ABQ City Councilor Louie Sanchez To Introduce Resolution To Terminate APD Chief Harold Medina For Cause; DWI Lieutenant Resigns, Internal Affairs Commander Placed On Administrative Leave; Medina’s Termination First Step In Effort To Restore Public Confidence In APD

Albuquerque City Councilor Louie Sanchez has made it known that he intends to introduce a city council resolution to remove and terminate APD Chief Harold Medina for cause. The WHEREAS recital provisions of the Resolution identifies numerous and specific instance of mismanagement of APD by Chief Harold Medina as well as  the ongoing federal investigation of the APD DWI Unit and the bribery and conspiracy scheme with a prominent criminal defense attorney.

Sanchez released to www.PeteDinelli.com the following proposed city council resolution he will sponsor and  introduce at the next city council meeting:



WHEREAS, Harold Medina is the Chief of the Albuquerque Police Department (“APD”); and

WHEREAS, when Medina was appointed to his position, it was due to the abrupt departure of the previous Chief; and

WHEREAS, effective leadership of the Albuquerque Police Department is critical to the safety and wellbeing of the residents of the City of Albuquerque; and

WHEREAS, a federal investigation into multiple APD officers has resulted in the dismissal of more than 150 active DWI cases; and

WHEREAS, this investigation appears to show unchecked corruption within the Department; and

WHEREAS, these allegations of widespread corrupt actions by APD officers undermines the confidence of the community in the entire department; and

WHEREAS, the profound lack of leadership, which allowed such corrupt activities to transpire, unfairly tarnishes the reputation of upstanding officers, who through no fault of their own are associated with this terrible behavior; and

WHEREAS, Medina’s mismanagement of the Albuquerque Police Department is evidenced by numerous tragedies and scandals, such as:

  1. A police cadet was killed in a murder-suicide following reports of an affair taking place during her training at the police academy that APD was aware of;
  2. An academy class where seasoned instructors were moved because the son of a deputy chief attending the academy faced termination for untruthfulness;
  3. APD’s Gang Unit was all but dissolved along with critical units such as the Narcotics and Vice units;
  4. Record numbers of officers have resigned or retired, leaving the Department dangerously shorthanded;
  5. Increased officer terminations;
  6. Increased officer-involved shootings at the highest number in decades, if not in APD’s history;
  7. Increased response times for 911 calls with some callers holding for hours while hundreds more calls sit unanswered; and
  8. The highest number of homicides in two recent years with at least 328 people murdered on the streets of the City; and
  9. At least two lawsuits pending against the City and APD, each claiming the wrongful death of family members who suffered from mental illness.

WHEREAS, these tragedies reflect serious failures in leadership and an institution in dire need of intervention; and

WHEREAS, Medina’s conduct is inconsistent with the requirements of his position as Chief of Police and his responsibilities and obligations to the City and its residents; and

WHEREAS, Medina’s conduct threatens the public health, safety, and welfare of the people of the City of Albuquerque; and

WHEREAS, while the City Council has expressed concerns on numerous occasions about the leadership of the Department, there has been no apparent improvement in the administration of APD; and

WHEREAS, Pursuant to Article 5, Section 4(d)(1) of the Charter of the City of Albuquerque, “[t]he Police Chief . . . may be removed for cause by a vote of two-thirds of the entire membership of the Council.”; and

WHEREAS, Chief Harold Medina’s failure to lead the Albuquerque Police Department constitutes cause for removal.


SECTION 1. Harold Medina is hereby removed from his position as Chief of the Albuquerque Police Department.

SECTION 2.  SEVERABILITY. If any section, paragraph, sentence, clause, word or phrase of this Resolution is for any reason held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining provisions of this Resolution.

The Council hereby declares that it would have passed this Resolution and each section, paragraph, sentence, clause, word or phrase thereof irrespective of any provision being declared unconstitutional or otherwise invalid.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The above Resolution is subject to possible additions, deletions,  modifications and amendments as deemed necessary by its sponsor City Councilor Loui Sanchez and other city councilors and  the city council as a whole.


It is article V. Section 4, of the Albuquerque City Charter which outlines the duties and responsibilities of the mayor and the appointment and the removal the Chief Administrative Officer, Deputy Administrative Officers, the Chief of Police, and the Fire Chief.

Section 4 of the City Charter entitled DUTIES OF THE MAYOR provides as follows .

