ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The mayor announced a new leadership role in the Albuquerque Police Department this week, making it so that someone other than the police chief will have the final say in holding officers accountable for behaving badly. It raises questions about what this restructuring will mean when it comes to how APD officers are disciplined.
“It was simply unrealistic and a real disservice to the realities of crime and reform to think that one leader can solve all our challenges. It just simply takes two in this case,” Mayor Tim Keller said in a news conference on Monday.
The mayor did not just name Harold Medina as chief of police. He also announced a reorganization of the department, putting Sylvester Stanley in a new role as interim superintendent of police reform and deputy chief administrative officer. An organizational chart from the city shows Internal Affairs, which handles the investigation and discipline of officers for police misconduct, is under Stanley and not Chief Medina.
That is after the last chief, Michael Geier, came under fire for failing to discipline his officers. “Superintendent Stanley has the final say in discipline. This is something that is very substantial and different, obviously, than we’ve done in the past,” Mayor Keller said.
KRQE News 13 asked the president of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association for his thoughts on it.
“[Stanley] being the actual authority in officer discipline would be a violation of the contract, and we would not support that,” Shaun Willoughby said. He said the police chief has the sole authority to discipline, according to the union’s contract with the city.
KRQE News 13 also reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico. It is part of a community coalition, APD Forward. ACLU of NM Executive Director Peter Simonson said he is cautiously optimistic. “The lack of accountability is so entrenched in the culture of APD right now, that we just need all hands on deck,” he said.
News 13 asked APD and the city to clarify if the chief will still have any role at all in disciplining officers. They did not provide a clear answer on what the chief’s disciplinary duties, if any, would be.
An APD spokesperson responded in an emailed saying: “Superintendent Stanley will oversee the Internal Affairs process. Chief Medina has a good relationship with Superintendent Stanley and they will communicate to ensure everyone is on the same page and supporting each other.”