The City of Albuquerque’s Personnel Board decides appeals by City employees of the disciplinary actions taken against them and is supposed to provide advice to City officials on personnel and disciplinary matters.
But the Personnel Board over the past twenty years or so has struggled to keep up its membership and now says it lacks the members needed to clarify its ruling in one of the City’s most controversial cases: the disciplinary action against Officer Jeremy Dear over two years after Dear shot and killed 19-year old Mary Hawkes.
Without referring to the killing of Hawkes, City officials charged Dear with violating its policy regarding recording of citizen-contacts and critical incidents, claiming Dear was guilty of insubordination because he repeatedly failed to record despite having been ordered to comply with the City’s body-cam recording policies. Finding little evidence of the purported “order,” the City Personnel Board decided to return Dear to work after he served a suspension, a ruling that the City appealed to the State District Court.
The district court judge hearing the appeal, Clay Campbell, remanded the case to the Personnel Board asking for an explanation of the Board’s ruling. The Personnel Board – lacking the former-Chairman who had written the decision – decided at its January 11, 2017, monthly meeting to ask for additional time to respond to the judge.
Personnel Board members had voted 3-2 to reinstate Dear. City officials claimed that Dear refused an order to always record his encounters on the job, and he was charged with insubordination. Mary Hawkes was not discussed by the Personnel Board, but the City’s Civilian Police Oversight Board, after first announcing that they would be going ahead with a hearing on the shooting of Hawkes by Dear then announced at the January meeting that it was stalled and would not be hearing the Dear shooting case immediately.
At its February 8, 2017 meeting the City Personnel Board again discussed its inability to act on the Court’s remand and again discussed needing more time to respond.
After failing twice to address the remand and after going still another month without a Chairperson whose vote is generally decisive, the City Personnel Board announced the cancellation of its March 8, 2017, meeting.