“The Mayor shall:

 Organize the executive branch of the city;

    (b)   Exercise administrative control and supervision over and appoint directors of all city departments, which appointments shall not require the advice or consent of the Council except as provided in (d) of this Section;

   (c)   Be responsible for the administration and protection of the merit system;

    (d)   With the advice and consent of the Council, appoint the Chief Administrative Officer, any deputy administrative officers, the Chief of Police, and the Fire Chief. Appointees requiring the advice and consent of the Council shall be presented to the Council for confirmation within 45 days after the Mayor takes office or after a vacant appointed position is filled. When an appointee is presented to and not confirmed by the Council, the Mayor shall, within 60 days thereafter, nominate another person to fill the position, and the Mayor may continue to nominate until confirmation;

1.   The Police Chief or Fire Chief may be removed for cause by a vote of two-thirds of the entire membership of the Council.

The link to review the City Charter is here:



On Friday, February 2, APD Chief Harold Medina held a press conference to address the “ongoing administrative investigation” involving  the dismissal of DWI cases and the 5 police officers implicated in the DWI dismissal scheme. Medina said  “We are looking at everyone in the department who may have had a role in the alleged scheme among DWI officers.”

Medina announced he chose Commander Kyle Hartsock, who oversees APD’s Criminal Investigation Bureau, to head up the investigation into the five officers.  Medina said Hartsock, who previously worked for the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office, has an “outside perspective with no ties to current or former DWI officers.”  Medina also said he has “hand chosen” the group to investigate made up of Hartsock and Deputy Commanders Josh Hawkes and Ken Johnston and none have any history with the DWI unit.  Medina said Hartsock has daily calls with the FBI and  passes  along any criminal findings to the federal agency as the internal probe continues.

Commander Kyle Hartsock for his part said this:

“We will ensure that any officer or any personnel belonging to the city of Albuquerque that was either involved in any part of this scheme, or knew about it and didn’t report it, will be held accountable.”

The link to the quoted news source is here:



On February 9 it was reported that APD Lt. Justin Hunt resigned from APD. He was one of five officers placed on leave. The police department confirmed Hunt worked in the DWI unit from 2011 to 2014. Review of cases dismissed revealed Hunt’s name came up in 18 DWI cases since 2011 with 15 of those were tossed out.  Court records also show Thomas Clear III, who advertises himself as a criminal defense lawyer, was Hunt’s attorney in a 2014 divorce.


On February 13, it was reported that Internal Affairs Division APD Commander Mark Landavazo has been placed on administrative leave as part of the department’s ongoing investigation into allegations of wrongdoing by DWI officers. Landavazo is the highest-ranking member of APD to be put on leave because of corruption allegations involving the prosecution of DWI cases and focusing on several APD officers and their interaction with staff of defense attorney Tom Clear.  Landavazo has been with APD since 2007, became commander of the Internal Affairs Division in 2021.

Links to quoted news sources are here:




On Sunday, February 4, the Albuquerque Journal published the following guest opinion written by City Councilor Louie Sanchez. Sanchez represents District 1, Albuquerque’s Central West Side, on the Albuquerque City Council. The guest column outlines the failed leadership of Chief Harold Medina. It also provides grounds to remove Medina for cause.

Sanchez Column Headline: Lack Of Leadership Has Ruined Moral Within APD

BY LOUIE SANCHEZ, Albuquerque City Councilor

“Recent incidents involving the Albuquerque Police Department since last fall concern not just myself, but all citizens and residents of Albuquerque.

APD’s mismanagement is evidenced by a spectrum of tragedies and scandals. This past fall, a police cadet was killed in a murder-suicide following reports of an affair taking place during her training at the police academy that APD leadership was aware of: An academy class where seasoned instructors were moved because the son of a deputy chief attending the academy faced termination for untruthfulness. Instead, he weaponized the EEOC process at the advice of his father and was reinstated to the academy.

Under current leadership, APD’s Gang Unit was all but dissolved along with such critical units as the Narcotics and Vice units. Record numbers of officers have resigned or retired, leaving the department dangerously shorthanded.

It gets worse. More officer terminations followed with more officer involved shootings — the highest number in decades, if not in APD’s history. Response time for 911 calls increase with some citizens holding for hours while hundreds more sit unanswered.

