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Wannabe Cop Case Costs City $175K

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The city has paid $175,000 to settle claims brought by three women against the Albuquerque Police Department and a former reserve officer — a case that led APD to overhaul its Reserve Officer Program.

The women claim David C. Young, a department technician who was allowed to work overtime as an undercover officer and arrest suspected prostitutes, misrepresented his position and authority when arresting them.

A Journal investigation two years ago into the dozens of arrests and traffic citations made by Young and other reserve officers led APD Chief Ray Schultz to temporarily suspend and then overhaul the reserve program.

At the time, state law did not allow reserve officers to make arrests or conduct traffic stops.

At least a half-dozen of Young’s arrests were dismissed, and attorneys asked for several convictions to be dismissed. There is still another case pending that seeks the reversal of convictions of a dozen people.

Deputy City Attorney Kathryn Levy said this week the $175,000 payment, which includes legal fees, disposes of a federal civil rights lawsuit by two women identified by their initials and a claim by a third woman who hadn’t yet filed a civil lawsuit.

Young, a radio technician, was getting paid overtime to arrest suspected prostitutes and their patrons even though he was not a police officer.

According to the Journal investigation, he even wrote criminal complaints testifying under “the penalty of perjury” that he was a detective with the Albuquerque Police Department. The Journal also reported about emails between him and his supervisors that involved crude jokes and in which it appeared he was the one suggesting when he worked overtime.

In one email he said he had just come back from elk hunting and needed the overtime. In another, he said it had been a tough week and “I need to point my GUN at somebody.”

Young remains a city employee but is no longer a reserve officer, Levy said.

“The main thing to remember is that when this was brought to the attention of the chief, he suspended it,” Levy said of the reserve program. She said the program underwent substantial revision and statewide standards were established for reserve officers.

Beginning Jan. 1, all new reserve officers were required to complete all hiring and training requirements for certified reserve officer status established by the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy. Many of APD’s current 35 reserve officers are retired police who maintain their state certification, Levy said.

Metropolitan Court records reviewed by the Journal in 2009 showed Young had made 24 arrests since 2006, mostly of alleged prostitutes who were charged with solicitation. He was listed as the arresting officer on booking sheets and in court records.

Attorney Arne Leonard said the recent settlement takes care of pending federal litigation, but a separate state action filed against the city in May by the Kennedy & Han law firm is still pending. That lawsuit was filed on behalf of 12 individuals to set aside convictions in cases in which Young made the arrest.

The lawsuit says Young misrepresented his position and authority, claiming to be a detective and a commissioned officer when he was in fact a civilian.

“Young’s misrepresentations and abuse of his position and authority” weren’t disclosed until long after the individuals completed their sentences and were released from custody, the lawsuit says.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal