APD chief addresses federal investigation into DWI officers, missed court dates
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina held a news conference Friday afternoon to try to explain his department’s investigation on officers who missed court dates for DWI defendants represented by attorney Thomas Clear III.
The chief says his department has been relying on the Bernalillo County district attorney to let APD know when officers don’t show up for court.
In a letter to city councilors Thursday, the chief laid the blame at the feet of the DA and Metro Court. However, Medina said multiple times Friday that he isn’t pointing fingers.
He acknowledged the department has not had its own system of tracking officers who don’t show up to court. However, at the same time, he claimed the department stopped receiving notices “due to a system failure at the DA’s office” in September of 2022. We still don’t know exactly where the chain of communication broke.
“That is one of the important things that we are communicating with our partners, we have built a strong relationship with the District Attorney’s Office, and we are looking to see how can we improve where our court notices were,” Medina said. “We know that we got a bulk of court notices in October of 2022, and then we are looking to see where is the disconnect in the system that we are unable – I can’t say it is on either side.”
Medina told KOB 4 last week that he started his own investigation into missed court appearances in December of 2022. It would seem then, that APD either didn’t notice the broken system or didn’t try to fix it until just last month.
Medina has put Commander Kyle Hartsock in charge of the internal investigation into these officers and this alleged scheme.
“We will ensure that any officer or any personnel within the City of Albuquerque that was either involved in any part of this scheme or knew about it and didn’t report it will be held accountable. I have nearly daily calls with federal partners to ensure that the appropriate information is passed on,” Hartsock said.
Again, while the chief answered questions Friday, the big question left is whose responsibility was it to notify APD that their officers weren’t showing up to court – was it the DA’s office, the APD court liaison, or another agency?
According to APD’s standard operating procedures, they must show up to court or face discipline. It is still not clear how, or if, the department had any system to make sure those rules were followed.