City councilors call for changes at APD
Posted at: 07/26/2012 10:20 PM
| Updated at: 07/26/2012 10:37 PM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Some Albuquerque City Councilors are making it clear—they think things at the Albuquerque Police Department must change. They say the problems are at the top of the management chain and they are ready to take drastic action.
Chief Ray Schultz, and all police chiefs before him, have been appointed by the mayor and report directly to the mayor’s office. The chief is in charge of nearly 1,100 sworn police officers and hundreds more civilian employees. Schultz has taken on criticism in that past two years over claims of excessive police force and officers who have acted inappropriately both on and off duty.
"This community has lost faith and confidence in the Albuquerque Police Department,” Councilor Ken Sanchez said. “I think we have outstanding men and women who work at APD, but I think we need to make some changes."
Sanchez plans on introducing a resolution to the Council that changes the City Charter so that the police chief is no longer appointed by a mayor, instead elected by municipal voters. Sanchez adds that candidates for police chief would have to be certified police officers in the State of New Mexico and must have managerial experience, unlike candidates for county sheriff.
“I truly believe that if we were to elect a police chief or police commissioner, the people would have a stronger voice in who they would like to see serving in that capacity," Sanchez said.
Sanchez isn’t alone with his frustration towards APD’s management. City Councilor Dan Lewis plans on introducing legislation that strips the power away from the mayor’s office to oversee the police chief and put it in the hands of a board of commissioners.
"I think there are some changes to how we administrate the police department--who answers to who within our current form of government where we can make some changes," Lewis said.
According to Lewis’ plan, the board of commissioners would set policy for the police department and would manage the police chief.
“We do not believe that putting APD in a hyper-political mode is in the best interest of the city or the citizens,” said a spokesperson for the mayor’s office in a written statement.
Both bills will be introduced during city council meetings in August. It won’t be known until then if the bills survive, but at this point is abundantly clear that members of the council on both sides of political aisle are not pleased with how Chief Schultz and Mayor Richard Berry have managed the police department.