Mike Geier was the best choice to lead the Albuquerque Police Department while Mayor-elect Tim Keller performs a national search.
I have known Mike for well over twenty years, since he first joined APD in 1994. He was a rookie, but not really. He already had twenty years of police experience in Illinois by the time he joined APD. His experience in law enforcement is real, from beat cop to command. He is not a back-room politician who embellishes his resume.
Mike has been on the street as a beat cop. He knows his community and his department. He knows how to lead and how to get things done. He also knows how to demand excellence from his command staff and he isn’t afraid to dismiss those who cannot perform.
Mike knows what to do to get APD back on the right course, but if he reads this I hope he will indulge me with some advice.
Number one, Mike must lobby Mayor-elect Keller and the city council to start treating the veteran cops at APD with the respect they deserve. Not with Friday afternoon public relations stunts or pontificating about how these politicians love their cops so they can get votes.
Mike must quickly convince the Keller and the council to find the money to entice these veteran cops to stay. There are many ways this can be done, but most importantly it must be done quickly. At the same time, Mike needs to instruct his command staff that they will no longer accept retention bonuses that the officers they command do not receive. Keller needs to pull this funding immediately, but Mike needs to make clear to his command staff that this robbery will not be allowed under his watch. Lead by example.
Geier and Keller must get rid of the ridiculous rank of Major. At a time when the number of APD officers continues to shrink, we don’t need a chief with more insulation, but with less. APD’s current command staff has failed in so many ways, but none as glaring as the continuing shrinking of APD manpower. That falls upon the person in charge of recruiting and retention, Major Jessica Tyler.
Not only has the major in charge of the academy failed to grow the department, her initial hiring violated hiring rules for the Albuquerque Police Department. APD rules prohibits the hiring of sworn officers (rank does not matter) who are under Internal Affairs investigation by another police department. Chief Eden violated this rule when he hired Tyler, as she was under investigation by her old department, Bernalillo County Sheriff.
This favoritism, and violating the rules, created a chasm at APD between beat cops and command. When Eden hired Tyler, beat cops knew that command staff would never be held to the same high standards that they were. This double standard continued when Eden took no disciplinary action against Tyler for not turning on her lapel camera at the House of Pho double murder and suicide. That's something that beat cops are disciplined for weekly.
Tyler brought to APD her own soap opera when she threatened supervisors at a training session and then assisted her husband in filing a complaint against those same supervisors. This is not how a professional police agency is managed, and since her hiring and rank are “at will,” she should be thanked for her service and terminated. APD needs the best leadership, not favoritism by people who fail in their positions.
Lastly, Geier was here when Jerry Galvin was police chief. Galvin found out quickly that those in command, who were left over from the prior police chief administration had no loyalty to him. Behind Galvin’s back these police commanders attacked Galvin and every policy he tried to enact. Geier must remember this and send the deputy chiefs, majors and commanders / captains into retirement.
The current command level officers (above the rank of lieutenant), are Ray Schulz and Gorden Eden appointees and they helped to cause the failure at APD. Hold these people accountable for the horrible shape APD is now in, and during this interim period, terminate every single one of them. Send a message that APD wants only the best and that Chief Geier will hold to a higher level of accountability those who wear gold on their collars.
The chief of police, as with any officer, swears an oath upon commission. That oath is to uphold the Constitution, serve all members of the community, and to bring respect to the police department. Geier is the first APD chief in a very long time who not only understands this but lives it.
Good luck Mike, for the first time in years I have reason to believe my police department is going to get back to the proud agency it once was.