Proclaiming that the Albuquerque Police Department will rise again, Michael Geier was sworn in Tuesday and chief of the department.
In a ceremony at the Albuquerque Balloon Museum, Geier took the oath of office before more than 300 spectators, including scores of APD officers and Mayor Tim Keller.
Geier, who has more than 40 years of law enforcement experience, told the audience that in his early days as a police officer he never imagined that he would be a police chief. But he added that taking the helm of APD made him feel “that I'm back where I belong.”
“I ask that we all unite and work together … a new APD is coming soon,” Geier said. “I am confident that APD will rise again.”
Most recently, Geier, served as chief of the Rio Rancho Police Department.
Keller told the crowd that he had five major goals for APD, including restructuring the department, complying with the requirements of the city's settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, returning to community policing and ensuring that all promotions and discipline at APD are done fairly.
Keller also said that the change that is coming to APD “will end when we end our skyrocketing crime rate.”
Shortly after Geier was sworn in he did something that undoubtedly warmed the hearts of many APD officers. He honored wounded APD Officer Louis Golson with the highest medal an APD officers can achieve: the Medal of Valor and the Purple Heart. Golson was wounded in January of 2015 (almost three years ago), when he was shot four times by a suspected drunken drive.
The ceremony was notable for who wasn't there from APD. Robert Huntsman, who was assistant chief under Mayor Richard Berry wasn't there, nor was Major Jessica Tyler, who was hired by former Chief Gorden Eden and who serves as the head of APD's training academy.
A Keller spokeswoman said that Huntsman had retired and that all mahor and commander positions at APD are under review.
Geier takes the helm of a department that has been chronically understaffed for years. The department is budgeted for 1,000 officers, but only has around 830 sworn personnel. And, it has been accused of purposely obstructing the settlement agreement with the DOJ.
Also sworn in with Geier were Deputy Chiefs Harold Medina and Rogelio Banez.
Keller and Geier will hold a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday to discuss more changes at APD.
Here's Geier's bio:
Mike Geier retired from APD in April 2014 to take on the position of Chief of Police with the Rio Rancho Police Department. He served in that agency for three years, during which time he made numerous progressive changes in the operation of that department. He served on several law enforcement executive committees in New Mexico during his tenure as chief, including the New Mexico Police Chief’s Association, NM Gang Task Force, NM Regional Drug Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Advisory Commission, the FBI’s Regional Forensic Computer Lab and the College of Central New Mexico’s Criminal Justice Advisory Board and Curriculum Committee.
He served as Commander for nearly five years in APD’s Criminal Investigations Division, overseeing the Violent and Juvenile Crimes Sections. Geier was in charge of several high profile investigations during that assignment such as the Baby Angel case, the Ellen Roth murders and the West Mesa multiple homicides. As the commander in violent crimes, he also served as the director of the city’s Family Advocacy Center (AFAC), where he coordinated efforts from several non-profit and governmental providers of victim services in our community. He finished his career in Albuquerque as an Area Commander in the department’s Field Services Bureau in the Southeast Area Command, one of the most challenging communities within the city of Albuquerque.
Geier has received numerous awards and commendations over his 43 plus year career in law enforcement, which has spanned parts of five decades. These include the Exceptional Merit Award and a Lifesaving Award (Illinois.) He has the unique distinction of being recognized as the Officer of the Year four times during his career with two different police departments. Two of his most significant accomplishments were having RRPD gain recognition by the IACP for their Excellence in Victim Services Award in 2016 in the midsize city category (this was the same award he had helped APD achieve back in 2011 in the large city category) and for being awarded that same year with New Mexico State Law Enforcement Accreditation by the New Mexico Municipal League. This was the first time in the history of the Rio Rancho Police Department that they achieve accreditation. Upon his retirement in 2017, the United States Attorney’s Office gave Geier an award for “appreciation and gratitude for his outstanding efforts which contributed to the attainment of the highest standards of cooperative law enforcement and justice in the District of New Mexico.”
At APD, Geier received both Officer of the Month in September 1998 and Officer of the Year for that same year with APD. He was recognized by MADD and the Albuquerque Partnership in 2002 for his work in leading APD’s underage drinking program, the Party Patrol. He received another award from MADD for this program as part of their annual Honoring Heroes in 2007. In 2009, he was honored by the New Mexico Crime Victim’s Reparation Commission for his work at the AFAC. The Domestic Violence Resource center recognized him in 2010 as their Hero of the Year. In 2011, his work at the AFAC was also acknowledged by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) when APD was awarded the IACP Excellence in Victims Service Award. He received the Public Service Award in 2013 from the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest. A further indication of his work ethic, Geier also finished first on both his promotional processes for sergeant and lieutenant with APD.
A second-generation police officer, Michael Geier started his law enforcement career in 1974 with the Wilmette, Illinois Police Department in north suburban Chicago. He worked 20 years with that agency, reaching the rank of Lieutenant before taking an early retirement due to his wife’s health issues with winters in the Midwest. Seeking a milder climate, he began a second police career as a recruit officer with the Albuquerque Police Department in 1994. He served 20 years with this department, reaching the rank of Commander in 2007.
After graduating from his first police academy at the Illinois Police Training Institute with top honors, he has earned an Associate’s Degree in Law Enforcement, a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Behavioral Science, and a Master’s of Arts Degree in Administration of Criminal Justice. Geier attended his second police academy upon coming to APD in 1994. He once again finished as with honors as the Top Cadet and Top Physical Fitness student upon completion of an extensive 22 weeks training regimen.
He is also a 1981 graduate of the 55th class from Northwestern University’s nine month Police Administration Training Program. This was a prestigious police management training program that is now held as a 10-week School of Police Staff and Command. Geier finished with honors in this class of 83 law enforcement executives from across the world.
Geier attended the renowned FBI National Academy, graduating with another straight A average. He was selected by his fellow 220 classmates, police executives from all over the world, as Session President and represented their class by giving the commencement speech at their graduation ceremonies in June 2013. He is a published author of police training articles, including a recent research study he co-authored entitled, Albuquerque Police Department Operation Hot Spot Method and Evaluation. It was published in International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts journal in 2012. While with APD, he served on the Board of Directors of both the NM Sexual Abuse Nurse Examiners and the NM Crime Victims Reparation Commission.
Mike has served in many different assignments during his law enforcement career, working in such capacities as a uniformed field officer, Juvenile Detective, Evidence Technician, Police Instructor, Field Training Officer, the Metro Unit/Anti-Crime Team Sergeant, Gang Detective and Supervisor, Emergency Response Team Lieutenant, Crisis Intervention Team member and Crisis Negotiator and Team Supervisor. He was a member of the first CIT class with APD in 1997. He was also one of the founders and coordinators of APD’s underage drinking program, a successful initiative that gained both state and national recognition.
Geier is an avid fitness enthusiast and, in addition to top fitness honors at his APD police academy graduation, he was recognized for being one of APD’s Most Fit Officers for a total of seven years. He regularly competes in the United States National Police and Fire Championships and the World Police and Fire Games in indoor rowing. He currently holds the national record for the 500 and 2,000 meter races in both the 50-59 and 60-69 age groups. He has also won several gold, silver and bronze medals during international competition at six World Police and Fire Games since 1992. Last summer he won 3 silver and one bronze medal in Los Angeles at the 2017 World Police and Fire Games.
Mike has been married to his wife, Judy, for almost 43 years. They have two adult children and two grandchildren.