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Acting director of Albuquerque Police Academy retires

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The acting director of the Albuquerque Police Academy has retired, marking the second time this year a person who oversees police training has left the department.

Lt. Michael Archibeque’s last day as acting director of the academy was Friday, 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.

Griego has been spending time with Archibeque at the police academy recently so it will be a “seamless transition,” Tixier said.

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 will not try to fill it with someone (from outside the department) or with a civilian.”

The exodus of academy directors comes at a time when the Albuquerque Police Department is putting in place a series of reforms negotiated between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice after the DOJ investigated APD and found it had a pattern of excessive force. Many of the reforms in the settlement agreement pertain to 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. Tixier said the lawsuit was unrelated to Archibeque’s departure.

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. District Attorney Kari Brandenburg has echoed Corvino’s concerns about the validity of APD instructors certifications in a letter to Attorney General Hector Balderas.

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Thomas Grover, Corvino’s attorney. “Everything that’s been required to fix the department begins in the academy, and everyone is leaving.”

Former Detective Vincente Alvarado said he was the instructor Corvino questioned. He disputed Corvino’s allegations and said he was qualified to teach the courses.

“It’s getting out of hand,” he said in an interview. “The department doesn’t need to be pulled into this, because I have all my certifications.”

Tixier said other than the two academy directors, he was unaware of an unusually high turnover rate among other staff members and instructors at the police academy.