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Monday, March 25, 2013

Crime Bulletin: Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz Retires Under Pressure

     Mayor Martin Chavez appointed Ray Schultz to the position of Albuquerque Police Chief in 2006. Three years later Mayor Richard Berry reappointed him to the job. Since Chief Schultz's reappointment, an unusually high percentage of Albuquerque police officers have been involved in cases of excessive force and police involved shootings.

     Since 2010, Albuquerque officers have shot more than 35 citizens, 18 of the shootings being fatal. This is one of the highest per capita police involved shooting rates in the country. This year the city awarded $10 million to the family of an Iraq War veteran shot to death by an Albuquerque police officer. The victim of the shooting had post-traumatic stress disorder.

     Critics of the Albuquerque Police Department blame the excessive law enforcement violence on a police culture of brutality. Last year, several Albuquerque officers were reprimanded for controversial social media postings that included one by an officer involved in a fatal shooting who described his occupation as "human waste disposal." Instead of protecting and serving, this officer saw his job as using deadly force to clear the streets of undesirables. Clearly unsuited for police work, this man should have been fired.

     In March 2013, the embattled police chief announced that he would be retiring to, as they say, "spend more time with his family." In all fairness to Chief Schultz, because of police unions, firing a police officer has become extremely difficult, and in many cases impossible. Without the power to fire, police administrators do not have much control over the rank-and-file. This is particularly problematic in the era of militarized policing, and zero-tolerance law enforcement.

     In the old days, civilian safety came first, officer safety second. Today the priorities are officer safety and job security.


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