APD fires police academy commander

Angela Byrd

The Albuquerque Police Department’s academy commander, Angela Byrd, was terminated Friday after an independent, outside investigation found she had “retaliated against Academy staff and threatened to retaliate against cadets who submitted a formal complaint,” according to a news release from the department.

The Journal had previously requested parts of the investigation under the Inspection of Public Records Act, but has not received it.

When the Journal asked for a copy of the investigation on Friday, APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said the report has not yet been finalized.

“City legal will have to determine what, if anything, is releasable,” he wrote in an email.

In the release, interim Police Chief Harold Medina said the investigation showed that the academy staff took the allegations made by the cadets seriously.

“However, Commander Byrd’s actions in response to those allegations show that she lacks the integrity to move the department forward,” he said.

Byrd’s attorney Christopher Saucedo, however, said he and Byrd are “extremely disappointed and offended” by the allegations in APD’s news release.

“At best I can say that the allegations against Cmdr. Byrd were made by extreme negligence on their part,” Saucedo said. “As of now this will result in litigation.”

Medina laid the blame on former police chief Michael Geier, saying he reorganized the department to require Cmdr. Byrd to report directly to Geier and “made things worse by removing accountability over the Academy, and attempting to micromanage a personnel investigation.”

“Geier’s decision to transfer staff who tried to do the right thing goes against the culture change we are trying to promote at APD,” Medina said. “We’re cleaning up this mess by changing the leadership at the critical place where cadets learn to be good officers.”

Geier, on the other hand, said Byrd had brought derogatory comments and mistreatment toward women and minorities to light, and he had stepped in because of concerns that Medina and another deputy chief weren’t doing enough.

Gallegos said in late April 2020, supervisors were alerted to allegations of harassment and discrimination within the academy. He said those supervisors alerted the chain of command and investigated the allegations.

“Around the same time an anonymous email was sent to APD Human Resources alleging that management was tolerating discrimination,” Gallegos wrote in the news release.

He said the city’s legal department requested an outside investigation into the allegations and the way the supervisors had responded.

“The investigation sustained, or substantiated several complaints against Commander Byrd, including allegations that she retaliated against an instructor and a sergeant,” Gallegos said. “The investigation also determined Byrd spoke to cadets after learning of an anonymous email (that) was sent to HR about discrimination. Several cadets confirmed to investigators that Byrd threatened to prevent them from graduating if the person who sent the anonymous email to HR was not identified.”

Gallegos shared a recording of Byrd talking to the cadets in which she said she had received their complaints and handled them in private. She also can be heard saying she didn’t have to graduate any of them.

He also shared a memo from Chief Medina to Byrd notifying her that she would be fired.

“The Albuquerque Police Department will not tolerate retaliation,” the memo states. “Further, APD requires professionalism from all of its officers, particularly its command staff.”

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