Of course you know we're talking about the 5th floor's reaction to Sergeant Paul Heh's very public objection to the new APD contract. Their first reaction was an attempt to scare him into silence with an IA investigation. It's a tactic that our Eyes tell us is commonly used by the brass and one that is generally successful.
It's easy to terminate an officer for a violation of the SOP. Officers deal with a hostile public on a daily basis. No one is thankful to be arrested and when an officer shows up it is not uncommon for some to be arrested. So finding a complaint is a simple matter of looking through an officer's arrest records.
This time the threat of an Internal Affairs investigation didn't work because the council, 770 KKOB, and eventually the rest of the media got wind of their little scheme and exposed it. Our Eyes tell us that Chief Schultz spent a considerable amount of time in the Almighty Alcalde's office yesterday morning getting his um... behind chewed and got a repeat performance later in the day when KKOB's Jim Villanucci picked up the story for the first three hours of his show.
(Sidebar)Today, the 5th floor brain trust tried yet another tactic... plant a story with The Journal's T.J. Wilham about Sergeant Heh's 2007 earnings. According to the Journal - which curiously has not posted the story online - the sergeant made over $108,000 last year with over $43,000 of overtime.
We've been spending a lot of time talking about the 5th floor. You've got to remember that the Chief of Police is basically an at-will employee of the mayor. As a result, he takes his marching orders from the mayor himself. The chaos over at APD is certainly the result of mismanagement but it is the direct responsibility of the mayor.
What Wilham doesn't tell you is why a sergeant in the Albuquerque Police Department makes that kind of money. Our Eyes tell us that Sergeant Heh is an exceptional DWI hound. In fact, he's almost a one man DWI unit picking up somewhere over 20 DWIs per month on average. Since the sergeant works graveyard a shift from 10:00 pm to 8:00 am Tuesday through Saturday, he's in court during the day.
Metro Court schedules trials between 8:30 am and even as late as 9:00 pm. Officers are also required to attend pretrial hearings, MVD hearings and seizure hearings - any one of which a failure to appear results in the defendant going free. In other words, officers must attend all of the hearings. To make matters even more fun, trials and hearings are scheduled by three different agencies - the court, the city, and the state.
Because DWI officers and graveyard officers work at night when the courts are closed, these hearings always take place during their off hours. Guess what that means... overtime and lots of it.
Sergeant Heh is incredibly dedicated to his job and his mission. In fact, our Eyes tell us he's almost a fixture at Metro Court. There can be little doubt about Sergeant Heh's honor and dedication just listen to the interview from KKOB that we posted earlier this week (read/hear it here) or read Officer Aria's post from Wednesday (read it here).
The fact that an officer with 21 years on chooses to work grave says it all. A senior sergeant with that amount of time on can have any shift pretty much anywhere in the department. But this sergeant chooses to do the hard work at the most difficult time of day and refuses to ignore his responsibility to follow through in court or in hearings.
T.J. Wilham's story is really about trying to destroy an APD officer's credibility in the media. Our Eyes tell us that this story was planted by the 5th floor and thus it serves their purpose.
The problem is that in their anger and desire for retribution, they decided to try and silence the outspoken sergeant before they tried to tarnish him. The story has moved waaaaay beyond a contract dispute between senior officers. It's become a story about how the Albuquerque Police Department does business.
Sergeant Heh isn't the first officer to have been silenced through intimidation. However, he should be the last. The only difference here is that Sergeant Heh caught the attention of the media and the heavy-handed tactics of the APD brass were exposed. The simple fact is a senior officer like Sergeant Heh is the type of seasoned officer that you want to keep on the force - not force out through threats and intimidation.
This fifth floor fiasco and public relations nightmare is the direct result of arrogance and foolishness. Arrogance to believe that they had the absolute authority and ability to destroy one of their officers for standing up for what they believe. Foolishness because of their inept handling of the situation.
There's a saying that an organization takes on the attributes of its leader so it's no surprise that APD is being run through intimidation and fear. They've taken on the attributes of their leader - Mayor Martin Chavez.
Sergeant Heh should be decorated for his dedication and honor, not destroyed because he disagrees with an administration that could care less about the employees they lead. It'll be interesting to see what these 5th floor fools come up with next because we know they won't be wise enough to stop here.