Keller: Old APD Still Alive; Will Take Time to Change Culture
Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Mike Geier said Tuesday that they weren't initially given the full story of the police department's handling of the case of a 7-year-old girl whose parents are accused of prostituting her.
The admission that they might have been lied to about the case, or not given all the information, caused Keller to say during a 35-minute news conference that the “old APD” is apparently still alive and that it will take time to change the department's culture and make it fully transparent and accountable.
“We did not get the full story, it's the same old culture,” Keller said.
But Geier, who has been chief since December and who spent more than
20 years at APD, vowed that he won't tolerate the secret ways of the old APD.
“This is not the old APD, we are not going to sweep this under the rug,” Geier told reporters.
Earlier in the day, Keller and Geier announced that they had ordered an Internal Affairs investigation into the case, which has gained national attention because an APD officer didn't tag into evidence the 7-year-old girl's bloody underwear after the girl's teacher told him about it in November of 2017.
And starting next week, Keller and Geier will announce changes to APD's policies on how it deals with potential child abuse cases and how APD deals with the state's Children, Youth and Families Department, Keller said.
CYFD had received more than 20 calls about the girl by last November when an APD officer was sent to check on her. It's not clear if APD dispatch personnel checked the CYFD database and knew of all those calls.
The IA investigation should be completed in 90 days, Geier said.
The launching of the IA investigation and the claim that they hadn't been given all the information about the case was a 180-degree turnaround for Geier and Keller. Two weeks ago when the story about the girl and APD's involvement in it broke, both Keller and Geier said APD's officers had followed department policy – even in not tagging the bloody underwear into evidence – and that all was fine.
But news stories questioning APD's handling of the case have been published and aired almost daily, and on Tuesday, Keller and Geier said APD's policies need to change.
One thing that's not clear is if APD dispatchers accessed CYFD's database and informed the officer who went to the girl's apartment and school about the more than 20 calls CYFD had received about the girl.
The former director of APD's Real Time Crime Center – T. J. Wilham, had issued two interoffice memos to RTCC operators saying the unit had access to CYFD's database and they were to check it on all calls involving juveniles.
On Tuesday, Geier didn't answer questions about whether APD dispatchers had accessed the CYFD database on the 7-year-old girl's call. But he and Keller hinted that the two memos might not have been distributed throughout APD, and that two interoffice memos didn't necessarily constitute department-wide policy.