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Albuquerque to pay $350K to settle police retaliation claims

March 6, 2021 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The city of Albuquerque will make $175,000 payments to a police sergeant and a police officer to settle retaliations claims, the Police Department announced Saturday.

Sgt. Steven Martinez and Officer Tillery DiCenzo both alleged violations of a whistleblower law after then-Police Chief Mike Geier transferred them after they reported misconduct by a now-former commander of the police academy, the department said in a statement.

The former academy commander, Angela Byrd, was terminated last October after an investigation substantiated allegations of threats directed at cadets and of retaliation against staff, the department said.

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“This settlement allows us to move forward with our efforts to change the culture in the department and encourage all employees to report wrongdoing when they see it,” interim Chief Harold Medina said. “That culture change is especially critical at the police academy where we are training the next generation of police officers.”

After Byrd was terminated and Geier left the department, Martinez and DeCenzo were restored to their previous positions at the academy, the department said.