ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The woman who leads a citizen body that reviews complaints against Albuquerque police officers is being accused of having a conflict of interest because she also directs the local auxiliary of the Fraternal Order of Police.
The police group opposes citizen oversight of police brutality and corruption issues.
The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/S8zmyl) the issue was raised at a Police Oversight Commission meeting Thursday after a pair of activists asked Linda Martinez to step down from the board. The board ultimately voted 6-1 to delay discussion on the issue until December.
The Fraternal Order of Police represents law enforcement officers across the nation and opposes any legislation creating civilian review boards.
Martinez said she didn’t know about the FOP position and disagrees with it.
“I believe in police oversight,” Martinez told the Journal. “I wouldn’t be there if I didn’t believe in it, because it’s hard work.”
Kenneth Ellis, the father of a man shot and killed by police in 2010, told the commission that Martinez could not hold officers accountable while belonging to an organization that is against the very board she sits on.
“She obviously has a bias towards the police department,” Ellis said.
Martinez noted that her husband, the president of the state Fraternal Order of Police, has no problem with her sitting on the commission. Robert L. Martinez was a former officer with the U.S. Department of Justice.
He said the FOP opposes citizen review boards because officers already receive enough scrutiny within their departments.
“We want to make sure that due process is provided to citizens as well as officers,” he said.
The board’s rules say a commissioner should withdraw from proceedings where they have a direct or indirect conflict or doubt they can be fair. The regulations say commissioners should err on the side of caution when deciding whether they can be fair.
Assistant City Attorney Doris Duhigg said each commissioner needs to make that decision and can sit out individual issues.
The City chartered the Police Oversight Commission in 2000. It includes seven citizen members and the Independent Review Office is its investigative arm.
The commission itself cannot discipline officers but gives its recommendations to police Chief Ray Schultz. He has the final say in punishing officers for brutality or other violations of the force’s standard operating procedures.