Police Complaints: Pc News

Alibi: Police Oversight Commission Snuffs Dissent

The Albuquerque Police Oversight Commission just keeps getting more and more bad press for their outrageous actions at last month’s meeting. From an editorial by Evan Rohar published in today’s Alibi, Police Oversight Commission Snuffs Dissent

Before public comment, Martinez limited discussion during the period to a single new agenda item and “general comments,” anticipating dissenting views from the public over the resolution adopted earlier in the session. She strayed from her usual instructions to testifiers, which in the past included only a ban on discussing pending cases or mentioning officers’ names.

On cue, Commissioner Richard Shine interrupted Valdez, the first speaker, as he drew attention to the commission’s lack of scruples in handling the issue. “You do not have a right…to say anything you want during public comment period,” said Shine. The crowd was livid, insisting that under the constitution they have the right to address the commission’s integrity.

Shine hypocritically cited the first amendment’s freedom of association provision as justification for keeping Martinez on the commission. In his next breath he asked for the removal of a dissenting citizen who had every right to speak before the commission and the public. Commissioner Jonathan Siegel offered the only voice opposing the body’s handling of the situation.

Journal editorial: Police Oversight Commission loses all credibility

From the editorial in today’s Albuquerque Journal:

[Police Oversight C]ommissioners failed on all counts regarding a clear-cut complaint against themselves. If Martinez truly “believe(d) in police oversight,” she would have resigned from one position or the other. If her eight fellow board members did, they would have counseled her to step down from the city panel.

With comments like this, how can it not be obvious that Linda Martinez has a public appearance of bias that lessens public trust in the work of the Albuquerque Police Oversight Commission ?

Read the complete editorial, Police Oversight Commission loses all credibility

Critics of Police Oversight Commission silenced

KRQE did a great story last night about the Police Oversight Commission. How can the commissioners hope to build public trust in the police oversight process when they behave like this? They have betrayed the public trust and gained nothing. They certainly haven’t stopped the people from talking about the obvious pro-cop bias at the POC.

From the KRQE News story by Alex Tomlin:

Albuquerque police have come under a lot of scrutiny lately, so you could see why there’d be some upset people when it surfaced that a group charged with policing the police is headed by a woman who is quite friendly with APD.

On Thursday critics took their complaints to the POC but Police Oversight Commission Chair Linda Martinez had one of those critics kicked out of the meeting.

Moments earlier commissioners, who are named by the City Council and the Mayor, decided to allow Martinez to stay on the board even though it was revealed last month that she is also part of the Fraternal Order of Police—a group that opposes the Police Oversight Commission.

See all our coverage of the Fraternal Order of Police conflict.

Journal Story: Oversight Panel Backs Chair

From the story by Patrick Lohmann of the Journal, Oversight Panel Backs Chair

The Police Oversight Commission voted unanimously Thursday to support its chairwoman, who has been criticized in recent weeks for being a member of a police organization that opposes civilian review of law enforcement.

The commission’s decision did not sit well with some members of the audience, particularly after commissioners tried to limit public discussion on the topic. Commissioners said after their vote that discussion about a conflict of interest for POC chair Linda Martinez was, at that point, irrelevant.

Journal photo by Patrick Lohmann: Officers escort Andres Valdez, executive director of Vecinos United, from the Police Oversight Commission meeting Thursday.

Journal Editorial: FOP on Police Oversight Panel is a "Disservice"

From an editorial in this morning’s Albuquerque Journal, You’re Either All-In On Police Oversight, or Not:

While Linda Martinez says she believes in police oversight, the public and police officers should be asking who, exactly, do her actions serve when she also is an official of an organization that opposes a civilian role. Her dual role is a disservice to both organizations.

National Ethics Group Calls for Linda Martinez to Resign from the POC

Last month, Police Complaints uncovered and reported on a possible appearance of bias on Albuquerque’s Police Oversight Commission. We revealed that the chair of the POC, Linda Martinez, is also active in the Fraternal Order of Police, a group that opposes citizen review of police misconduct. Our exposé was reported by a local paper and made national news.

Now a national policy group has weighed in on the issue. City Ethics is a national non-profit that offers resources for local government ethics programs. And they say we uncovered a big problem on the Police Oversight Commission.

From the article, What makes a conflict problematic, by Robert Wechsler, Director of Research for City Ethics:

[Linda Martinez’s] bias or her ability to do her job objectively are not facts that anyone can establish. They are simply speculations. Even the chair does not know how much she may be affected by her involvement with the FOP auxiliary or her husband’s involvement with the state FOP.

It is not bias or ability to do one’s job objectively that make a conflict of interest problematic. It is the appearance of bias and the appearance that one is conflicted that make it problematic.

The chair needs to recognize that this is not a personal issue involving her integrity, her ability to act objectively, or her opinion on citizen oversight. It is a public issue alone, and it involves how her situation appears to the public. She needs to recognize that she has a public problem regarding the strong appearance of impropriety that arises from her conflict situation. The appearance is so strong that she has no choice other than to resign from her membership of the oversight commission. It is too late for her and her husband to resign from their FOP positions.

Emphasis added. Read the entire article for more details.

The Commissioners have promised they will be discussing this matter at their December 13 meeting. But there is simply nothing to discuss. There is no debating whether Martinez can be objective or whether she is biased. As we said in our official complaint to the Mayor’s office:

Allowing a past president, member, and national trustee of the Fraternal Order of Police to serve on the Police Oversight Commission, a “civilian review board” specifically opposed by the FOP, obviously creates at least an appearance of pro-police bias. Martinez’ position as commissioner and especially as chairperson vitiates the impartial character of the Police Oversight Commission and can only damage public confidence in the quasi-judicial determinations issued by the POC.

We renew our call to Linda Martinez to resign from the Police Oversight Commission. The commissioners have enough work as it is investigating citizen complaints. They don’t have time to waste debating whether the Fraternal Order of Police is an appropriate partner in Albuquerque’s police oversight process.

News about Fraternal Order of Police shocks Police Oversight Commissioners

Police Complaints dropped a bombshell on the Albuquerque Police Oversight Commission this week: Linda Martinez, chairperson of the Commission, is also a member, national trustee, and past-president of the pro-cop advocacy group, the Fraternal Order of Police—a group that opposes citizen oversight of police misconduct issues.

Our exposé was reported today on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal and has been picked up by national news services. Martinez told the Journal she didn’t know that the organization she’s served for eight years opposes citizen review boards like the Police Oversight Commission.

6 more paragraphs