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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Olive oil, orgasms, and APD (not necessarily in that order)

A commentary by Pilar Armstrong

Today, I attended a seminar on olive oil at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. I listened attentively while a fifth generation Andalusian olive grower inform the audience that olive oil could be used for everything except giving a woman an orgasm. While pondering this dilemma, I received an email from Silvio Dell'Angela, with an attached email letter from an APD Commander, Cliff Saylor. In the email, Commander Saylor asks for the community to contact Mayor Berry's office and the city councilors to voice there concerns in response to the recent letter sent to the Mayor's office from councilor's Ray Garduno, Debbie O'Mally, Ken Sanchez, and Isaac Benton. The councilor's letter, sent last week, asks that the Mayor support an outside investigation of APD, references the 23 police shootings and growing lack of confidence in APD by the community.

In his email, Saylor states that he is "gravely concerned" that the four councilors were being influenced by a small minority and negative media coverage of APD.

"It is absurd to blame the 23 officer-involved shootings on APD. There were many involved factors in the final outcome.", claims Saylor.

The commander cites the "failures" of the parents, school system, mental health professional, criminal justice system, prison system as contributing factors that determine the fate of an individual who comes in contact with APD. The email ends with the words "Integrity, Respect, Fairness, Pride".

What about, Service to the Community, Humility, and Compassion? Aren't those qualities we'd all like to see in our officers? I've meet retired APD officers and officers from other New Mexican cities who genuinely believed they are serving the community and have never had to pull out there firearm. I have also witnessed APD officers successfully neutralize potentially volatile situations involving domestic violence disputes and mentally ill individuals with compassion, and patience. What techniques are these officers using that others aren't? What are they doing to avoid conflict?

Why are so many of the shooting victims shot in the back if they are failing to "follow the lawful orders of police officers..", as Saylor claims?

Is it "fair" to place family members of the shooting victims under surveillance?

Mayor Berry's criticism of councilors
In response to the councilor's letter, the Mayor sent a press release to local news stations stating that APD was one of the finest police departments in America and that these councilors had obviously lost their faith in the department. I contacted the Mayor's office for verification of APD's claim to fame on Friday, April 13. The Mayor's office has failed to comment.

Mayor Berry also criticized the four councilors several weeks ago when they voted against the Paseo Over change project. Shortly afterward, Councilor's Sanchez and Garduno received death threats. APD has failed to bring the perpetrators to justice. Could this be one of the reasons why the councilors have lost their faith in APD?

As for the Mayor's claims of transparency, at least five independent journalist (including myself), many who publish articles in national publications, are denied press releases from both the Mayor's office and APD. Were's transparency in government when you only allow a select few access? A politician who claims fairness and transparency but blocks independent journalists is about as bad as one can't say "vagina" and authors a bill that hinders women's reproductive health.

Popular media outlets continue to give scant coverage or completely ignore packed City Council meetings. At the last City Council meeting, Mike Gomez held up a sign with a picture of his slain son for almost two whole minutes after Council President Trudy Jones asked activists with signs to sit down. The audience cheered in protest.

The next City Council meeting will be held this Monday, April 16, in  City Hall Council Chambers at 5:00 p.m.

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