Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ex-Cop's Charges In Rape Dropped

Journal Staff Report
The New Mexico Attorney General's Office filed paperwork Friday saying it is dropping the sexual assault case against fired Albuquerque police officer Timothy Chavez.
The notice was filed without prejudice, meaning the case could be refiled.
Attorney general spokesman Phil Cisneros said a nolle prosequi was filed because "we didn't feel it would serve the public to proceed."
"It's a good day for Tim. He can put this to rest," said Mary Han, who with co-counsel Paul Kennedy defended Chavez at trial this month. The trial ended Aug. 14 with a hung jury that voted 11-1 for acquittal on all but one count. It voted 10-2 for acquittal on that count.
"They spent vast amounts of money prosecuting a case I think they didn't analyze carefully. They put that man through all kinds of hell, when there perhaps were other remedies they could have sought and didn't even try," Han said.
Chavez, then a 33-year-old decorated vice cop, was arrested on the rape charges in May 2005. The girl told police she had been raped after meeting a man on Live Links, an adult telephone dating service.
The girl admitted during testimony that she had lied about her age to Chavez and other men to get onto the service.
Chavez said that the sex was consensual and that he thought the girl was 18.
The girl, Marissa Mason, and her mother have filed a civil lawsuit against Chavez and Albuquerque. The city is defending that lawsuit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Councilor wants gang members posted online

By: Eric Kahnert, Eyewitness News 4, and Reed Upton,
See Tha Video Here

A city councilor working with the mayor’s office has introduced legislation that would create an online registry of the mug shots of gang members. Councilor Ken Sanchez introduced the bill Monday night. The council will consider it at the next council meeting. Under Sanchez’s proposal, the pictures and names of gang members would be available on line if APD determines someone was involved in a gang related crime. Addresses will not be posted with the pictures and names in order to minimize the possibility of retaliation.

Sanchez says, unlike the sex offenders Website, people on the gang Website could eventually get off of it.

“Young kids make mistakes and hopefully they will take the right path in the future,” he says. “Once they’re on the registry, it’ll be for two years unless they take a prevention program. [Then] they’ll be taken off immediately.”

*** *** ***

Some thoughts from a citizen with eyes open:

So walking with two of your friends on central will get youth entered into an online database next to sex offenders and pets that the city is about to euthanize!! How would you feel if the APD or APS Police entered your kid into this database, branding them as a gangster for two years, maybe the rest of their life?

How does the APD define who is in a gang? Baggy pants? Brown or Black skin? A blue hat?

This humiliating bill didn't pass, but we should count it as a near victory for legalized racial profiling. Call up Mayor Martin "Gentry" Chavez and Councillor Ken Sanchez and let them know that this looks like just another vindictive attack on youth of color by the City government.
You can leave comments for Councillor Ken Sanchez here:
If the idea is to protect the public, we should create an online database of crooked politicians and abusive cops, with their photos and descriptions of their crimes.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Wrong Man ID'd in Child Porn Case

Journal Staff Report

The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department on Thursday released the wrong name as a suspect in a child pornography case it is working.
The department incorrectly identified Victor Sandoval, 27, as being the person suspected of having thousands of files of child pornography found on a computer located in the home where he is living.
On Friday evening, Lt. Scott Baird, spokesman for the department, called the Journal about the misinformation. He said he had just spoken to the lead detective and was informed that Sandoval was not the person who admitted possessing the pornography. He said it was a housemate of Sandoval's who made that admission. He declined to name that person.
Deputies searched the home Monday and arrested Sandoval on unrelated car theft and DWI charges from Colorado.
No one else was arrested at the time of the search and seizure of several computers, a lap top, external hard drives and numerous other items.
Baird said late Friday that on Thursday— when confirming to the Journal that Sandoval was the pornography suspect— he did not have accurate information.
The Journal contacted Baird again Friday morning to reconfirm the facts in the Journal article published that morning. He did.
But he called back late Friday to say he was incorrect.

Friday, August 17, 2007

APS officers' sickout follows gun vote

By Susie Gran, Albuquerque Tribune

Almost all of the Albuquerque Public Schools police force failed to show up to work early today in an apparent sickout, but by mid-morning most were back at work.

The 26 officers' absence came after the Board of Education on Thursday refused to allow them to carry guns around the clock and didn't act on a recommended pay raise.

"Everybody's very concerned," said Albuquerque Public Schools acting Police Chief Steve Tellez.

Tellez said the sickout was not a union-sanctioned event and that he was not warned to expect a protest.

However, Tellez said he knows what the officers' issues are: pay and guns.

"We told them the safety of the students is more important than what they were doing," Tellez said. "They were trying to send a message.

"They realized their priority and came back to work. Their emotions got the best of them."

Tellez said he expected all the officers to be back at work today. The district has policies for violating sick leave, he said. Also, there is a "no-strike" clause in the police union contract with the district.

"If discipline is necessary, then we'll take that action," Tellez said.

The school district has 33 sworn officers who are allowed to carry their weapons before and after school hours. They have been pressuring the school board to allow them to be armed during school hours.

