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Is ABQ Airport Top Cop Out?

Is ABQ Airport Top Cop Out?

In the midst of a national conversation about increased security at U.S. ports of entry, the possible suspension of Katz from New Mexico's largest airport is a big deal.

BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI

Mayor Richard Berry’s administration appears to have erected a wall of silence around rumors about the status of Marshall Katz, chief of the city’s Aviation Police department for the past 13 years. And so has Katz.

In the midst of a national conversation about increased security at U.S. ports of entry, the possible suspension of Katz from New Mexico’s largest airport is a big deal.

Berry’s administration—including the mayor himself—failed to answer questions from ABQ Free Press about whether Katz has been placed on a 40-day suspension.

Katz himself refused to answer questions about his status when contacted on his home phone Friday night. He demanded to know where the reporter got his number, and, when asked if he was under suspension said, “Sorry, can’t answer your question.”

Since late Friday afternoon, The paper left four phone messages with Berry’s $69,000-a-year spokesman, Rhiannon Schroeder, along with two emails and one text message. As of 9:24 p.m. Friday, Schroeder hadn’t responded to any of the messages and had not answered the questions.

The paper asked if Katz had been suspended, and if so, for what reasons.

ABQ Free Press called Berry’s personal cell phone three times. It appears that Berry hung up on the first call. He did not answer two subsequent calls and did not respond to two voice messages the paper left.

Shortly after 4 p.m. Friday, following reports from reliable sources that Katz had been suspended, ABQ Free Press called the city’s Aviation Department spokesman, Daniel Jiron, to ask whether Katz had been suspended for 40 days. Jiron hesitated and said he’d have to talk to his “boss downtown” about the question and said he’d call the paper back. He didn’t call back, but instead sent a text message that said, “Please direct any inquiries to Rhiannon [Schroeder] in the mayor’s office. Thanks.”

Again, ABQ Free Press left voice messages on Schroeder’s cell phone, along with two emails and one text message. None was returned or answered.

Katz joined the Albuquerque Police Department in January 1979, according to his LinkedIn page. He became chief of the Aviation Police in September of 2002, his profile said.

Aviation cops are sworn police officers but are not part of APD.

The administration’s silence on Katz’s case differs from how it has handled cases against some APD officers who have been involved in high profile cases. For instance, APD Chief Gorden Eden made a public announcement in December 2014 when he fired officer Jeremy Dear for insubordination.

Dear had fatally shot a 19-year-old alleged car thief in early 2014 and had allegedly failed to turn on his lapel camera to record the incident. Eden said that Dear had repeatedly failed to turn on his body camera during encounters with the public. The city’s Personnel Board recently overturned Dear’s termination, saying the officer had never received a written order to record all encounters with the public. The board also found that APD had no definition of what constituted a failure of officers to abide by its general order that cops record every encounter with the public.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

Latest posts by Dennis Domrzalski (see all)

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  • ABQ’s top aviation cop placed on leave | The New Mexico Tribune - New Mexico News & More
    April 1, 2016, 12:09 am

    […] who has been Aviation Police chief for 13 years, was placed on paid administrative leave on March 23, his attorney, John D’Amato, told ABQ Free Press. He has also been ordered by […]

    REPLY
  • […] who has been Aviation Police chief for 13 years, was placed on paid administrative leave on March 23, his attorney, John D’Amato, told ABQ Free Press. He has also been ordered by […]

    REPLY
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New Mexico film expert Christa Valdez, of OneHeadlightInk.com and ChristaValdez.com, reports on movie industry news for ABQ Free Press.

Latest posts by Christa Valdez (see all)