Police oversight chief blasts board, resigns - Albuquerque Journal

Police oversight chief blasts board, resigns

Ed Harness

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

After six years leading the city of Albuquerque’s Civilian Police Oversight Agency, Executive Director Ed Harness announced his resignation at the monthly board meeting Thursday night.

Harness said he will leave Nov. 15.

The announcement, along with Harness’ blistering condemnation of the board, appeared to shock the members, who reacted with silence.

Harness said he had requested to be reappointed as executive director but instead the board opened the position to other applicants – a move he said was done without consulting stakeholders, the City Council, or the Department of Justice.

“But most shameful is the fact that you didn’t even have enough respect to speak with any member of the CPOA staff – the people that do all the work to support your efforts,” Harness said. “This decision has permanently damaged the relationship between the agency and the board.”

He said under his tenure the CPOA “has been restored to its rightful place as a meaningful oversight body” and has been applauded by the Department of Justice and the independent monitor overseeing the court-mandated reform of the Albuquerque Police Department.

“You will set back the organization and its ability to maintain compliance with the (court approved settlement agreement),” Harness said. “Because being executive director of the CPOA is not a plug-and-play position.”

The term for an executive director is three years. The agency has a lead investigator, three other investigators and three positions that are in the process of being filled.

In an interview Friday, chairman Eric Olivas said the board followed the ordinance pertaining to the CPOA and posted the job description and the position publicly.

“Essentially the language of the ordinance states that the board shall accept applications for the job but it may chose to recommend reappointment of the incumbent director,” Olivas said. “The board requested that the job description be posted and be publicly telegraphed that the current director should reapply.”

Olivas said the position is still open and the board is accepting applications.

He said the City Council will appoint an interim director.

“As far as the long-term appointment, which we already started, that is where the board and the public play a much larger role,” Olivas said.

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