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Criminal Investigations Commander leading Internal Investigation

DWI Investigation
February 02, 2024

ALBUQUERQUE – APD Chief Harold Medina assigned Criminal Investigations Division Commander Kyle Hartsock to conduct the internal investigation into allegations of wrong-doing by current and past DWI officers.

“We are looking at everyone in the department who may have had a role in the alleged scheme among DWI officers,” Chief Medina said. “If this misconduct occurred for a decade or longer, we are going to get to the bottom of it.”

Five officers were placed on administrative leave last week. None of the officers have been formally accused or charged with a crime at this point in the investigation.

Hartsock, who previously worked for the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office, has been with APD for three years. He was appointed in December to serve as Commander of the Criminal Investigations Division, and has played a key role in overhauling APD’s homicide investigations.

“Commander Hartsock has a proven track record as an investigator and he has an outside perspective with no ties to current or former DWI officers,” Chief Medina said. “Commander Hartsock has also worked closely with the FBI in the past on investigations.”

As the department moves forward with its administrative investigation and assisting in the federal investigation, there are important factors regarding the court process and DWI cases.

Metro Court and the DWI Process

When a DWI complaint is filed in Metro Court, often following an arrest, an arraignment setting is triggered. These hearings ensure a defendant is aware of their charges and enters a plea.

Following the arraignment, a pre-trial conference is set, in order for a judge to determine if the prosecution has provided enough evidence to the defense. Officers do not attend this setting, and it is handled by the District Attorney’s Office.

Metro Court is also required to adjudicate any misdemeanor cases within 182 days based on the “6-month rule”. If an officer fails to appear in the trial setting close to the 6-month rule, the court may have no choice but to dismiss the case.

Pre-trial interviews

Historically, pre-trial interviews had been made available to defense attorneys which allows them to ask officers involved in the case specific questions regarding facts of the case. The decision as to which officers are subject to pre-trial interviews is made by the District Attorney’s Office.

Prior to March 2022, the ability to conduct pre-trail interviews in misdemeanor cases was coordinated between a defense attorney and the District Attorney’s Office. If the date was not coordinated, or was canceled or an officer failed to appear, the Rule mandates the defense attorney to seek a subpoena to require the officer’s attendance.

In 2020, the process changed when the DA’s Office received a grant from the New Mexico Department of Transportation, allowing its office to be in charge of pre-trial interviews whether subpoenaed or not.

In 2022, the New Mexico Supreme Court suspended pre-trial interviews due to a significant backlog of misdemeanor cases in Metro Court due to Covid. Most states do not use pre-trial interviews for misdemeanor cases.

Since this change, there have been fewer dismissals because officers are no longer required to attend pre-trial interviews.

Failure to Appear Notifications

The Albuquerque Police Department is working with the District Attorney’s Office to streamline the failure to appear notification process. Information on the FTA notifications include the case number, officer name, time of missed court appearance and if there was a reason for being absent.

The notifications go directly to Court Services and Court Services forwards them on to APD’s Internal Affairs Division for further investigation.