The city saw the highest number of homicides in two recent years under this mayor and under his current police chief — at least 328 people were murdered on the streets of the city. At least two multi-million-dollar lawsuits are pending against the city and APD, each claiming wrongful death of family members who suffered from mental illness. Such shootings were among the very reason the DOJ came to Albuquerque.

These low-points, now a part of APD’s history, are, as Dr. James Ginger puts it, the result of poor leadership. Now a public corruption investigation by the FBI of APD officers threatens the integrity of entire department.

An immediate consequence of Chief Medina’s failures is the dismissal of over 150 DWI cases. All those offenders now skate on being held accountable for their alleged offenses.

Medina says he knew about their alleged misconduct but if that’s true, why had the DWI unit been praised by him throughout last year? Why did Chief Medina permit this to happen? Why was APD leadership caught off guard? Is it because cronyism thrives under Mayor Keller’s chief of police, or merit and performance are not valued but loyalty is?

I served 26 years with APD and never have I witnessed such failed leadership and integrity issues by any of APD chief of police. Now all APD is being painted with a broad brush of corruption and Mayor Keller and his appointed police chief are the prime examples of what you are not supposed to do as a leader.

Could it be that they are so occupied with patting themselves on the back that they were indifferent to such egregious misconduct in their own ranks? Could it be they are so consumed with spiking the football on their fictional belief that DOJ’s oversight is almost over?

Chief Medina seems to have missed the class on integrity. Lack of leadership and hypocrisy ruins morale. Now we have a city reeling from scandals and tragedies from its police department. These leadership failures are why Dr. James Ginger says he will not release APD from its mandates under the 2014 Court Approved Settlement Agreement.

These failures and tragedies reflect an institution in dire need of intervention. It’s time to recognize that failings of leadership have dire consequences for our city. We must work together to address these concerns and improve our quality of life.

We need to prevent the “Fall of Albuquerque.” We need change. It is time for Medina to resign or be replaced. Our honest, hardworking officers deserve better.”



On January 19 the FBI raided the homes of three APD officers and the office   DWI defense attorney Thomas Clear III who are allegedly involved in a bribery and conspiracy scheme spanning a decade to dismiss DWI cases. Five cops, including one lieutenant, have been implicated. District Attorney Sam Bregman ordered 198 DWI cases dismissed because of the scandal. No criminal charges have been filed and the FBI search warrants remain sealed.

The five APD officers who have been identified at the center of the federal investigation are:

  • Lieutenant Justin Hunt
  • Officer Honorio Alba, Jr.
  • Officer Harvey Johnson
  • Officer Joshua Montano
  • Officer Nelson Ortiz

All 5 police officers were placed on paid administrative leave during the pendency of the federal criminal investigation.

During the January 22 city council meeting, the APD bribery scandal was front and center as Albuquerque City Councilors expressed extreme frustration over that lack of transparency over the scandal and the failure of Mayor Tim Keller and his administration to brief them and advise them of the investigation before the FBI executed the search warrants. Several city councilors criticized the mayor’s administration and the police department with councilors going as far as to blame the entire situation on a lack of leadership by Mayor Tim Keller and  APD Chief Harold Medina.  Councilors complained that they were left totally in in the dark about the federal investigation and only learned of it through the news media reports.  Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis summed it up best when he said  this:

“This investigation, it does appear to show some unchecked corruption within the department. And these are allegations that are widespread of actions by Albuquerque police officers. … To be honest, it’s the leadership of Chief Medina, the leadership of the APD brass, leadership of the [Keller] administration. These are the questions that we’re going to continue to ask and continue to talk about.”

On January 23, APD Chief Harold Medina and Mayor Tim Keller made the rounds to the 3 local news stations and gave the Albuquerque Journal exclusive interviews in an effort to explain the federal investigation the best they could and to spin away the criticism and taint of APD corruption leveled against them by the city council and the public. Chief Medina for his part proclaimed that the city council was “out of line” for demanding information and for exercising their oversight authority. Chief Medina called out City Councilor Louie Sanchez and Dan Champine who are retired cops saying they should know better and to not ask questions on pending criminal investigations.  Mayor Keller accuse the City Council of “unethical conduct” when he said “it’s marginally unethical for them to air these concerns” that may jeopardize the investigation by simply asking for information they are entitled to have in order to carry out their oversight authority.

