the first six months of 2020 and there were 152 more in the second quarter than in the first.
“Crimes Against Society” include drug offenses, prostitution and animal cruelty. In 2018 During Keller’s first full year in office, total Crimes Against Society were 3,365. In 2019 during Keller’s second full year in office, total Crimes Against Society increased to 3,711 for a total increase of 346 more crimes or a 9% increase.
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.
911 Emergency Response Times
In 2009, under Mayor Martin Chavez, the average 911 emergency response time to calls, whether it was a life or death emergency or a minor traffic crash,was 8 minutes 50 seconds.
In 2011, under Mayor RJ Berry the average response times to 911 emergency calls was 25 minutes.
In 2018 and 2019, under Mayor Tim Keller, the average response times to 911 emergency calls spiked to 48 minutes.
2. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE MANDATED REFORMS
Whoever is appointed permanent APD Chief will be taking over a law enforcement agency still in crisis after 6 years and after spending millions of dollars to implement the 271 mandated reforms under a Department of Justice Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).
In 2017, Tim Keller aggressively campaigned to be elected mayor by vowing to implement the Department of Justice (DOJ) mandated reforms agreed to after the DOJ found a “culture of aggression” within APD. Also found was repeated unconstitutional “excessive use of force” and “deadly force” cases. Keller vowed to implement the DOJ mandated reforms even as he received the endorsement of the APD Union who opposed the reforms and that continues with obstructionist tactics.
Upon being sworn in as Mayor, one of the very first appointments Keller made was appointing Chief Michael Geier, first as interim chief and a few months making Geier permanent chief. At the time of the appointment, Keller proclaimed Gieir was the best man for the job and was committed to all the DOJ reforms. Less than 3 years as Chief, Geier was terminated by Keller for his failure to make progress with implementing the reforms.
Keller has spent 3 full years trying to implement the consent decree reforms, the exact same amount of time his predecessor used, for a total of 6 years combined. The difference is that Keller has also spent millions more on the reforms to no avail. Both Mayor Berry and Mayor Keller failed miserably to implement the DOJ reforms. The federal court action has not been dismissed even though the consent decree was to be fully implemented by November 16, 2020.
The number one priority of the APD Chief, and in a real sense, the biggest crisis that Chief faces from day one will be implementation of the DOJ mandated reforms. The crisis is very real when the Federal Monitor told the court on October 6, 2020:
“We are on the brink of a catastrophic failure at APD. … [The department] has failed miserably in its ability to police itself. … If this were simply a question of leadership, I would be less concerned. But it’s not. It’s a question of leadership. It’s a question of command. It’s a question of supervision. And it’s a question of performance on the street. So as a monitor with significant amount of experience – I’ve been doing this since the ’90s – I would have to be candid with the Court and say we’re in more trouble here right now today than I’ve ever seen.”
On November 2, 2020, the Federal Court Appointed Monitor James Ginger filed with the Federal Court his 12th Compliance Audit Report. The 12th Federal Monitors report provides the following scathing overall assessment of APD management, all upper command staff appointed by Tim Keller 3 years ago:
“We have no doubt that many of the instances of non-compliance we see currently in the field are a matter of “will not,” instead of “cannot”! … issues we continue to see transcend innocent errors and instead speak to issues of cultural norms yet to be addressed and changed by APD leadership.”
“… The monitoring team has been critical of the Force Review Board (FRB), citing its past ineffectiveness and its failing to provide meaningful oversight for APD’s use of force system. The consequences are that APD’s FRB, and by extension APD itself, endorses questionable, and sometimes unlawful, conduct by its officers.
“During the reporting period … virtually all of these failures can be traced back to leadership failures at the top of the organization.
“[The federal monitor] identified strong under currents of [resistance to APD reforms] in some critical units on APD’s critical path related to CASA compliance. These include supervision at the field level; mid-level command in both operational and administrative functions, [including] patrol operations, internal affairs practices, disciplinary practices, training, and force review). Supervision, [the] sergeants and lieutenants, and mid-level command, [the commanders] remain one of the most critical weak links in APD’s compliance efforts.”
A FEDERAL MONITOR NOWHERE TO BE SEEN, NO WHERE TO BE FOUND
Ostensibly Federal Monitor James Ginger was not at all involved in the selection process for a new Chief nor has he interviewed any of the applicants. Given what Federal Monitor James Ginger has had to say about APD and its management, and the fact he will have to work and interact with the new Chief, Ginger should have been intricately involved with the application process.
Dr. Ginger has a greedy little habit of taking millions in taxpayer money saying it’s not his job to manage APD but then he blames most of APD’s problems on APD leadership and management. Ginger could very easily give his opinion on all the applicants and even help find and recruit a new chief, but he has very little or no interest in doing so no doubt saying “it’s not my job” as he is paid millions in taxpayer money, $4.5 million and counting to be precise over the last 6 years.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Any person who is involved with human resources and the hiring process knows damn well that the application process must be a two-way street to be successful. The employer obviously is looking to find someone who can do a job. Just as important, an applicant seeking the job wants to know if they are compatible with the employer and must know if they can do the job and make sure they are not being set up for failure with restrictions on their duties.
