Tuesday, June 21, 2005

APD Top Brass Didn't Help; Evidence Case Reviewer Couldn't Get Interviews

By T.J. Wilham, Journal Staff Writer

Former Albuquerque Police Chief Gilbert Gallegos declined to cooperate with the city's independent investigation into the police department's evidence room.
He wasn't the only one, according to an edited version of a report released Monday. The former civilian director of the unit, a retired detective and two former employees suspected of stealing from the evidence room all refused to give interviews to the city's independent review officer.
The report indicated that lieutenants in charge of the department's internal affairs bureau feared retaliation for investigating the department's top brass, and that the entire department needs sexual harassment training.
Jay Rowland, the independent review officer, was asked in March by Mayor Martin Chávez to conduct an investigation into the evidence room.
The investigation started about the same time Gallegos resigned as chief amid allegations that he allowed the two employees accused of theft to continue to work in the evidence room, thus giving them access to records that might have proven their guilt.
A yearlong investigation into the thefts conducted by the Attorney General's Office concluded that thefts likely occurred but that there wasn't enough evidence to present a case to a grand jury. The report also determined that "poor record keeping, deficient supervision and unrestricted access to all evidence room employees" would hamper any prosecution.
Rowland was assigned the task of investigating allegations that some of Gallegos's deputy chiefs were retaliating against officers who had come forward with accusations.
Two weeks ago a four-page "executive summary" was released to the public, but the 20-page report of Rowland's investigation was withheld until Monday. About 13 pages of that report were deleted from the version that was made public.
City officials said the portions of the report that were withheld involved personnel matters and therefore could not be released.
When asked if Gallegos cooperated, Rowland told the Journal on Monday, "We sent him letters, and he did not call for an interview."
Gallegos has requested that the Journal never contact him for comment.
Ann Talbot, who was the civilian director of the unit, has not returned several phone calls left by the Journal over several weeks.
Talbot left APD in February to take a job as director of the state Department of Public Safety's crime lab.
The report concluded that lieutenants in charge of the department's internal affairs division feared retaliation for doing investigations involving APD's top brass.
Rowland concluded in his report that their fears were justified and recommended that all investigations involving top APD officials be investigated by the city's Police Oversight Commission, the board to which Rowland reports.
"Efforts by captains and below to resolve issues involving captains and above were met by the deputy chiefs having the captains investigated and removed from their command positions or threatened with removal," the report states.
One captain, Ron Paiz, had internal affairs removed from his authority after he opened an "informal, preliminary" investigation into Gallegos and a deputy chief after he heard about allegations at a union meeting.
"When (Gallegos) learned of this, he terminated the captain's efforts, relieved the captain of his duties over internal affairs and opened an investigation into the captain," the report states.
According to the report, several witnesses interviewed by Rowland's staff raised "sexual and gender issues, including inappropriate emails by senior officers, sexual discrimination in recruiting and assignments and inappropriate relationships."
Some senior officers were accused of having "inappropriate relationships," but Rowland's staff determined they had "no basis in fact" and "we made no findings in these."
When asked about the specific allegations of sexual harassment, Rowland said, "I thought that there was enough there that they should have some type of sexual harassment training."

No comments: