APD Officers Quit Amid DWI Scandal

Albuquerque police officers have been resigning one after another to avoid being subject to interviews by their internal affairs department. This is happening amid federal and internal investigations into allegations that the officers were receiving bribes to dismiss DWI cases.

Albuquerque Police Department (APD) Chief Harold Medina has noted that these resignations have not halted the investigations. The internal affairs investigation was launched two months ago, following which five DWI officers resigned. Those officers include Lt. Justin Hunt, who had been with the department for 24 years, Honorio Alba, a 10-year veteran, Harvey Johnson and Nelson Ortiz, who served for a combined 18 years, and Officer Joshua Montaño, a 20-year veteran.

Chief Medina expressed that while the resignations make the officers appear guilty, he understands that they could face federal charges for giving false statements to the FBI. He suggested that the officers might be following the counsel of their lawyers by not speaking. He reassured that the investigation will be completed even without their participation, as investigators will speak to other witnesses.

He also hinted at the possibility of the scheme involving more officers, many of whom have retired. The APD can’t force any officers to stay until they are dismissed, but they would lose out financially if they resign before their retirement.

More than 200 criminal cases, mostly DWIs that the five officers were connected to, have been dismissed. Some cases showed red flags, linking certain officers’ DWI arrests with Defense Attorney Thomas Clear III’s office. Clear’s home has also been raided by federal authorities.

One particular case involved a conversation between a DWI defendant and a paralegal that suggested the possible working of the scheme.

Chief Medina credits the Department of Justice’s reform process with exposing such wrongdoings. He has also filed misconduct reports against the officers to the state Law Enforcement Academy. The results of the internal investigation will be shared with the public once it’s completed.

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