ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Dueling City Council resolutions could dramatically shape the future of APD and how future police chiefs are brought into office. One bill calls for council approval of a police chief, another calls for city voters to elect a police chief. Both bills are on the agenda for Monday night’s council meeting.
Many city councilors acknowledge Albuquerque has a problem with public safety, but they don’t all agree on the solution. The proposals they’re pushing would let voters weigh in during the November election.
The importance of public safety is one thing all city councilors can agree upon. In light of the recent Department of Justice report criticizing APD, some councilors want to see a change in how the city’s police chief gets the job.
“We need more accountability and I think for it to come to the City Council is what needs to happen for confirmation,” says Councilor Brad Winter.
Winter is one of two councilors sponsoring one bill, and Councilor Rey Garduno is sponsoring another bill. Both bills offer two entirely different ways of putting a police chief in office.
“What is the easiest way to remove a chief that’s elected is to elect them and then not elect them again, or get rid of them by recall,” explains Garduno.
Garduno’s bill would let the voters decide in November whether the city police chief should be an elected position.
“Electing an official is not forever. At most, it’s for the term – that’s usually four years. We could make it two years if we wanted to,” says Garduno.
Winter’s not on board.
“I do not support an elected police chief,” says Winter.
Councilor Winter and Council President Ken Sanchez say a better idea is to require City Council advice and approval on the selection of a police chief.
That option would also go to voters in November.
“At least you have nine city councilors that can debate and look to confirm the position,” says Winter.
Garduno said, “Rather than dwell on how do we get rid of a bad person, let’s make sure we get a good person to begin with.”
Councilors have been frustrated over the last several years with leadership at APD as questions surrounding APD’s use of force have escalated.
In that time, they’ve seen three police chiefs, yet they’ve had no power to make changes within the department.
Winter says the resolutions could go through, be deferred or fail altogether, depending on how many votes there are. Garduno says his resolution would likely be deferred. He wants to make sure there is plenty of time for people to fully understand it.
Councilor Winter says these are just two of many policy-type bills we should expect to see in light of the recent DOJ investigation.