City and police officials say the shake-up of leadership at the top of Albuquerque police is an unprecedented move for the biggest police department in the state.
Last week, Mayor Tim Keller announced several changes for the department, which include making all of the 13 commanders reapply for their positions, and reorganizing some of the bureaus and units within the department.
Keller said during a news conference Thursday that the goal of all the changes is to increase community policing, fight crime and more efficiently address court-enforceable reforms the department is trying to make.
“Commanders who reapply for positions are going to be assessed on their commitment to carry out that very mission, community policing,” said Chief Mike Geier, who is leading the department on an interim basis.
Making so many of the department’s leaders reapply for their jobs hasn’t ever been done before, Geier said.
“There has been change and movement,” he said. “Probably never to this extent.”
Prior to 2007, Geier said the leaders of various area commands and bureaus within the police department were captains who were part of the police union and had employee protections. In 2007, captains became commanders and lost those protections.
When Mayor Richard Berry took office in 2009, there weren’t significant changes made to the top of Albuquerque police, said Shaun Willoughby, president of the police union.
“I talked about this extensively over the course (of the campaign),” Keller said. “I hope it’s refreshing that we are actually doing what we talked about.”
The department is now organized so that four deputy chiefs each oversee the Administrative Support Bureau, the Field Services Bureau, the Investigative Bureau and the Compliance Bureau, which is a new bureau that focuses on making reforms that the city agreed to as part of a settlement agreement with the department.