ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The city of Albuquerque released the names and résumés of the 28 applicants for the position of police chief Thursday, more than two weeks after a public records request and one day after announcing the name of the new chief.
City officials said keeping the names secret until after the chief was named was not intentional.
“The request simply went through the (Inspection of Public Records Act) process with the city clerk’s office,” said Felicia Salazar, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office.
The city started accepting applications for the position on May 1, and on May 30 the Journal made an Inspection of Public Records Act request for the résumés and applications for the people vying to be the next police chief.
The city’s response was the request was “excessively broad and burdensome” and that it would need until June 14 to release the information.
It was unclear why the request was “burdensome,” considering that a search committee had all of the résumés, interviewed four of the candidates in person and then announced Wednesday that interim Chief Michael Geier had been selected for the position — a point made by the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government.
The state open records law says that public records shall be made public immediately if available, and within 15 days at most.
In this case, the records should have been released much sooner, said attorney Greg Williams, a member of FOG’s executive committee.
“The purpose of our public records law is to get records into the hands of the public as soon as possible,” he said. “It would have been simple for the city to provide them within a day of being requested because they were already compiled for purposes of evaluating the applications. The citizens would have been better served if they had the list of applicants before the decision was made so they could weigh in on the applications.”
‘Hundreds of old requests’
Salazar said a backlog of requests caused the delay.
“The new administration would like to start responding to IPRAs faster, but with hundreds of old requests pending it’s going to take some time to set up that process,” she said.
In a news release announcing that Geier had been chosen, the city identified three other candidates who were interviewed in Albuquerque.
They were: Keith Humphrey, the chief of police in Norman, Okla.; Jeronimo Rodriguez, chief of investigations in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and a former high-ranking officer for Baltimore police; and Perry Tarrant, assistant chief of police in Seattle.
City officials said those candidates will be considered for other leadership positions within APD.
A review of the other 24 people who applied for the job showed that none of them now works for APD.
Other local candidates included Richard Gomez, a former APD captain who retired in 2007; Phillip Hart, the chief of Gallup police; Dennis Maez, who quit APD as a sergeant before a career with the U.S. Secret Service; and Joseph Silva, a commander for University of New Mexico police.
Many chiefs and high-ranking officials at small police departments and sheriff’s offices around the country were interested in the position, as was a high-ranking officer for Chicago police.
The lone international candidate was the law enforcement coordinator for the police department in the biggest city on the island of Cyprus.
The full list can be found at ABQJournal.com.
This is not the first time the city has failed to release all applicants’ names before the announcement of a high-profile appointment.
Esteban Aguilar Jr., who was named city attorney in March, did not appear on the list of 19 applicants the city provided to the Journal prior to his appointment.
The city released those names in response to the Journal’s IPRA request filed on Jan. 29. Aguilar submitted his application Feb. 16, well after the published closing date for applications.
The names of the 19 applicants were included in a story published in the Journal on March 2. Although the Journal had been in contact with the city for that story, it did not mention Aguilar’s name.
Aguilar’s hiring was announced the next day.
Aguilar’s name was not on the list supplied to the Journal by the city’s Human Resources Department because “we hadn’t received a résumé from Mr. Aguilar as of the date the (IPRA) request was received,” the city told the Journal in an emailed statement.