SANTA FE, New Mexico — Santa Fe's former police chief says he voluntarily retired 13 months into the job, but emails show officials were planning to fire him.
The Santa Fe New Mexican obtained the emails through a records request related Eric Garcia's departure. City Manager Brian Snyder was getting ready to fire Garcia, and he and Mayor Javier Gonzales agreed on a plan to replace him with current interim chief Patrick Gallagher, the newspaper reported (http://bit.ly/1EhoDQe ).
Matt Ross is the mayor's spokesman who emailed a draft news release and accompanying talking points memo that says the move was "about ensuring that management distractions at the top aren't allowed to interfere with the quality of work on the ground."
The memo lists issues that may arise, including a statement from four police lieutenants accusing Garcia of wrongdoing.
The draft news release was intended to be released July 27 and quotes Snyder as saying that, "Over the last year, we've simply seen too many distractions from our number one priority: protecting the public. It's time for a change."
Instead, a July 28 news release was published saying Garcia was retiring.
Both Garcia and Ross maintain that the former chief left voluntarily.
"It was a hard decision," Garcia said. "I miss the troops. I do. I wholeheartedly do. But there's a time and point in a person's career, especially after 20-plus years in this job, that you just finally have to let go."
Ross said he wouldn't discuss the emails.
"I'm not going to get into any details in terms of any personnel process with the chief beyond what we said," Ross said. "The chief came out of the meeting (with Snyder) and announced his retirement."
Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com