Effective immediately, the current rank of Captain has been officially changed to Commander. The new rank will be incorporated into the Departments SOP, General Orders, Procedural Orders and Administrative Orders Manuals at a later date.It certainly doesn't look like much, but with the stroke of a pen Chief Schultz removed an entire rank from the APOA. You see, up until last Thursday, your local substation commander was a captain; now the Captain in command is a Commander in charge.
You're probably thinking so what, a rose by any other name... The problem here isn't in the title it's in the job description. Now that Captains are Commanders, they are no longer a part of the APOA. In essence they have become at will employees of the Chief - who in turn is an at will employee of the mayor.
By creating the new rank to supplant the old, the 11th floor has managed to extend its tentacles through the 5th floor and right into your neighborhood substation. Our problem is that APD already has a problem with ambitious officers buying their rank (we won't mention DC Castro's name), removing Captains from the union only increases the necessity for Commanders to be loyal to the current administration.
We've been watching the administration for some time as it worked to move "their" people into the captain slots; as more senior and experienced Lieutenants were repeatedly passed over for promotion. Our Eyes tell us that these passed over Lieutenants didn't have a problem with qualification, but rather with loyalty to the current administration.
According to our Eyes this move has been in the works since 2005, when a number of APD Captains and Lieutenants were openly supporting other candidates; which by the way, they have every right to do as long as they are not in uniform and not on duty. Then Deputy Chief Paul Chavez vowed that the mayor was going to remove both Captains and Lieutenants from the ranks of the APOA; and it looks to us as if that is exactly what the mayor is up to.
You may be wondering why the APOA would go along with such an obvious power grab. Well The Eyes have it that the APOA quietly agreed to the provision under the tenure of former President, Lawrence Torres; who now coincidentally works for the mayor.
Our Eyes tell us that these types of tactics have been compared to the iron fisted control over the police wielded by the legendary "mayor" of Albuquerque Clyde Tingley, by none other than current DC Michael Castro. Oddly enough, we might find ourselves agreeing with the Deputy Chief on this one.
In the final analysis, it really doesn't matter whether we have a Captain or a Commander. What matters is that they make law enforcement their first and only priority. The Area Commands are not the places for the politics of the 11th and 5th floors; they're a place where citizens should be able to trust that eradicating crime is the only goal.
Unfortunately, these new Commanders will owe their jobs to the Almighty Alcalde and should they prove too independent from his honor, they we be forced to go it alone. Our Eyes have seen it too many times; cross the administration and suddenly there's an IA investigation that pops up out of nowhere. If you're perceived to be disloyal, you end up with your phone bugged.
The Albuquerque Police Department needs more insulation from the politics of the 11th floor, not less. That means that they need to be less dependent on the good favor of the mayor and more concerned about fighting crime so that headlines like "Crime Welcomes TV Crew" (ABQ Journal - Subscription) aren't just an expected part of the Albuquerque experience.