Disturbing video puts Safe City Strike Force in bad light

Posted at: 08/21/2013 10:11 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A video most likely from 2008 resurfaced this week, showing members of the Safe City Strike Force behaving disrespectfully while on the job.

It shows officers making fun of people they were evicting from their homes. It was taken when mayoral candidate Pete Dinelli oversaw the Safe City Strike Force. Mayor Richard Berry said the video says something about Dinelli’s leadership, but Dinelli says the video is only popping up now as a campaign tactic.

The video shows officers slapping an Ace of Spades on doors and making evicted people pose with it.

Attorney Joseph Kennedy represented people who claimed their rights were violated by the Safe City Strike Force.

“The Ace of Spades is typically associated with the Vietnam War,” Kennedy said. “It was said American troops would leave that on the Viet Cong as a warning of death, so essentially we have the Albuquerque Police Department adopting a war-like mentality toward its citizens”

He says the video was indicative of the general feelings and behavior of the unit. The video came to light during a lawsuit against the unit. It would have been shown to a jury, but that case was settled.

The video surfaced again today more than four years later, and now, current Mayor Richard Berry is condemning it.

“There's disturbing behavior in this video. The fact is, Pete Dinelli at that time was running the unit that included civilians and Albuquerque Police Department personnel were engaging in unacceptable and disgusting behavior,” Berry said.

Dinelli says he did oversee the force when these pictures were taken, but most of the officers didn’t act this way.

“I believe this was the conduct of four police officers and was an anomaly at the time,” Dinelli said.

He’s also calling foul on the timing of the video’s release to the media.

“It's politics, and the fact is that they want to deflect attention from their failed record and especially the failed record of Mayor Berry,” Dinelli said.

The video, which also shows officers playing with tenants’ property and making lewd gestures, did lead to disciplinary action. Dinelli said he asked to have officers fired, but Chief Ray Schultz instead issued suspensions and sensitivity training.