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APD Chief Eden Violates Civilian Oversight Law

APD Chief Eden Violates Civilian Oversight Law

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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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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  • Art
    September 19, 2017, 9:42 pm

    Eden has only a couple of months before he will almost certainly be replaced with a successor as Chief of Police, the man is probably trying to tie-up loose ends and tidy up the Department as best he can. City Council has done little more than give the POB a song & dance

    REPLY
  • Your Name *
    September 20, 2017, 6:12 am

    Thank you for your investigation and continued coverage regarding Victoria Martens. It is important that questions continue to be asked and discussed.

    There are protections written into U.S.: policy, codes, laws and even determinations by the Supreme Court regarding responsibility of minors and others by Public Sector workers like police officers and social workers.

    We need to know what happened in the horrific case of Victoria M. and use the information garnered for prevention. I wonder that CYFD and APD are not discussing and putting into place systems that track and follow through on all levels of abuse allegations and most seriously, rigorously and attentively to abuse regarding children and other dependents. I wonder that CYFD sends a police officer to interview a child when a coordinated effort is needed meaning a social worker or child specialist should lead the interview, police lead the criminal investigation and people trained in Child Protective Services work to protect the child from harm and make the child SAFE. I hope that the Governor and all leadership in the state are involved in these conversations; I hope that the literature (scientific literature not what people think) is used to develop ROBUST policy around prevention.

    Most clear to me-in the many voices and positions heard around the death and life of this "wee one" is that an articulation of policy that is shared, known and followed is needed. Thank you for speaking for this child, Victoria and making me think about Omaree as well.

    Accountability is a huge issue!!!

    REPLY
  • Anonymous
    September 20, 2017, 7:15 am

    With lawbreaking City leaders like the Chief of Police and an APS School Board member (and) a City Council more concerned over a military veteran flying an upside-down US flag in distress, it’s not hard to understand why crime is the number one issue in ABQ.

    REPLY
The following two tabs change content below.
Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

Latest posts by Dennis Domrzalski (see all)