On April 7, KOAT Target 7 ran a news story involving Albuquerque City Councilor Louie Sanchez making 911 calls on March 6 and a history of 911 emergency calls he made before March 6.
The story is a remarkable reflection of a newly elected city council going out of his way to exert dominance over APD by calling into question APD’s job performance and a Police Department responding by calling into question the motives of an elected official and not saying if APD believed Sanchez’s calls were legitimate. For that reason, the entire news story transcript merits publication.
Following is the transcript of the full news story:
“Albuquerque City Councilor Louie Sanchez made a 911 call on the afternoon of Saturday March 26. [Quoting the call]:
“Sanchez: 61st and Central. I’m across the street in the building
Dispatch: Which corner are they on?
Sanchez: They are at the pit stop 61st and Central.
Dispatch: Which corner is that on?
Sanchez: He beat a guy up with a but stock of a gun and pointed it.”
The dispatcher asks Councilor Sanchez if he wants to meet with police, he says no.
Dispatch: If nobody wants to talk to officers then…
Sanchez: No, you need to get the gun off the street, ma’am. There he goes. He is walking away. He just pointed the gun at somebody else.
Dispatch: Where’s the victim?
Sanchez: Are you going to get it? You guys waste too much time.
Four minutes into the call the dispatcher issues a “be on the lookout for the suspect.”
Sanchez: Are you serious? You’re not going to come over here and deal with it. You’re just going to be on the lookout.
Then about five minutes into the call dispatch hung up on Sanchez without letting him know whether officers were called to the scene.
“As far as I know, no one even checked the area. As far as I know, an officer never came to talk to me together. Further information” Sanchez said.
Target 7 obtained the dispatch radio procedures from the Albuquerque Police Department, according to Section 315, since Sanchez said he witnessed an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, dispatch should have responded immediately.
“I hope that the police department is not avoiding or diminishing calls to keep the crime stats down” Sanchez said.
According to call logs obtained by the police department an officer was not actually dispatched to check out the area until 33 minutes after Sanchez called.
An officer arrived in the area 17 minutes later.
That means it took APD 50 minutes to check out what was going on with a reported man with a gun.
Sanchez believes officers were not dispatched until after he called a supervisor complaining.
Despite whether Sanchez was willing to speak with a responding officer, APD says the dispatcher made an error.
“They should have dispatch an officer right away and that type of call,” Gilbert Gallegos said.
Gallegos is the public information officer for the Albuquerque Police Department, admits procedures were not followed.
“The director did speak to the call taker after the incident, talked with that person and mandated some additional training to make sure they were aware of what they should have been doing,” Gallegos said.
While the department admits there should have been officers dispatched immediately the day of the incident, they say Sanchez has made a number of calls in the past six months and they are now asking questions.
“I think I counted 10 calls to 911 or 242-COPS,” Gallegos said.
Most of those occurred before he became a city councilor in January.
The department gave Target 7 audio recordings of those calls.
As well as call logs, the department also says they saw no evidence of the incident that Sanchez says occurred on March 26.
“We didn’t find the incident he’s talking about. It may have happened, you know, outside of view of the video, but our officers did make an attempt to try to figure it out,” Gallegos said.
On Monday, Sanchez brought his concerns about 911 response times to the city council.
“It is a pattern, the counselor calling 911 or saying he is going to call 911 and then bringing it up at city council meetings. So it’s a little confusing, I guess, as to what his goals are,” Gallegos said.
Sanchez was asked what his goals are; he said he wants to make sure citizens get a response when they call police, especially on a 911 priority call.
The department would not say whether they believe Sanchez’s calls are legitimate.
“I think something like that would have to be more properly vetted and answered by an outside entity like maybe the inspector general,” Gallegos said.
Sanchez wants an audit done on the Albuquerque Police Department.
“I would like to see the police department do an audit with somebody independent. Go over all of the calls. Listen to all the police calls that come in and then determine whether they fall into one of their priority systems or not, and or if they were diminished,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez says his biggest concern is police not responding within a timely matter to high priority calls.
