Here's why APD is collapsing
By Dan Klein
If you want to know why the Albuquerque Police Department is collapsing, why officers are fleeing in droves and why crime is out of control in this city, listen to this 34-minute audio of APD Chief Harold Medina addressing members of the department's Emergency Response Team.
In just a half hour, Medina, and the officers he was alternately berating and trying to sympathize with, go through the amazing damage that the Department of Justice has done to APD. It's shocking, sad, and it's a massively big deal. Here are the main points:
– Tim Keller's progressive assistant city attorneys are now making decisions for cops in the field, substituting their progressive ideology for decades of real crime-fighting experience.
– APD is hemorrhaging officers because they're afraid that if they do their jobs properly they'll be disciplined and fired. One sergeant told Medina that she is terrified of getting fired for doing her job.
– Sergeants are spending 12 hours investigating a three-second show of force by their officers, all thanks to the DOJ.
– Medina believes the feds and community groups want to take over APD. He can't just tell the DOJ to go away. Medina is afraid he'll be held in contempt of court.
After the dysfunction of command by the Albuquerque Police leadership at the recent Civic Plaza protest, Chief Harold Medina called a meeting of his Emergency Response Team, including the 20 officers who recently resigned from the unit, to explain what had happened. I give Medina credit for doing this, although some of his statements would have been better directed to the public and to U.S. District Court Judge James Browning.
To show you how weird things have gotten at APD, Medina explains to the ERT officers and sergeants that the decision to charge Deyontae Williams (the man legally open carrying a firearm across from Civic Plaza with his children during the protest), came after consultation with Albuquerque City Legal! Medina states several times that when upwards of 150 people on Civic Plaza ran toward Williams, city legal and APD command (in the Real Time Crime Center bunker) made the decision that Williams was inciting a riot! They did not place any blame on the 150 people who charged him. Medina states several times that he and the department have established a good rapport with the people organizing the protests, could this be why none of those 150 people who charged at Williams and his children were charged? Is APD going to side with you if you have certain political viewpoint?
“I don’t know about anybody here, but any armed person who is outside displaying their firearms, to me, are also part of the problem. I’m not saying they are doing anything illegal. I am saying they are adding more and more fuel and gas to the problem.”-- Chief Medina.
Just because Medina doesn’t believe it is appropriate for someone to open carry (which is legal in New Mexico) doesn’t mean his department, at the direction of Albuquerque city attorneys, should trump up charges against the person who is open carrying. It’s stunning to know that during protests there is a Tim Keller appointed attorney sitting in the RTCC bunker telling officers at the scene what to do and who to arrest. Who made city attorneys experts in police work? And just who are the city attorneys making these decisions? Will these city attorneys be the prosecutors?
If there was a charge of inciting a riot or child endangerment, it should have been charged on some of the 150 protesters who charged, screamed at, and surrounded Williams and his children. This is the city Mayor Tim Keller has created, one where far left progressives can get away with crimes that moderate and conservative people will be charged with, all at the direction of his city legal department. Welcome to Albuquerque, the Portland of the southwest.
If it is determined that the city attorney and APD commander were wrong in ordering Williams to be charged, will they be disciplined? Medina also complains that it made APD look bad because APD had tweeted out that, “the individual was detained and cited.” In reality, the ERT sergeant on scene recognized that the order to arrest was illegal and did not follow the principals of constitutional policing. So now a veteran APD sergeant, who does the right thing, faces harsh discipline because some goofy APD social media twitter person jumped the gun? Insane.
Albuquerque should thank the veteran APD sergeant who refused to obey an illegal order. He just saved all of us thousands of dollars.
Medina goes on to tell the ERT officers how he saved the KIMO from being burned down, how he takes abuse for killing a teenage back in 2002, how he sacrificed himself and took responsibility for the Onate protest mess and how he could have been chief in at least two other places. I am sure more than one ERT officer was rolling their eyes at these comments. Or like my mother used to say (while rubbing her thumb and index finger together), “this is the tiniest violin in the world and it’s playing just for you, Harold.”
The most important part of this meeting starts around 13:30 when two ERT sergeants tell Medina what the real problems are at APD. The first sergeant tells Medina that this is her chosen career, and she is terrified of being disciplined or retaliated against for doing what she thinks is right. WOW! Even Medina said her statement to him took a lot of courage. He is right. Of course, Medina downplayed her concerns by saying no one gets retaliated against, and if they do it’s sergeants and lieutenants who are accused of doing it. Medina blamed the rumor mill for perpetuating this.
