Competitor: ABQ ‘rigged’ new body cam agreement for Taser

A Georgia-based police body camera manufacturer is alleging Albuquerque officials used an “inappropriate and illegal” process to reach a tentative agreement with Taser International Inc. for cameras and online video storage at the state’s largest law enforcement agency. Ted Davis, president and CEO of Utility Associates, Inc., filed a formal protest this week saying Taser’s initial bid of $4.7 million should have been disqualified last year because it did not meet the city’s requirements spelled out in a request for proposals. Chief among Davis’ allegations is that Taser low-balled its initial bid by not including specific prices for cameras and other required equipment — a claim reviewed by a New Mexico In Depth using public records related to the RFP. “That should’ve been it,” Davis said in a telephone interview with NMID from his office in Decatur, Ga. “It should’ve been over at that point.”

Utility Associates would have won the contract because it scored second highest behind Taser among the city’s seven-member selection committee.

NM cities push back against Trump immigration policies

Three of the state’s largest cities highlighted their opposition to Donald Trump’s immigration and border policies this week. The moves come as President Donald Trump has given more power to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to apprehend immigrants in the country illegally. The move appears to show wider enforcement against both those with criminal records and those without. In Albuquerque, the city council* approved a memorial reaffirming the city’s “immigrant-friendly” status. The move came in front of a packed crowd that included many who were unable to fit in the chambers.

Were APD stings aimed at drug users worth it?

To some, it was a waste of scarce and precious police resources. In what could be a metaphor for the plight of Albuquerque, the May 9 reverse sting drug operation by Albuquerque police officers resulted in the arrest of eight low-level drug users and homeless people, $23.10 in cash, a computer tablet, cell phone, police radio, jacket and colic medicine. For that, police deployed around 15 to 20 officers and support staff for the operation near Central and Pennsylvania Northeast. And considering all the other support services connected with the operation, the reverse sting probably cost taxpayers between $5,000 and $10,000, experts said. This piece originally appeared in the ABQ Free Press.

DA didn’t sign off on APD selling crack, meth in ‘reverse stings’

Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said Wednesday that her office never signed off on, or consulted with the Albuquerque Police Department on a court-approved affidavit that gives APD permission to sell heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and methamphetamines to people and then arrest them on drug charges. An APD detective apparently presented the affidavit to a state District Court judge on Feb. 23. The affidavit said it was being presented in conjunction with the DA’s Office. “Comes now the State of New Mexico, through its Assistant District Attorney and Affiant Detective Marc Clingenpeel,” the affidavit said.

APD to sell crack, meth in stings to target users

The Albuquerque Police Department is in the midst of a 10-month reverse drug sting operation where cops will be selling heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and methamphetamines to people and then arresting them on drug charges. The department is engaged in a “Reversal Operation” whereby narcotics officers will be taking up to two pounds of drugs out of APD’s evidence room and selling it to people on the streets. In addition, APD has asked for, and received, permission from a judge to actually manufacture crack cocaine for the operation. This piece originally appeared on the ABQ Free Press website. In so-called “normal” sting operations, police attempt to buy drugs from drug dealers.

ABQ city councilor pushes APD brass accountability on reforms

The Albuquerque City Council is scheduled to vote in May on whether to hold the Albuquerque Police Department’s command staff financially accountable if the department fails to make progress in meeting the goals of its settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The Council’s Finance & Government Operations Committee voted 5-0 Monday to approve a resolution by Councilor Diane Gibson to withhold retention bonuses and pay raises from the command staff if APD fails to make progress in meeting the goals of the settlement agreement. The resolution also requires the department to name one person to spearhead the compliance effort and report on the progress every two weeks to councilors. Gibson recently has blasted APD, saying its leaders haven’t appeared interested in meeting the requirements of the settlement agreement, which says the department has to be in “substantial compliance” with 270 reform measures by November. “The intent [of the legislation] is to incentivize everybody on the command staff to do whatever it takes to achieve the work that has to be done to get into compliance,” Gibson told ABQ Free Press.

Big settlement for undercover detective shot by own lieutenant

The City of Albuquerque agreed Wednesday to pay $6.5 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit brought by APD Det. Jacob Grant, who was shot eight times by his own lieutenant during an undercover drug bust in January 2015. This story originally ran at ABQ Free Press. In addition to the money, “the City will cover Jacob’s medial expenses for his lifetime as he continues his recovery,” City Attorney Jessica Hernandez said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “Although not a specific term of the settlement, Jacob will also receive a medical retirement through PERA [Public Employees Retirement Association].

It’s hard to get fired from CABQ

Not only is it incredibly difficult to fire someone from the City of Albuquerque, but the failure to do so in at least one case cost taxpayers big time. That’s the news from our friends at the ABQ Free Press which outlined the story of Mark A. Shepherd and how much the city settled because of his egregious behavior to at least one female city employee. “Shepherd frequently and repeatedly made hand gestures mimicking masturbation while talking on the phone,” according to the lawsuit. “These gestures were directed at the attention of Parada.”
“In 2014,” the lawsuit continued, “Parada was filing something away in a filing cabinet. While her back was turned, Shepherd sneaked up behind her.

Former APD records custodian files whistleblower suit

A former Albuquerque Police Department employee filed suit earlier this week claiming the department wrongfully fired him in retaliation for raising concerns that the department broke state law. The whistleblower lawsuit, filed by former records custodian Reynaldo Chavez, alleges APD fired Chavez after he alerted his superiors to violations of New Mexico’s Inspection of Public Records Act. The suit names APD, the City of Albuquerque and a number of top officials as defendants. According to suit, while Chavez fielded records requests for APD, he was instructed to delay the return of certain records and was later fired when he objected. The suit also alleges that APD instructed Chavez “to overproduce materials to requesters,” requiring them “to spend time consuming hours sifting through boxes of irrelevant materials when no such responsive records were produced.”

The lawsuit describes a timeline that goes back six years and includes a number of high profile cases involving APD, local news media and members of the public.

APD facing another open records lawsuit over video

The City of Albuquerque is facing another open records lawsuit over lapel-cam footage of a January police shooting. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) announced the lawsuit on behalf of BurqueMedia.com, a website with an often adversarial relationship with the City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Department. The shooting took place on January 14 and left John O’Keefe dead. The department released lapel cam footage from one officer shortly after the shooting. Andrew Christopherson of BurqueMedia.com then told them he was seeking all the lapel camera footage, not just the footage from one officer. The city, according to the lawsuit, denied the open records request based on the law enforcement exception.