On Sunday, March 28, the following guest opinion column entitled “Dual leadership has never worked for officers or residents” written by Retired APD Area Commander David “Marty Gilmore” was published by the Albuquerque Journal:
“Mayor Tim Keller’s dual leadership at APD is bound to fail as other attempts have. It is reminiscent of the Chief Gorden Eden-Assistant Chief Huntsman era and those that followed. One of the mayor’s prime issues when he ran for office was tackling the crime issue; he has failed. He refuses to consider anything short of liberal policing methods. He appointed a new “superintendent of police,” then announced a national search for one. I can visualize Councilor Trudy Jones throwing up her arms in bewilderment when she commented on the plan for dual leadership.
Crime is up and directly related to the settlement agreement, an absurd use-of-force policy and the required investigations. These decrees can last for a decade or more. Seattle and Portland have been under one since 2012, Detroit since 2003. Crime escalates wherever they are implemented. The monitor has every financial reason to prolong this decree while he drains our coffers.
After another charade – remember Chief Michael Geier? – Harold Medina was selected as chief of police after a questionable national search. The union says it supports the new chief and in the next breath says morale is at an all-time low. The chief is directly responsible for officer morale, and Medina has had his hand in the mix for years. I have been informed by officers that the chief is overly strict and vindictive in his administration of discipline; this could be one reason discipline was placed in the superintendent’s hands. Discipline is a function of the chief and not a civilian member who has been given status as an assistant chief administrative officer for disciplinary reasons.
I believe I can speak for an overwhelming number of retired/former officers when I say this entire mess, settlement agreement/dual leadership is an unmitigated disaster that was preventable. We arrived here by the political inactions and lack of courage by our mayors and councils. They should have been the oversight when the chain of command faltered.
I spent nearly 22 of my 25 year career working the streets in a patrol car through the rank/position of an area commander. I was never aware of institutional racism nor recall what could be considered excessive force. Not everyone we arrested wanted to go without a fight. We were attacked with gunfire, knives, bludgeons and the list goes on. Yes, some had to be slammed up against the hood of a car, a wall or the ground to gain compliance. Some had to be gassed, tazed, struck with a baton and, yes, some had to be shot. For doing our job, a job most wouldn’t or couldn’t do, our politically correct politicians shoved us under the settlement agreement bus.
A once proud, nationally recognized, effective APD is in total shambles, and life for the officers and crime is only going to get worse. But alas, the new dual leadership at APD will “right” the sinking ship.
The link to the Albuquerque Journal guest column is here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
In his Albuquerque Journal “Letter to the Editor”, retired area commander Marty Gilmore is 100% correct with his assessment of Chief Harold Medina and the likely result of the dual leadership of APD. Gilmore is also 100% dead wrong when he says “politically correct politicians shoved us under the settlement agreement bus”. Former Commander Gilmore without a doubt is sincere in his opinions and needs to be thanked for his years of service to the city and the department. With that said, he retired years before the Department of Justice (DOJ) Court Approved Settlement Agreement and he was part of management before the DOJ came to Albuquerque. When Gilmore says “… some [being arrested] had to be slammed up against the hood of a car, a wall or the ground to gain compliance. Some had to be gassed, tazed, struck with a baton and, yes, some had to be shot” only he knows for sure if his use of force was in fact justified and if they were resisting a lawful arrest. Only he knows for sure if he did not help create, did not participate nor did not stop the “culture of aggression” within APD that took many years to become reality long before the DOJ investigation.
The CASA and all 271 mandated reforms was necessitated because of APD’s actions and inactions from the Chief, APD management, the command staff all the way down to patrol officers. The April 10, 2014, DOJ investigation report reviewed all fatal shootings by APD officers between 2009 and 2012. The Department of Justice found excessive use of force and deadly force that was engrained into APD to the point that a “culture of aggression” existed.
