The previous chief of police in Albuquerque is submitting a whistleblower lawsuit

by: SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN Associated Press, KRQE employees

Posted: 07/15/2021 / 8:55 AM MDTUpdated: 07/16/2021 / 06:45 AM MDT

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP / KRQE) – Albuquerque’s former police chief accused senior city officials of violating record disclosure laws and a state law protecting whistleblowers. Michael Geier and his former assistant Paulette Diaz filed a lawsuit against the city with the regional court on Wednesday. It specifically refers to Mayor Tim Keller and Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair, saying they micro-managed the police department and undermined Geier’s efforts to fight crime and comply with federal mandates related to police reform.

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After Geier was forced to resign last September, Keller’s government defended the decision, saying the boss was not doing his job.

Geier denied this claim, making his own allegations in an interview with KRQE News 13 weeks after his release. Many of these concerns were set out in the lawsuit, which claims damages that include back payments and lost wages and benefits.

A message was left to city officials early on Thursday asking them to comment. The complaint comes as Keller faces increasing criticism for the city’s crime problem. The democrat is standing for re-election.

Albuquerque saw the national spotlight in 2020 when then-President Donald Trump announced that the city would be one of several in the US to which federal agents would be dispatched to help fight violent crime. Although car thefts and other property crimes have decreased in recent years, homicides and violent crime have remained high.

Albuquerque had 80 murders in 2019, more than any other year. In 2020 there were almost as many. This year, the city is well on its way to breaking that record, having logged more than 60 in the first six months of 2021 alone.

It’s a trend elsewhere as well, as dozens of other cities have reported spikes in their homicide rates over the past year.

During a recent online town hall, members of the Albuquerque Police Department’s command staff said the link for homicides, particularly shootings, appears to include both drugs and parties involving alcohol.

Geier’s lawsuit says he launched several programs to reduce the city’s crime rate and sought to increase compliance when the department worked with a federal monitor on sweeping reforms that were part of a 2014 assent decree by the U.S. Department of Justice . The agreement stemmed from a number of cases of excessive violence that existed prior to Geier’s tenure.

Geier also tried to recruit more officials for the understaffed department, but the lawsuit mentions misconduct at the police academy, incidents of discrimination against some cadets, and resistance to reform implementation.

According to the lawsuit, Geier said his efforts were hampered by interference from Keller and Nair. The complaint states that the two were personally involved in police force selection, tactical operations, crowd control measures, and social media posts published on Geier’s behalf, without his consent.

Nair denied that the basement administration made tactical decisions for the department when asked by reporters last year.

The lawsuit also speaks of conversations with Keller and Nair in which they told Geier he should resign. “The fruits of Keller and Nair’s deeds are reflected in the city of Albuquerque with unprecedented rates of violent crime and a police agency on the verge of collapse,” the lawsuit said.

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