Upon hearing that Sylvester Stanley had been chosen to lead the Albuquerque Police Department as the superintendent of police reform, several colleagues shared a moment of satisfaction and pride, having known and worked with Stanley on other reform efforts in the past. A man of integrity, we understood that Mayor Tim Keller and the city of Albuquerque had made a strong choice in advancing him for this position.
In the time we have known Stanley, he has been a kind but tough presence, always willing to talk forthrightly about the issues. We believe as a lifelong law enforcement officer, he will bring an experienced but also community-informed perspective to take on reform at APD. His lifetime of experience will make him a fair arbiter of discipline when needed. And Stanley’s commitment to reform is real – it’s been part of who he is for a long time and was a centerpiece of his campaign when he ran for sheriff two years ago – a race he narrowly lost. He promised back then to get the department up to speed on body cameras and the sheriff’s department into alignment with Department of Justice reforms – even without the court-ordered process.
From our vantage point, Stanley has earned respect the right way – building relationships, listening to others’ concerns, being honest about what can be done and endeavoring to make those things happen with a sense of fairness and integrity – becoming one of only three African Americans to ever serve as a police chief in New Mexico, a job he’s held four times. That record, his history and experience, is something for us to be proud of and signifies to us he’s not been afraid to be a trailblazer and break new ground. It’s the kind of approach that is needed to make progress at APD. Bringing the community and the department closer together, holding people accountable when necessary, training new officers and developing continuing education for existing officers to meet communities where we are and partner with us to make things better.
It’s no secret APD has struggled, as Stanley said in his press conference. While many would be content to rest on a life of service to communities all over New Mexico, Stanley has once again eschewed retirement and is stepping up to the plate to keep contributing in areas where our city really needs someone like him. He has seen Albuquerque wrestle with these issues for years, yet he still seems eager to serve his community and pitch in to solve some still-lingering big problems.
In this new position, Stanley will be able to help make change and hold the department to high standards that will make a difference. Working side-by-side with the chief of police and our communities, we believe the department has to make greater progress on the big jobs it has to do for our community: codifying and culturizing equitable reforms, thereby making our city safer.
We all know culture change is not lightweight work. With Sylvester Stanley, we believe that Mayor Keller and the city of Albuquerque have hired a heavyweight to get the job done.