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Police Chief said he’ll work on reforms

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Fight crime. Get police reforms back on track. Hold officers accountable.

There’s a long list of tasks waiting for Albuquerque Police interim Chief Michael Geier.

He said one of the first steps will be a change in attitude.

“It’s so discouraging when I hear, whether it’s officers or staff members, ‘We can’t do this.’ Even officers on the street going to citizens and telling them, ‘We can’t do anything about it,'” Geier said at a news conference Wednesday morning. “No. The new philosophy is we can. There is always something you can do.”

Geier has been tapped to lead Albuquerque police on an interim bases while Mayor Tim Keller does a national search for a permanent candidate. Keller said that could take anywhere from four to nine months.

“In the meantime we need strong leadership,” Keller said. “I am asking them to evaluate the department, restructure it and turn around the department. That is not going to wait for anyone’s interim status or for a national search.”

Keller and Geier spoke briefly with reporters Wednesday morning about their plans for the department. The pair only answered a handful of questions and said specifics about any restructuring would be announced later.

But Geier said he’s already gotten to work. He said he met with James Ginger, the independent monitor overseeing Albuquerque police reform, on Tuesday and on Wednesday he planned on sending the internal affairs investigation into a controversial officer-involved shooting case to a state board that can suspend or revoke police officers’ certifications.

It was revealed this week that former Albuquerque police chief Gorden Eden never sent the investigation into former Lt. Greg Brachle to the Law Enforcement Academy Board, which should have been done, Geier said.

Brachle shot and seriously wounded former detective Jacob Grant during a botched undercover drug sting in January 2015.

“Once I know the details, probably as early as noon, we’re going to send that,” Geier said. “It should have been sent. … I don’t know what happened.”

Geier said such steps are necessary so that officers who have problems don’t end up transferring to other law enforcement agencies and continue to cause controversies.

“That’s so crucial because there’s a national effort among law enforcement to have that database so an officer who’s been a problem officer, or one of those officers who jumps from one department to another, can’t go to another state,” Geier said.

During the news conference, Keller apologized to the victims of police use-of-force in recent years. And he said the department was committed to a reform effort that was launched after a Department of Justice investigation found police has a pattern of using excessive force.

Geier said the change in administrations will act as a “reset button” to the reform effort.

“The button was pressed yesterday and we’re moving forward,” he said.