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Friday, July 15, 2011

In Face of Growing Scandal, Darren White Announces Retirement as Albuquerque Public Safety Director

DWhite The City of Albuquerque just released the following statement from Darren White, Albuquerque's Public Safety Director, who has in recent days been caught up in a growing controversy about his handling of an incident when his wife was recently involved in a one-car accident and appeared to be "out of it." Rather than permitting his wife to be initially treated and transported by ambulance to an ER, White drove her for care in his own car -- after about 30 minutes on the scene. It appears that, at the very least, some basic standard protocols in handling such an incident were not followed. The question is why.

White, a former police officer who formerly served as Bernalillo County Sheriff, ran as a Republican candidate for Congress in NM-01 and served the administration of former GOP governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, as head of Secretary of the Public Safety Department, announced his retirement from his current post with a contentious statement that insists he did nothing wrong:

I am announcing my retirement today in order to end the distraction surrounding my wife’s recent accident and allow Mayor Richard Berry and city leaders to focus on the important issues the people of Albuquerque deserve to have addressed.

However, the investigation must move forward and I intend to work hard to clear my name and stand-up for my wife, whose medical condition was improperly made public through the illegal leaking of confidential medical records.

Getting the truth out is very important to me and I am confident any investigation will show:

  • I made it clear to the police officer that he was in charge of conducting any investigation and that I would not interfere.
  • Nearly an hour after the accident and when it was clear that the scene investigation was complete, I took my wife to get medical attention. No one at the scene disagreed with that action.
  • I did not take my wife to the hospital with lights and sirens on, nor did I violate any policy regarding the use of emergency equipment.
  • My wife was diagnosed with a seizure by a neurologist at Presbyterian and was subsequently hospitalized for two days.
  • No doctor, including my wife’s own physician, believe that the medical condition that caused the accident had anything to do with the medication she has been taking daily without complication for over a year.
  • The speculation in the illegally leaked paramedic report that the symptoms might have been caused by “opiates” was conclusively disproved by a drug test administered at the hospital.
  • We never would have released any of my wife’s personal medical history until we learned from the media that someone illegally leaked her confidential, and misleading, medical records to the press.
  • The leaking of the paramedic’s report in this case broke federal and state laws.

I am very proud of my lifetime record of public service, beginning as a member of the 82nd Airborne in the US Army, continuing as a police officer, sheriff, and public safety administrator at both the state and local level.

I dedicated my life to public safety and hope I made a positive difference in my community. I feel honored to have worked with some of New Mexico’s finest public servants.  Our challenge is never easy and the circumstances often difficult, but we rise to the task every day. I deeply appreciate having been given the honor to serve.

Yesterday, four City Councilors sent a letter to Mayor Richard J. Berry calling for an independent, outside investigation into the incident that should focus on these main points:

1. Allegations of violating Standard Operating Procedures of the APD

2. Allegations of interference in an investigation

3. Allegations of improper use of city property for private purposes

4. Allegations of abuse of power

The City of Albuquerque has already said it will launch an internal investigation via the Independent Review Office of the Police Oversight Commission, but the councilors said that's not good enough:

The investigation must be conducted without political interference and manipulation from any individual, political party, interests within the City, or closely related associates. To prevent all potential or perceived conflicts of interest, and/or fears of retaliation, we respectfully call for an investigation to be conducted by an independent organization with experience in these types of investigations and in representing government and police misconduct cases.

It's unknown how White's "retirement" will affect his appointment to the New Mexico Judicial Standards Commission by Governor Susana Martinez.

July 15, 2011 at 05:20 PM in City of Albuquerque, Darren White, Law Enforcement, Legal Issues | Permalink

Comments

His wife crashed her car, Mr. White came to the scene immediately. NO breathalyzer test was done. What lowly officer is going to adminster one with his supreme boss, husband of the suspect, watching him? The drug tests were not administered until 5 hours later. Mrs. White could have had her stomach pumped and drunk a gallon of coffee by then.

White is just another arrogant SOB who thinks he is 'above the law.' Good riddance.

Posted by: Ellen Wedum | Jul 16, 2011 6:34:23 AM

I haven't heard when he will actually retire. What will the mayor do now with the top jobs at the city? Stay tuned.

Posted by: Michelle meaders | Jul 16, 2011 7:56:18 AM

The mayor could just eliminate the post of public safety director. The firemen's union is calling for that, according to an interview with Diego Arencon on the TV news.

On a different topic, it should be investigated who in NM is involved with ALEC. How do we go about it? Who introduced legislation this past year that NM pull out of the Western Climate Initiative? It's one of the bills on the ALEC website.

Posted by: Joan Saks Berman | Jul 16, 2011 12:06:02 PM

It is also said that she has a seizure disorder. In NM, one must be "seizure free" for one year in order to drive with a "seizure disorder." So this is not a very good dodge, if that is what it is.

There is a lot of wack in this story. Good riddance to him.

Posted by: bg | Jul 16, 2011 12:10:24 PM

Good Lord! Wouldn't it be far, far better for these radical right wingers to be taken out for the sake of their ideology rather than their stupid self serving mistakes?
We may be feeling schadenfreude and this guy was a menace, but in the long run, does his incidental screw up really help our cause?

Posted by: qofdisks | Jul 18, 2011 2:50:39 PM

Incidental screw up? It's how White conducted his entire career! Good riddance to him and his 6 figure salary for doing nothing!

Posted by: Jay | Jul 18, 2011 5:31:56 PM

Google INSIDE THE NEW MEXICO GOP to see the background of what happened with White and why no one has dealt with the corruption.

Posted by: Mark Boyd | Jul 19, 2011 11:19:29 PM