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New Mexico Police Union Wants Probe of Chief

Sept. 12--SANTA FE -- Santa Fe's police union has asked Mayor David Coss for an independent investigation into Police Chief Ray Rael.

"Last week's headlines, in various media outlets, reported on the ongoing investigation surrounding the city of Santa Fe Parking Division alleged criminal acts of Fraud and/or Embezzlement. Furthermore, it appears information has been uncovered, which implicates Chief Raymond Rael's involvement in possible criminal and/or unethical acts," union president Adam Gallegos wrote to Coss and Santa Fe city councilors in a letter dated Sept. 4.

Union members have questions, which should be resolved through an independent internal affairs investigation, Gallegos wrote. He said "it saddens me to have to bring this request to you."

Rael said Tuesday that he welcomes an investigation.

"I've done nothing wrong. These allegations are baseless," Rael said. "I'm getting tired of being attacked for nothing other than holding these officers accountable."

Gallegos' letter doesn't refer to any specific Parking Division matter, but police documents circulated to news organizations in late August contained allegations that Rael and City Manager Robert Romero were informed of possible financial wrongdoing in the city's troubled Parking Division years ago but did nothing about it.

The allegations, made by a former division worker whose name was kept confidential, also alleged Romero had parking tickets improperly dismissed. Romero denied the allegations.

Rael, who at the time worked as an investigator for the city's Human Resources Department, has said he was never told about the Parking Division problems or alleged illegal ticket dismissals.

Rael said Tuesday the allegations were made by a city employee who was himself under investigation for misconduct. The former employee also couldn't provide police with specific information to back up his allegations, Rael said.

Rael also said that as a human resources employee, he wasn't under the umbrella of police rules and regulations.

The Parking Division case was forwarded to New Mexico State Police in July. Last week, agency officials said they wouldn't investigate the allegations and suggested the city undertake a forensic audit on internal and administrative processes. Romero has confirmed the city will hire an external auditor.

Still, Gallegos wrote, "we feel this matter must be looked into further, and ask you to initiate an internal affairs investigation related to the recent events brought to light."

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Copyright 2012 - Albuquerque Journal, N.M.