On January 25, Albuquerque City Council President Dan Lewis and City Councilors Louie Sanchez and Dan Champine sent a letter to Chief Harold Medina asking him questions and demanding written answers on APD policies and procedures as they relate to the handling of DWI cases and what contributed to the dismissal of the DWI cases and which lead to the DWI bribery and conspiracy scandal. The City councilors also demanded the Chief Medina show up at the February 5 City Council meeting.


On February 5, APD Chief, Harold Medina appeared before the Albuquerque City Council and he answered questions. Initially, Chief Medina resisted appearing before the City Council to answer questions and suggested under advice of the City Attorney that he brief the City Council and answer questions in private and during an executive session of the City Council.

During the city council meeting, APD Chief Harold Medina made it clear he would not answer questions about the ongoing investigation.  As a result, city councilors were relegated to questions about the department’s procedures in confirming police officers were attending court hearings and discipline surrounding officers missing court appearances which is at the center of the FBI investigation. Medina was asked how many missed court hearings is too many before disciplinary action is taken.  Medina said it’s a case-by-case basis, including the reason why the officer didn’t show up. He also said the department currently does not have a database to track how many times an officer misses court appearance.

City Councilor Louie Sanchez took issue with Medina’s answers. He said as a former APD officer, he knows hearing schedules are public record, and anyone can look up when cases are dismissed because an officer was a no-show. City Councilor Louie Sanchez said he did not understand how the police department did not catch what was going on sooner. Sanchez told Medina this:

“Know who’s missing court and who isn’t missing court, it’s not the responsibility of the DA’s office; it’s not the responsibility of the individual. It’s not the responsibility of the citizens out here, it’s your responsibility.”

Medina responded saying APD does no have the manpower to check those appearances.  Medina said this:

“We have never had the staffing to look up every case in newmexicocourts.com. Today for example, there are 547 cases in the system for the Albuquerque Police Department. Historically, we have relied on other entities to relay information to us that an officer has missed court. Given the fact that individuals are not going to be able to do that, we can do it, but it would be very time intense”. 

Medina said APD would need about 20 full time staff to track and manage a database on Court appearance by APD cops. Medina said this :

“As of this moment …  we don’t have agreements with any of the entities [to share the data] that we are working with. We never have had one, this is the way the system has always worked and that is what we are working on right now.”

Those entities include the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office. Medina said prosecutors were supposed to send them notifications when an officer missed court.  Medina’s response about the DAs office prompted Councilor Sanchez to read the letter from District Attorney Sam Bregman’s office saying it was never the DA’s job to report officer no-shows. Instead, it was a courtesy.

Other councilors said while it’s obvious something needs to change, but they said they are not sure they had enough information to move forward yet. City Councilor Brook Bassan said this:

“Until the FBI comes back and giving us some solid answers and solid evidence, I am going to refrain from comment or judgment beyond this moment in time.”

City Councilor Dan Champine, who is a former APD officer asked about the status of the DWI unit since this investigation started. Medina said there’s no longer a DWI unit, but APD is still handling DWI cases.

At the conclusion of Medina’s questioning, City Councilor Louie Sanchez moved for a vote of “No Confidence” in  APD Chief Medina but the motion  failed to get a second and therefor it was not discussed or debated.

After the motion “vote of no confidence” failed,  Staci Drangmeister, spokesperson for the mayor’s office  issued the following statement:

“Councilor Sanchez’s failed attempt to call for a vote of no confidence shows just how out of touch he is with our community and the rest of the council. Even worse, he is trying to punish Chief Medina as he is exposing corruption and working with the U.S. Attorney and FBI to support their investigation. Fortunately, the other eight members of the council showed they are interested in finding justice for victims of DWI.”





With the appointment of an APD criminal investigation team, the resignation of Lt. Justin Hunt from APD and the placing of Internal Affairs Commander Mark Landavazo on administrative leave as part of the department’s ongoing investigation, it safe to assume that the investigation is expanding.  There is a real possibility that more police officers will be implicated in the scandal. It is more likely than not that the Federal investigation will lead to more than a few indictments. Then there is the matter of APD being under a Federal Consent Decree for the last 9  years and being required to implement 271 reforms. It is likely the scandal will result in  Federal Monitor James Ginger  finding that APD’s compliance levels are no longer near the compliance levels of 95% as he found in his 18th Federal Monitors report leading to great hope that the dismissal of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement was in reach.

