Albuquerque city councilors want APD chief to answer list of questions
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As the federal investigation into 5 Albuquerque police officers unfolds, city leaders have not been seeing eye to eye. Some city councilors, the mayor’s office and APD Chief Harold Medina have been going back and forth all week.
Council President Dan Lewis and City Councilors Dan Champine and Louie Sanchez sent a formal letter to Chief Medina Thursday.
In it, they warned the chief the federal investigation could end up being the largest corruption scandal in APD’s history and will “undermine public confidence in the department and in its leadership.”
“We as a council need to understand what factors make it possible to trust in your continued command of our city’s police force,” they added.
They also emphasized they were never asking for specific details of the federal investigation.
They then go on to ask the chief to answer eight questions by 5 p.m. next Thursday. One of the questions about policy regarding officers and court appearances, KOB 4 found answered in APD’s public Standard Operating Procedures. The chief also addressed this Thursday.
“We just in the last two weeks finally got access to the court system where we could start easily looking at missed court notices ourselves and take more responsibility for that,” Chief Medina said.
The letter continues and asks the chief to come to the next city council meeting on Feb. 5 to answer more questions.
Out of the nine councilors, only three signed this letter. Councilor Brook Bassan also expressed frustration with transparency during Monday’s city council meeting.
KOB 4 reached out to Bassan to ask why she didn’t sign the letter. In a statement Thursday, she says, “As crucial as it is to hold our city government accountable, including APD, I do not believe the volleying of blame, questions or attacks from one entity or another is going to obtain the results we seek.”
Her full statement can be found at the bottom of this story.
Chief Medina mentioned Thursday that some councilors are showing their support.
“I want to thank the members of city council that have reached out to me and those that have spoken to in the last 24 hours, and they have offered support. And we’ve come to a very good place and there are a couple more I got to work on,” Medina said.
Chief Medina has not commented on the council’s letter yet.
Letters among city officials have been flying this week. Including one by Chief Administrative Officer Samantha Sengel to the council following that heated Monday night meeting.
“We did send them an official letter from our city saying that that was totally inappropriate. We’re never going to do that. It violates numerous personnel codes, and also the sanctity investigation,” Mayor Tim Keller said.
Mayor Keller says the FBI specifically asked the city and police not to reveal certain details. “I think if we have a choice between listening to the FBI, and just the personal desires of counselors, we’ve got to respect the FBI,” Keller continued. “And so sometimes, you just have to do what’s right for the investigation and if it ruffled some feathers, it’s just part of government. This is their legislative branch, their job is to pass laws, and they can ask whatever they want to ask, but it doesn’t mean we always have to answer.”
Mayor Keller said Thursday he believes some of the comments from Monday’s city council meeting were politically driven.
District 8 City Councilor Brook Bassan shared the following regarding the council’s letter to Medina:
“As crucial as it is to hold our City government accountable, including APD, I do not believe the volleying of blame, questions, or attacks from one entity or another is going to obtain the results we seek in Albuquerque. It will only further divide us. The goal is to have an honest police department, who is supported by our city, and able to safely protect and serve our community reducing crime across the board. Statements possibly defining the Police Department, Council, or Administration on the beginnings of a critical investigation are not beneficial to anyone, not based on a full understanding of the situation, and likely based on defense and emotion. We need to work on ensuring criminal activity like this never happens again, the morale of the great officers we have at APD is not further damaged, and ensuring transparency with the public so they are more able to trust the government whom they have elected.”