Was there a system to track APD officer court appearances?
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — On Friday, KOB 4 uncovered more in the federal investigation into a handful of Albuquerque police officers.
APD’s chief tried to clarify how those officers missing court dates went unnoticed.
“I’m asking the community to bank on the trust that we’ve built over the past several years, and give us time. It gives us time to get to the bottom of exactly what is occurring,” Chief Harold Medina said.
While Medina admits his department has not had its own system of tracking when officers don’t show up to court, on Friday he pointed toward the failure of another system – a gap of more than a year when he says APD was no longer getting notified when officers missed court.
A department spokesperson said there was a “system” that notified them when officers missed court. KOB 4 confirmed that system was getting emails from the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office.
Medina said the department stopped getting those emails in September 2022, claiming the DA’s office told APD at the time their system “crashed” or “failed.”
“We’re not gonna get into details, but yes, we are working to figure out why we weren’t getting as many notifications or where our notifications are going. That look at it. Not pointing fingers anywhere. We just don’t know,” Medina said.
The other parties involved all say it’s not up to them to tell APD what their officers are doing or not doing.
Spokespeople for both the past and present district attorney’s offices said all communication about officers failing to appear is a courtesy.
A spokesperson for current DA Sam Bregman said the office has consistently contacted officers directly if they failed to appear.
A spokesperson for the DA at the time in 2022, Raúl Torrez, said they were letting the law enforcement agency itself know.
Neither of them were able to explain to KOB 4 what may have happened before or during September of 2022 regarding the claim of a “system failure.”
A spokesperson for the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office said that time period has no significance, and nothing changed about the notification process for them regarding their deputies.
A courts spokesperson explained they have a check-in system, which is a courtesy, but they’re not tracking which officers are repeatedly not showing up.
There’s no indication that the “system failure” was addressed at the time, so KOB 4 asked APD why it was not.
A spokesperson said they’re “looking on APD’s side to determine what communication occurred and what did not occur.”
According to APD’s standard operating procedure, a supervisor in the department’s court services unit is supposed to review any failure to appear email and enter it in the internal affairs database if there wasn’t a valid reason for not showing up. The spokesperson has not responded to KOB 4’s questions about whether that’s been happening.
The minutes online from APD meetings meant to review those procedures during and shortly after the time when the notification system reportedly failed do not mention a system failure, and show that no one asked questions.
There is a solution. After months of work, a new system rolled out last month. On Friday, KOB 4 got a look at the new form that the DA’s office is sending to officers’ supervisors when they miss court. All parties involved have said this new system should help moving forward.