Thursday, April 01, 2010

Congratulations Commander Huntsman

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

There are times in your life that someone you know just makes you proud. You have the ability to say I was there when...

Tomorrow is one of those days.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

These officers: Homicide Detective Damon Fay, Lieutenant Robert Huntsman, and Sergeant Jeffery Ferner were uniformed up to provide security for President Bill Clinton‘s February 3, 1998 visit to Albuquerque. It was the second trip out of Washington for Clinton after being acquitted in his Senate impeachment trial.

These three officers were representative of the finest the Albuquerque Police Department had to offer.

In October 1983, I was a Field Orientation Officer working out of the Northeast Area Command and had three newly sworn in officers straight out of the academy to train and acclimate to street duty.

It was a task I truly enjoyed. My first recruit was Doug Shawn. He was faced with a steep learning curve. At the end of our month together he had satisfied me that his progress was sufficient to pass him on. He would end his career as a very successful homicide detective.

During our time together, after the shift I would answer any question he might have. A couple of other trainees would join the conversation; one of them was Huntsman.

Several years later Huntsman and I were involved a life-threatening event involving a knife wielding drunk.

Huntsman and I went through a promotional process together and he scored very well and was promoted to sergeant. Being the most junior sergeant promoted he was assigned to be the Metropolitan Court Liaison. He wasn’t happy with the assignment, he wanted a squad of officers in the field and he sought out my counsel. I suggested that he was so young that the assignment inside would serve him well. Rookie sergeants are assigned to a squad and he could have a number of veteran officers who might not appreciate such a young supervisor. When the next bidding process, where officers get to choose their next six month assignments, new sergeants most likely end up working graveyard shift and the rookie often ends up with the most junior patrol officers, The rookie officers are often overly eager to do police work and make “rookie mistakes.”

I suggested to Huntsman that the Metro Court was a perfect place for him in several ways: he wouldn’t have a squad of rookies trying to get him into trouble, he would have contact with every patrol officer who came to court and they would get to know him, he would be in a position to solve the day-to-day problems that come up in court, which would help him build a good reputation, and when he left the assignment to work the streets he would have gained some seniority on a number of more recently promoted sergeants giving him a better choice of his own assignment and his reputation would serve him well.

Huntsman spent a few years at the courts and when he went to the field he had a squad of more senior officer bid to work for him.

I work at the Academy in the early 90’s when he was the cadet training supervisor and I was in the advanced training unit – video productions.

I could tell some other stories, but won’t. He has spent almost 27 years on the Department and has seen a lot of changes to the city and the department.

Huntsman and I had one more important police moments when after having dinner with him, while I was assigned to the Telephone Report Unit, we answered a shots fired call and were the first unit on the scene of the shotgun shooting where two men were injured. One died and Matthew and Michael Paul Astorga were charged with the murder. Michael Astorga was acquitted while his younger brother Matthew was convicted. He appealed and the court of appeals reversed the conviction because he had claimed self-defense but the judge had not allowed the jury to consider the charge of voluntary manslaughter. Instead of going to a retrial, Matthew Astorga pled guilty to second-degree murder.

He was later promoted to Lieutenant and for the last 10 years been assigned to Metro Division as the Special Weapons and Tactics commander.

Tomorrow, Chief Ray Schultz will promote him to Commander and he will be assigned to the Northeast Area Command.

The third officer in the photograph, Ferner was my third officer during the training cycle. He was ready to work but I didn’t try to cut him loose early. He went on to have a very successful career retiring as a Lieutenant.

Huntsman has done well, congratulations.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Hey man I got a phone call to check this out and glad I did. I have to say that's a handsome group-- but I swear I remember Rocky taking that picture -- I have a copy in my office.