The DOJ specifically found three patterns of excessive force by APD:
“APD officers too frequently use deadly force against people who pose a minimal threat and in situations where the conduct of the officers heightens the danger and contributes to the need to use force;
APD officers use less lethal force, including electronic controlled weapons, on people who are passively resisting, non-threatening, observably unable to comply with orders or pose only a minimal threat to the officers; and
Encounters between APD officers and persons with mental illness and in crisis too frequently result in a use of force or a higher level of force than necessary.
The department also found systemic deficiencies of the APD which contribute to these three patterns, including: deficient policies, failed accountability systems, inadequate training, inadequate supervision, ineffective systems of investigation and adjudication, the absence of a culture of community policing and a lack of sufficient civilian oversight.”
CITY’S CONSENT DECREE UNIQUELY DIFFERENT FROM ALL OTHERS
There are 18 consent decrees in the United States, all but one deal with racial profiling or systemic racism in one form or another. APD’s consent decree is significantly different. APD’s consent decree was brought about primarily because of APD’s inability to interact and deal with the mentally ill and those in crisis and as APD was attempting to take into custody for a suspected crime.
The 3 best examples are:
The 2010 shooting and killing of Kenneth Ellis, III, an Iraq War Veteran suffering post traumatic stress disorder and who had committed no crime, yet then Lt. Medina authorized the use of deadly force. The Ellis shooting resulted in $10.3 million judgement against the city
The 2011 shooting and killing by APD of mentally ill Christopher Torres in his backyard by APD detectives dressed in plain clothes confusing Torrez. The Torrez shooting resulted in over a $6 million judgement against the city.
The 2014 killing of homeless camper and mentally ill James Boyd who was shot and killed by SWAT in the Sandia Foothills after APD attempted to arrest him for illegal camping. The Boyd killing resulted in a $5 million judgment against the city.
All 3 shootings were preventable, a clear violation of constitutional rights and wound up costing over $21 million in judgements.
APD has been struggling for over 6 years with trying to implement the DOJ consent decree reforms. After six years and millions spent, APD still has a long way to go to be compliant under the settlement before the case can be dismissed. The reforms were to be fully implemented in 4 years, and after 2 years of compliance in 3 areas determined to be 95% , the case was to be dismissed. APD management, the police union and rank and file have essentially done whatever they could do, and at different times, to interfere with the reform efforts.
The biggest failure made clear in Federal Court Monitor’s 12th report filed on November 2, 2020, relates to “Operational Compliance”. Operational Compliance is defined as “managements adherence and enforcement to APD policies in the day-to-day operation of APD” .
Operational compliance is where line personnel are routinely held accountable for compliance by their sergeants, and sergeants are routinely held accountable for compliance by their lieutenants and upper command staff. In other words, APD “owns” and enforces its own policies and without expecting the Federal Monitor to do it for them.
DERELICTION OF DUTY BY APD, NOT POLITICIANS THROWING IT UNDER BUS
The problem always has been and continues to be that APD management, the police union and its membership have not fully embraced the reforms. In fact, all three have resisted them from time to time, at different times, as has been repeatedly documented by the federal monitor in at least 4 reports over the last 3 years.
The argument that “this entire mess, settlement agreement/dual leadership is an unmitigated disaster that was preventable. We arrived here by the political inactions and lack of courage by our mayors and councils. They should have been the oversight when the chain of command faltered” is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to undercut and discredit the need for the reforms. The settlement agreement was indeed preventable had APD in fact followed constitutional policing practices in the first place and it had nothing to do with “politically correct politicians” throwing APD under the bus. It was APD that brought the DOJ here in the first place and mandated the Federal Court to come down on it.
Simply put, if a police officer does not want to do their job and not follow constitutional policing practices as mandated by the consent decree, they are part of the problem and need to leave APD or find another line of work. Same goes for anyone currently within APD management, such as Chief Harold Medina, who helped create, contributed or who did not stop the “culture of aggression” and who have resisted the reforms.