City officials hope new police chief will rise to the challenge of tackling crime, following DOJ requirements | KOB 4

City officials hope new police chief will rise to the challenge of tackling crime, following DOJ requirements

City officials hope new police chief will rise to the challenge of tackling crime, following DOJ requirements

Brittany Costello
Updated: January 21, 2021 06:17 PM
Created: January 21, 2021 05:01 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —The city of Albuquerque announced the top three finalists for the position of Albuquerque Police Chief Wednesday. 

“I think we have three good finalists, and I think that's a great thing for the city of Albuquerque,” said Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller. “The goal for our search is that we need to find the leadership for the city of Albuquerque in terms of public safety.”

Current acting Interim Police Chief Harold Medina is being considered for the position along with Clinton Nichols, chief of police for Commerce City, Colorado, and Joseph Sullivan, retired deputy commissioner of patrol operations with the Philadelphia Police Department. 

“The three people that came up to be the finalists all had very creative and innovative ideas in terms of how to deal with moral, conflict and how to motivate their team,” said Herb Crosby, a hiring consultant. 

Crosby said they hosted more than 40 community input sessions and received around 2,300 responses to an online survey about selecting the new chief. 

According to the feedback, many community members said they’d prefer to have a chief who is accountable to the community rather than one with strong ties to the community. The survey also found reducing violent crime and protecting civil rights should be among the chief’s top priorities. The chief will also face other challenges like tackling crime and Department of Justice reform. 

“I need a police department that can do both,” Mayor Keller said. “That can actually lean into reform and make progress on reform and that can bring crime down. That's why this is such a tough decision. You don't usually find a singular person who has high expertise in both those areas.”

Shaun Willoughby, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, said the search hasn’t been an easy undertaking. 

“It's a pretty major, very major change for the police department and the direction that we're going and to add another dynamic of challenge into the already existing challenges that we have—it’s risky business,” said Willoughby.

While the final decision belong to Mayor Keller and his executive team, Willoughby said he believes his voice is being heard.  City officials met with the union back in December before announcing the three finalists. 

“There’s some pretty staunch realities at the Albuquerque Police Department and challenges, and challenges that the Albuquerque Police Department is facing,” Willoughby said. “We definitely need a chief that understands what we're facing when it comes to DOJ settlement agreements.”

Willoughby said he’ll have the opportunity to interview all three candidates Monday. 

Along with the DOJ requirements, Willoughby said the latest DOJ monitors are creating even more challenges with officer retention. 

“Discipline is going through the roof. We have an unprecedented amount of officers that are leaving this department because of this compliance process. There are greener pastures a lot of different places and they're finding them,” he said. 

The Mayor and his executive team said they hope to come to a decision by March. 

The public is invited to meet the finalists in a webinar on Saturday.  For more information on the webinar, click here. 

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