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City selects three finalists for next APD chief

Interim Chief Harold Medina

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The city has narrowed its choice to be the next chief of the Albuquerque Police Department to three candidates, including interim chief Harold Medina.

The other two are Clinton Nichols, chief of police in Commerce City, Colorado, and Joseph Sullivan, a retired deputy commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department, according to a city spokeswoman.

City leaders, with consultant Herb Crosby, have conducted 40 meetings with community groups and collected nearly 2,300 responses to an online survey in order to get a sense for what characteristics they should look for in hiring the next chief. As of late December, 39 people had applied for the position, at least 25 of whom were determined to be qualified.

Clinton Nichols (Courtesy Clinton Nichols)

Nichols is the chief of police in Commerce City, a northern suburb of Denver. He began his time there in 2015 as a commander and worked his way up to chief of the 142-employee department in 2017, according to his résumé.

In 2016, before Nichols took over as chief, the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services launched a review of the Commerce City Police Department at the request of city officials. The review, known as Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance, was in response to “serious internal challenges and concerns pertaining to officer misconduct,” according to a DOJ news release.

In his résumé, Nichols said he helped develop a five-year strategic plan in anticipation of the reform effort and established a recruiting plan designed to attract diverse applicants.

Before he went to Colorado, Nichols worked for the Las Vegas Police Department in Nevada from 1992 to 2015. His last position there was police commander and he oversaw the Violent Crimes Section, the Career Criminal Section and the Robbery Section.

Joseph Sullivan (Courtesy of Joseph Sullivan)

Sullivan spent 38 years with the Philadelphia Police Department and retired in February 2020 as the deputy commissioner of patrol operations. He left the department as a new chief was coming in, according to news reports.

As the deputy commissioner, Sullivan oversaw a force of 4,698 sworn and civilian personnel, led data-driven crime fighting strategies and revamped a “poorly performing” Community Relations Unit, according to his résumé.

Sullivan was appointed as the department’s liaison to the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federation and was the first official liaison to the LGBTQ community. That’s when he helped craft a “nationally recognized model policy governing police interactions with trans-citizens” and established a dedicated page on the Philadelphia Police website to assist the LGBTQ community in accessing police and city services.

Sullivan authorized the police department’s first customized LGBTQ police vehicle to march in the Philly Pride Parade.

Medina has been serving as interim APD chief since his predecessor, Michael Geier, was told to retire in September.

He began his time with APD in 1995 and worked his way up to commander before leaving in 2014 to join the Laguna Pueblo Police Department.

He became chief of police in Laguna but returned to APD as a deputy chief of field services in 2017 when Mayor Tim Keller took office.

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