Dinelli: National Search for New Police a Charade

May 4, 2018

 

 

Candidate for Mayor Tim Keller promise that if elected, he would do a national search for a new APD Police Chief.

 

It has been announced that a national search is already underway to select a permanent APD Chief.

 

 

The city hired the firm Avtec for $10,000 to assist with the search for a new police chief and the process has been going on for about a month.

 

INTERIM CHIEF MICHAEL GEIER

 

After taking office on December 1, 2017, Mayor Tim Keller appointed APD Chief Michael Geier interim Chief.

 

Geier began his career in law enforcement in 1974 as a police officer in a northern Chicago area suburb before he joined the Albuquerque Police Department in 1994.

 

In 2014, Michael Geier retired from APD after 20 years of service and became the Rio Rancho Police Chief.

 

On February 18, 2017 Chief Geier left the Rio Rancho police department saying he needed to spend more quality time with his wife who is in ill health.

 

At the time of his departure as Rio Rancho Police Chief, Geier said:

 

“I’ve been doing this for 43 years and, at some point, you’ve got to put something first. We’ve been together 42 years … right now, I need an extended sabbatical to help her and give that attention”.

 

 

The “extended sabbatical” lasted until December, 2017 when Michael Geier was appointed APD Interim Chief.

 

Chief Geier came up through the ranks of APD and was appointed and served as a commander under former APD Chief Ray Schultz.

 

Tim Keller met Michael Geier when Keller was a State Senator for the International District and Geier was the South East Heights area commander.

 

In an interview, Chief Geier said that he plans to apply for the permanent position by saying:

 

“I didn’t know where it was going to lead but as we’ve gotten more embedded in the job now, definitely I’m interested in staying for the long haul. … I just feel that I’ve kind of taken ownership of (the police department.) I feel like this was something that was meant to be.”

 

Mayor Keller sure looks like he is setting his Interim Chief up to make him permanent when he said:

 

“We’ve got to have a chief that understands APD and Albuquerque. … That’s a general statement because I think that can come in numerous forms. I think that’s critical – they have to have some sort of experience with respect to our city, our state and the department. They also have to have some sort of outside perspective. We know that, coming in, we didn’t want someone that’s been solely in APD. They need to know a lot about community policing. It’s our administration’s priority and they’ve got to have expertise in that area.”

 

 

Chief Geier has law enforcement experience first in Chicago and after APD as Chief of the Rio Rancho Police Department.

 

Chief Michael Geier was well school in community-based policing when it was first instituted in Albuquerque back in the 1990’s.

 

He was also well schooled in the management practices of former Chief Ray Schultz having been appointed a commander by Schultz.

 

IS THE FIX ALREADY IN?

 

When Chief Geier says “I feel like this was something that was meant to be” he probably knows a little more than he is letting on and has known it for some time.

 

Confidential sources have said then Rio Rancho Chief of Police Michael Geier met with candidate for Mayor Tim Keller back in late 2016 before Keller announced for Mayor in January, 2017 and before Geier retired as Chief of the Rio Rancho Police Department on February 18, 2017.

 

Confidential sources have also said that it was during the election that Keller made the commitment in private to appoint Geier Interim chief and to keep him a full year to see how he performs and then make him permanent.

 

WE’VE SEEN THIS BEFORE

 

Appointing Michael Geier as interim chief was clearly one of the better appointments Keller has made.

 

By all accounts, Geier has performed his job with honesty and integrity free from personal vendetta or political agendas.

 

Geier has done a good job of calming things down at APD.

 

However, Chief Geier and his Deputy Chiefs represent and are a reflection of APD’s past.

 

The Deputy Chiefs of Police appointed by Interim Chief Geier include Harold Medina who retired from APD as commander after serving 20 years, Rogelio Banez who was the area commander in southwest Albuquerque, and Eric Garcia who was a Deputy Chief under APD Chief Gordon Eden.

 

Deputy Chief Eric Garcia has received high marks for his work on the DOJ reforms, but once again he was part of the previous administration’s management team and eligible to retire.

 

The Geier command staff do not reflect a new generation of police officer fully committed and trained in constitutional policing.

 

All the previous commanders under the Berry Administration have been shuffled around with a few retiring, with no firm commitment, at least not yet announced, that they will be kept as commanders.

 

The management and command staff under Chief Geier is a remarkable look alike consisting of even older faces replacing the old faces under former Chiefs Ray Schultz and Chief Gordon Eden and people brought up through the ranks of APD over the last 20 years.

 

IT’S DAJA VUE ALL OVER AGAIN

 

Eight years ago, candidate for Mayor Richard Berry said he was going to replace Chief Ray Schultz but went back on his word and kept Schultz as chief instead.

 

For close to four (4) years, Berry retained APD Chief Ray Schultz.

 

Schultz mismanage APD without civilian supervision and Schultz engaged in questionable management tactics against rank and file police officers.

 

Like it or not Michael Gieir was part of the Schultz management team.

 

When APD Chief Ray Schultz became embattled and decided to retire, former APD Commander Allen Banks became Interim Chief and he was also encouraged to apply to become permanent with a national search announced.

 

Banks decided not to apply and moved on.

 

A “national search” was conducted and many well qualified individuals with extensive law enforcement experience managing a municipal police department applied and were interviewed and turned down.

 

Republican political operative Gordon Eden was appointed APD Chief despite having no prior experience managing a municipal police department.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Mayor Tim Keller was swept into office with a 62% vote landslide giving him a mandate for change.

 

Keller promised to make sweeping, visionary change to APD and its management, but frankly that is not happening.

 

Mayor Keller is making good on his promise made during the election that he was committed to a national search for a new Chief of Police, but why bother if the decision has already been made.

 

Thus far, we are not seeing any real visionary change to APD and a return to a reliance on past management of the department.

 

It was the past APD management practices that resulted in the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice that lead to the federal consent decree after 18 police officer involved shootings and the findings of excessive use of force and deadly force by APD.

 

APD needs a clean sweep in management to remove anyone who may have assisted, contributed or who did not stop the culture of aggression found by the Department of Justice and who have resisted the reform process during the last 3 years of the consent decree.

 

Someone needs to tell Mayor Keller there is no need for the charade of a national search if he already has made a decision to keep Geier.

 

Mayor Keller needs to make Chief Geier permanent now if in fact he has made the decision with the national search being nothing more than wasting taxpayer’s dollar’s.

 

Please do not waste other people’s time applying for the position.

 

Please spare us all from the charade of a national search process and from news accounts as to who is applying and how the selection process is continuing.

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