The department-wide reorganization of the Albuquerque Police Department that new Police Chief Michael Geier announced Thursday has put Geier firmly in command of the organization that he took over less than two weeks ago.
The reorganization plan eliminates the positions of major and assistant chief, creates a new compliance bureau for DOJ reform efforts, complete with a deputy chief to oversee them, and forces all current commanders to reapply for their jobs.
Here's why that last point is important. Commanders who re-apply for positions will be assessed based on their commitment to carry out community policing. If they can't do community policing they're gone.
Community policing is the goal for Geier, Mayor Tim Keller and the DOJ. Here's the take on the reorganization from one longtime APD observer:
“Geier removed all the insulation that Eden had set up to protect himself from having to make decisions. This is Geier’s department. Twelve days in and he has complete control. Now if only Keller and the council can find some money.”
It'll be tough to find new money to give cops raises, as Keller said on Wednesday that the city is looking at a budget deficit of up to $10 million because Gross Receipts Tax revenues are coming in at about half of what was predicted. And Keller also said that the federal government has yet to approve the $75 million in grant money the city is hoping to get for the $134 million Albuquerque Rapid Transit project. If that money doesn't come through, that'll be a $75 million hole to plug.
We reported last Saturday that Geier had demoted all of APD's 15 or so commanders to acting commanders and told them they'd have to reapply for their jobs. Three of those commanders quit rather than go through the interview process. And, Maj. Jessica Tyler, who was head of APD's training academy, resigned.
So it looks like Geier is in full command, that he will make decisions, and that he will answer for the decisions he makes.
This is not a police chief who is going to hide.
Here's the city's news release on Geier's reorganization plan:
ALBUQUERQUE – Mayor Tim Keller and Albuquerque Police Department Chief Michael Geier announced the details today of a new organizational structure that allows APD to more aggressively fight crime.
“We’re taking this step to better fight crime, foster community policing, reduce bureaucracy and address the Department of Justice requirements,” stated Mayor Keller. “We’re building each one of these goals into the structure going forward. The new structure is one that rank and file officers have supported because it pushes resources further towards the frontline.”
“The reorganization of the department represents the initial step in that effort to foster community policing, reduce bureaucracy, and better address requirements under the federal court settlement,” Chief Geier said. “A more effective department will show that leadership is committed to change and working with the community to fight crime.”
The new APD organizational chart is attached.
This initial restructuring advances several objectives, which will help the department recruit new officers and keep communities safe:
Creates an environment that is conducive to community policing.
Commanders who re-apply for positions will be assessed based on their commitment to carry out community policing.
Eliminating the rank of “Major” and “Assistant Chief” will get more officers back on the streets into area commands.
Better complies with the court-ordered DOJ requirements.
· New Compliance Bureau will oversee all compliance functions.
· Designates a Deputy Chief primarily focused on department reforms, including compliance with the federal settlement.
Creates more efficient and effective police services
· Eliminates top-heavy structure in favor of supporting officers in the field.
· Improve communication by bringing all uniform officers under one deputy chief.
Creates accountability for results
· Change starts at the top.
· Chief and Deputy Chiefs oversee a more streamlined organization.