Police Complaints: Pc News

Police Oversight Commission More Dysfunctional than Ever

Richard Shine has admitted he was wrong to tell people they could not criticize the chair of the Police Oversight Commission. Now he has been censured by his colleagues, the same colleagues who sat silently by while Chair Linda Martinez forcibly ejected her critics from last month’s meeting.

Chairperson Linda Martinez threw a man out of the December meeting of the Police Oversight Commission for objecting to her affiliation with the Fraternal Order of Police. All the other commissioners sat by and watched her do it. Only Commissioner Siegel raised any objection, and none of the commissioners exercised their right to appeal the chair’s ruling and force a vote on the matter—not even after Shine reminded them that they had that right.

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Alibi: Police Oversight Commission Snuffs Dissent

The Albuquerque Police Oversight Commission just keeps getting more and more bad press for their outrageous actions at last month’s meeting. From an editorial by Evan Rohar published in today’s Alibi, Police Oversight Commission Snuffs Dissent

Before public comment, Martinez limited discussion during the period to a single new agenda item and “general comments,” anticipating dissenting views from the public over the resolution adopted earlier in the session. She strayed from her usual instructions to testifiers, which in the past included only a ban on discussing pending cases or mentioning officers’ names.

On cue, Commissioner Richard Shine interrupted Valdez, the first speaker, as he drew attention to the commission’s lack of scruples in handling the issue. “You do not have a right…to say anything you want during public comment period,” said Shine. The crowd was livid, insisting that under the constitution they have the right to address the commission’s integrity.

Shine hypocritically cited the first amendment’s freedom of association provision as justification for keeping Martinez on the commission. In his next breath he asked for the removal of a dissenting citizen who had every right to speak before the commission and the public. Commissioner Jonathan Siegel offered the only voice opposing the body’s handling of the situation.

Critics of Police Oversight Commission silenced

KRQE did a great story last night about the Police Oversight Commission. How can the commissioners hope to build public trust in the police oversight process when they behave like this? They have betrayed the public trust and gained nothing. They certainly haven’t stopped the people from talking about the obvious pro-cop bias at the POC.

From the KRQE News story by Alex Tomlin:

Albuquerque police have come under a lot of scrutiny lately, so you could see why there’d be some upset people when it surfaced that a group charged with policing the police is headed by a woman who is quite friendly with APD.

On Thursday critics took their complaints to the POC but Police Oversight Commission Chair Linda Martinez had one of those critics kicked out of the meeting.

Moments earlier commissioners, who are named by the City Council and the Mayor, decided to allow Martinez to stay on the board even though it was revealed last month that she is also part of the Fraternal Order of Police—a group that opposes the Police Oversight Commission.

See all our coverage of the Fraternal Order of Police conflict.

Police use force to suppress comment at Police Oversight Commission

The Albuquerque Police Oversight Commission voted unanimously last night in support of chairperson Linda Martinez. But first, they re-arranged the agenda to prevent the public from speaking about Martinez’ involvement with the Fraternal Order of Police. When citizens protested, armed police officers were called and one man was ejected from the meeting.

Linda Martinez has sat on the Police Oversight Commission since 2008. She is also a national trustee and past president for the Fraternal Order of Police, a pro-cop advocacy group that specifically opposes citizen oversight of the police. This appearance of a conflict of interest was first reported by Police Complaints in October.

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News about Fraternal Order of Police shocks Police Oversight Commissioners

Police Complaints dropped a bombshell on the Albuquerque Police Oversight Commission this week: Linda Martinez, chairperson of the Commission, is also a member, national trustee, and past-president of the pro-cop advocacy group, the Fraternal Order of Police—a group that opposes citizen oversight of police misconduct issues.

Our exposé was reported today on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal and has been picked up by national news services. Martinez told the Journal she didn’t know that the organization she’s served for eight years opposes citizen review boards like the Police Oversight Commission.

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"Unfounded" vs "Not Sustained" (corrected)

At last week’s POC meeting, commissioners reviewed a citizen complaint alleging that an APD officer had behaved rudely. The IRO called the complaint “unfounded” because the preponderance of evidence did not support the claim. Commissioner Siegel suggested a more appropriate finding would be “Not Sustained” but IRO Hammer repeated that “Unfounded” was the correct finding.

We believe that Mr Siegel had the better of that disagreement. In fact, a proper finding might even be “Exonerated”.

Calling a complaint “Unfounded” is only appropriate (Correction: See comments below) when a citizen makes a claim that, even if true, would not be a violation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). For example, a complaint that an officer was chewing gum would be unfounded since there is no SOP (that we know of) that prohibits gum-chewing. In this case, the citizen claimed rudeness, which is a violation of SOP (1-04-1-F), but the evidence disproved the claim.

Therefore, the finding should have been “Exonerated”.

(UPDATE: This story has been corrected. See comments.)

Police Oversight Commissioners demand more details (with meeting video)

The Albuquerque Police Oversight Commission marked an important milestone in September, meeting for the first time in a long time with a full board of nine members. Vacant positions and no-show commissioners have been a problem at the POC for years but three recently appointed commissioners— David Cameron, Jonathan Siegel and, new this month, Richard Shine —have filled the empty chairs.

And how! We wrote last month how Commissioner Jonathan Siegel shook up the board’s typical policy of rubber-stamping police exoneration letters without even reading them. This month, Commissioner Richard Shine sat on the board for the first time and demanded—successfully!—that the Independent Review Officer start producing proper reports that will enable the commissioners to make informed, intelligent decisions.

The meeting included a rather emotional appeal by a citizen who had complained that the police did not provide proper services when he was the victim of a crime. Producing a large amount of testimony and information, the investigators stood by their original evaluation of the case and the commissioners mostly accepted their findings. But if the appeal failed to change anyone’s mind about that particular case, it did open some eyes about serious problems in the oversight process.

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Police Oversight Commission in turmoil — finally!

Meetings of the Albuquerque Police Oversight Commission are usually very smooth and orderly. Sure, every meeting starts with victims of police misconduct speaking out in pain and outrage, but that part is over quickly and just as quickly forgotten while the commissioners rush through their typical routine of rubber-stamping exoneration letters.

The city employees who are paid to investigate complaints against other city employees needn’t fear any difficult or probing questions from the commissioners, so they turn in vague, cursory reports, short on details and censored to eliminate officer names, disciplinary action, and other publicly available information that might embarrass the police union. Investigators insinuate that citizen complainants are attention-seeking trouble-makers, and everyone present treats the proceedings as an empty ritual, required by red tape but accomplishing nothing, to be run through as quickly and quietly as possible.

It’s a neat and well-rehearsed little farce. And all it takes is one man taking his duties seriously to screw it all up for everyone else. Recently-appointed Commissioner Jonathan Siegel made the radical move at last week’s meeting of listening and asking questions. It really shook things up.

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