At times we are very critical of APD's 5th Floor and occasionally individual officers who screw up or betray the public's trust. But by and large, the officers whose job it is to protect and serve do so with courage and honor that is rarely acknowledged publicly.
You may have already read about the APD pursuit that ended in a fiery crash early Saturday morning (ABQ Journal - Subscription). Officers were called to the Fantasia night club early Saturday morning reference a disturbance where an elderly man had been beaten. Upon arrival, officers observed an orange and white GMC Sierra pickup leaving the scene.
Officers issued an attempt to locate on the vehicle but moments later the orange and white pickup returned and tried to hit an officer at the scene. The officer managed to get out of the way but the truck proceeded to run down a woman in the parking lot. Officers believe that the driver of the pickup intended to hit the woman because it turned around and hit her a second time.
The truck then left the lot at a high rate of speed and headed west on McLeod to Jefferson running lights and almost hitting other vehicles along the way. A short time later the pickup was spotted turning onto the southbound I-25 on ramp by Officer Dawn Roberto. A pursuit was authorized and officer Roberto gave chase.
Officer Roberto pursed the truck through the Big-I where it nearly flew off the flyover to the sixth street exit where the driver of the orange and white truck was unable to negotiate a left hand turn striking the bridge and bursting into flames.
This is where the extraordinary courage of ordinary officers came into play as pursuers became life savers. Despite the fact that moments before this same truck had tried to kill one of their own and had run down an innocent woman, officers on the scene risked their lives battling the fire in the engine compartment to save the lives of the driver and his passenger. While waiting on AFD to arrive the officers emptied five of their fire extinguishers in the engine compartment to no avail.
Our Eyes tell us that the driver's side door was collapsed and the truck was in a position that made it impossible to access the cab directly. However, an officer noticed movement from the passenger and despite the height of the vehicle, and the fire beginning to enter the cab, Officers Zachary Floyd, Chris Romero, and Isaac Maes managed to pull the passenger - a 16 year old that reeked of alcohol - from the burning vehicle.
As it turns out both the driver and the passenger carried Mexican national IDs. Our Eyes tell us that they suspect the two are (or were as the case may be) in this country illegally and could be involved in illegal activity (other than being here illegally in the first place) because they were both carrying large amounts of cash.
Which brings us back to Fantasia... Our Eyes tell us that the club - an all ages night club - is suspected of catering to illegals and of turning a blind eye to shall we say, recreational pharmaceuticals. According to our Eyes the reputation of the club had been known for some time in law enforcement circles, but every time they attempted nuisance abatement or enforcement action they were shut down. Our Eyes believe that the club was being protected because politicians didn't want to look like they were targeting a club that caters to Mexican nationals. Some even speculate that the club was receiving political cover from Santa Fe.
In early August, another well known all ages night club - Club 7 - was raided by BCSO and APD (ABQ Journal - Subscription). Our Eyes tell us that this is another case where APD had been shut down because The Almighty Alcalde didn't want a black mark on downtown. In other words, the perception that downtown is a safe fun atmosphere is more important than underage drinking, rampant drug use, and fire code violations that could have ended over 500 young lives.
It's interesting that in politics perception is reality even if the reality is that with a little investigation lives could be saved. Unfortunately, politicians rarely show the courage demonstrated by officers on a daily basis. They're generally more interested in not looking bad than in not being bad. Even when they know that operations like Fantasia and Club 7 are endangering lives, they'll look the other way as long as the media doesn't pick it up.
It really is too bad that we don't have more politicians like officers Floyd, Romero, and Maes who when faced with a choice between what is right and what is easy, have the courage to risk their own lives to save another who just moments before was their adversary.