Failing to take responsibility for allowing the state's largest police department for the state's largest city to languish to nearly two-thirds it former size upon taking office is but one person's responsibility: R.J. Berry's.
BY TOM GROVER
I’ve been hanging back like an airstrike for a variety of reasons. Mainly because I wanted to see what I expected to happen, happen. And it has.
In the wake of Officer Webster’s tragic, but not unexpected, death, the “leaders” of this state’s largest municipality have exemplified the very behavior that has led us to this mess. All we have heard over the last week, both publicly and privately, is that this current crisis is the consequence of the actions of somebody else. Richard J. Berry says it’s Santa Fe’s fault, the governor says it’s the Democrats’ fault, and Gorden Eden says it’s the “system’s” fault.
Failing to take responsibility for allowing the state’s largest police department in the state’s largest city to languish to nearly two-thirds it former size upon taking office is but one person’s responsibility: Richard J. Berry’s. He’s the mayor, and like it or not, the buck stops with him — for that is what principle based leaders do. They even take responsibility for the actions of others. All we hear in Albuquerque is blame, blame, and more blame. And with Berry it’s a version of helicopter leadership, he drops in, lays blame, then disappears.
Failing to take responsibility for the bottomed-out morale of APD falls on nobody else but it’s current chief. Eden may have stepped in to a quagmire of corruption and dysfunction created by Schultz, but he has done nothing to turn it around, nevermind redress it. From targeting cops for ridiculous actions of discipline to publicly lying about high-profile incidents (ask him about his press conference concerning the Hawkes shooting), or inappropriate promotions and ineffective policies, Eden has shown he is no friend to the true workers who respond to over a thousand calls for service each and every day.
Lastly, and most significantly, we the public have failed to hold these persons and the media accountable. These leaders fold at the slightest public scrutiny but we have not honored the duties we are burdened with by our form of self-government. Our local paper happily endorses this behavior and their omission of anything critical of Berry screams loudly through its silence. But the people who have not voted and will not vote in the elections have abdicated their civic responsibilities that our system of government thrives on: checks and balances.
By abdicating our responsibilities, people like Berry, Eden, and Perry thrive and the consequences of their actions are the dismal future, both near and distant, that face this city. If we don’t want to be faced with the tragedy of another fallen officer, another murder 4-year-old child, another freeway interruption caused by thugs, another home invasion, another corruption scandal, another store closing, another missed economic opportunity, or another listing as one of the worst cities in the country in one of the worst states in the country, WE have to step up and do it. Until then, get used to what clearly is our new reality and has been for six years. I for one will not accept that. Not for my children and not for my clients and I believe my record speaks clearly about that.
— Tom Grover is a lawyer and former Albuquerque police sergeant.