Fred Duran's move to the DWI unit is no punishment.
The Albuquerque police officer who lied to the media about APD’s efforts to contact Victoria Martens six months before the girl was drugged, raped and murdered has been transferred to the department’s DWI unit.
Some are calling the transfer of officer Fred Duran a promotion because in the DWI unit he’ll have the opportunity to work overtime.
One former APD officer, now an attorney, questioned whether APD followed its own rules — like putting the position out to bid to other officers and not putting someone with pending disciplinary action into a specialized unit — in transferring Duran.
Duran, one of APD’s public information officers alleged to have concocted the lie about how APD responded to the Martens case, is already one of the top paid city employees. In 2016, Duran, a patrolman first class who makes $28 an hour, made $100,327, according to the city’s website. That made him the 178th highest paid city employee.
So far this year, Duran has made $59,640, according to the city’s website.
Duran was found by a Civilian Police Oversight Investigation to have lied to an Albuquerque Journal reporter in January of this year. He told the reporter that department officers had gone to Victoria’s home earlier that year to investigate an allegation that her mother’s boyfriend had tried to kiss the girl. APD got the referral about Victoria from the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department.
But no APD officer ever went to her home nor did they interview the 10-year-old or her mother, APD later admitted. The CPOA investigation found that Duran lied to the Journal, even though he knew in late November or early December 2016 that no APD officer had visited Victoria or her mother.
The Police Oversight Board recommended that Duran receive an 80 hour suspension. APD Chief Gorden Eden has 30 days to respond to the POB’s disciplinary recommendations, which were made on Aug. 10.
Retired APD Sgt. Paul Heh, who ran for mayor in 2013, said moving Duran to the DWI unit certainly wasn’t punishment.
“He will be making lots of overtime. I used to arrest drunks all the time. Overtime is part of it when you work all night and are in court all day. I don’t see it as punishment,” Heh said.
Eye on Albuquerque, a blog covering APD, broke the story about Duran’s transfer and posted a photograph of the Aug. 31 order transferring Duran to the DWI unit.
“You can see in the above memo dated August 31, 2017, that effective September 2nd Freddy is transferred to the APD traffic unit DWI enforcement unit,” the blog said. “He will have three days off including a Sunday. Not too shabby, considering the officers in this unit make mounds of money … Everyone knows this type of an assignment is a reward.”
APD spokesperson Celina Espinoza did not respond to an ABQ Free Press email asking whether Duran had been transferred to the DWI unit.
Dan Klein, a retired APD sergeant and ABQ Free Press columnist, also said that Duran’s transfer was not a punishment.
“The DWI officers are the ones who make the most money in the department,” Klein said. “They make more money than some captains because of the overtime.”
Klein said that Duran should have been reassigned to APD’s Field Services Division where he would take calls for service.
Former APD officer Tom Grover, now an attorney, said APD couldn’t have transferred Duran into the DWI unit unless there was an opening. And he said that officers have to be free of pending disciplinary action to be eligible for such transfers.
“Was there an opening, or an opening advertised for the DWI unit so that anybody else who was interested could put into it?” Grover asked. “An officer going into a special department has to be free of discipline, or pending discipline, or avoidable accidents. It’s concerning if he [Duran] was able to land in the position if it wasn’t open to anyone else or if he somehow sidestepped the requirement of not having any pending disciplinary issue.”
Grover also said that in many cases where discipline of more than 40 hours suspension is imposed, APD files an LEA-90 with the state’s Law Enforcement Academy against an officer. Those filings could lead to an officer’s law enforcement license being suspended or revoked.
According to state law, being untruthful is one of the reasons an officer’s license can be revoked. Both Heh and Klein said they didn’t think that Duran made up the lie on his own.
“He didn’t go out and lie on his own. The bigger story is who told him to do that lying to the news media and to the public?” Heh said.