Public Safety Director Darren White is retiring. The announcement came about an hour after city councilors decided to seek an outside investigation into an incident involving White’s wife.
His resignation is effective immediately, according to city spokesperson Chris Ramirez.
Last week, White’s wife, Kathleen, drove her Porsche into a curb. Darren escorted her from the scene to the hospital.
This afternoon, the City Council’s Internal Operations Committee—Rey Garduño, Don Harris, Debbie O’Malley, Isaac Benton and Trudy Jones—decided to seek three investigators not connected to the city.
Mayor Richard Berry ordered William Deaton, the city’s independent review officer, to look into the incident. But some councilors suggested that since Deaton is a city employee, it could be hard for him to investigate a city official as high up as White.
The Council committee also considered spending as much as $55,000 on the investigation. Councilor Jones said the expenditure should go before the full Council when it reconvenes after its summer break in August. Others said the committee should be able to authorize the funds on its own. The committee will meet again to evaluate three possible investigators on Monday, July 25.
White released a statement late this afternoon. Here it is in full:
I am announcing my retirement today in order to end the distraction surrounding my wife’s recent accident and allow Mayor Richard Berry and city leaders to focus on the important issues the people of Albuquerque deserve to have addressed.
However, the investigation must move forward and I intend to work hard to clear my name and stand-up for my wife, whose medical condition was improperly made public through the illegal leaking of confidential medical records.
Getting the truth out is very important to me and I am confident any investigation will show:
• I made it clear to the police officer that he was in charge of conducting any investigation and that I would not interfere.
• Nearly an hour after the accident and when it was clear that the scene investigation was complete, I took my wife to get medical attention. No one at the scene disagreed with that action.
• I did not take my wife to the hospital with lights and sirens on, nor did I violate any policy regarding the use of emergency equipment.
• My wife was diagnosed with a seizure by a neurologist at Presbyterian and was subsequently hospitalized for two days.
• No doctor, including my wife’s own physician, believe that the medical condition that caused the accident had anything to do with the medication she has been taking daily without complication for over a year.
• The speculation in the illegally leaked paramedic report that the symptoms might have been caused by “opiates” was conclusively disproved by a drug test administered at the hospital.
• We never would have released any of my wife’s personal medical history until we learned from the media that someone illegally leaked her confidential, and misleading, medical records to the press.
• The leaking of the paramedic’s report in this case broke federal and state laws.
I am very proud of my lifetime record of public service, beginning as a member of the 82nd Airborne in the US Army, continuing as a police officer, sheriff, and public safety administrator at both the state and local level.
I dedicated my life to public safety and hope I made a positive difference in my community. I feel honored to have worked with some of New Mexico’s finest public servants. Our challenge is never easy and the circumstances often difficult, but we rise to the task every day. I deeply appreciate having been given the honor to serve.