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APD to Retain 3 Deputy Chiefs

By T.J. Wilham
Journal Staff Writer
    Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said Tuesday he will keep all three deputy chiefs he inherited from the previous administration even though they took some hard hits in an independent review of the department's evidence room.
    However, some of their responsibilities will change, and two of them will face disciplinary action.
    Schultz said Tuesday there was no reason to remove the deputy chiefs from their positions, and the city considers it a permanent rank after they have held the position for a year.
    "You can't arbitrarily get rid of deputy chiefs for no reason," Schultz said. "I have confidence in them. ... They were lacking a little bit of leadership and direction."
    None of the deputy chiefs could be reached for comment Tuesday.
    Schultz laid out assignments and possible discipline for his upper echelon commanders:
  • Joe Bowdich, who had served as interim chief before Schultz's appointment, will be second in command. He will oversee the evidence room and the city's three east side area commands. He will hold a civilian title of deputy executive director. He will also oversee a "blue ribbon committee" that has been formed to improve the evidence room.
  • Deputy Chief Paul Chavez, who had overseen all of the department's five area commands, will be responsible for the West Side and Valley commands. In part, because two of the area commanders on the city's east side had made complaints about the previous administration, Schultz said, those commanders and one other will answer to Bowdich. Chavez is accused of violating at least one of the department's standard operating procedures and will face discipline that could include a suspension.
  • Deputy Chief Ed Sauer will no longer oversee the evidence room. Sauer will continue to oversee criminal and special investigations. The review concluded that Sauer, who had been on administrative leave while he was being investigated, did not violate any standard operating procedures.
  • Deputy Chief Fowler Johnston will continue to oversee the administration division, which includes the records department. Johnston is accused of violating at least one of APD's standard operating procedures and will face discipline that could include a suspension.
        The review was conducted by city Independent Review Officer Jay Rowland and four other attorneys.
        Rowland was assigned the task when former Police Chief Gilbert Gallegos resigned in March amid allegations that he allowed two evidence room employees accused of wrongdoing to continue to work in the unit.
        Rowland's report faulted Gallegos for not removing the employees and for not ordering a criminal investigation sooner. It described a "dysfunctional" chain of command once allegations of wrongdoing were made public.
        The day Gallegos resigned, Mayor Martin Chávez put Sauer on administrative leave pending the outcome of Rowland's investigation. The evidence room was under Sauer's command. He returned to work Tuesday.
        Sauer and Chavez had been accused of retaliating against other officers who went public with accusations about Gallegos' handling of the evidence room problems.
        According to the investigation summary released Monday, some of the deputy chiefs "called other officers names and did not react to the valid concerns of their subordinates, but attempted to stop those concerns from being raised outside of the department."
        Schultz said Sauer did not violate any of the department's rules and regulations. Johnston and Chavez combined violated three, the chief said.
        Those rules violations dealt with how they treated the "whistle-blowers."
        Gallegos, a former director of the evidence room, an assistant lab director, a sergeant, two captains and a detective violated 18 of the department's standard operating procedures.
        Schultz said none of those violations were serious enough to warrant termination or removal of officers from their assigned positions.
        The officers, including Johnston and Chavez, will receive disciplinary action in the form of retraining, counseling, verbal or written reprimands or suspensions.
        A detective and one other officer still under review by the department for procedural violations could face more serious punishment.
        Despite retaining Gallegos' old staff, Schultz maintains changes have been made.
        "The deputy chiefs know exactly what we expect of them, and I am going to hold them accountable," Schultz said. "I will be the first one to move somebody if I need to move them."