SANTA FE, N.M. — Former Truth or Consequences police chief Patrick Gallagher has been hired as the Santa Fe Police Department’s new “professional standards captain,” in charge of internal affairs matters.
The decision to bring in an outsider for the position is something new for the Santa Fe department.
Police Chief Ray Rael has said over the past year he wanted someone without connections within the department to conduct internal affairs investigations of officers facing complaints or allegations of wrongdoing.
“I’ve made no bones about my position on this since we started talking about internal affairs,” Rael said Monday.
The chief says someone without attachments to other local officers can provide more objective reviews and achieve public confidence in internal affairs investigations.
The head of the Santa Fe police officers union said Monday night that the rank-and-file is “taking a wait and see attitude.”
“We’re cautious,” Gallegos said. “We’re suspect of the idea of bringing in an outsider.”
Before Gallagher became Truth or Consequences chief in 2009, he worked at the New York City police department for 23 years. He was deputy inspector at the NYPD, and Rael said in that role Gallagher was “in charge of a large component of internal affairs” at the giant department.
A résumé available online says Gallagher has a master’s degree in public administration from Marist College of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., based on studies from 2004-2006.
“I believe he is going to bring some expertise and objectivity that the department has been lacking,” Rael said.
Gallagher was the subject of a KRQE investigative report in 2011 for ordering about 90 old guns in the TorC police evidence room auctioned off, raising about $10,400. Gallagher didn’t follow state law in disposing of the weapons, including a provision that requires a judge’s approval to sell such guns.
Rael said there was “no indication of misconduct or unethical or criminal behavior.”
“It was just a mistake,” Rael said.
Rael has had issues with recommendations from prior IA investigations and supported firings in a couple of cases — including one where officers were accused of falsifying reports about a take-down arrest — despite findings that supported the officers or recommended lesser punishment.
Last year, Rael called the SFPD’s internal affairs structure “broken” and perceived as biased in favor of officers facing complaints.
Meanwhile, the officers union has contended that some investigations have been politically motivated or geared to support settlements arranged by the city attorney’s office.
Gallegos has said previously an outsider may not understand Santa Fe’s culture and could be beholden to the administrators who hire him or her.
Rael said Gallagher’s first day on the job is Nov. 26. The chief, reached at home, couldn’t say exactly what Gallagher’s salary would be but said it was somewhere just above $40 an hour, which would be in the range of $87,000 a year.