The female sergeant doesn’t let it go. She uses Medina’s own statement against him by saying, “for a lack of communication, for a lack of resources that you (Medina or his staff) can show up at my house and relieve me of duty, that’s terrifying.” These were statements that Medina had used to defend the disjointed response to the Civic Plaza protest. Medina responds by saying, “look at the position we have been left in.” Whatever that means.
Medina then complains that this meeting is probably being recorded and that it will be in the Albuquerque Journal. There is no trust left at APD. Medina doesn’t trust anyone below him and those below him don’t trust Medina. Why should there be trust after what Keller, Medina and Sarita Nair did to former chief Mike Geier? Why would anyone at APD trust anyone when the DOJ has a Stalinist approach to reviewing everything any beat cop does? APD has become a Machiavellian world.
Lastly, a male sergeant with over twenty-five years of experience states, “I left three weeks ago (the ERT Team) based on the discipline policy and the additional exposure ERT gets for being out there and doing what we are told to do ... It’s my understanding that we haven’t even reviewed the incidents (force review) from last summer (2020). After twenty years of doing this … The discipline policy has to change. That’s the reason I left because I don’t want to expose myself to that kind of discipline.”
Let that sink in. Veteran officers are fleeing APD because they know the current discipline system is biased against them and inherently unfair to them. Medina’s response is to tell the sergeant that, “if we don’t navigate the path forward with discipline and the DOJ we will be in receivership.” Receivership is when the DOJ appoints an outside entity to oversee the police department. Medina continues, “that’s what they want. That’s what all the community groups want. I would be under a DOJ person. The DOJ would have their own people reviewing cases. This is what we have to avoid. I didn’t create this.”
Medina is correct, and it’s frightening that a small group of community members, who to their credit took the time to get involved with the DOJ consent decree, are directing this chaos. Shame on the rest of Albuquerque who sits quietly by and watches as our police department and neighborhoods are overrun with crime. Medina is right that he didn’t create this; the silent majority of Albuquerque citizens did. That silent majority needs to get vocal and make their opinions heard by Judge Browning before Albuquerque becomes even more like Seattle and Portland.
The sergeant then states, “we are hemorrhaging officers because of this discipline policy.” I have no desire to leave, but I have called PERA (the retirement agency) … where we are at now, I am not interested in disciplining my kids (his officers) nor head hunting. (One officer) just spent $55K to retire. (Another officer) spent over $100K to retire. When people are doing this (buying time to retire) there is an issue. The current issue, that overshadows the DOJ, it is the discipline policy. If you are telling me there is a fix on the way, then fantastic. When will it get here?”
Medina promises that he is on the verge of getting a new disciplinary process in place, but when pressed by the sergeant he can’t give a timeline. You could cut the doubt with a knife. APD officers don’t want promises, they want results. Until Medina produces on this discipline reform no officer at APD is going to believe his promises. That’s a fact.
Medina then asks the sergeant, “… I do not agree with the amount of video review. What’s the biggest problem, sergeant?”
The sergeant quickly replies, “Twelve hours to do a three-second show of force (investigation).”
Let that sink in. If you are wondering why crime is out of control, know that in this crazy Soviet-style police department that the DOJ has created, it takes a sergeant (or other police officer) 12 hours to review another officer’s three-second show of force incident. Not using force, just showing that the officer might use force takes other officers a day-and-a-half to investigate. That is time lost to patrolling your neighborhood or investigating your crime.
I hope that at the next meeting in front of Judge Browning, Chief Medina is as candid with him as he was with these officers. Browning needs to hear the truth of what is going on within APD and Albuquerque. Browning is not going to hear this from city attorney Estevan Aguilar, nor from any other Albuquerque city attorney. These attorneys want to destroy APD and allow chaos to reign. They want Albuquerque to become another Portland or Seattle, cities where criminals are in control.
I further recommend that Medina bring these two sergeants with him to testify in open court about just what it is like to be an APD officer right now. How they are terrified of losing everything for the most minor infraction, or for daring to disobey an unlawful order issued by a progressive city attorney. Let Browning hear it firsthand how APD officers spend their days in frivolous reviews of minor use of force issues, all while crime goes on unabated in our city. Let Browning hear from the officers who have quit or retired because they can’t take the stress of losing everything for minor or made-up infractions of an unfair discipline code.
Medina doesn’t have to refuse to enact what the DOJ wants him to, but he also doesn’t have to sit silently and take this humiliation. Harold, the majority of this community and police department will be behind you. Just go public and tell them what you told these officers. Albuquerque and Judge Browning need to hear the honest truth from you, unfiltered.