Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden has missed the 30-day deadline to say what discipline he will recommend for two APD spokespeople who lied to the public.
Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden appears to be in violation of the city’s civilian police oversight law because he has failed to respond within the required 30 days to the Police Oversight Board’s disciplinary recommendation in the case of two APD public information officers who lied to the public.
Eden had 30 days from August 11 to respond to the POB in the case of officer Fred Duran and civilian spokeswoman Celina Espinoza, who were found to have lied to the news media about APD’s role in the Victoria Martens case in the months before she was murdered.
Specifically, Eden has yet to say whether he agrees or disagrees with the POB’s recommendation that Duran receive an 80-hour suspension and that civilian Celina Espinoza receive a written reprimand.
As of Tuesday morning, neither the POB, nor the civilian who filed the complaint against the two APD personnel have gotten written notification from Eden about his decision in the case as is required by the ordinance.
“It appears that the chief is in violation of the ordinance since we haven’t received anything from him,” said Ed Harness, executive director of the Civilian Police Oversight Agency.
It was the CPOA that found last month that Duran and Espinoza had lied to an Albuquerque Journal reporter in January when they said APD detectives had gone to nine-year-old Victoria’s home to ask her and her mother about reports that the mother’s boyfriend had tried to kiss the girl.
APD later admitted that its officers had never gone to Victoria’s home.
APD got the referral about Victoria from the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department. Victoria was drugged, raped, murdered and dismembered in August 2016.
Jim Larson, the man who filed the complaint against Duran and Espinoza, told ABQ Free Press that as of Tuesday morning he hadn’t received any notification from Eden about his proposed disciplinary recommendations.
“I don’t expect any response from the chief,” Larson said.
Here’s what the city’s civilian police oversight ordinance says about Eden’s responsibilities regarding disciplinary recommendations from the POB:
“The Director shall prepare and submit a public record letter to the civilian complainant, with a copy to the Chief of Police, that outlines the findings and recommendations as approved. Unless a hearing is requested by the civilian complainant, within 30 days of the receipt of the decision of the POB, the Chief of Police shall notify the POB and the original civilian complainant of his or her final disciplinary decision in this matter in writing, by certified mail.”
APD spokeswoman Espinoza did not immediately respond to an email asking if Eden had decided on discipline in the case or why he hadn’t notified the POB or Larson as required by the city’s ordinance.
During the POB’s Aug. 10 regular meeting, POA investigator Paul Skotchodopole said that Duran had lied to the Journal reporter despite having ben told in late November or early December 2016 that no APD officers had ever investigated the referral from CYFD about Victoria.
In addition, Eden was told of the lie in January, but the department waited six weeks to tell the truth about it. And APD told the truth only after being confronted by a reporter about it, the investigation said.
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