Absent from the resumes and the interview process was any in depth questioning or discussion on what conditions the 3 applicants want for themselves before they will take the position of APD Chief. Three areas in particular that need to be asked of the 3 applicants are:
1. SHOULD APD MANAGEMENT POSITIONS OF SERGEANTS AND LIEUTENANTS BE ALLOWED TO BE MEMBERS OF THE POLICE UNION OR BE “AT WILL” EMPLOYEES?
It was on September 10, 2018, at a status telephone conference call held with the US District Court Judge that Federal Monitor Dr. James Ginger first told the federal court that a group of “high-ranking APD officers” within APD were trying to thwart the reform efforts.
The Federal Monitor revealed that the group of “high-ranking APD officers” were APD sergeants and lieutenants.
In his 10th report Federal Monitor Ginger referred to the group as the “Counter-CASA effect” and stated:
“Sergeants and lieutenants, at times, go to extreme lengths to excuse officer behaviors that clearly violate established and trained APD policy, using excuses, deflective verbiage, de minimis comments and unsupported assertions to avoid calling out subordinates’ failures to adhere to established policies and expected practice. Supervisors (sergeants) and mid-level managers (lieutenants) routinely ignore serious violations, fail to note minor infractions, and instead, consider a given case “complete”.
“Some members of APD continue to resist actively APD’s reform efforts, including using deliberate counter-CASA processes. For example … Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) disciplinary timelines, appear at times to be manipulated by supervisory, management and command levels at the area commands, letting known violations lie dormant until timelines for discipline cannot be met.”
The 2-year, city contract negotiated by the Mayor Tim Keller Administration with the Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) was for the time period of July 7, 2018 to June 30, 2020 and therefor expired on July 1, 2020. All police union contract negotiations have been put on hold amidst the pandemic. As a result, the terms and conditions of the expired contract, including who is in the bargaining unit and hourly pay, remain in effect until negotiations can take place at an undetermined date in the future. It’s likely the contract negotiations will not commence until the pandemic is over. If the city and Mayor Keller has learned anything at all over the 3 years it should be just how destructive the union has been to the reforms process because of their resistance.
New Mexico statutory law is clear that management cannot be members of public employee unions. Section 10-7E-5 provides for the rights of public employees:
“Public employees, other than management employees and confidential employees, may form, join or assist a labor organization for the purpose of collective bargaining through representatives chosen by public employees without interference, restraint or coercion and shall have the right to refuse any such activities.”
The statute is very clear that “management employees” are prohibited from joining the police union, yet the City has allowed APD Lieutenants and Sergeants to be part of the collective bargaining unit in violation of state law.
A link to related blog article is here:
The Chief, the 5 Deputy Chiefs, Assistant Deputy Chiefs and all APD Area Commanders are “unclassified” positions and they can be terminated “without cause” at any time. They are prohibited from being members of the police union and are management. The Chief serves at the pleasure of the Mayor and Deputy Chiefs and Area Commanders serve at the pleasure of the Mayor and Chief and can be terminated without cause.
APD Lieutenants and Sergeants, Detectives and Patrol Officers are all are “classified” positions and can only be terminated for cause. APD Lieutenants and Sergeants are included in the police collective bargaining unit . Any and all disciplinary actions taken against APD Lieutenants and Sergeants, Detectives and Patrol Officers are governed by the union contract. APD Lieutenants and Sergeants are management positions but are classified positions and can only be terminated with cause. They have due process rights including progressive disciplinary actions and rights of appeal.
Interim Chief Harold Medina has already answered this question during the last hearing on the consent decree before Judge Federal Judge James Browning. Medina has said he has been “pro union” all of his life, he had no problem with sergeants and lieutenants being members of the union and he said he was and could work with the union.
2. SHOULD THE APD CHIEF BE GIVEN DISCRETIONARY AUTHORITY TO IMMEDIATELY TERMINATE A POLICE OFFICER AT ANY LEVEL FOR EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE OR DEADLY FORCE OR OTHER DEFINED CIRCUMSTANCES?
The APD Chief has no discretionary authority to fire police officers immediately and a termination process is mandated by union contract. The APD Chief cannot fire a police officer immediately for any clear or obvious police misconduct that is found or reported upon. The only option the Chief has under such circumstance is to refer such charges to the Internal Affairs Unit for what is termed as “progressive” discipline. The APD Chief cannot fire union members without cause. Any and all disciplinary action against any member of the police union is governed by the collective bargaining unit contract. The police union contract outlines police officers’ personnel rights and remedies, provides for personnel hearings, provides for internal affairs investigations, and provides for progressive discipline and the use of a matrix for discipline available.