A pay raise also has been under discussion. APS police officers make $12 per hour compared with $19 to $21 per hour for city police and sheriff's deputies.

School board members this morning said they did not believe the officers' absence caused a safety crisis.

"There's no question our schools are very, very safe today," board member Robert Lucero said.

But Lucero said he's disappointed in the officers who didn't show up.

"It kind of reminds me of a child throwing a temper tantrum," he said. "The fact they could do this is incredibly childish."

Board member Marty Esquivel said he didn't agree with the sick-out tactic, although he can understand officers' frustration with the gun issue. School police should realize there will be more discussion about the gun policy, he said.

"It's not over, although they seem to think it's over."

Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White said plans were developed at an emergency meeting this morning to patrol the schools.

About 20 city police officers and sheriff's deputies on desk assignment were shifted to schools, wearing their guns and ready to respond to emergencies, he said.

"This is not a long-term service" to the schools," White said, although he left open the possibility of asking payment from the district for the police coverage.

The school police absences were "placing a burden on everyone," White said, although the morning was calm.

The school police protest followed a 4-2 vote Thursday by the school board's Policy Committee to make no immediate changes to the police force.

A commission formed by Superintendent Beth Everitt has met this summer to consider changes to the APS Police Department.

An audit this year identified various problems in the department, and longtime police chief Gil Lovato's contract was not renewed. Lovato has since sued the district for wrongful termination.

The commission, the Mayor's Office and White all support arming the school police, but the school board kept the status quo Thursday.

"We like what we have," said Dolores Griego, a South Valley board member who has opposed arming school police around the clock.

The committee vote left open the possibility of upgrading the department someday to an accredited, fully armed police force, but that could take as long as three years, board President Paula Maes said.

"They won't have a Police Department by then," Albuquerque Public Schools Sgt. Kim Murray said Thursday night. "This Police Department is about to disintegrate."

Officers are resigning over the gun issue and low pay, he said.

Everitt said Thursday she endorsed the commission's recommendations, which could be phased in over three years.

She said legislative or legal action would be necessary to create an accredited police force that meets national standards; that a police chief should be hired now; and that the department should be reorganized and salaries increased for officers.

Paul Broome, the mayor's education adviser, criticized the board for not resolving the gun issue and not endorsing the commission's work.

"This is a classic example of what the mayor has been talking about. This school board won't make the hard decisions. They put everything off. They don't take a stand," he said.

Broome served on the commission, along with principals, students, parents, law enforcement officials, a legislator and community members.

But board members Griego and Berna Facio said the commission did not represent all segments of the community. Several students complained that the student voice wasn't being heard.

Broome took issue with the criticism. "This was not a slanted commission," he said. "Quite frankly, that's an insult to the entire group."

Two students on the commission, from Cibola and Manzano high schools, favored arming school police.

Griego, Facio, Maes and Lucero voted for the status quo. Esquivel and Mary Lee Martin said they wanted to follow the commission's recommendations. Gordon Rowe left the meeting before the vote.

Maes said her vote "had nothing to do with guns" and that she was giving a vote of confidence to school police.

The committee vote is not final. The full board will consider the commission's recommendations at a later date.

At a news conference this morning, Maes said the board will vote to accept the commission recommendations.

"The first choice of this board will be to have a standalone Police Department," she said.

A standalone Police Department would require accreditation, armed officers and higher pay, the commission said.

Lucero argued that creating a full-fledged police force wasn't allowed by state law, based on a legal opinion by board attorney Art Melendres.

Lucero said the board should wait for an opinion from the attorney general before taking action.

Another discussion on the gun issue is inevitable, board members agreed.

"We'll rehash this issue when the next chief is on board," Lucero said.

APS Board Tentatively Sticks to Police Plan

By Andrea Schoellkopf, Journal Staff Writer

The Albuquerque school board is considering keeping its police force status quo despite numerous recommendations for change.
A four-member majority of the board endorsed a plan Thursday to continue the current police arrangement— an unaccredited security force— overriding two recommendations by its administration and a community commission that spent the summer studying the issue.
Ultimately, some felt the lines were being drawn on the issue of whether to arm officers full time.
Currently, APS police officers are only allowed to carry guns after school hours, and must keep the arms locked in their vehicles. If there is an emergency requiring a weapon during school hours, the officer must first obtain permission from the APS superintendent.
Superintendent Beth Everitt— who recommended the change— said the current force already has commissioned officers, and city and county police now carry guns in the schools anyway.
"We're more liable for them not to be a police department because of the way it's already set up," Everitt said. "We need to either be fish or fowl."
The final vote will go before the school board in a regular meeting later this month.
"I feel, quite frankly, we wasted a whole lot of time," said Paul Broome, education adviser for Mayor Martin Chávez and a member of the commission, which was created after an APS audit found problems with the district's police department under former chief Gil Lovato.
Board members appeared close to supporting the committee's recommendation until Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White— a commission member who supported a fully authorized police department— told the board he didn't think legislation would be approved that would permit a school district police force.
Board president Paula Maes suggested that the district continue with its current force while pursuing other options.
"I don't think it's going to make much difference whether we (create a stand-alone police force) or continue the way we are," Maes said. "We had a police department that works. We had a leader that didn't work."
She said the board has already approved the commission's recommendation for upgraded police equipment, and other considerations for higher pay could go into effect with or without a certified department.
Maes said she felt compelled to stay with the current force after White said Thursday that APS may not be able to have a full police force until 2010. Her motion drew support of the anti-gun board members— Robert Lucero, Berna Facio and Dolores Griego— with Marty Esquivel and Mary Lee Martin voting against.
APS has asked the state Attorney General's Office to issue an opinion on the legality of a school district police force.
The policy committee meeting was moved into the main boardroom to accommodate the nearly 90 attendees, most of whom were there in regard to the police policy.
Opponents— waving hand-made posters arguing against any guns in the schools— argued that students should be consulted on the matter.
But those who supported the changes were not pleased.
"You will have my resignation by the end of the month," APS officer Simon Beltran said. "And there are probably two to three officers that will go with me."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

