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NMSP Chief Goes Batshit

NMSP Chief Goes Batshit

On Thursday, Kassetas lost it when confronted with the fact that his department is 100 percent staffed and that it's just not true that police departments across the state are in crisis because they can't hire or retain cops

BY DAN KLEIN

It’s not just in the movies where some people can’t handle the truth.

It looks like New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas can’t deal with it, either. On Thursday, Kassetas lost it when confronted with the fact that his department is 100 percent staffed and that it’s just not true that police departments across the state are in crisis because they can’t hire or retain cops.

The Legislature’s House Safety and Civil Affairs Committee was hearing testimony Thursday on the double-dipping, return-to-work bill HB 171 that Mayor Richard Berry and others are pushing as a way to rescue the Albuquerque Police Department from Berry’s incompetence. Retired Albuquerque Public Safety Director Pete Dinelli testified that the state police don’t have a staffing issue because they were 100 percent staffed as of December 2015.

Kassetas couldn’t take it. He shouted at Dinelli,  “How dare you say my agency is 100 percent filled!” Legislators then dressed Kassestas down publicly for not showing respect to witnesses appearing before them. It was an embarrassing day for New Mexico law enforcement, but it gets worse.

Dinelli was right. In November, the state police responded to ABQ Free Press questions regarding its staffing levels. At the time, the department said it was budgeted for 678 officers and that it had 642 on staff. The department also said that it had 36 cadets in the state’s Law Enforcement Training Academy and that they would graduate in December. Those cadets did indeed graduate in December. Add 642 and 36 and what do you get … 678!

Here’s the department’s response to our questions

ABQ Free Press

Either Kassetas doesn’t know what his own department is doing or he’s purposely misleading the public, the media and legislators. Which one is it?

Kassetas should publicly apologize to Dinelli, but he won’t because that would mean he’d have to admit that his department is 100 percent staffed. And that would make it a lot harder to get the return-to-work bill passed.

Dan Klein, a retired Albuquerque police sergeant, is a frequent ABQ Free Press contributor.

 

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Dan Klein

Dan Klein is a retired Albuquerque police sergeant. Reach him via Facebook and Twitter via @dankleinabq.

Latest posts by Dan Klein (see all)

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  • El Bow Rheum
    January 29, 2016, 6:52 pm

    I assume he’s mad because he knows full well that if this bill passes, everyone who qualifies can simply "retire", then come back and double their salaries…..
    Give them the opportunity, then fire any of them who do it.
    We need honest men and women, not opportunistic cheaters…..

    REPLY
  • Charles
    January 30, 2016, 8:04 am

    I’m straining to understand how Kassetas can be the Vice-Chair, let alone a member, of the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board when he appears to be unconscious as to what is happening inside his own department. His actions at this hearing show he has no concern for the failed leadership, the root of the problem, within Mayor R.J. Berry’s, the Albuquerque Police Department’s and the Albuquerque City Attorney’s offices.

    REPLY
  • Dennis
    January 30, 2016, 1:33 pm

    Having followed New Mexico law enforcement closely for the past 46 years, I sometimes wonder why people choose to keep tearing away at the foundation of agencies that have stood the test of time no matter who is in the Chief’s seat. Chiefs come and go, usually with the political wind and each does what he believes will improve the agency and it’s effectiveness. They don’t always get it right. Double-dipping is sometimes necessary to maintain a home and family after an officer retires. Sometimes the retiree returns to law enforcement and sometimes they enter other fields. Either way, I know from trying to provide for my family on a retired officer’s annuity for the past 26 years, that it’s just not enough. I have known Chief Kassetas personally for over 10 years. He is a dedicated police officer of the highest integrity and has done his best to bring the NMSP into the 21st century with the tools he has to work with. I do not believe I have ever met Mr. Klien, but I find his reporting to be counter productive and leaning to the sensationalism of prejudicial reporting and not at all objective. I’m sure that sometime in his "20 year" police career, Sergeant Klien made some decisions he wished he could change and fortunately for him, his career was before everyone had cell phones with cameras. None of us are perfect and it would be nice if Klien would do a positive law enforecement story. I’d appreciate some positive reporting on law enforcement , if for no other reason, balance. We already have one TV Journalist on FOX News who seems to be unable to report on anything positive, but then Mr. Klien, you could never be another Megyn Kelly.

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