It is extremely disappointing that the Albuquerque Police Officers Association (APOA) has endorsed a candidate for Mayor.
(See September 28, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, “Albuquerque Police Union Endorses Keller”)
What is even more disappointing is that any candidate for Mayor would accept the endorsement from the police union.
The appearance of impropriety looks terrible but what motivates both are clear.
The police union wants to have some influence over the next Mayor and the candidate wants the vote of rank and file police officers and be able to say law enforcement has your back and you have theirs.
What all the candidates for Mayor do not understand is that the Albuquerque Police Department is has been operating under a Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree and mandated reforms.
Under normal circumstances, union endorsements are common place, but when it comes to the Albuquerque Police Department, it is a department in crisis and for the first time in its history is under a Department of Justice consent decree.
Almost four (4) years ago, a Department of Justice investigation found a “pattern and practice of excessive force” and a “culture of aggression” within the Albuquerque Police Department (APD).
In the last eight (8) years, there has been 41 police officer involved shootings, and the city has paid out $61 million dollars in settlements for police misconduct cases.
The single biggest crisis the next Mayor will be confronted with on day one is reforming the Albuquerque Police Department, selecting a new command staff and implementation of the mandated reforms for constitutional policing.
You cannot blame the candidates for not understanding the DOJ consent decree given the fact not even one of them has ever attended a court hearing when the Federal Monitor presented his critical reports to the Federal Judge and took testimony from all the parties of interest.
The APOA Union on the other hand understands full well the consent decree in that the police union leadership has attended and has sat at counsel table during court hearings and Federal Monitor presentations.
The union leadership was at the negotiating table for the full year assisting in the drafting of the “use of force” and “deadly use of force” policy.
The APOA has made it clear that it does not like the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree nor the mandated reforms.
The police union and its leadership feels that the mandated reforms under the consent decree are interfering with rank and file officer’s ability to performing their jobs.
The union wants the Department of Justice (DOJ) to go away and does not like civilian oversight.
It is not surprising that the APOA would endorse a candidate for Mayor given that it has been at repeated impasse with the Berry Administration during contract negotiations for the last eight years.
Mayor Berry unilaterally decided not to pay 5% pay raises negotiated in good faith by the police union and eliminated longevity pay for rank and file.
All prior Mayors have taken great precautions to select Chiefs with real substantive credentials.
Chief Gordon Eden is the first chief ever selected that had absolutely no prior experience managing a municipal police department even after a national search that was a shame.
Mayors have selected Chiefs of the opposite party, but there was an emphasis on ability to perform.
The DOJ consent decree complicates things with the police union opposing many of the reforms and not liking civilian oversight.
The police union has now fully politicized the department by making a specific endorsement rather than interviewing all the candidates and giving information to their membership so the membership could decide on their own who to vote for Mayor.
There is no doubt that the police union will want a place at the personnel table when the next mayor selects a new Chief as well as command staff even to the point of wanting to resist the appointment of any potential candidate for chief and command staff not to their liking.
When unions start dictating who should be in management is what breads contempt by management and hamstrings the ability to make decisions by an administration.
Tim Keller accepting the endorsement compromises his commitment to implement the consent decree mandated reforms.
Keller’s acceptance of the endorsement further politicizes the police department.
We have had eight (8) years of Republican political operatives and incompetence such as Darren White and Gordon Eden managing APD and we do not need another four or more years of it.
Keller’s acceptance of the endorsement will no doubt be brought up during union negotiations as a reflection that Keller wants to fully support the demands of the police union.
Four years ago, I interviewed with the police union and specifically requested that they not make any endorsement in the Mayor’s race so as not to be compromised during contract negotiations and they did not make any endorsement.
Former APD Sergeant Paul Heh was also a candidate for Mayor and the police union made no endorsement, not even of one of their own.
This is one endorsement that should have not been sought and that should have been declined.