What APD didn't tell us--until asked
By Dan Klein
Does a police department have a duty to report to the public when one of their officers has been arrested?
Back on May 24, 2021, an Albuquerque Police detective was arrested for Driving Under the Influence in Sandoval County. He was off duty, but purportedly in his police vehicle when he was stopped and taken into custody.
On May 29, 2021, another APD officer was involved in a crash with his wife on an ATV that has left his wife in critical condition. He also was arrested for DUI.
APD PIO Gilbert Gallegos did not disclose either incident to the public until June 3, 2021, when the incidents were leaked to local media and they began hounding Gallegos for a statement. Is this transparency? Of course it’s not, but this is what we have become accustomed to with APD.
That’s too bad because if Mayor Keller and his people truly understood the citizens they would know what retired APD Police Chief Jerry Galvin told me years ago: “It’s better for me to hold a press conference and tell the public the bad news, than for me to read it in the Journal and have to answer why I didn’t tell them.”
Why did it take APD ten days to announce that a detective had been arrested for DUI? Why didn’t Chief Medina or PIO Gallegos simply issue a press release on May 25 announcing the arrest? These are public servants who paid for with our tax dollars. Citizens have the right to promptly know when a police officer is arrested, don’t we?
Another question has come up regarding the May 29, 2021, DUI incident. Why didn’t APD request the New Mexico State Police or the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office to take over this investigation? These injuries could result in the death of one of the people involved in the crash. Since the other person involved and arrested was an APD officer, APD command staff should have asked an outside agency to take over the investigation. The APD officer who made the arrest noted in the criminal complaint that he recognized and knows the suspect officer. To remove any cloud of favoritism, APD command staff should have been on the phone asking for an outside agency to immediately respond.
APD will call out the multi-jurisdiction task force whenever a person dies in police custody, but APD command didn’t see the need to call in an outside agency when one of its officers is involved in a DUI crash that might ultimately kill someone. It appears that APD command is oblivious to the obvious. To remove any question about preferential treatment, have an outside agency investigate.
APD did not, and that decision will probably overshadow this case as it moves forward.
Maybe James Ginger, the federal monitor, can help APD draft policy to make APD command more transparent and to have other agencies do serious criminal investigations when they involve APD personnel. After six years of so-called reform, when I see stupidity like this I can understand Ginger's frustration.