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City manager picks new police chief

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Rio Rancho is one step away from having a new police chief.

Out of dozens of candidates, Albuquerque Police southeast area commander Michael Geier has been chosen by City Manager Keith Riesberg and approved by Mayor Tom Swisstack, according to city spokesman Peter Wells.

Michael Geier.

Michael Geier.

Geier’s hiring is contingent upon approval by the Rio Rancho Governing Body at its meeting Wednesday. He has signed a tentative employment offer, with a $117,000 starting salary, Wells said.

Former Police Chief Robert Boone retired late last year. His base salary was $114,254, according to city records.

No starting date for Geier has been finalized, Wells said.

Swisstack said Geier has 40 years of experience in public safety.

“He comes with an impeccable reputation of doing what’s right in communities and with his fellow officers,” Swisstack said.

Geier has great skill in building relationships and a background in understanding training needs, Swisstack added. He said Geier would be assuming the helm of an already-good police force and would take it to the next level.

Albuquerque Police Department has been troubled by about three dozen officer-involved shootings since 2010, which has led to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into whether APD violated civil rights by excessive use of force.

“Extensive review and input-gathering took place before I made my decision to nominate Mr. Geier for the position,” Riesberg said in a written statement. “Through this process, what was confirmed time and time again is that Mr. Geier is a leader and has been one of the strengths of the Albuquerque Police Department. I am confident he will be a great addition to the city leadership team and a positive influence for the Rio Rancho Police Department.”

Swisstack expressed similar sentiments.

“I think the Albuquerque Police Department will be missing him because he’s been a cornerstone of stability,” Swisstack said.

According to Geier’s résumé, he worked his way up through the ranks of the Wilmette Police Department in Illinois from 1974 to 1994 and became a lieutenant. In 1994, he came to APD and rose through the ranks to become a commander in 2011.

The résumé lists numerous honors Geier received in both departments, including a lifesaving award from Wilmette, multiple Officer of the Year awards in both departments, several Chief’s Coffee Cup awards and a Hero of the Year Award from Albuquerque, fitness awards and recognition for work against domestic violence and drunken driving.

Geier earned a master’s of arts degree in administration of justice from Webster University in 1983 and a bachelor of applied behavioral science degree from National University in 1979. He graduated from the FBI National Academy in 2013, according to his résumé.

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