3. WILL THE NEW CHIEF BE ALLOWED TO REPLACE AND APPOINT HIS OWN DEPUTY CHIEFS OR ORDERED BY MAYOR KELLER AND CAO NAIR TO KEEP THOSE ALREADY APPOINTED?
Many years ago, the Mayor Jim Baca upon being elected made the commitment to recruit and hire an out of state Chief of Police and not hire someone within APD’s ranks. At the time, APD was again riddled with scandal. Mayor Baca, after a national search appointed APD Chief Gerry Galvin, a career law enforcement Chief of Police from Cleveland, Ohio. When Galvin was appointed Chief, he was order by Mayor Baca to retain all the appointed Deputy Chiefs. Galvin’s appointment by Mayor Baca resulted in extensive bitter infighting amongst Deputy Chiefs who felt that they deserved to be and earned the right to be Chief. One Deputy Chief in particular announce after a Chief’s meeting after Galvin left the room, that he would never support the efforts of Galvin nor Galvin’s changes in policy. In hindsight, Galvin was essentially set up for failure. The same scenario has played out once again with what Harold Medina did to Chief Geier, and it will happen again if Medina is not named Chief and kept as a Deputy Chief by whoever is appointed.
When Mayor Keller was sworn into Office on December 1 ,2017 he immediately appointed Chief Michael Geier and appointed as Deputy Chiefs officers who represent the “old guard” of APD style of management. The “new” command staff was a reflection of APD’s past. The “new” command staff of Deputy Chiefs were not outsiders at all but had been with APD for some time.
The Deputy Chiefs of Police appointed by Mayor Keller included Harold Medina who retired from APD as commander after serving 20 years, Rogelio Banez who was the area commander in southwest Albuquerque, and Eric Garcia who was a Deputy Chief under APD Chief Gordon Eden. Deputy Chief Eric Garcia did receivee high marks for his work on the DOJ reforms, but he was part of the previous administration’s management team and eligible to retire. The new command staff appointed by Mayor Keller did not reflect a new generation of police officer fully committed and trained in constitutional policing.
In the event Keller does indeed appoint someone from outside the agency, that new Chief needs to ask if they will be allowed to replace the Deputy Chiefs and bring in their own management team, otherwise they are being set up for failure.
HAROLD MEDINA ADMITS HE IS PART OF THE PROBLEM
Interim Chief Harold Medina during his interview said:
“How can you change a culture if you had not lived and been a part of that culture? … I have already begun the transformation process for the Albuquerque Police Department, and I am asking for the time to complete it.”
With those words, Interim Chief Harold Medina admitted he was and still is part of the problem with APD. Medina has a history of reactive decision-making and failed leadership resulting in the killing of two mentally ill people having psychotic episodes. Interim Chief Harold Medina spins the two tragedies as a positive credential to run the APD saying because of the shootings he now understands the DOJ reforms, their need and can implement them. Medina’s conduct in the two shootings is the very type of conduct that resulted in the Department of Justice investigation in the first place.
With two separate fatalities involving the mentally ill, Interim Chief Harold Medina represents the total opposite of what a large majority of survey respondents want in a police Chief. Survey respondents said it was “very important” to have a chief with “experience with reducing use of force”, “crisis management”, “protecting civil rights” and able “to tackle issues such as mental illness. ” Further, Harold Medina, as a Deputy Chief, was part of the very management for the past 3 years that has failed to implement the DOJ reforms.
Any one in APD command staff who assisted, contributed or who did not stop the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice and who has resisted the reform process has no business being APD Chief or Deputy for that matter and that includes Interim Chief Harold Medina.
JUST ANOTHER SHAM PUBLIC RELATION NATIONAL SEARCH BY MAYOR KELLER
In announcing the 3 finalist, Mayor Tim Keller had this to say:
“I think we have three good finalists, and I think that’s a great thing for the city of Albuquerque. … The goal for our search is that we need to find the leadership for the city of Albuquerque in terms of public safety.”
It is more likely than not Keller has already decided he will appoint Harold Medina permanent chief. What Keller is doing now with Harold Medina is exactly what he did when he appointed Chief Michael Geier almost 3 years ago. First, he appoints an Interim Chief who he intends to appoint as permanent. Keller then has people go through the motions of getting public input. Keller then turns around and appoints who he wanted all along saying “ Gee Wiz folks, the most qualified person has been amongst us all the time”.
Experience with a law enforcement department both in crisis and under a DOJ consent decree must be an absolute requirement. If Mayor Tim Keller is truly committed in conducting a national search to find someone who will change the culture within APD, he should order AVTEC, Inc., the Albuquerque consulting firm he hired, to find far more than just two qualified law enforcement professionals who have the experience to manage a department in crisis. Both applicants Chief Clinton Nichols and former Deputy Commissioner John Sullivan should be considered with others, but not Harold Medina.
Another option is to put on hold the selection of a permanent chief until after the November election for Mayor. Otherwise, Mayor Tim Keller has engaged in just another pathetic, public relations sham of a national search only to appoint and make Harold Medina the permanent chief as Keller seeks a second term.