OPINION: Don’t Paint All Officers with the Same Brush

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January 26, 2024, 6:39 pm

By: Anonymous Poster – Opinion

Posted: 01/26/2024 @ 11:30AM

ABQRAW thank you for being very careful not to paint all DWI officers with the same brush — while it is only human nature, the public (to include people on our own Department) project unfair, biased, small-minded reactions to this, without any facts, and with no understanding.

I sit here as anonymous, but still tremendously proud, to have served my community as an Albuquerque Police Department DWI officer.  I swore to protect and serve; an oath I carried out faithfully and to my best ability.  I am proud to stand beside my blue-blooded brothers and sisters who fulfill the same.  Nevertheless, I am deeply saddened and angered by what appears to be the “Department’s latest failure.”  If the current allegations prove true, we must ask ourselves what catastrophic breakdowns allowed nearly half a unit of seasoned, sworn officers to turn their backs on their profession, their police department, and their fellow officers. 

Mr. Clear has a prestigious history of theatrical performances and questionable practices in court.  This is nothing new.  He is also one of many defense lawyers who pitch the circus tent that is the NM judicial system.  In what other jurisdiction is it possible to find a practicing attorney to defend your DWI while he is intoxicated himself and experiencing the “shakes” from sinking below a .16?  An attorney with cocaine residue on his face during a trial?  Lawyers with more legal trouble than their clients?  Yes, this is past history, but we could go on, and on, and on.  No profession is perfect or unstained, but those with glass houses should throw no stones. 

Without the facts, I do not know if the DA was truly compelled to dismiss all those 150+ DWI cases, but we should certainly be suspicious.  These accused DWI officers have been pre-judged by the DA’s office, which is incompatible with our American view of justice.  Are we are too embarrassed to allow these cases to proceed with the officers as witnesses, to a point where the cases must be dismissed prior to their indictments?  Are our judges too sensitive and naive to do this themselves?  Something smells and our spider senses should be tingling. I like Sam Bregman – and I think he is one of the better defense attorneys – but he is also extremely political and connected. Politics lead to suspect motives and problematic decisions. We should try to understand why the accusation against these officers is being presented in such an unusual manner.

I would never stoop to diminish or justify the culpability of any police officer who is guilty of the crimes alleged.  I do, however, think that it is difficult to fully understand what it is like to work DWI without experiencing it for yourself.  DWI officers are tired, overworked, and antisocial for good reason.  Drunks are not the most pleasant customers or conversationalists.  When one spends hours each night with the unreasonable and impaired, it takes a toll.  In the day, the court sys tem continues to deliver punches.  Defense attorneys are often nasty and manipulative, and judges can be biased and unfair.  Albuquerque Metro Court judges have long given wide latitude to defense attorneys to continue DWI cases, while dismissing the cases when an officer is just a few minutes late or is on pre-approved leave.  There is no need to take my word for it – look at the statistics, examine continuances, and observe at all the silly reasons DWI cases are dismissed.  It’s been going on for decades.  The system is poorly organized and stacked against the prosecution.  Successful DWI officers learn to make arrests without being overly concerned with convictions.  Again, this is not to suggest guilt is moderated, but it certainly sets the DWI officer up as a prime “target.”

I am disturbed to see the comments and snarky remarks about the APD DWI Unit.  It hurts even more when it comes from within our own house.  Unfortunately, I am not surprised by it.  Our Department’s hires have become increasingly petty and self-serving.  The brotherhood/sisterhood of old is gone.  Everyone is in it for themselves.  

I believe the problem starts with the poor choices that some of our leaders made regarding the DOJ and the associated policy reforms.  If you tell someone that they are worthless and broken for long enough, they start to believe it and act it out: the self-fulfilling prophecy.  When you nickel-and-dime hard-working, well-intending officers with punishments for every minor transgression, you necessarily make the Department a haven for self-centered, scared, worthless “community servants.” If leadership cowers and grovels without shame to pressure, we should expect no less from our officers. 

Now is not the time to air out slanderous rumors and make wild guesses as to what these DWI officers did or did not do.  We will find out what happened soon enough.  It is time to come together and mend our broken Department with better leadership, better policies, and better people. Retired and former APD officers are not exempt. When all our Department’s officers take pride in their work and in their profession, then we will see changes.  Until that time, history will repeat. 

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