Stupid, sickening and embarrassing: Medina and co.
By Dan Klein
It’s stupid, it’s embarrassing and it’s sickening.
That's the only way for me to describe the meltdown we are witnessing at Mayor Tim Keller's Albuquerque Police Department. After months of soap opera backstabbing with current and former APD chiefs, and a DOJ monitor report that damns them all, Keller was finally ready to announce his nationwide search for a new police chief was over and guess what? Yeah, same as last time. Old school APD, who was here when all the problems started, got the job, Harold Medina.
Why is there so much chaos swirling around Chief Harold Medina, CAO Sarita Nair and Mayor (Where in the world is?) Tim Keller? To put it in simple terms, if Keller, Medina and Nair would practice the “transparency” that they preach, there would be nothing to write about. But instead of transparency they fight tooth and nail to hide police video and reports from public view. When finally confronted by city council with a fact that is not disputed (Medina’s son was not arrested when he had a no bond arrest warrant), Nair and Medina play the victim card and then blame those people who reported this incident. Jeeez I thought that is what the DOJ and Keller wanted their officers to do, report wrongdoing at any level when they believe they have witnessed it. I think Medina has called it a “duty to intervene.” Well, I suppose that’s only if you are intervening against low-level officers and never against the chief. My gosh, we in Albuquerque have never witnessed a chief of police crossing an ethical boundary now have we (sarcasm is intended)?
The current controversy stems from Medina’s adult son not being arrested for a no bond DUI warrant by APD officers. This issue was brought up by City Councilor Brook Bassan at Medina’s confirmation hearing for chief. Medina tearfully says he was not involved in that decision, but he goes no further in his explanation. He says there is lapel video of the event, but he does not make it public. He says his son is a “victim” of domestic abuse at the hands of his boyfriend, but he never tells the council that all charges against the boyfriend were dismissed. Medina also forgot to tell the council that his son was also charged with domestic violence against the boyfriend (those charges were dismissed also). Needless to say, all Medina did at city council was play the victim and the city council drank it up like Kool-Aid on a hot summer day in Guyana with Jim Jones. I suppose some gay men are more equal in the eyes of Albuquerque government than others.
Why was it important for the city council to thoroughly investigate this matter? Because they were confirming Medina to be chief of police. Is Medina under investigation for this incident? Who knows. Messages to the CPOA Executive Director Ed Harness have gone unanswered. That alone should have caused our city council to press the brakes on the confirmation, but it didn’t. As soon as Medina played the victim card the city councilors fell over themselves in an attempt to be outraged and show compassion to Medina. Apparently, they didn’t care that Medina was stating as fact that his son's ex-boyfriend was a domestic violence abuser with no facts to support this allegation. If the ex-boyfriend were to appear before the city council I wonder if they would clamor over each other to apologize for allowing him to be defamed with no proof? Lets’ hope that happens. But I doubt it will.
To make this go away Medina, Keller and Nair must produce the video, produce ALL the reports (even the ones that were not approved by supervisors) and simply explain why APD officers did not arrest Dominic Medina for his outstanding NO BOND warrant related to a DUI conviction. Also, when did Chief Medina find out that his son had a No Bond warrant for his arrest, and did he take any action at that time? Medina’s son is 31 years old, so it could be that Harold knew nothing, or it could be that Harold is an enabler who protects his adult son instead of making him fix his own problems. Shouldn’t we know this before he was given the job as chief of police? Yes, we need to know this.
We asked that beacon of transparency, APD PIO Gilbert Gallegos (who speaks for Medina) these questions and his response was straight out of Vlad Putin’s playbook. Gilbert replied (this sounds better with a heavy Russian accent) “Who is making these allegations?” My response to this is IT DOES NOT MATTER. That is unless Gilbert and Medina plan on attacking these people. Medina admits the non-arrest took place, so why is Gilbert trying to use his position on the police department to intimidate people? Isn’t this the culture that James Ginger (DOJ monitor) and City Attorney Esteban Aguilar complained about in the last meeting in federal court? Yes, it is.
It’s not reassuring when the chief of police is asked a question about an incident he admits happened, but instead of being transparent, the PIO responds in a threatening way. The way Medina, Nair and Gallegos responded to this question will hopefully make the DOJ realize that it isn’t the low-level police officers who are the problem, but it is the command and leadership of the Albuquerque Police Department. If this does not quickly change, Albuquerque taxpayers will need to buy James Ginger a loft downtown, because he will be living off us for many years to come.
The city council had a chance to thoroughly vet Medina and they blew it. Mayor Keller promised an open and national search, yet we ended up with more of the same lackluster police leadership. It appears, and I am speaking directly to James Ginger right now, that low-level APD officers know what is right and wrong and it is evident that the culture issues Ginger keeps talking about reside in the chief’s and mayor’s office. I must agree with Ginger, APD is a catastrophe. But don’t blame the cop on the beat. It’s the people wearing gold (command staff) and suits (mayor’s office) that are the problems.
I was just sent the poster for Mayor Keller’s 2021 mayoral campaign. With these folks in charge why worry? Albuquerque always hires the best, most ethical and brightest. Don’t we?