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APD chief’s son a bad example of a good ‘safe harbor’ policy

The Albuquerque Journal editorial of April 21 appropriately endorsed Albuquerque creating a “safe harbor” provision protecting domestic violence (DV) victims from being arrested on misdemeanor warrants or minor charges when they call for help. But the Editorial Board misplaces the nobleness of this provision by memorializing APD’s response to the DV escort request by Dominic Medina, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina’s son, as the type of case the “safe harbor” provision seeks to address.

On March 15, a city councilor asked if the administration is able to clarify further for the public if Chief Medina is under investigation for allegedly interfering with the arrest of a family member on two outstanding warrants. Albuquerque CAO Sarita Nair blamed disgruntled former employees for false rumors to discredit Medina and cover up for their own shortcomings. Neither she nor the chief clarified if he was under investigation, leaving the interference claims raised in the councilor’s question unresolved and apparently not investigated by IA.

The chief asserted his son was a DV victim on Sept. 10, 2019. Dominic contacted the police requesting an escort to get personal property at the apartment he shared with his abuser. The APD’s reporting officer’s report – Incident No. 192530515; Case No. 19008343 486 – did not conclude that Dominic was the victim – the roommate accused Dominic as the aggressor – and the officers reported they were unable to determine a predominant aggressor.

The chief affirmed his son’s abuser told the officers his son had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant for DWI at the time of the incident. The chief never said or explained why Dominic was not arrested on the warrants, T-4-DW-2017-000895-1 – one even with a no-bond hold. The officers didn’t arrest Dominic on outstanding warrants not of their own discretion but allegedly because they were directed not to, according to one of the officers who has since resigned from APD.

The chief assured the Council he was not present or involved with his son’s DV “encounter.” Officer’s body camera videos confirm that his wife, Beatrice Medina, was present with their 29-year-old son at the NE substation and then at Dominic’s apartment.

The officers were instructed to remove references to Medina’s outstanding warrants from the original report, according to the officer who has since resigned. The final report has some serious anomalies; (1) the outstanding warrants are not in the report; (2) the assisting officer is not listed on the report as required in APD policy; (3) there is no disposition of the assisting officer’s camera video as logged into evidence; (5) the presence of Beatrice Medina is not disclosed; (5) the report was not approved for 23 days, not by the end of shift or the next day as required without documented approval.

Not a hint of substantive clarification of why officers did not report the roommate’s claim of an outstanding warrant for Dominic, the heart of the question. The City Council accepted the chief’s explanation unassumingly at face value without a single question –

Executive-level leadership with a commitment to transparency is a needed, essential element of successful cultural change and CASA counter-culture reformation. I’m not sure APD has what it takes.

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