An Albuquerque mayoral candidate attempted to distance himself from a former Albuquerque police chief accused of improper and possibly illegal actions involving a city contract. Last week a Twitter user said former Democratic Party of New Mexico chairman Brian Colόn was “So far the best candidate,” but went on to ask “However is it true your firm represents [former Albuquerque Police Chief] Ray Schultz?”
Colόn, who is an attorney, responded on Twitter Monday afternoon, saying “My firm does not represent Schultz. Propaganda.”
My firm does not represent Schultz. Propaganda. DOJ compliance will be priority for our new chief of police in the Colón Administration.
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.
A practice of a police union giving payment reimbursements of up to $500 to Albuquerque police officers after shootings from the Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) continues. The Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday on how one officer, Jeremy Dear, went to Hooters and a Chinese massage parlor two days after he fatally shot 19-year-old Mary Hawkes. Part of that report, unrelated to Dear’s actions, says “police union officials confirmed officers are still reimbursed up to $500 by the union to use for vacations and other ways to decompress after being involved in a shooting.”
It’s a practice that first surfaced publicly in 2012 when news broke that the union had given out payments to 23 officers involved in shootings. The revelation led to an outcry from critics over the appearance of awarding cops for shooting people in a department where a culture of “excessive use of force” eventually landed a court-ordered consent decree from the federal Department of Justice demanding a reform process. The city of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Department are still working on the implementation of the reforms.
At the time, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and then-APD Chief Ray Schultz called for the practice to stop.
An Albuquerque City Council committee earlier this month voted unanimously to accept $50,000 in federal money to pay Albuquerque Police officers working overtime on a task force with the bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), passing the final question on to the full council next Monday. The federal money — and another $5,725 in matching city dollars — would fund a working relationship between the two law enforcement agencies that dates to at least 2012. That’s when then-Police Chief Ray Schultz signed a memorandum of agreement with the ATF that allowed his officers to investigate violent crimes with federal agents. In the weeks before Webster’s death last October, undercover ATF agents allegedly purchased $6,500 worth of heroin and a firearm from Davon Lymon, the man who, according to police, fatally shot Webster during a traffic stop on Oct. 21.
A state grand jury has subpoenaed payroll records, documents related to legal interpretations, and correspondence between former Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz and Taser International, Inc., in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation into allegations of contract rigging that Schultz has been unable to shake since they first arose in early 2014. Schultz is the focal point of three subpoenas obtained by New Mexico In Depth. They were served this summer on the Albuquerque Police Department, the city Inspector General’s Office and Taser, the nation’s largest manufacturer of electronic stun guns and body-worn cameras for police. Each recipient was ordered to turn records over to a grand jury convened at the Second Judicial District courthouse in Albuquerque on July 29. The documents offer a first glimpse into state Attorney General Hector Balderas’ criminal investigation of how the Albuquerque Police Department awarded a $2 million no-bid contract to Taser for more than 500 body-worn cameras and five years worth of online video storage.
Another city audit of the controversial relationship between former Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz and a Scottsdale, Arizona-based stun gun and police equipment company concludes that he acted improperly and violated city law. The report from the city’s Office of Inspector General accuses Schultz of improperly using his relationship with TASER International to score the company lucrative city contracts. It marks the third such report addressing the TASER and Albuquerque Police Department fallout, coming after a “risk review” from the New Mexico State Auditor and a separate internal city audit found similar probable violations. The reports were released in April and May, respectively. Each report puts Schultz under fire for becoming a paid consultant for the company while still on the city’s payroll for his last three months of employment.
An internal investigation by the City of Albuquerque spells out more bad news for the police department’s contracts with an Arizona-based law enforcement equipment company. The internal audit released on Tuesday found that more than $2 million of the city’s purchases from TASER International violated Albuquerque’s own procurement guidelines. It starts with the police department’s purchases of 75 lapel cameras from the company in March 2013, which, according to the audit, “bypassed purchasing regulations and approvals and compromised the integrity of the procurement process.” This initial “pilot purchase” cost city taxpayers $106,855. Things only got worse from there. From the audit: The Pilot Purchase was then used as the basis for justifying the non-competitive purchase of Evidence.com and associated products on September 30, 2013.
Headlines about federal probes, conflict of interests in contracts and excessive force incidents have plagued Albuquerque Police Department for some time. Now, the police department’s public relations folks are pushing back. Last Friday, police Det. Chris Whigham sent an email to officers titled, in all caps, “IT’S HIGH TIME WE SHOW EVERYBODY WHAT APD IS REALLY ALL ABOUT!!!” “Many of us have said that there is way more good that happens in our department than bad,” Whigham wrote.
After a Thursday morning press conference announcing findings of “probable” wrong-doing by a former Albuquerque Police chief, New Mexico Political Report spoke with New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller and asked him five questions. Keller was sworn into his new role as auditor earlier this year. He said his job is not a popular one and compared it to being a dentist. “I’m not often the favorite person when I walk in the room,” Keller said. Earlier this week, an editorial in the Albuquerque Journal criticized Keller and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, both Democrats, for sending out letters asking for donations.
State Auditor Tim Keller forwarded his office’s findings of Albuquerque Police Department’s potentially illegal relationship with an Arizona stun gun company to two legal offices for investigation. Keller’s office released a report, which New Mexico Political Report outlined early Thursday, finding probable violations of city and state law from the department’s nearly $2 million contract with TASER International for lapel cameras. His office also asked state Attorney General Hector Balderas and District Attorney Kari Brandenberg to conduct investigations into the matter. Specifically, Keller’s risk review found former Albuquerque Police Chief Raymond Schultz’ actions in “probable” violation of the state Governmental Conduct Act, city procurement rules and city conflict of interest rules. “We believe these are very substantial violations,” Keller told a crowd of reporters Thursday morning.