Over the last few weeks, several stories broke regarding the efficacy of the Albuquerque Police Department’s leadership. Most recently KRQE detailed allegations where several applicants and a cadet of questionable qualifications are being processed or were admitted as cadets into APD’s “highly competitive” basic police certification academy. As soon as the story broke, it disappeared. Apparetnly it touched a HOT nerve within the Berry administration. Many of our Eyes indicated that the station’s manager, Ian Munro, pulled the story under threat of litigation from city CAO Rob Perry. Other Eyes suggested that APD threatened to withhold information from other stories thus depriving KRQE of possible ratings. Either way, thanks to you, loyal readers, KRQE reposted the story. However, our Eyes tell us it came with a caveat from APD lawyer Kathy Levy. In a trailer to the story the additional confessions include:
"No one is a member of the Albuquerque Police Academy without going through a very rigorous application and examination process. Each applicant is tested for physical, psychological and decision making skills.
We can confirm that Gary Carlisle was a cadet in the Albuquerque Police Academy and recently resigned.
Ms. Medina is currently in the application process for the Albuquerque Department. She was never prohibited from applying for the academy.
We can confirm that Mr. Hetes was an applicant and he is not a member of any academy class."
Notice the legal finessing of NOT addressing the issues raised. Silence equals consent. By being silent regarding Cadet Carlisle’s egregious sexual harassment conduct, APD grants confirmation of the allegation. By being silent on Ms. Medina’s academic qualifications, APD grants confirmation of the allegation of her not satisfying the 60-credit hour requirement. By being silent on the allegations against Mr. Hetes’ polygraph measures, is APD not confirming he indeed committed such actions? Still, it appears there are more issues coming out of APD. It seems there are several current officers that, despite having “NEVER TO BE HIRED” memos placed in their application files or were terminated during prior academies, are now rookie officers. In the department’s desire to staff itself (as dozens of senior officers retire as early as they are eligible…Deputy Chief of Police Beth Paiz for example) are we not witnessing the reinvigoration of the same issues that plagued the department in the last years of the Chavez administration where standards were softened and deals were cut? What environment is created when new rookie officers have already had a shield of protection from issues that would otherwise result in termination? Are these the type of personnel that will withstand the scrutiny skilled lawyers will layer upon them in deposition or in trial? Given the advances of the internet, you can be sure that every litigator practicing in Bernalillo County will be sure to Google search any officer named as a witness or defendant in a lawsuit. As if the job for front line officers is not hard enough, we seem to have an active effort of the department’s leadership trying to make it more difficult.
What are the consequences of hiring deficient personnel? Almost a year ago, Judge Murdoch was arrested for charges of criminal sexual penetration. The lead detective in that case had had his credibility impeached in a previous criminal trial. Not surprisingly, the Murdoch arrest was fraught with errors and mismanagement despite being presented as a seal tight case by DCOP Feist. Incorrect statues and incorrect elements existed in the complaint. (Yes this is the same DCOP Feist that was excoriated by the Albuquerque Journal for needing a lesson in Investigations 101 a few days ago). Not surprisingly, the Murdoch case was dumped and as of today has not, and is not expected to be, refilled. The lead detective in the Murdoch case was APD detective Keith Sandy. Sandy was a lateral from NMSP who, despite his controversial resignation from NMSP because of co-employment allegations, was aggressively greeted by APD and rushed into and graduated from a lateral academy. In the aftermath of being “giglio’ed” in federal court (where the officer was found to have lied and hence forth had tarnished credibility), APD retained Sandy’s position as a detective. This obviously presents no problem where cases are settled, but in such a case as Judge Murdoch where the officer/detective’s credibility WILL BE challenged, they will not survive such scrutiny. Whatever the reasons that led to Detective Sandy’s impeachment aside, APD leadership has a duty to ensure its personnel retain credibility. Is it reasonable to think that we at the EYE know of these issues but our friends on the 5th floor do not??? As Mayor Berry’s police chief has a fondness for holding officers accountable when they affect the department’s credibility, we wonder to what extent APD as an entity has credibility?
If APD were subject to the same standards Mayor Berry’s police chief routinely holds officers to, how would it fair? Would it be consistent with its own SOPs or would it be in violation of holding itself in disrepute and violating misdemeanor and felony laws? What issues does it mean where an officer was fired from a previous academy but then ushered through a subsequent academy? If our friends on the 5th floor think nothing…then perhaps they need to look at the pending docket of several prominent cases coming down the line…