ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The APD has become the battleground in the race for Albuquerque mayor.
Challenger Pete Dinelli has hammered away at Mayor Richard Berry for his handling of the police department over the past four years.
Now the mayor is returning the favor, accusing Dinelli of overseeing some terrible behavior within APD and of going soft on the officers who misbehaved.
The fact that this happened is nothing new.
In its heyday, the Albuquerque Safe City Strike Force did the dirty work of cleaning up Albuquerque, raiding filthy and unsafe homes and motels.
But controversial pictures from a video surfaced.
The video, given to KRQE by a source at the mayor's reelection campaign, shows the strike force created its own logo based on the so-called “death card” of the ace of spades.
Officers were disciplined for bawdy behavior and for making residents of those nuisance homes pose in front of red tag city condemnation signs.
Dinelli oversaw the strike force while he was Mayor Martin Chavez's public safety director and saw the video four years ago.
Dinelli maintains the suspensions handed out to officers weren't enough.
But at the time, he says, Chief Ray Schultz overruled him.
"After reviewing the personnel rules and regulations, I felt there was grounds for termination, that this was totally unacceptable conduct, and that they be fired. He said no,” Dinelli said.
Berry says the video is proof Dinelli has no room to criticize the APD.
"My opponent Pete Dinelli has made his entire campaign centered around wagging his finger at the Albuquerque Police Department. That puts him right at the epicenter of the type of activities that we've put all these reforms into place to stop," Berry said.
Dinelli is shown a handful of times in the 20-minute video, but says the matter has been dealt with.
"The only reason this is an issue is we have a mayor refusing to take responsibility for a meltdown in the police department."
Not so, says the mayor, who points to the city's organizational chart from the time.
"I can tell you on the org chart at the time, Pete Dinelli was right on top,” Berry said. “Pete Dinelli started this unit, Pete Dinelli was in charge of this unit, Pete Dinelli ran this unit."
The mayor says that should mean the power to stop what went on.
The city's organizational chart now shows Administrative Officer Rob Perry above the chief of police.
The mayor would not say that means Perry is able to discipline individual officers at APD. He says Perry's position is not the same as Dinelli's, who was director of public safety.
The city recently settled a class action lawsuit that emerged from alleged heavy-handed tactics used by the strike force under the Chavez administration.
The cost of that settlement was $1.7 million.
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