For Mayor-Elect Berry the news was an embarrassment because candidate Berry ran on a platform of fixing the crime problem created by the Chavez administration and presumably Marty's Chief Minion, Ray Schultz. In point of fact, the selection of Schultz itself made Berry look rather less than honest and both the media and the public can easily spot hypocrisy and/or political expedience.
[Sidebar]Late Wednesday afternoon things got even worse for the new chief (same as the old chief). For the past two weeks a lightly covered law suit was going forward in U.S. District court in Santa Fe. In it former Officer Sam Costales was suing APD and Chief Raymond Schultz for retaliating against Costales for giving testimony for the defense in the case of State of New Mexico vs. Unser.
A new mayor has not only the power but the duty to surround himself with "his" people. Chief Schultz was but one of the early missteps made by an inexperienced but ultimately honest politician.
Berry's mistake? Listening to his soon-to-be Public Safety Director. Darren White has been working with Schultz for more than just the past 5 years, but since he was a new APD patrolman and young Darren's first sergeant. Our Eyes tell us that White promised his first boss that he'd be staying on within hours of the election.
In his naiveté, Berry failed to realize the very real political implications of the Schultz choice - implications that should have been readily apparent to both White and Berry's other top appointment, David Campbell. It appears that both White and Campbell are busy following their own agendas.
Costales claimed that Schultz and the department created an atmosphere where he feared for his life and was ultimately forced to leave the department. Wednesday afternoon the jury found for the plaintiff and Costales was awarded $662,000.
The jury found that Chief Ray Schultz personally violated Costales' civil rights as did the Albuquerque Police Department. In addition, the jury found that there is a "blue wall of silence" and that the actions of Chief Schultz were retaliatory.
The lawsuit also named Sheriff Darren White and police union official James Badway, but claims against them have been settled.The jury finding makes it look like the entire department acts in unison to close ranks and protect their own even if the "offender" is one of their own. The reality is a little more subtle than that and a hell of a lot more dangerous.
Our observation is that while rank and file officers are regularly drawn and quartered publicly, while the favored few - the good ol' boys - are regularly protected from the consequences of their own screw-ups and misdeeds. Our Eyes even tell us that some of Ray's Favored have even been protected from allegations of criminal conduct.
It's no surprise that when Sheriff Darren White called Schultz to complain about Costales' testimony in the Unser case, Chief Schultz sprang into action to punish the officer who had the temerity to testify against the Sheriff's deputies. It's not a "blue wall of silence" as much as a blue barrier of fear where the mighty Favored Few are protected at all costs and the rank and file never know when they might be sacrificed to "prove" that the department is capable of policing itself.
All of which brings us to another of Berry's campaign promises... transparency. How can APD operate transparently when officers fear retribution? Transparency requires honesty and honesty is the first casualty of fear. Officers shouldn't face retribution for telling the truth, speaking their minds, or doing what's right. They should be rewarded not retaliated against.
[Sidebar]Until December 1st, Chief Schultz, his cronies and his cover-ups belong to the little vindictive outgoing mayor. Before Mayor-Elect Berry has even taken office, Chief Schultz has become an embarrassment to his administration. That's two strikes in as many days. After December 1st, the mess that is the APD 5th Floor will be owned by Berry.
It's telling that there was only one currently serving officer courageous enough to testify for the plaintiff. Our Eyes tell us that Sergeant Paul Heh testified yesterday much to the chagrin of Chief Schultz. Part of his testimony was that he feared 5th Floor retribution simply because he was called to testify.
If you're on the street and run into Sergeant Heh, tell him thank you and watch his back. You can bet that Schultz and crew will be looking for some payback.
The only questions remaining are how many strikes will Berry allow Schultz, how much more political capital is Darren White willing to burn on his favored friend, and how long will it take for the new mayor to figure out his mistake?