Santa Fe police Lt. Christopher McCord, arrested in March on suspicion of domestic violence, is now facing a hearing before the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board over the possible suspension of his certification.

McCord spent two months on “alternative duty” following the March 19 incident in Albuquerque. Chief Andrew Padilla said at the time that McCord would have no contact with the public until the criminal case was resolved and an internal investigation complete.

Instead, Padilla returned the lieutenant to his leadership position in mid-May, while the internal investigation continued.

By that time, the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office had dismissed the charge against McCord — a third-degree felony count of aggravated battery on a household member with a deadly weapon — because prosecutors were unable to contact his accuser.

The Law Enforcement Academy did not receive a complaint against McCord alleging misconduct, said Herman Lovato, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety. Rather, Lovato said, the director of the academy filed her own report on McCord’s arrest. She sent him a letter April 7 notifying him she intended to have his police certification suspended.

A copy of academy Director Kelly Alzaharna’s report shows she cited a March news article on McCord’s arrest.

McCord requested a hearing before the academy’s board, Lovato said.

It’s unclear when the hearing will be held. Lovato said it was scheduled for the board’s next meeting in August, but according to the academy’s website, the board is not set to meet until September. Lovato did not reply to an email Friday asking for clarification on the date.

A criminal complaint filed by Albuquerque police in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court said McCord’s wife had accused him of attacking her during a dispute at their home.

The complaint alleged he punched the woman in the kidney, grabbed her by the neck and squeezed, and hit her two times across the face with an iPad.

A friend took her to a hospital, where she called police. According to the criminal complaint, the woman had bruises on her lower left back, left arm, her face and around her neck.

The felony case was forwarded to the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Adolfo Mendez, a spokesman for the office, said prosecutors dismissed the charge against McCord the day before a preliminary hearing because they couldn’t reach his wife.

“Exhaustive measures have been used to make contact with no avail — including several phone calls and voicemails, along with attempted personal service by investigators to her home and other possible address,” a court document said.

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Her participation in the hearing was necessary, Mendez said, “and without being able to contact her, we were unable to proceed.

“If we were able to establish contact, and she were interested in pursuing, that is something we could reinitiate,” he added.

District attorneys also have the option of sending a case to a grand jury for review. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2nd Judicial District had suspended its grand jury proceedings.

Asked whether prosecutors could have pursued a grand jury indictment in McCord’s case, without the accuser’s cooperation, Mendez said in an email the office can evaluate a domestic violence case to determine if there is enough evidence to prosecute a suspect without the victim’s help.

But, he said, “In this case, the victim’s testimony is essential to establish the elements required to initiate and ultimately prove felony domestic violence.”

McCord could not be reached for comment on the case or the upcoming hearing on his certification.

In a phone interview in March, he said the incident occurred after he filed for divorce. His wife was upset, he said, “and kind of took it a little too far.”

His wife also spoke briefly with The New Mexican. “I think that there are some things that are in the police report that are inaccurate,” she said.

Padilla said in an interview earlier this month he had decided to allow McCord to return to his regular duties after the criminal charge was dismissed, despite initially saying he would wait until the internal investigation was complete.

“What changes was he would remain on his alternative duty status if the criminal proceedings were still happening,” the chief said.

The pending internal investigation does not restrict McCord from responding to any type of calls, including reports of domestic violence, Padilla said.

Dispatch logs show McCord responded to at least two domestic disturbance calls between May 16 and June 15.

On June 16, the department altered the format of the daily dispatch log, omitting the names of officers who respond to each call. It is unknown whether McCord has responded to a domestic violence incident since then.

If the internal investigation determines McCord has broken any of the department’s policies, Padilla said, the agency will forward the case to the Law Enforcement Academy Board for review.

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(21) comments

Donato Velasco

Just follow the law and policies

Donato Velasco

Read the domestic violence act, they have enough to prosecute on the police report and evidence plus a witness,, statue was written to protect the victims,, plus it’s a violation of policy and should have been reported to the academy who had to investigate every incident not just criminal he should be decertify,, this is what’s wrong with police agencies in the state covering bad conduct by officers

Ryan Jones

To the victims of domestic violence in Santa Fe New Mexico Santa Fe police chief Andrew Padilla approves domestic violence within your community within his administration and within his Department. Lieutenant McCord certification should be revoked and the mayor should take action

Gerald Joyce

Anyone know Lt. McCord? I hope so because you all have convicted him. Some have also accused him of murder. Well done Santa Feans! We don't need a judge and jury, we have all of you. Lt. McCord Ford has been on your streets protecting you and you have already lynched him without due process. You should all be proud of yourselves.