APD said they have reached out to Sanchez to have conversation about his experiences, they say he has not responded to their phone calls.”
The link to the news story is here:
NOT THE FIRST TIME SANCHEZ OUT MANUVERED PUBLICLY BY APD
The April 7 Channel 7 news story is not the first time that City Councilor Louis Sanchez has embroiled himself in news accounts and has been out maneuvered by APD. During the March 21 City Council meeting, the March 14 KRQE News 13 Investigative report on the Lt. Jim Edison’s overtime pay abuse was brought up. City Councilor Louie Sanchez saw it as an opportunity to comment before news cameras on APD’s handling of the incident. APD Chief Harold Medina was not present.
Sanchez had this to say:
“When I was a young police officer I was told your time sheet was the single most important item that you deal with as a police officer every single day of the week. . . That it needs to be accurate 100% percent. It’s a legal document so it has to be 100% accurate. . . The comment that we don’t have time for that [says] you don’t have time to do your job. So I need to get an explanation why we don’t have time to check timesheets. …”
APD Chief Harold Medina was not about to have any freshman City Councilor, even if he is a retired APD police officer, question his management of APD. On March 25, Medina went out of his way to write a letter to Councilor Sanchez, attaching it to a press release no less, that took issue with Sanchez’s comments and responding to the news report. Medina wrote Sanchez in part:
“I did not attend Monday’s City Council meeting, but I would like to take the opportunity to respond to the question you directed at me about a recent news story. …
First, Lt. Edison never worked in the Chief’s Office, as stated in the news story. Further, the statement attributed to me was a response to a question about Lt. Edison’s supervisor during his assignment. I made the point that Lt. Edison’s supervisor was a Deputy Chief, and not a Commander, which I determined to be problematic and fixed the problem. Commanders typically oversee lieutenants, including oversight of their overtime; whereas Deputy Chiefs oversee Commanders, who are exempt employees and do not earn overtime.
That is why I said Deputy Chiefs on my Executive Team should not be managing officers’ time sheets. The KRQE story fails to mention that when Lt. Edison was eventually put under the supervision of a Commander, that Commander scrutinized his timesheets and found discrepancies, which were reported up the chain of command and investigated.
In addition, I understand you mentioned that you learned as a young officer that your timesheet is the “single most important item that you deal with as a police officer.” I don’t disagree that you may have been told that. But I strongly disagree with that viewpoint.
Frankly, that approach to the job is the type of culture we have been changing since I have been Chief. I want officers to excel at investigations and produce effective criminal complaints that lead to the prosecution of criminals. Officers must be 100% accurate when they arrest suspects of violent crimes and take someone freedom away. A time sheet, while important to document an officer’s work, should not be an officer’s top priority.”
Medina’s letter to Sanchez and attaching it to a press release was an act of disrespect to an elected official and violates city council protocol. Medina should have asked to speak before the next city council meeting and answer whatever questions Sanchez has about the time sheet fraud and abuse and any other questions he may have about APD’s management.
When Medina tells Sanchez “I want officers to excel at investigations and produce effective criminal complaints that lead to the prosecution of criminals. Officers must be 100% accurate when they arrest suspects of violent crimes and take someone freedom away. A time sheet, while important to document an officer’s work, should not be an officer’s top priority” Chief Medina is essentially saying to APD officers you can violate the law when it comes to overtime pay card fraud so long as you are enforcing the law and making arrests.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
City Councilor Louie Sanchez needs to realize he is no longer a cop and that he is surely no match for APD’s nor the Mayor’s public information officers who make a living at public relations. The blunt truth is that City Councilor Louie Sanchez is looking increasingly foolish and losing credibility as as a city councilor as he uses the press to ask questions of APD and calling for audits. Sanchez has no business trying to manage APD as a City Councilor by calling APD 911 and telling APD how to handle 911 calls which is exactly what he did on March 26 and did before with his other calls.
Louie Sanchez needs to start acting like a City Councilor and needs to start introducing City Council Resolutions that will affect APD on policy and get the backing of more than Republican City Councilors with his efforts.