Councilors Ken Sanchez, Debbie O’Malley, Isaac Benton and Rey Garduño said Mayor Richard Berry should talk to them if he has something to say, not go running to the media to send them a message. “I am tired of trying to talk to Mayor Berry over newsprint and airwaves,” Garduño said at the Monday, April 16 meeting.
The fireworks erupted last week when the four Democrat councilors sent the Mayor a letter asking him to take immediate action on the "crisis" at the Albuquerque Police Department. Berry responded by holding a press conference and saying that the councilors had no right to attack officers who are put in quickly evolving situations. The mayor called their letter political posturing and said it was a "wild punch." He accused the councilors of not supporting "one of the finest police departments in the country."
Sanchez said he had not lost confidence in APD, as Berry indicated. "That is an outright lie,” Sanchez said. “For this mayor to say that is wrong and misleading to the public.”
The rate of officer-involved shootings became national news in the last few weeks, with articles appearing in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times. The latter pointed out that New York City—with 8.4 million residents—had one less officer-involved shooting than Albuquerque since the start of 2010. APD has shot 23 people in that time period.
Garduño asked top city administrator Rob Perry if Berry was going to come to the meeting and talk to the Council. Perry said the mayor was open to meet with them in his office. Garduño said he has tried that a couple of times, but Berry canceled.
Republican Councilor Dan Lewis threw in that it is the Council’s job to question city administration on all levels. The rest of the Republicans were fairly quiet on the issue.
Benton said the letter was clear that they were concerned about the leadership and administration of the department, not the rank-and-file officers. O’Malley said she is concerned that the controversy over the letter will impact morale at APD.
Public comment at the meeting continued to be dominated by families and friends of those shot by officers.
Several people also spoke out against the Smith’s gas station on Carlisle and Constitution, but the Council deferred this and several other issues, deflating the agenda substantially.
Los Duranes’ sector plan was approved unanimously at the end of the meeting with several amendments. Los Duranes is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Albuquerque, going back to the 1770s. Some residents are descendants of the original early European settlers. The last time a sector plan was adopted for the area was 1976. The latest version establishes zoning standards unique to Los Duranes in an attempt to preserve its character.
View the plan at 1.usa.gov/losduranes.