A few weeks ago, APD held its quarterly management meeting bringing together most of the department’s sergeants, lieutenants, and commanders. A speaker presented to the department’s leaders an overview of Stephen Covey’s Speed of Trust. Rather than dwell on the obvious benefits of trust and describe what an institution looks like when it scores high in the “trust” scale, we think it’s more relevant to address reality however sad it may be. Let’s face it, APD and the APOA do not score high at all on the trust scale, but there is something they excel at: distrust. But don’t take our analysis, or that of our dozens of Eyes, for it. Consider the symptoms of an organization swimming in a soup of distrust:
-Complexity and delay
Has the leadership of APOA or the APD exhibited any of these symptoms? It seems both organizations display many of these defects on a daily basis. Last night the APOA had an “emergency” general membership meeting. Our Eyes tell us almost 100 officers (10% or so of the total membership) showed up to the meeting. Yet despite this turnout, the APOA board missed an opportunity to move forward and show real leadership in confronting the suspicion that over $250,000 in union dues is unaccounted for and swindled away over the last two years. We are told the board tabled desired motions made by members in a defensive effort to delay hard decisions. Did the board respect the desire of members to have an open discussion about their concerns or did they deny meaningful dialogue? Our Eyes tell us that at every opportunity the board obstructed proactive efforts to put to rest the many allegations concerning ex-President Sigala’s spending of union funds and current Treasurer Matt Fisher’s effectiveness in accounting for those expenditures. Did the board hide behind complex procedural devices or did they cherry pick the application as it suited them? The APOA has an interim president who is also a full-time sergeant. Is interim-President Greg Weber truly able to represent the interests of the members while also the supervisor of the incredibly important Crimes Against Children Unit within APD? Our Eyes tell us there are deep concerns about existing conflicts in interest Weber has by the simple fact that he is a department supervisor.
The citizens of Albuquerque rely on the officers to maintain order and enforce laws regardless of circumstances. True justice is indeed blind and there’s an expectation that officers will do what is needed to be done regardless of who’s involved or the particular circumstances. While we know this doesn’t always happen, we want to have faith that the true leaders of APD and the APOA are the rank and file officers and detective who take respond to calls and investigate crimes.
But after the events of the last few weeks, another symptom of distrust seems to be growing: Apathy. If the sworn officers and detectives that make up more than 80% of the APD and APOA are unconcerned about abuse of their own funds and continued deterioration of their own department, what can the citizens really expect out of services from them? If the officers are indifferent to these monumental challenges facing their own organizations, then how will they care about the challenges facing victims of crime? Officers tell us that there is plenty of documentation showing ex-president Sigala and others abused union funds on a regular basis and in the worst of ways. Our legal Eyes also tell us, it does not take the board of a labor union to invite the commencement of a criminal investigation, rather it takes the brave actions of one union member to make a call. We wonder how deep the apathy affecting members of the APOA runs?
Spirited engagement and inspiration will destroys apathy because it satisfies the needs so many are craving: hope. There is no better time for a leader to step up and challenge the status quo than in moments such as these. A blogger recently posted that it is time for somebody to stand in the gap. We couldn’t agree more.