City councilors seek hiring, firing power with fire and police chiefs

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – After Albuquerque Police Departments’ many troubles, city councilors are trying to give themselves the power to hire and fire the police chief. Of course, the mayor’s office is dead set against the idea.

This is an idea that should have been settled six months ago.

“The voters of Albuquerque last November were eager to go out and vote on these initiatives but the county commissioners stopped it,” councilor Ken Sanchez said.

The question was supposed to go on the ballot last year but the ballot was too full.

Now the push is back on for this October. Councilors Ken Sanchez and Isaac Benton want the voters to decide if City Council should have to confirm the mayor’s choices for police and fire chief and if City Council should have the power to fire those chiefs with a two-thirds vote.

The mayor has been criticized for standing by Chief Ray Schultz for years as APD’s crisis grew and then hiring a new chief, Gorden Eden, who in the first weeks on the job called the James Boyd shooting justified.

The mayor thinks letting City Council help hire or fire a chief won’t work.

“I think in the long run that’s probably not something that helps create the environment that we want for accountability in public safety,” Mayor Richard Berry said.

The City Council would need six votes to avoid a veto by Berry. There are five Democrats on the council and Sanchez is confident they can get a sixth vote.

The final vote could come at the next meeting on May 27.

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