BOB SCHWARTZ

apparently you don't know him

Gerald Joyce

Obviously neither do you. I have dealt with McCord professionally and as a member of the Santa Rd Public Safety Committee. He has always shown concern for Santa Fe citizens and their safety. I would be willing to allow him due process before condemning him. I believe even capital crime offenders, i.e. murderers are afforded that right. But, what the heck, why extend that courtesy to a guy who put his rear end on the line for us.

BOB SCHWARTZ

you should read the Albuquerque police report, his wife's statement, the pictures, her body marks, i guess apd made all that up

Mark Ortiz

His kindness to you and beating the $hit out of his wife, statistically more than once, this being the first time a call and arrest were made, ARE NOT EXCLUSIV Mr. Joyce. People for the most part are either/and , not either/ or. BTW, your last sentence is disgusting. So all the bad stuff police do, we should gladly accept it as collateral damage and STFU?!?! Gotchaya, go MAGA.!

Donato Velasco

It’s about accountability and he failed to control his actions,, should not be an officer,, he can go do another profession and wish him well,,

Nicoletta Munroe

In this type of situation, the witness is trying to stay alive in not agreeing to contact, therefore, we the People are requited to initiate policy to protect that person, not the abuser. McCord may be a classic abuser who knows that his spouse has to "call the police" and he is on both ends of that call for help. Unless we remove abusers from law enforcement we the People may be abused ourselves from a "Force" that is trained in abuse. McCord holds all the cards of power, a badge, a weapon, information about his buddies, and he will hold on to that weapon until someone is brave enough to remove it. Until then, we are all potentially his victims, especially, women, lesbians, gay people, the un-represented, immigrants, the homeless, youth, people of color, and those whom appear to be vulnerable.

Joe Brownrigg

I know at least some of our police officers have anger management issues. I do not know this specific officer.

Donato Velasco

They are badge and gun heavy need better screening on application and continue evaluations

Dan Frazier

Just because the wife in a domestic violence case declines to proceed should not cause dismissal if there is strong circumstantial evidence. Do we know if she is even alive? Do we automatically dismiss murder charges because the leading witness is dead? Perhaps she has fled the state. Or perhaps the State has abandoned her.

Donato Velasco

The union president has first hand knowledge of what happens to domestic violence victims when the perpetrators continue and finally kill their victims,, it’s one reason the state domestic violence act was rewritten,,

Dan Frazier

I have to wonder how many of the problems with our local police can be traced back to Padilla.

BOB SCHWARTZ

The charges were dismissed without prejudice meaning they can be refiled, so, in other words, they are not gone

Miranda Viscoli

Does Lt. McCord still have a gun? Why is he responding to domestic violence calls?

BOB SCHWARTZ

Well he is a somewhat expert as he has personally committed this act

BOB SCHWARTZ

Talk about police reform and accountability, this is the perfect place to start. Its incredulous to believe a police lieutenant can perform such an act of choking his wife, being arrested, and now he is back on duty commanding . Do you know the internal strife this causes in the police department. APD has statements, photos, officers cameras of the interaction. Is it unusual of a spouse of domestic violence, especially married to a COP to be scare, sure it is. There are many dynamics here and the charges have not been absolved but are in abeyance. Thousands of domestics cases are presented with out the other party . But to be a police officer and commit this. And for the academy board to recommend suspension, should be termination. Yes MCCord, Padilla, Ben Valdez all SWAT members for years and years and you actually expect Padilla to be unbiased in the endeavor. And Padilla putting him back on duty before the IA, atrocious. People inside, other officers see this and affects them greatly. This is not leadership but "good Ole Boyism" to the highest level.

Donato Velasco

It’s what’s wrong with the system and residents need to have their councilors accountable to make change or get voted out , mayor and city manager need to be held accountable,,

Dan Chase

Padilla should be fired along with Mccord! What a cover up, it doesn’t take that long to complete an internal investigation which doesn’t need to meet the higher standard of a criminal case. Obviously there were signs of injury(proof) and he was arrested ( probable cause), so why didn’t Padilla do his job? Because they’re all buddies who have each others back right or wrong. Clean house mayor before your bad decisions take you down with them...

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