Friday, December 14, 2007

APD Officers Pair With Needy Children for Meal, Movie and Wal-Mart Trip

Monday, December 10, 2007
By Jack King, Journal Staff Writer

In the toy aisle of a Northeast Heights Wal-Mart on Sunday, one little girl stood up in a shopping cart lined with clothes and shouted at the flurry of shoppers blocking her way, "Beep, beep."
In the clothing department, another little girl laid her face against a pair of velour pants and purred, "Whoa, I want these."
Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Castillo surveyed the fairly well-controlled pandemonium and said, "It makes the job worth it all the rest of the year."
For the last 13 years, area police and sheriff's departments have held Cops for Kids. Children from low-income families are recommended by their school counselors. On a day before Christmas, the officers show up at their doors in squad cars, take them to breakfast, then on a shopping trip using $100 gift cards paid for by private donations, said Albuquerque Police Department Detective Patricia Paiz, who coordinates the program.
This year, 102 officers were paired off with 102 students from elementary and middle schools throughout Albuquerque and Bernalillo and Sandoval counties.
Ten of the students came from Sandoval County, four of them from Bernalillo. Many of the rest came through the Albuquerque Public Schools Homeless Project, and all are from homes with household incomes of less than $800 monthly, Paiz said.
"It's invaluable," said Bernalillo County Deputy Jessica Tyler, of Cops for Kids. "There's the interaction between the kids and the officers, and it gives these kids a Christmas they otherwise wouldn't have."
This year, the day began with a breakfast at Golden Corral that included— as Apache Elementary School third- grader Makayla Sulls firmly asserted— ice cream. Breakfast was followed by a cavalcade of police cars to the Academy NE Wal-Mart parking lot, where Santa Claus, actually Albuquerque Public Schools Police Chief Bill Reed decked in the traditional red and white suit and beard, arrived by helicopter. Later, there was to be a showing of "Enchanted" at the Century Rio 24 theater.
But first, there was serious shopping to be done.
Paiz said she visits the students' homes and gets a shopping list from their parents. They are required to buy a winter coat, shoes or a set of clothes, whatever they most need. But afterward, if there is anything left on their gift cards, they are free to buy toys.
Not all of them do. Some are like Chelwood Elementary fourth-grader Michael Romero, who told his escort, "No, I want to buy something for my dad now.
"He's really nice and he always gets me stuff. He's kind of like wasting his money on me, so I want to get him something."
Wal-Mart assistant manager James Short said Michael isn't the only unselfish student of the many groups he's seen in the 13 years the store has hosted Cops for Kids.
"That's the funny thing. When these kids come in, they always want to shop for their families," he said.

Ex-Chief's Divorce Messy

By T.J. Wilham, Journal Staff Writer

The daughter and wife of former Albuquerque Police Chief Sam Baca are seeking a restraining order against him, citing a history of abuse dating back 40 years.
Baca, who was Albuquerque's police chief from 1985 to 1990, has championed himself as a domestic violence advocate. He started APD's Domestic Abuse Response Team and has testified before Congress on domestic violence issues.
Baca, who was named police chief of Lakeland (Fla.) Police Department when he retired from APD, is also seeking a restraining order against his wife, claiming she has attacked him in the past.
Two separate hearings took place Thursday in District Court. The request from Baca's daughter, Jennifer, was taken under advisement. A hearing for Baca's wife, Vera, was continued to sometime next year.
The court has not heard Sam Baca's request.
Temporary restraining orders, though, are in place for the parties.
In court Thursday, Jennifer Baca told Commissioner Reed Sheppard that her father threatened her twice.
The fist time occurred Nov. 19, when Jennifer Baca met her parents at a Northeast Heights restaurant. Vera Baca intended to leave her husband that day and pretended to go to the restroom with her mother, who also was at the restaurant. She did not return. Jennifer Baca said she was threatened by her father after telling him that her mother was leaving.
Vera Baca filed for a divorce the next day.
"He told me that he knows the law," Jennifer Baca said in court. "He said that accidents happen and break-lines are undetectable.
Jennifer Baca said the second threat occurred when her father called her on Thanksgiving, about a week after her mother left him, and asked if she knew where his bullets were.
Jennifer Baca testified that she hated her father since birth, adding that she had been abused in the past by him.
Baca, who returned to Albuquerque in 2000, said he never abused his daughter or threatened her. He said he has always had a strained relationship with his daughter and that she was trying to embarrass him.
"(My daughter) is very vindictive," he said. "She would like to ruin me."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Case Dismissed For DWI Sergeant's Son

Albuquerque Journal Staff Report

The son of the Albuquerque Police DWI commander, who was charged in May on suspicion of being a minor in possession of alcohol, had his case dismissed in Metropolitan Court on Tuesday.
Samuel Armijo, the 20-year-old son of Sgt. Louis Armijo, was late for his appearance before Metropolitan Court Judge Sharon Walton, court records show.
But so was the arresting officer, who was to testify, according to court records. The officer sent word to the court that he was having car problems, but the message didn't get through until after the case had been called.
The case had been continued twice— once because the judge wasn't available, the other because the officer was out of state— and the rule requiring cases be adjudicated within six months was set to expire Dec. 19, court records show.
State Department of Public Safety officers stopped Armijo April 14 on suspicion of drunken driving. He showed signs of impairment but was ultimately taken home by his father. Sgt. Armijo was on duty at the time.
Albuquerque police officials said they have conducted an investigation and found that Sgt. Armijo did nothing wrong.
Both APD and DPS have said the other should have arrested Samuel Armijo on DWI charges.

Cop Accused of Rape Resigns

By T.J. Wilham, Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer

An Albuquerque police officer accused of raping a female suspect has resigned.
Officer David Maes, 28, was placed on paid administrative leave two months ago following his Oct. 11 arrest on charges of criminal sexual penetration in connection with the sexual assault of an inmate he was transporting.
Maes has not been indicted by a grand jury.
Police Chief Ray Schultz said Tuesday his investigators had just completed a criminal investigation into the incident and were starting an internal inquiry when Maes resigned.
Schultz said Maes likely would have been fired if he hadn't quit.
"It was the right thing for him to do," Schultz said. "His biggest concern at this point is the criminal investigation."
According to court records, Maes was arrested six days after a woman told Metropolitan Detention Center officers that she had been raped by Maes while en route to jail.
The woman had been arrested after a stolen car she was riding in was involved in a crash.
While detectives were questioning the woman, she complained her vision was blurry and was taken to Lovelace Hospital for treatment.
Maes was assigned to guard her and transport her to jail once she received treatment. While at the hospital, Maes allegedly sexually assaulted the woman in an exam area and then assaulted her again when he stopped at a baseball field before taking her to jail, according to court records.
Maes had been an Albuquerque police officer since Jan. 22, 2005.Cr