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Thursday, July 25, 2013

An Air Of Unreality: Exit Interview Of Chief Is A Stunner; Schultz Says APD Sex Affairs Are "Nature At Play"; Does Mayor Berry Agree? Dinelli Blasts Comments; Plus: State Fair Ad Dreaded By Some Is Back On Air 

Chief Schultz
There was an air of unreality surrounding the primetime TV exit interview this week with outgoing ABQ police chief Ray Schultz.

The unreality morphed into utter disbelief when Schultz was asked about the revelation that there are numerous sexual relationships between ABQ police officers, raising questions about command and control at the department. His response:

In law enforcement you've got young, good looking folks that do this job. Our target group of employees--20, 30, 40 year old men and women--we ask them to stay in good shape. There's nature at play.

"Nature at play?" We know this town is asleep at the switch, but if that doesn't jolt the crowd from their sleepwalking, what will?

Schultz made no distinction in his response so we are left to believe that he has no problem with married police officers violating their marriage vows under his nose or for his deputy chiefs to have sex with their subordinates. A relationship between two officers working together is one thing, the examples above are an entirely different matter.

Schultz's cavalier (nearly smug) response comes on the heels of the murder trial of former APD officer Levi Chavez whose numerous sexual escapades figured prominently in the death--either by suicide or murder--of his wife, Tera Chavez. It seems "nature at play" can turn deadly.

Does Mayor Berry agree with Schultz's position that the sex going on at APD is "nature at play?" That it is not potentially destructive to the department's morale, the personal lives of the officers and ultimately to the public? And just what are the fraternization policies at APD? What should they be? What are they elsewhere? A few answers here but far from definitive.

Berry told the Journal in response to the chief's comments to KOB-TV:

As the Mayor and as a citizen, I expect the highest level of conduct from our police officers and other public servants. Fortunately, we see that high level of conduct almost all the time. In those rare instances that we don’t, it’s disappointing and should not be condoned.

But doesn't the Schultz interview demonstrate that we need a clear, written policy on APD sexual conduct, Mayor?

Dem mayoral candidate Pete Dinelli took advantage of the opening provided by Schultz and said:

I call on the Mayor to sever all ties with Chief Schultz on August 3rd and cancel the $10,000 consulting contract Schultz is set to receive. These comments are frankly disgusting and offensive. There is no place for someone with these beliefs to give advice to our city and we must immediately change the moral tone of APD leadership. The Mayor’s complete failure to hold Schultz accountable is a total disgrace.

As he heads for the exits, there's much the chief just doesn't seem to get.

In the interview with KOB-TV anchorman Tom Joles he dismisses most of the 26 police shootings over a three year period--17 of them fatal--as an "anomaly." But a jury has already slapped the city with a $10 million judgment for one of the shootings, with millions more in damages for others sure to follow. That is a very costly "anomaly" in blood and money.

Schultz characterized the federal Department of Justice civil rights investigation of APD that resulted from the shootings as "probably not" necessary. History will be the judge of that assertion.

Chief Schultz has had his hands full and he has many good men and women under his command. ABQ has becoming an increasingly violent city and not all of the police shootings will be found to be unjustified. But as he heads for the exits, it would have been best if the chief left us with his vision for improving APD, not his myopic and astonishing view of the immediate past.

(Editorial writers: Feel free to use all or some of the above).

COP SHORTAGE

Schultz leaves behind a department that needs to add 150 officers to reach the targeted goal of 1,000. New retirement rules and poor morale are seen by police observers as the main reason for the
shortfall. Also, a college education requirement for new cops has drawn fire. This would seem to be another issue for the so far seemingly nonexistent mayoral campaign.

FLATLINED

Mayor Berry says gross receipts tax collections have picked up in recent months, giving hope that a growth spurt is underway but for the entire 2013 fiscal year--July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013, gross receipts collections were up an anemic 1.3 percent. That's hardly the sign of a robust economic environment and barely keeps up with inflation. Berry--seeking re-election Oct. 8--says GRT collections are up 4% in recent months, indicating we may be picking up. The 7% tax is the city's main funding source. And then there's the jobs problem.....

USE TWITTER, STEVE

Some more email on that $20,000 dollar plane ticket the State Department bought southern NM GOP Congressman Steve Pearce so he could visit state national guard troops stationed in Egypt. Reader Jeffrey Baker writes:

Rep. Pearce said he bought a $20,000 plane ticket to fly to Egypt to personally invite American soldiers to consider working in the oil and gas fields in southern New Mexico after they finish their military service. I wonder if the Congressman could have sent the same invitation by Twitter, at a fraction of the cost? C’mon Steve, no serious person objects to members of Congress visiting the troops--but next time, fly economy.

BIG BILL (COMPLETE)

We left morning readers hanging when we posted an incomplete version of this Big Bill update. It wasn't that long to begin with, but here it is in full:

Remember that story about former Governor Big Bill having a state worker paid $250,000 in order to avoid having her file a sex harassment suit against him? The case was investigated by a federal grand jury which ended its probe with no indictments. Now some background info has surfaced on the probe. Nothing earth shaking but interesting. And in December 2011 we blogged what our sources told us about the relationship.

STATE FAIR TIME

Okay, so string us up in the South Valley. We agree with Rio Rancho reader Joe Barela that running last year's state fair TV ad featuring a pig and a gangbanger--or something similar--is this summer's dumbest idea:

Joe, while watching TV, the "gangbanger girl" with the heavy accent and gangbanger rap came on in an advertisement to talk about the State Fair. This ad was the butt of a lot of controversy among many Hispanics last year who felt that this was in very poor taste and does not reflect the best of the deep rooted culture New Mexico has to offer. I was sickened that our State Fair Commission would again allow such a trashy portrayal of our young Hispanic women....

The gangbanger narrating the ad says you can't have a fair without rides "that make me want to throw up." Hey, you can do that just by watching the ad.

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