BERNALILLO, N.M. (KRQE) – A female police sergeant claims she was targeted by her own police chief when he placed a hidden camera inside an air conditioning vent in her office. KRQE Investigates brought that case to light last year. Since then, the police chief at the center of it all left the department and the female officer is now suing.
“We’re doing secret squirrel s***,” a voice is heard saying during the installation of a hidden camera in November of 2020. “Secret squirrel, huh?” Another voice is heard on a cell phone speaker.
There have been some changes since KRQE Investigates exposed the hidden camera installation footage from 2020 showing now-former Bernalillo Police Chief Broderick Sharp and his then-Lieutenant Chris Stoyell installing a hidden camera inside an office vent above a female sergeant’s desk.
“It’s like the f*** CIA,” Sharp is heard saying during the camera’s installation. “When they’ve been through your s*** you won’t even know.”
Since the original story aired, Torres said the impact had been both “Negative and positive; I’ll be honest with you. I mean, we’ll start with the positive. It motivated me to finish school. I went to school for human resources.”
Former Bernalillo Police Sergeant Monica Torres is now a Torrance County deputy. In a lawsuit filed this week against the town of Bernalillo, its police department, and Broderick Sharp, Torres claims she was retaliated against, suffered an invasion of privacy, and was wrongfully terminated by BPD.
When asked how Sharp treated her after filing a complaint with State Police about the hidden camera, Torres replied, “I was demoted, then fired within a month.”
New Mexico State Police launched a voyeurism investigation into Sharp for the hidden camera installation, but no criminal charges were ever filed and the investigation was closed.
“That’s a shared office space,” Sharp told State Police investigators. “It’s not a private office.”
Torres said she never found out what, if anything, the surveillance footage from her office was used for. “They never say exactly as to why they did it,” Torres said.
Bernalillo’s Town Clerk didn’t want to comment on the lawsuit, but she told KRQE over the phone that Sharp retired a couple of months ago. Sharp’s former Lieutenant, seen during the hidden camera installation, is now the Bernalillo Police Chief.
Aside from directing the installation of the hidden camera, Torres said Sharp also filed complaints against her with the state’s Law Enforcement Academy Board regarding cases she handled before Sharp joined BPD. “They found that the filing was done in retaliation,” Torres said.
An LEA Hearing Officer’s report states, “I believe the Respondent was targeted for discipline, with extraneous complaints and the LEA 90 filing….” The “Hearing Officer’s findings surrounding that incident should be removed from the Board’s consideration due to the appearance of retaliation,” the report continues.
A separate letter from the state’s Department of Workforce Solutions Human Rights Bureau agrees Torres was discriminated against, pointing out she was demoted two grades from Sergeant to Police Officer by Sharp in a single instance.
“Their findings, it’s vindication,” Torres told KRQE News 13. The whole experience was both traumatizing and motivating, she added.
She said she still has trust issues and instinctively checks air conditioning vents. However, Torres added she’s trying to focus on the positive and enjoys being a law enforcement officer in Torrance County.
Torres said she’s working on finishing a Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology and Human Resources. She hopes to use her new degree to help educate other law enforcement officers about their rights. “Instead of like the good ‘ole boy system and working to benefit each other, maybe they should expand on their knowledge and work for what’s right, not just for themselves,” said Torres.
“Especially when it comes to employment law,” said Torres. “Having the knowledge and the background to be able to stand up for myself or anybody else if I see something wrong,” is important to her, she said.
A Special Prosecutor who handled the voyeurism case told KRQE News 13 that he would not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed.
Sharp told State Police investigators he wanted the camera installed because he heard there had been problems of theft and fighting in the office. He said he called the town’s IT department to upgrade BPD’s surveillance system and specifically requested a camera with audio for the sergeant’s office.
Sharp couldn’t be reached for comment on the lawsuit.