Police Oversight Agency Needs to Investigate APD
The New APD might be worse than the Old APD
The last two months have exposed a nightmare of problems at the Albuquerque Police Department. A 7-year-old child abuse victims’ bloody underwear, that APD Child Abuse detectives didn’t think needed to be taken as evidence (originally exonerated by Chief Geier and Mayor Keller). District Attorney Raul Torrez exposing APD’s failure in its investigation into the horrendous murder of ten-year-old Victoria Martens. The former Police Academy director exposing rampant cheating by cadets and the Internal Affairs commander tampering/altering public documents. This is what some would call a shit storm.
Seven-year-old girls don’t menstruate. It’s common sense that if there is blood in their underwear either the child is gravely ill or this is evidence of a crime. Yet neither the responding officer, the detectives and the chief of police understood this (not until public outcry). Then we had the point by point dismantling of APD’s case against Michelle Martens and Fabian Gonzales by DA Torrez. What and how is APD Academy teaching officers and detectives at the police academy? What indeed.
I hear the soundbites from Geier and Keller about changing APD for the better and being more transparent, but I see nothing tangible happening. I see Keller’s Twitter and Facebook posts showing APD officers playing basketball with kids and saying, “this is community policing.” Hate to tell you mayor, it’s not. Community policing is not about police officers shooting hoops with kids; it’s about well-trained police officers working with the community to make neighborhoods safer. That means training officers and detectives to recognize crimes and to take immediate action. That means training detectives on how to do impartial investigations and not to always believe what you are told, without evidence.
So far Geier and Keller have not presented anything tangible regarding better training for our officers and detectives. In fact, it seems that covering up and denying legally valid IPRA requests is what we an expect from the “new APD”. It seems that APD would rather “kill the messenger” that face up to problems.
What else are we to make from the forced retirement of APD Academy Commander John Sullivan, for “performance” reasons. Sullivan had only been at the police academy for a few months, and during that time he recognized that APD trainers were providing cadets with the answers to test questions! That tests were taken in groups instead of individually. This appears to have been happening under the Gorden Eden / Jessica Tyler administration.
Even the Consent Decree monitor questioned the average cadet scores of 95, but Eden and Tyler never blinked an eye about it. Is this why Sullivan was sent packing when he tried to fix this? It seems to me that Sullivan was performing in the way we wanted him to, no more coverups. No more hiding. Announce when mistakes are made and immediately work to correct them. Well that type of performance got Sullivan forced into retirement. Welcome to the “New APD,”, same as the Old APD.
At the time Sullivan is being forced into retirement, tipsters informed ABQREPORT that Internal Affairs Commander Jennifer Garcia was only going to receive a transfer and a suspension for falsifying IA documents! When an IPRA was filed with APD to find out what this was all about, the new APD under Geier denied it, citing among other things “attorney client privilege” and “law enforcement exemption.” Neither of which pertain. A lawsuit is now being prepared to force APD to release the investigation into Garcia. The New APD sure seems a lot like the old APD, doesn’t it?
After the media began asking questions about Garcia, Geier released documents that announced Garcia would be demoted (Geier had promoted her just months ago) to lieutenant and transferred. In the document he cites that Garcia was caught tampering/falsifying Internal Affairs documents (public records) which on it’s face is a 4th degree felony. Yet Geier did not order a criminal investigation and has yet to submit an LEA 90 misconduct report to the New Mexico Law Enforcement Board. Why? Doesn’t Geier recognize a potential crime when he sees one? (apparently not if you watch his original defense of the bloody underwear case). Doesn’t Geier know that the New Mexico State statute that governs the certification of law enforcement officers, requires an misconduct report to the NMLEA Board by the chief in this matter.
Geier knows about LEA 90 misconduct reporting, because his first action as APD chief was to send the NMLEA Board a misconduct report on retired APD Lieutenant Greg Brachle for shooting, and almost killing, Detective Jacob Grant. Geier should have submitted an LEA 90 against Eden at the same time for failure to perform his job as chief of police. But now, eight months later, it is Geier who is failing to submit a misconduct report on Garcia. What is so difficult with a chief of police obeying state statute? And why hasn’t Keller ordered Geier to submit this LEA 90? New APD sure looks like the old APD.
