- The Washington Times - Friday, November 13, 2015

Officials in Albuquerque, New Mexico, have agreed to reinstate a police officer who had been fired for routinely turning off his body camera, including during a fatal 2014 officer-involved shooting.

The city’s personnel board voted 3-2 on Tuesday in favor of giving Jeremy Dear his job back with the Albuquerque Police Department.

Officer Dear was fired last year as a result of what Police Chief Gorden Eden called “a clear case of repeated insubordination and untruthfulness,” KRQE News reported last week.

In 2013, the police department ordered Officer Dear to begin recording all of his on-the-job interactions with city residents after the department received several complaints. Chief Eden said Officer Dear routinely failed to comply and had not switched on his lapel camera before fatally shooting a 19-year-old woman following a foot chase the following year.

Police department spokeswoman Celina Espinoza said the reason Officer Dear was fired “had little to do with the issue of lapel camera usage,” with other officials citing a routine disregard for the rules.

Chief Eden said the city will appeal the board’s decision to reinstate Officer Dear and said his termination had been sought because of “a clear case of repeated insubordination and untruthfulness.”

“As I’ve stated before, insubordination and untruthfulness tear at the fabric of public safety, especially when the officer makes a choice not to follow a lawful order,” Chief Eden said in a statement.

Officer Dear will stay off the job while the city appeals the board’s decision, said Rob Perry, the city’s chief administrative officer. If Officer Dear wins, however, then the city will have to compensate him for the several months of missed work, he added.

“The chief’s office can do everything they can do to ensure that people that carry a gun and a badge are suited for that type of responsibility. But when we have arguments from the Personnel Board that are sensationally crazy, that’s what we have to do,” Mr. Perry told the Albuquerque Journal last week. “I think that is very, very damaging to reform efforts when we have extraneous forces with no accountability interjecting their opinions over and above … the chief’s decision.”

An attorney for the officer, Thomas Grover, told the Journal that the case for reinstatement was supported by the department’s inconsistent application of its camera policy and subsequent decisions to discipline only certain officers, adding an appeal be a burden on city taxpayers.

“The exposure that they are going to be faced with is ongoing attorney’s fees and ongoing reinstatement,” Mr. Grover told the paper. “They [city officials] have a huge mountain to climb to prevail over that decision.”

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