ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Although it’s unlikely officers could be 100 percent compliant with a requirement to record almost all encounters with the public, Albuquerque police officials said fired officer Jeremy Dear failed to record so many times that they considered him insubordinate.
Police Chief Gorden Eden fired Dear in December, saying Dear violated a verbal order to record all encounters with citizens and was untruthful and insubordinate. Dear is appealing his termination, and he and the city are arguing his case this week at an administrative hearing.
The hearing is ongoing, and a report from it will eventually be presented to the city’s Personnel Board for a vote on whether or not to uphold Dear’s dismissal.
“It’s a reasonable expectation … that, as he was directed, there would be (video recordings) 100 percent” of the time, Eden said during the hearing Wednesday. “The order wasn’t (to record) to the best of his ability, the order was to record all.”
Deputy City Attorney Kathryn Levy said that an audit of Dear’s lapel camera recordings from June 2013 to April 2014 found that Dear didn’t log footage into evidence for 44 percent of the calls he was on. The audit was done in response to Dear’s being flagged for having numerous civilian complaints and use-of-force cases, which led him to be placed on a 45-day reassignment.
Police said it was after that reassignment that Dear was given a specific order to record all interactions with citizens, though Dear disputes the order was given.
Dear shot and killed 19-year-old Mary Hawkes in April 2014 when his camera was unplugged and didn’t record. Dear’s termination, however, is in connection to his lapel camera practices and not just the shooting, which is still under review.
It’s not clear how Dear’s lapel camera statistics would compare with those of other Albuquerque police officers, or how many officers have been fired or disciplined in connection to an audit of their lapel cameras.
APD’s lapel camera policy is being reviewed by social science researchers at the University of New Mexico, and the review could lead to changes.
Not turning on a camera is now something the department checks for during its “early intervention” system, which is used to highlight problems among police officers early in their careers, said Celina Espinoza, a police spokeswoman.
Eden said he reviewed the internal affairs investigation into Dear’s camera use and listened to his interviews with investigators. The chief said that he thought Dear wasn’t being truthful with his responses, and that he viewed every time Dear didn’t turn his camera on as a separate act of insubordination.
“I determined that he was not salvageable,” the chief said.