S.F. Narcotics Chief Accused of Battery

by Bruce Daniels, Albuquerque Journal

Sgt. Michael LeBlanc, current head of the Santa Fe Police Department's burglary/narcotics unit, was charged this week with a misdemeanor domestic violence count of battery of a household member, The New Mexican reported today on its Web site.

It was, according to court records, the second time in the past 3 1/2 years that LeBlanc has been charged with domestic violence, The New Mexican said.

According to the paper, a domestic violence hearing officer in state District Court in Albuquerque issued a yearlong restraining order against the 34-year-old LeBlanc, requiring him to stay away from his estranged wife.

The latest charge stems from an incident on July 22 in which LeBlanc allegedly punched his estranged wife on the left arm and left thigh following an argument, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in Bernalillo County Metro Court, The New Mexican said.

The complaint also alleges that LeBlanc pushed his estranged wife up against a wall three days after the July 22 incident, The New Mexican reported.

LeBlanc was not arrested but charged by a criminal summons and is scheduled to be arraigned in Metro Court at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 4, according to the report.

His wife filed for divorce in Albuquerque on Aug. 8, The New Mexican said.

The New Mexican reported that LeBlanc was charged with battery on a household member in 2004 in which he was accused of walking the mother of his older daughter away from his home using a police technique known as an "arm-bar," and of threatening to shoot the pregnant woman in the stomach, according to a Rio Rancho Department of Public Safety report.

LeBlanc, who denied making the threat or brandishing a weapon, was given a deferred sentence at the time and after six months the charges were dismissed, The New Mexican reported.

LeBlanc replaced Sgt. Steve Altonji, who was put on leave early this year after the U.S. Attorney's Office notified Santa Fe police that Altonji was the target of a federal grand jury investigation at the beginning of the year, The New Mexican said.

Police Chief Eric Johnson told The New Mexican that LeBlanc will not be placed on administrative leave because the allegations against him are not as serious as those against Altonji.

Safe Schools Are Gun Free Schools!

Hi SWOPISTAS, allies and supporters,

Just a friendly reminder that tonight the APS Policy Committee will be accepting or
rejecting the recommendations to the Safety Commission on creating their own armed
police force for APS.

We need all parents and supporters to come to the meeting today at 4:30pm to state
that we need a Comprehensive Safety Emergency Plan that focuses on our kids and not
on weapons.

The information is below. Please call the office if you have further questions.
There will be media present so we need to be visible. KOB-TV came to SWOP this
morning to interview Monica and will be reporting later tonight. Please show your

Safe Schools are Gun Free Schools!

APS Policy and Instruction Committee Meeting on Thursday August 16, 2007 at 4:30pm

6400 Uptown Blvd NE (across from Coronado Mall) De-Layo-Martin Community Room. What
you can do:

1. Meet us at SWOP at 3:30pm Thursday or show up at the meeting at 4:30pm to say:
Reject the recommendation of the Commission. APS should create an emergency plan
that prioritizes a comprehensive approach to safety without guns. Safe schools are
gun free!

2. If you cannot make it please call (505) 880-3739 or e-mail (click links below
to e-mail) the School Board members Wednesday and say: Reject the recommendation of
the Commission. APS should create an emergency plan that prioritizes a
comprehensive approach to safety without guns. Safe schools are gun free!

3. Come to the School Safety Focus Group to talk about alternatives Tuesday August
21, 2007 211 10th St SW @ 5:30pm.

For more information call SWOP at 247-8832 or e-mail Monica at

E-mail your APS Board Rep by clicking their name below the flyer.

Paula Maes
(District 5)

Dolores Griego
Vice President
(District 1)

Gordon Rowe
Board Member
(District 7)

Martin Esquivel
Board Member
(District 4)

Mary Lee Martin
Board Member
(District 6)

Robert D. Lucero
Board Member
(District 2)

Berna V. Facio
(District 3)

Mónica Córdova

Youth Coordinator

SouthWest Organizing Project

211 10th St. SW

Albuquerque, NM 87102

505.247.8832 (phone)

505.247.9972 (fax)