Albuquerque, New Mexico wants disgraced ex-cop Levi Chavez out of its business, but they seem to have lost the battle with a non-profit organization that helps the homeless. The organization, Heading Home, has hired the former officer who was accused of killing his wife, to run a city funded shelter.
Heading Home, along with the mayor, announced the opening of the winter shelter on Monday afternoon, reported KRQE.
Douglas Chaplin, Director of the city’s Family & Community Services Department, is concerned the ex-cop’s presence will cause people to stay away from the shelter out of concerns for their safety.
“We’ve been concerned with one of the hires for Heading Home to oversee this. There has been a past history with the City of Albuquerque. There was a lot of publicity around this gentleman,” said Chaplin.
Chavez was accused of murdering his wife, and then staging it to look like a suicide in 2007.
As cops typically are, he was found not guilty, but his wife’s family believes he killed her to silence her regarding an insurance fraud scheme.
“I don’t want anyone experiencing homelessness not to come out to this shelter, out of fear,” said Chaplin.
Chaplin sent letters to the CEO of the group, which works closely with the Mayor’s Office on homeless programs, addressing his concerns. He stated Chavez has been the subject of long periods of media scrutiny, and that a vulnerable population may avoid seeking shelter if they don’t feel safe with the management team, according to KRQE.
The city also points out that Chavez was fired for cause and is ineligible to work for the city again, so he shouldn’t be working at a city-owned and funded shelter.
Despite Chavez having no criminal convictions, Chaplin wants to see a different hiring process in the future.
“I want to make sure there’s enough oversight in place to make sure people feel safe when they come out here,” he said.
Back in 2011, the city settled a civil lawsuit with Tera Chavez’s family for $230,000. The family had sued claiming APD’s culture helped create rogue cops, and that the department failed to train and supervise Chavez properly.