Interim APD chief seeks post permanently - Albuquerque Journal

Interim APD chief seeks post permanently

Interim Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

For now, Harold Medina is Albuquerque’s interim police chief while the city conducts a nationwide search, but he wants the permanent position.

“I fully intend to apply for the job and I will use this time to show the direction I want to move this department,” he said.

Some, including the president of the police union, have brought up the question of whether the city can find a chief from the outside at this time, given that Mayor Tim Keller will be up for reelection next year and potential candidates might not want to uproot their lives if the leadership could change. The job has been posted on the city’s website, and will be sent out nationally to relevant national organizations.

Medina said he wants to “put the focus back on crime” and wants to make sure officers are doing warrant round-up operations throughout the city, not just certain neighborhoods.

“We started this anti-crime campaign about 28 days ago and we started with looking for individuals with warrants,” Medina said. “I think one of the things I bring to this position that a lot of people haven’t brought is I’m actually a street cop that actually did this my entire career.”

He said he also wants to strengthen investigators’ relationships with other agencies, including the Attorney General’s Office, the New Mexico State Police and the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

“I want to create a focus of our officers having a goal in mind, having a mission and a purpose …,” Medina said. “We all became officers to make the community safer.”

Medina, 48, was hired by the Albuquerque Police Department in 1995 and worked his way up through the ranks to commander. He was a sergeant and lieutenant over patrol units and then a commanding officer overseeing the special operations division, which included SWAT, the K9 unit and the bomb squad.

Medina left APD in 2014 and went to the Laguna Pueblo, where he eventually became chief of police. He said that in 2017 when Michael Geier called and asked him if he wanted to be deputy chief, he said yes.

For the past couple of years he has been the deputy chief over the field services bureau. During the summer the command staff was restructured and he was made “first deputy chief.”

Medina said at one point he had considered retiring, running for Bernalillo County Sheriff, or taking a job in a bigger city in another state.

Last Thursday, when the Journal met with Medina at the Downtown headquarters, all four deputy chiefs and the deputy chief of staff filed into a fifth-floor conference room before a meeting of the department’s Force Review Board.

“We’re unified together,” said Michael Smathers, now the first deputy chief. “There’s a lot of white noise out there that might give you a different impression that is not factual and not true. We’re unified behind Chief Medina, unified in support of Mayor (Tim) Keller. We all live here … we’re highly dedicated and I think that message is lost sometimes.”

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