Lt. Michael Archibeque’s last day as acting director of the academy is today, and he will be replaced Monday by Lt. J.J. Griego, the day-shift lieutenant for the Northeast Area Command, said Albuquerque Police Department officer Tanner Tixier, a spokesman.
Tixier said Griego has been spending time with Archibeque at the police academy recently, and that it would be a “seamless transition.”
Archibeque took over as director in February when former director Joe Wolf resigned. Wolf, a civilian, had been in the position since July 2012.
Tixier said police only immediately considered internal candidates for the position to ensure a director was in place in a timely manner.
“At this time we just went internal,” he said. “But that’s not to say that in the future we not try to fill it with someone (from outside the department) or with a civilian.”
The exodus of academy directors comes as a time when Albuquerque police is putting in place a series of reforms negotiated between the city and Department of Justice after the DOJ investigated APD and found it had a pattern of excessive force. Many of the reforms negotiated in the settlement agreement deal with police training.
Tixier said the academy director overseas the training of police cadets and advanced training for current officers.
Archibeque’s retirement — which Tixier said was not unusual — came a week after a former instructor at the police academy filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against Archibeque, Wolf, the police department and chief Gorden Eden.
John Corvino alleged in the lawsuit that he was retaliated against after he questioned the qualifications of an instructor who taught defense tactics to current police officers. After passing the course, the police officers became qualified to teach defense tactics to other officers.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Thomas Grover, Corvino’s attorney, said. “Everything that’s been required to fix the department begins in the academy, and everyone is leaving.”
Tixier said other than the two academy directors, he was not aware of an unusually high turnover rate among other staff members and instructors at the police academy. He also said Archibeque gave notice of retirement months ago and his departure has nothing to do with Corvino’s lawsuit.
Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the nature of Archibeque departure from the depart. The story has been modified to reflect that he has retired.