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Blame Berry for APD Issues

IT IS AMAZING how much effort the editorial “DOJ Probe Could Make a Better APD” goes through to give Mayor Richard Berry cover, even throwing Chief Ray Schultz under the bus, while blaming the union and the previous administration in the process for the problems at APD.

Let’s be crystal clear: The blame for APD’s problem is none other Mayor Berry. The mayor talks a good game, but his actions aren’t synchronized with his rhetoric. For example, the City Council recently passed a resolution requesting the Department of Justice conduct an investigation of APD. The mayor vetoed it, ostensibly because it didn’t meet advertising requirements.

Had he been in favor of the investigation, he would have worked with the council and made the necessary changes so that the citizens could have been heard on this critical issue. He didn’t! He now says the city will “work openly with DOJ.” Does he have a choice? … The mayor should familiarize himself with cities with finely tuned police departments and stop trying to justify APD’s mismanagement.

I am not unfamiliar with firing police chiefs. It is difficult, especially when those being fired are popular for their contributions to the community in their private lives. Berry doesn’t have that problem. We did it twice, in which one case the individual was extremely popular in the community, but we were committed to do what was right for those we served. Berry lacks that understanding and courage.

It is disturbing to me how little concern Berry has articulated and/or demonstrated toward innocent family members who have been devastated by the killings involving police officers.

There is no question in my mind that the overwhelming percentage of APD officers are truly dedicated to their profession. I have so much respect for our first responders. The problem at APD is not them; the problem is Berry. He chooses his management team.



Positive Story Welcomed

Thank you for printing a positive story about APD: the officer who talked an armed man down from a potentially deadly situation. One can only guess how many other incidents like this have occurred that never reach the attention of the public.

We continually read about incidents involving police shootings, but how many incidents occur involving situations that could have resulted in a shooting that did not? My guess is many, but readers seldom hear about them.



Reading Between the Lines

AFTER READING Mayor Berry’s and the Journal editorial response to the DOJ investigation, I thought I could simplify what they are trying to tell the citizens of Albuquerque. Since it appears the Journal editorial board and the mayor are the same person one reply will suffice. This is written as humor, if it wasn’t we would all be crying.

Dear Albuquerque Citizens,

After years of not holding accountable the Albuquerque police chief for losing over $30 million of your hard earned dollars; and after spending months trying to keep the DOJ out of our town, guess what? The DOJ is coming to town, just like Santa will later this month! Just like Santa they will bring presents to the good boys and girls of Albuquerque! What are these presents? Jobs!

Let me take this opportunity to spin the DOJ investigation and try to make you believe that this is what I wanted all along. Forget about my veto and believe me when I tell you this will be really good for Albuquerque. Think of the opportunities Albuquerque will have now that we have been nationally recognized by the federal government. When Albuquerque lost getting the DOJ to New Orleans, I know many of us began to think we were losers. Well Chief Schultz and I doubled our efforts, as I knew we could convince the DOJ to relocate to Albuquerque, and we were successful!

I am embracing the arrival of the DOJ as I believe they will bring many high paying jobs to Albuquerque for years to come. Since I have been mayor, Albuquerque has been faced with many challenges. These were brought on by Marty Chávez and Barack Obama. I blame them and I hope you do too. After losing many large employers I can now proudly tell the citizens of Albuquerque we have been successful at drawing in one of the biggest employers in the federal government, the Department of Justice.

I am hopeful that Chief Schultz and I can convince the DOJ to relocate their headquarters to Albuquerque. To help facilitate this move I will be asking the City Council to provide tax incentives for the DOJ. I am even willing to provide them free city offices at the Solid Waste Management facility on the West Side of Albuquerque! Who could pass up free?

Fellow citizens please do not look at the DOJ coming to town as a failure of my administration. My plan all along has been to get a large employer, who pays well, to come and set up shop in Albuquerque. I, along with the citizens of Albuquerque, would like to thank Chief Schultz for helping to make this possible. He has worked night and day since 2005 to lobby this large employer to come to Albuquerque. Schultz has brought them here and I would like to join the community in thanking him for bringing good jobs back to Albuquerque and putting us on the map.

Merry Christmas fellow citizens and just think, the Paseo rebuild is going to start soon! Good for you, Albuquerque! — Mayor Berry and the Journal Editorial Board — (not really).



Investigation at Its Finest

I read the “Up Front” column by Joline Gutierrez Krueger concerning unsung heroes in the Ether Man serial cases with interest due to my connection as a forensic scientist in the APD Crime Lab from 1986 to 2011.

As a team effort, a number of people on the law enforcement side, including field investigators, detectives and forensic DNA Scientists (including myself), worked on many cases and suspects through the years that were investigated as possible “Ether Man” cases. There are several of these unsung heroes in particular that I believe should also be acknowledged.

Detective Lance Fails, APD Sex Crimes, worked tirelessly through the 1990s and early 2000s investigation of the Ether Man serial cases. Developing leads and suspects, he identified potential Ether Man cases for DNA analysis. A majority of the DNA samples processed in the 1990s and early 2000s were analyzed and linked by forensic scientist Laura Galbraith, prior to the use of the CODIS DNA database.

As the years went by and DNA technology advanced, she re-analyzed linked samples where possible in order to be able to enter the older samples into the CODIS DNA database system. This work, along with cases analyzed by other analysts, ultimately provided the information from the evidentiary DNA profiles that was used by the DA’s Office to file for the John Doe indictment.

An important point in the investigations came when detectives realized “Ether Man” had changed his M.O. This information was developed when an observant field investigator (FI) collected a knife dropped by a suspect in an attempted criminal sexual penetration (CSP) case. The FI saw what appeared to be lip marks on the blade of the knife and submitted it for DNA analysis. Through the expertise of forensic scientist Catherine Dickey, a full DNA profile from that sample was obtained, which turned out to link the case to the Ether Man serial cases. This was the first known case where “Ether Man” had modified his assault with the use of a weapon instead of a chemical and further expanded the scope of the investigation.

Many years passed without a suspect named and then Detective Rich Lewis, APD Cold Case Unit, entered the picture and reinvigorated the investigation. Through his outstanding detective work, he identified cases that had not been analyzed previously. This led to the involvement of forensic scientist Laura Pearn who utilized her DNA expertise in analyzing the more recently identified potential Ether Man cases, along with tying up loose ends in the older cases.

It was her analysis of the DNA material on a ligature from an attempted CSP case that led to a connection with the Ether Man serial through the DNA profile she obtained. The victim in that case was able to provide a clear enough description of the suspect to enable detective Lewis to obtain a sketch. Soon after this, the pieces of the puzzle rapidly fell into place and you know the rest of the story.

This is forensic investigation at its finest — when the cumulative work of so many people over so many years comes together for the safety of the public. Many times APD takes it in the shorts due to upper management shenanigans so for a change of pace, I thought you might like to learn of a few of the many dedicated, hard-working employees that did or still do work for the Albuquerque Police Department.



Many Officers Are Giving

I think it is wonderful how the national spotlight was placed upon a New York police officer, who bought boots for a shoeless, homeless man in New York.

It is important to know Albuquerque Police Department officers and others in public safety here in our own community perform these random acts of kindness on a daily basis. It’s tragic our local media does not talk about the goodness our officers do, but rather choose to exploit the negative. Our community deserves to hear how our officers go above and beyond every day and our world could certainly use more good news!



Questioning APD Training

APD’S NEW training director, Joe Wolf, approaches Albuquerque in a time of heightened commotion and uproar. As the previous successful overviewer of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, this author believes his approach is just what the city needs as far as police training. The problem now is that APD is just not getting enough recruits.

As planned, Wolf is phasing out various quasi-military traits of APD’s training to a more lecture-based classroom setting similar to what one would expect from a college university campus. The idea is to “improve outcomes” and boost positive interactions between police officers and the public. Though there are some positive aspects of the “quasi-military” style of training, like uniforms, chain of command, higher standards and loyalty, police officers should not be trained to go out in the public as if in war.

As a student in the criminal justice field, I had an opportunity to listen to Wolf’s plans and views when he came to our class as a guest. He emphasized how the same style of “quasi-military” style of training has always been used since the beginning of policing. As generations change and evolve, a new type of approach is needed to train recruits to interact with the current and future community. … The para-military style of training is outdated and needs a new approach.

APD, along with many other police agencies, is going through a major recruitment issue in which many are interested in the career however, cannot pass the hiring process. Wolf stated that he is not witnessing a shortage in interests with the agency, but the majority is failing the psychological test. In past years the Albuquerque Police Academy has graduated anywhere from 40-60 officers in each cadet class. The latest academy graduation had only 11 officers. When Wolf was asked about how he is going to fill in more recruits he responded with “outsourcing.” He is going to look into hiring people from outside cities and states and recruit there.…

APD has seen a very high rate of police involved shootings in which officer have shot 24 individuals and fatally wounded 17 since 2010. Though all shooting were ruled justified, it’s obvious to see how this is an important issue and how it influences public perception of APD officers which can even affect recruitment. … It is important to remember that police officers need the community’s support and trust in order to serve it well. … No longer can we continue to blame the cops for all the negatively this city has been labeled to mirror. We need to step up, take control and contribute to a recovering reputation.



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