After nearly eight years commanding the state’s largest city police department, Albuquerque Police Chief Raymond Schultz has decided to retire.
Schultz’ 1,100 member department has been under investigation by the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division since November, and he has personally faced community scrutiny for months after two dozen police officer involved shootings, that left 17 people dead.
Even with civil lawsuits mounting, and a jury deliberating money damages today, Schultz has the support of Mayor Richard Berry.
“As Mayor, my respect and thanks go out to Chief Schultz for his dedication and service to this community,” Mayor Berry said in a news release sent after lunch on Friday. “I have been impressed with his ability as an innovator and as a leader who cares deeply about this city and his department.”
But Berry has been under pressure to replace his chief for months. Schultz resignation comes two days after City Council President Dan Lewis called on Schultz to retire. Lewis was the first city councilor to support calls for a DOJ investigation.
Schultz notified Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry by letter on Wednesday but his plans to retire were not made public until Friday afternoon.
A news conference with all three men has been scheduled for Monday afternoon to discuss the reasons for his retirement.
Berry says he plans to implement a transition plan to “keep the citizens of Albuquerque safe while moving the department forward.”
Berry hasn’t said whether he plans to promote from within the department or launch a national recruiting effort. Some law enforcement analysts say retired SPF Deputy Chief Beth Paiz could be tapped to replace Schultz. Paiz would be the city’s first female chief.
Deputy Police Chief Allen Banks tells SFR he plans to apply for the job and looks forward to having a chance to interview with the mayor. If selected, he would be the city's first African-American police chief.
The mayor's Public Safety Director Darren White resigned in July 2011. Berry opted not to replace him.
The letter released by the city noted that Schultz plans to stay at the Department until the "fact-finding" portion of the DOJ investigation is completed - this summer or fall.
Updated: 2:57 p.m.
City Council President Dan Lewis sent SFR a written statement late this afternoon. He called the chief's retirement decision couragous.
This is a critical time in the history of the Albuquerque Police Department. Ray Schultz made a courageous decision. Despite all that the department and city have been through I believe he is turning to the next chief a better department. Ray Schultz should be honored for his service. He is greatly appreciated and I wish him the very best.