N.M. Deputy's Outburst Prompts Probe


An Albuquerque deputy fire chief finds himself under investigation after what his own colleagues call a threatening outburst.

In a letter to the fire chief, serious allegations are made about the deputy chief behaving badly during a safety committee meeting.

Action 7 News obtained a letter to Chief James Breen. In it, two AFD Lieutenants said Deputy Chief Richard Sears went on a tirade during a meeting last week.

The letter alleges that there was some sort of ... there were some words that were said, said city spokesman TJ Wilham.

The letter said there was a war of words.

Lt. Paul Dow and Lt. Justin Staley quote Sears as saying he "didn't care about the (expletive) morale of the department."

The letter doesn't give any more specifics, but describes Sears' behavior as aggressive, a tirade and an unnecessary outburst.

Action News contacted the firefighters who wrote the letter, but they didn't want to comment.

Officials said once the letter was sent to Breen, they immediately began an internal investigation.

The citys Public Safety Department said it's working to get answers.

We don't know exactly what was said, how it was said or the context in which it was said, Wilham told Action 7 News.

Wilham said those questions must be answered before officials can take appropriate action.

We're trying to figure that out. Right now, its whether or not the words that he said at that meeting did indeed violate any standard operating procedures of the Albuquerque Fire Department, Wilham said.

While an internal investigation is conducted, Sears, who has more than 20 years of service with AFD, waits on paid administrative leave. He has been on leave since the beginning of the week.

Officials said they expect the internal investigation to wrap up in about two weeks.

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