- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 9, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The state Law Enforcement Academy kept poor track of firearms and ignored a warning that its curriculum was outdated, according to lawsuits filed by four former instructors under the state’s Whistleblower Protection Act.

In the recently filed lawsuits over wrongful termination, the four claim state Public Safety Department officials violated the state whistle-blower law by ordering instructors to remain silent about their discovery of missing firearms that weren’t registered on inventories. Santa Fe New Mexican reports (https://goo.gl/UFrf4h).

The suits also say that officials defamed them, inflicted emotional distress and showed neglect in hiring, training and supervision.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of former basic-training instructor Phillip Gallegos, for example, said that in February 2012, the instructors were ordered to conduct an inventory of the training facility’s firearms, and they determined that many weapons were missing.

And in March 2012, says a lawsuit filed by Anthony Maxwell, a former basic- and advance-training instructor, numerous loaded weapons were found in the office of an advance-training instructor.

According to the complaints, current academy Director Jack Jones, one of the defendants in the cases, told academy personnel the instructors were fired because of unprofessional behavior and because they lied about the academy.

After that episode, Maxwell’s suit says, he and other instructors were told to stop all inquiries and investigations into possible missing or stolen weapons and were told not to discuss the matter with anyone outside the academy. The suit says that the order came from then-Public Safety Secretary Gorden Eden, who is now the chief of the embattled Albuquerque Police Department.

The two other lawsuits, filed by basic- and advance-training instructors George Puga and Earl C. Voiles III, claim officials neglected warnings that the academy’s curriculum “was seriously out of date.” In January 2012, the complaints state, Maxwell suggested the academy shut down until the curriculum was updated.

In a statement, Department of Public Safety Secretary Greg Fouratt said he and other DPS officials had not seen the lawsuits. “Nonetheless, the department intends to vigorously defend against the allegations and believes them to be entirely without legal merit,” he said.

The lawsuits come after the academy recently changed its curriculum and updated its training on use of force.


Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, https://www.sfnewmexican.com



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