Police Chief Ray Schultz
Police Chief Ray Schultz
Photo credit: Albuquerque Police Department
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — After eight years that included a string of officer-involved shootings and an ongoing federal investigation, city leaders announced Friday that embattled Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz will step down later this year.
Schultz outlined his plan to retire sometime during the summer or fall in a letter sent Wednesday to the city's chief administrative officer. The letter was released Friday by the mayor's office and the police department.
The chief indicates that he had first proposed his retirement to city officials in January. He said he is now ready to go forward with the next chapter of his life and make more time for his family.
"I believe in the department and our city and as such know that a true leader knows when it is the proper time to step aside and let the next generation continue the mission," Schultz wrote in his letter.
His announcement comes amid an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice that was spurred by protests, lawsuits and demands for a wide-scale agency overhaul from civil rights advocates.
The city has seen a string of officer-involved shootings — 18 of them fatal — since 2010. The department also has been plagued by a number of high-profile cases alleging excessive force by officers, including some cases caught on video.
Just this week, City Council President Dan Lewis said a change was needed and that the department's reputation had been tarnished by controversy.
Schultz has defended his record. He said this week in a statement to the Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/XLaFP2 ) that he was proud of the work his officers do.
"All I can say is that I continue to work hard for the citizens of Albuquerque each and every day," he said. "I have dedicated most of my adult working life to the Albuquerque Police Department, often giving up personal and family time in order to meet the around the clock demands of being a police chief in a major metropolitan police department."
Albuquerque's chief is hired and fired by the mayor. In 2006, then-Mayor Martin Chavez, a Democrat, appointed Schultz chief. Current Republican Mayor Richard Berry has kept Schultz as chief.
Berry praised Schultz on Friday, saying crime rates have dropped and new public safety programs have been instituted.
"I have been impressed with his ability as an innovator and as a leader who cares deeply about this city and his department," Berry said. "I will be working with Chief Schultz and (Chief Administrative Officer) Rob Perry over the coming days and weeks to implement a transition plan that continues to keep the citizens of Albuquerque safe while moving the department forward."
Schultz said he wants to continue assisting federal investigators as the department makes the transition.
"I know that my institutional knowledge will be important to ensure that the investigative team has all of the information that they need," Schultz wrote.
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