On March 8th, Mayor Tim Keller named two new top leadership positions for the Albuquerque Police Department. Chief of Police Harold Medina will focus on core crime fighting activities, recruiting police officers and building morale. Medina is the first Hispanic American to be named Police Chief in Albuquerque since 2001. Four-time former Police Chief Sylvester Stanley is also appointed as interim Superintendent of Police Reform in addition to the position of Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) reporting directly to the City’s Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair. Police Reform Superintendent Stanley will be responsible for key pieces of the reform effort: Managing police academy operations including DOJ requirements related to training, and two internal affairs divisions including matters of discipline and use of force review.
“We are entering a new era for our police department that reflects important takeaways from the past year, including our community input process and the search itself,” said Mayor Keller. “We heard and understand that here in our town, it takes both an insider and an outsider to strike the right balance on the dual challenges of crime-fighting and police reform. It’s clear the department would benefit from outside perspective especially when it comes to reform, and it’s equally clear that we don’t have the luxury of waiting for someone from the outside to spend a year ‘learning’ about crime in our very unique city; rather we need a chief who knows the ins and outs, the history, and every street corner in this city and is best positioned to fight crime, now.
“Each of these leaders will focus on their core duties, while supporting each other to get the best results. At the end of the day, it is simply unrealistic and a disservice to the realities of crime and reform to think that one leader can solve all of our challenges. While there is no silver bullet for change overnight, this innovative model has the potential to break down some of the most persistent roadblocks. Now that we’re getting headed in the right direction, it’s time to accelerate our progress so everyone can feel safe in the Duke City.”
“Many other cities are trying out different models for their policing structures,” said Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair. “We looked at previous iterations here in Albuquerque and across the nation and found that the massive lifts of crime fighting and reform each deserved dedicated roles. With a top level position overseeing each of these priorities, we’re looking forward to the next chapter.”
As Chief of Police, Medina will be responsible for the core fighting crime activities of the department. While serving as interim Chief, Medina has instituted weekly, anti-crime operations that have netted over 1000 arrests. Medina created the Metro 15 to target drivers of crime and so far over 70% of those arrested remain behind bars. Medina is investing in overdue gunshot detection technology and tripled the size of the Homicide Unit from 5 detectives to 14 detectives and two sergeants to bring justice to families and hold criminals accountable. He has also begun tackling dangerous quality of life issues in our neighborhoods like speeding and street racing, which has already yielded over 500 citations for speeding, racing, careless driving and DWI. Medina is also working to build trust with the community and employees at every level to get their buy in, while setting expectations about the collective duty to improve the way APD does business.
“I love this community and I am fortunate to have raised my family in a city where so many people are willing to pitch in so we all succeed,” Chief Harold Medina said. “I was honored to serve the community as an Albuquerque Police officer. Now, I am humbled that Mayor Keller is giving me the opportunity to be the Chief of Police, and to provide leadership to a new generation of officers. I am a street cop at my core. Fighting crime is my top priority. I also thrive on being out in the community, creating relationships and building trust. I look forward to working with all of those partners as we re-double our efforts to make Albuquerque safe and healthy.”
Stanley will serve as Interim Superintendent of Police Reform and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, a new executive-level position developed to deliver candid assessments of the police department’s reform initiatives. The position is based in part on the previous Chief of Public Safety roles that have been part of city leadership in the past, but has been updated for current times. Interim Police Reform Superintendent Stanley will directly oversee all Academy operations including cadet training, continuous education, and development of innovative curriculum. Stanley will ensure compliance with the court-approved settlement agreement requirements related to training and directly oversee all internal affairs matters, and will have the final say on police disciplinary matters. The Interim Superintendent will also develop policies and practices to ensure APD has a wide range of tools to foster culture change.
“It’s an honor to continue my service to the community by taking on this new, innovative role,” said Superintendent Stanley. “Bringing real reform and culture change is a mighty task. It’s no secret that the Department has been struggling to prevent and correct mistakes through training and to hold people accountable for misconduct when that training doesn’t work. But we are not going to give up on the vision we all share, to make it possible for people from all walks of life to feel safe in our city. This role will be pivotal not only for working with the DOJ, but for making sure that reform efforts will last even after the monitor is gone. In this executive-level position, I will oversee Academy operations, DOJ requirements related to training, and internal affairs matters including discipline. I have served as Chief of Police four times, and am one of only three African Americans in New Mexico who has made it to that rank. I look forward to making history with our community again as we build out this significant role.”
“We are entering a new era for our police department that reflects important takeaways from the past year, including our community input process and the search itself.”
ABQ Mayor Tim Keller
Mayors are ultimately responsible for selecting appointed positions, but Keller chose to create a community input process for the police chief search. The City began the national search for Chief of Police in October and spent the following three months gathering input from the community.
The search process was guided by contracted specialist, Herb Crosby, a local consultant and owner of Avtec. Crosby and City staff conducted over 40 community input sessions to hear directly from folks about what they would like to see in the next chief. The City received nearly 2,300 responses to the online survey seeking input and published a report here.
Both the Chief of Police and Interim Superintendent of Police Reform/DCAO positions are appointed by the Mayor and report directly to the City’s Chief Administrative Officer. The permanent appointment of Harold Medina as Police Chief will go to City Council for confirmation. Sylvester Stanley will serve on an interim basis in his position and the administration will introduce him to City Council during a presentation at an upcoming public meeting. Stanley will help build the new position before an eventual national search for a permanent appointment, who will be subject to City Council confirmation.
“Congratulations to our new APD Chief Harold Medina. He strongly believes in working with the community to educate and encourage community-oriented policing, which is very important as our City continues to grow. I look forward to welcoming Chief Medina and Mr. Sylvester at our next Council meeting as we all work together to make our city safer.” said City Council President Cynthia Borrego.
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