APD is not changing. Don’t believe the dribble PR crap from Keller.
But we, the people, can fix some of this, here is how. The Police Oversight Board needs to step in, right now, and direct the CPOA to open a full and complete investigation into the APD Training Academy during the time Jessica Tyler was director. This investigation is beyond the scope of the current POB generalist investigators; the POB should contract with an outside company to do this special investigation. The citizens of Albuquerque need to know if cheating was endorsed by the officers and command staff at APD. If Sullivan's allegations of rampant cheating at the Academy are found to be true, it certainly would explain why some APD officers don’t recognize a crime when it is handed to them.
If the cheating allegations are confirmed, then the POB should file LEA 90 misconduct notices against all APD officers, past and present, who allowed the cheating to take place. Current officers who cheated on exams should also have LEA 90 misconduct notices filed on them. It’s the only way to fix APD.
Some members of the POB/CPOA and staff refuse to investigate when an officer is no longer employed by APD (Mr. Harness, talking about you). This is shirking your duty and you should step down if you are going to obstruct.
The POB/CPOA and staff refuse to investigate when an officer is no longer employed by APD claiming they lack the jurisdiction and their findings would have no impact on the officers. Absent a legal opinion from the POB legal counsel, I say this not true! Just because an officer has resigned or retired doesn’t mean you cannot investigate. Sustained findings would be included in the officers personnel file and have LEA 90 misconduct notices filed. These officers are still certified as New Mexico Law Enforcement officers. An agency that does its job and investigates will help to stop the problem of “gypsy cops” who get in trouble and go from department to department. If we want a professional police department then we need to hold accountable all officers, current and resigned.
If Geier won’t do his job as chief, it is up to the POB to step in and do it for him and order the completion of investigations. If wrongdoing is found on the part of the any officer, current, resigned or retired, the POB should submit the LEA 90, if Geier refuses to. And while they are at it, submit an LEA 90 on the chief for failure to perform his state statue mandated duties. It is the only way to get the chief and the department following the law. Professionals demand accountability. Don’t you want a professional police department?
The POB must request that the New Mexico Attorney General open a criminal investigation into the tampering of documents by Garcia at Internal Affairs. Since Geier and Keller don’t seem to recognize a potential crime when it is handed to them, the POB must step in and act decisively. A criminal investigation clearly is warranted in this matter.
Geier has already confirmed that Garcia tampered with/falsified public documents. The POB must now open an administrative investigation/audit into the Internal Affairs Division for the time that Jennifer Garcia oversaw IA (2015 – 2018). During this time, Garcia was the APD point of contact with the POB and they relied upon her for accuracy and truthfulness. Garcia’s demotion brings into question if this trust was misplaced. There must be a complete investigation to determine if she tampered or altered any other documents. This is the only way to instill the faith in IA that Garcia actions have destroyed. This investigation is also beyond the ability of the current POB investigators, it must be done by an outside contractor who specializes in Internal Affairs and public document auditing.
And please spare us the bullshit about Garcia having a clean record for fifteen years. That means nothing once a law enforcement officer crosses the line into potential criminal behavior. Ex APD officers Matt Griffin, Robert Davis, J B Gallegos probably all had clear records when they crossed the line. To hell with the good old boys and girls club that protects these rogue officers. It is time to tear it down!
The POB must hire outside investigators to audit and investigate Internal Affairs. The current POB investigators are not capable of this type of investigation. Both investigations, the Academy and Internal Affairs, must be released to the public when finished. This is our police department and we need to take control of it. They work for us!'
The POB/CPOA must do what Keller and Geier will not. Truly hold those in charge at APD accountable, past and present. If Geier is unwilling to act on these matters, then the POB must act for him.
This is a crisis moment at APD, we can either take back our police department or continue down the rabbit hole. POB the ball is in your court, DO SOMETHING! ACT NOW!