The Resolution to terminate Chief Medina is a natural extension and exercise of the Albuquerque City Council’s oversight authority over APD as well as the Chief of Police.  Ever since this scandal broken on January 19 with the execution of the search warrants, APD Chief Harold  Medina has been in full “politcal  spin cycle” mode of “pivot, deflect, take credit and lay blame”.  Medina has blamed the District Attorney’s Office for not giving APD notice of officers failing to appear as well as blaming the Public Defender’s office for being aware of what attorney Clear was doing. Medina takes credit for the investigation and taking action to hold people accountable for the corruption when it was in fact the federal investigation that forced his hand after he allowed the problem to fester.

It was sure arrogance by Chief Medina proclaiming that the city council was “out of line” for demanding information and exercising their oversight authority. It is Medina who showed contempt and insubordination to the elected city council by calling out the 2 city councilors who are retired cops saying they should know better and to not ask questions of the Chief on pending criminal investigations.

It was appalling when Mayor Keller accused the City Council of “unethical conduct” by saying “it’s marginally unethical for them to air these concerns” that may jeopardize the investigation by simply asking for information they are entitled to have in order to carry out their oversight duties and responsibilities over APD.

Keller and Medina have made more than a few stunning admissions. They admit that the APD bribery and conspiracy scheme went on the entire 6 years they have been in charge of APD, but they never detected what was going on.

Both admitted that only after they found out the FBI was investigating APD, the decision was made to initiate a city criminal and internal affairs investigation and to proclaim cooperation with the FBI. Medina admitted that he knew about the corruption as far back as December 2022 when APD first received a complaint related to the department’s DWI unit yet he waited and essentially did nothing for a full year.

Keller’s admissions come from a person who was first elected as the white knight” state auditor who stopped “waste, fraud and abuse” and held people accountable for government corruption. Medina’s admissions come from a chief who claims he has never looked the other way at police corruption. Both have looked the other way on documented corruption involving overtime pay abuses by police officers. There have been 7 audits in eight years documenting the corruption, waste, fraud and abuse in police overtime.

APD’s reputation has been trashed to a major extent by the scandal. APD will be viewed by many as having another bastion of “dirty and corrupt cops” who have brought dishonor to their department and the department’s professed values of “Pride, Integrity, Fairness and Respect.” The whole scandal places an ethical stain on the department that may never be removed. This is before any charges have been filed, before anyone is fired from APD and before we ever know who is responsible.


The public must demand that there be a thorough investigation of the police officers involved in the crimes and the APD command staff who should have known what was going on.  Once the Resolution is introduced, City Council President Dan Lewis should refer it to the Committee of the Whole.  The City Council should call upon the City’s Internal Audit Department as well as the City’s General Council to investigate what has happened and present their findings. A series of hearing should be held to allow the city council conduct open, public hearings and be briefed on what is going on in general terms on what’s being done.

It is clear that he Albuquerque City Council should demand a full audit of APD by the Internal Audit Department or the Inspector General and of overtime paid to the police officers implicated. There are at least 3 unanswered questions that must be addressed by the investigation:

  1. Did APD Chief Harold Medina, the Deputy Chiefs or Commanders, Lieutenants or Sergeants withhold information about the DWI Unit from the Federal Court monitor believing they could contain the scandal and resolve it on their own? Full compliance and dismissal of the Department of Justice Court Approved Settlement  Agreement (CAS)  will likely be affected by the scandal. What is downright pathetic is how hundreds of DWI cases were dismissed and went totally undetected by the Federal Monitor.  It’s hard to believe that no one reported the problem to the monitor and his auditing team.
  2. Exactly what remuneration was paid by the defense attorney to the cops to get the cases dismissed? Was it cash or some other benefit paid, such as airline tickets, high end tickets to sporting events or entertainment event tickets or lavish trips?
  3. The police union contract mandates the payment of a minimum of two hours overtime pay at “time and a half” for schedule court appearances. Did the accused police officers claim time and a half for court appearances that they never attended, or agreed not to attend, as they were paid by the defense attorney?


Mayor Tim Keller and Chief Medina must be held accountable and responsible for what has happened. Until Mayor Keller and his administration, and for that matter the City Council, take aggressive action to deal with this latest APD crisis, APD’s professed values of “Pride, Integrity, Fairness And Respect” are meaningless words on a wall. The first step to restore APD’s reputation and some level of public trust in APD  is the immediate termination of Chief Harold Medina by the Albuquerque City Council.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.