A.P.D. Chief Missing in Action
By: ABQRAW staff
Posted: 4/15/2022 12:57PM
For the last couple months, Albuquerque City Council meetings have returned to the in person meetings. For the last two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, the City Council meetings were done via Zoom.
It is customary to have City of Albuquerque Department heads available to be asked questions during the question and answer portion of the meetings from the council members. During the last two meetings, Chief Harold Medina has not been present to answer questions from the council.
On March 21st, 2022, City Council had it's first in person meeting and during the "Question and Answer," of Mayor Tim Keller's administration, District 1 Councilor Louie Sanchez asked if Chief Medina was present. Councilor Sanchez and others scanned the room to see if he was in the room.
Then Chief Administration Officer Sarita Nair responded saying: "We weren't notified of your question in advance of the chief isn't here, but Lieutenant Roger Legendary is here and can answer those questions."
District 5 Councilor Dan Lewis said during the meeting he is not a fan of sending their questions for the Keller administration to prep their answers for the public forum.
Lt. Roger J. Legendre speaks on behalf of APD leadership.
"I don't think the expectation should be that there that we notify you all of any kind of questions that we might have for this meeting. I think the expectation should be that there might be any question from this counsel and the administration needs to be ready, whether it be department directors need to be here and available for this meeting. And the administration certainly needs to be ready to answer any and all questions that we might have during this time. That's what this time is for," said Councilor Lewis.
In 2021, Chief Medina made $177,562.68 and is at the top of all City of Albuquerque salary earners. The duties assigned to the Chief are to attend meetings in regards to his position within the department and to answer to the public and their city council.
We asked Councilor Sanchez if he has had trouble setting up meetings with the Chief and he said it has been difficult.
“The police Chief is one of the highest paid public officials in New Mexico and is presiding over an out of control crime crisis, growing overtime scandals, and the largest city budget. It is critical that the chief be available to the City Council who funds his department and whose constituents want answers from the chief. When the Chief is not present at Council meetings it takes transparency and checks and balances away from the taxpayers of Albuquerque who don’t feel safe right now," said Councilor Sanchez.
Director for the Office of the Chief, David Franklin, speaks for Chief Medina at a Council meeting.
We spoke with three former APD Chiefs' Mike Geier, Gorden Eden, and Allen Banks about the requirement of attending council meetings. They all agreed they would look at the agenda and would attend if they were specifically requested by council or a public safety matter was on the docket.
Former APD Chief Mike Geier went on to say that being Chief of Police is a major part of a big city and as part of the executive team a Chief should be at meetings. When Geier, was chief of APD for the majority of Keller's first term, Mayor Tim Keller instructed department heads to be at the council meetings if something pertaining to them was on the agenda.
"When there were any issues law enforcement directed or necessary for somebody from the department (police) it shouldn't be someone else covering for you," said Geier.
The Albuquerque Police Officers Association President Shaun Willoughby said the Chief does not need to be at every council meeting. But, there is exceptions.
"He should be in attendance if requested," said Willoughby.
The City Council is scheduled to meet in person on April 18th at the Albuquerque City Council Chambers. It is unclear if Chief Medina will skip another meeting.
We reached out to Chief Medina and APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos to see if Medina will be in attendance at the next meeting. We have not received any comment.