This past Sunday, Ken Walz's paper, The Albuquerque Journal published a column by Albuquerque's Mayor, RJ Berry. In a rare and atypical moment of individual expression, Berry asserted how the city would work with the US Department of Justice and reiterated his unyielding support of APD's Chief Ray Schultz, the primum movens of this mess, by stating: "I believe...in our chief..."
Berry continued in his column about the "60-plus reforms" APD and his administration has made to effect a "very real and positive difference in our community and for our officers." Berry contends the implementation of these "60-plus reforms" are best defined by: the officer worn video lapel cameras, 60+college credits/military time hiring requirements, doubling the crisis intervention training by officers, and the hiring of a civilian training director at APD's academy.
Berry also directed attention to his perceived notion why DOJ is investigating his police department: "allegations by members of our community that APD officers engage in the systematic use of excessive force."
Besides the expected political banter of a candidate facing decimation, Berry stated little else. Sure, he put forward the ideals of "community trust in our department is vital" and "keep our police officers safe while on duty." And he also projected the desirable goals we all share including: "We...strive for positive community outcomes," "I am confident at this point that this is the goal of everyone involved," and "I look forward to a candid and open dialog with the Department of Justice..."
So let's be candid shall we?
With respect to the "60-plus reforms," the lapel cameras have done little but invoke a chilling effect upon citizens who want to talk with their local police officers and inhibit officers from initiating proactive law enforcement efforts. Sure, there are the occasions where despite the cameras misconduct will be recorded, but the net effect is a reduction in trust and a reduction in service. The college/military requirement is nothing but a ruse to increase the hiring age of officers. Despite the fact that APD's own PERF reported observed there was no correlation between an officer's age and the propensity to use deadly force, among the more stunning effects of this requirement is the near total abandonment of police recruit applications. As Officer Wilder identified in his notice of retirement letter, only one police academy cadet class is scheduled for late 2013. And given now that the APD is a target of a multimillion dollar investigation by DOJ, we can't imagine that is a recruiting incentive.
Berry's assertion that APD officers who receive "Crisis Intervention Training" will double is a sheer fabrication. As per state DPS basic police officer certification standards, ALL police recruits receive at least 40 hours of CIT training. This training has been standard policy for over ten years. In APD's academy, recruits are put through academic and role-player staffed scenario training emphasizing verbal judo and deescalation. If anything, there has been but only two CIT specialized training sessions since the retirement of CIT sergeant Jan Olstad a few years ago and the CIT unit has been all but abandoned. Lastly, with the replacement of a paramilitary police academy with an academic academy comes an absence of discipline. Despite the goals of Mr. Wolf at APD's academy, new officers will be thrust into a dynamic and chaotic world where decisions must be made instantly and orders need to be followed. Mr. Wolf's model may work for persons desiring to become investigators or federal law enforcement where there are no elements consistent with first responders but it has no history of success with the police model. When confronted with terror, our new officers will either freeze, run or resort to their biggest stick: their gun.
Moving to Berry's aspersions to the community, Mr. Berry either misapprehends what has happened in Albuquerque or is simply lying. The community's response is symptomatic of what has happened with APD. The DOJ is not here because of a few dozen folks who happen to take their 1st Amendment rights seriously. As more officers retire and resign from APD, more and more evidence in support of what we at the Eye have been saying for years comes to light. APD's troubles begin and end at the top of the chain of command.
When Berry says, "we will not shy away from difficult decisions that need to be made for the betterment of Albuquerque," is he being consistent with his actions when he and his administration hide behind their lawyer when confronted with egregious conduct by department leaders at the suspicious death scene of prominent civil rights lawyer Mary Han? Is he being consistent with this statement when he is seen having frequent dinners with Ms. Han's former (and fired) law partner, Paul Kennedy, at Tanoan? When Berry says one of his goals is to "believe in our police officers..," is he being consistent when he supports the chief of his department who levies discipline in such an arbitrary fashion that his actions have cost city taxpayers millions of dollars? Or when he supports the unlawful termination of officers who use less-lethal force in apprehending a violent fleeing felon? Or when he fails to abide by agreed upon contracts between his officers? When in response to the DOJ investigation, Berry says, "...we will make cooperation, professionalism, and collaboration the order of the day" is he being consistent with his action of VETOING city council's resolution to proactively invite DOJ in to investigate APD? Or when Schultz uses intimidating tactics to squelch officer, or civilian, contact with DOJ?
And when Berry says, "Chief Schultz, the department, and my administration will work with the DOJ," is he being consistent when Schultz issues an order requiring all officers who contact DOJ (via email or in person) to advise the 5th floor of the details of their contact?
Berry asserts that he desires an ultimate goal of DOJ's investigation as being the restoration of trust between the community and his administration. Such restoration will not come without pain and hardship. Our Eyes tell us the scale of what DOJ is bringing is almost beyond comprehension in terms of personnel and its effect upon the institution of APD. There will be a degree of scrutiny that we citizens of Albuquerque have never seen before.
We at the Eye would like to see Berry consistent with his representations for once. In order to achieve this ultimate goal of trust restoration, there must be some pain. We in the community of citizens, current officers, and former officers have seen enough: Mr. Berry, terminate Ray Schultz as APD Chief of Police and resign.
P.S. We at the Eye have not forgotten about the APOA's castrated silence in this matter. Despite the fact that their own survey concluded moral is down (and that there is a direct relationship between decreased moral and poor productivity) they have been all but silent in asserting solutions to this matter. Additionally, we were shocked to find out that their expert in officer retaliation and treachery, Ron Olivas, had anything to say to DOJ personnel.
Quote of the Day
Does this sound familiar? This is right from the dictionary and seems to describe Albuquerque, Berry and Schultz. Fascism (f ash ,izem) noun An authoritarian right wing system of government and/or social organization. (in general use) extreme right wing, authoritarian, chauvinistic and/or intolerant views or practices. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one group over another, national, ethnic, especially social strata or monetarily; a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. Compliments of one of our Eyes