As you may have noticed from the comments left on this blog, Eye On Albuquerque enjoys a large law enforcement readership. Our Eyes over at APD tell us that it's no surprise that the Chief's job approval rating was so low... it mirrors the morale of APD's rank and file.
There are a number of reasons officers give for their dissatisfaction, but generally speaking it boils down to a feeling that the 5th floor is not treating them fairly. Take for example the case of Detective Sergeant John Guilmette.
Sergeant Guilmette worked as a supervisor in the Impact unit at APD. The Impact unit investigates just about every type of crime excluding homicides and rapes. On October 1, 2006, Detective Guilmette was deployed to Iraq.
(Sidebar)Sergeant Guilmette resumed his law enforcement career with APD July 2nd, after an 9 month deployment (that's 3/4 of a year to those of you on the 5th floor). His position in the Impact unit, that had been left vacant for almost his entire 9 month deployment, had just been filled. Since he held the rank of sergeant and is qualified to be a detective, Sergeant Guilmette requested to be assigned to any other detective unit.
It takes a special person to answer his country's call to arms. As hard as it is to be a police officer here in Albuquerque, it's infinitely harder to face brutal adversaries whose only objective is to kill you in the most graphic and highly visible manner possible. Terrorists make our worst gang-bangers look like small school children by comparison.
Seems reasonable to us that an officer who is qualified to be a detective and holds the rank of sergeant should at the very least be returned to an equivalent position as a detective. In fact that's exactly what federal law says.
If you are eligible to be reemployed, you must be restored to the job andTo us this isn't the least bit ambiguous. Service men and women who are eligible to be reemployed (those serving for 5 years or less of cumulative service with a specific employer), must be returned to their job and benefits. Not only can you not be penalized for you absence, but job advancement is also required. The worst case scenario for a returning service man or woman is that they must be given a comparable job.
benefits you would have attained if you had not been absent due to
military service or, in some cases, a comparable job.
The brain trust on the 5th floor (specifically Deputy Chief Michael Calloway) didn't see it that way. DC Callway not only denied Sergeant Guillmette's request to be assigned to any detective unit, but he returned him to uniformed duty.
Now, uniformed sergeants make the same pay as detective sergeants. However, detective sergeants must be qualified through testing to become a detective sergeant. In other words, a uniformed sergeant can't just bid (the bid system allows officers to move from one position to another based on seniority) to be a detective sergeant. A detective sergeant can choose to enter the bid process and put his uniform back on.
Sergeant Guillmette of course contacted his attorney (What does it say when every officer has an attorney?) who contacted the city attorney's office. When asked about Detective Guillmette's case, the city attorney confirmed that APD must return Detective Guillmette to his job and subsequently notified APD and DC Calloway of the requirement.
Despite the notification by the city attorney's office and despite the very clear language in USERRA, DC Calloway refused to return Sergeant Guillmette to his position as a detective. To make matters worse, Sergeant Guillmette was subsequently assigned a vehicle with over 90,000 miles at a time when every other uniformed sergeant is being assigned brand new Chevy Tahoes. (Can you say reprisal?) Vehicles, like many things, are assigned on the basis of seniority and Detective Guillmette has over 20 years of service with APD.
Our Eyes tell us that the Chief's position is that a sergeant, is a sergeant, is a sergeant. With the additional requirements to become a detective sergeant that is clearly not true. In addition, the Eyes have it that there are detective sergeant slots available.
According to our Eyes, Detective Sergeant Guillmette contacted another veteran, Congresswoman Heather Wilson, for help today. It seems that he already has his attorney, the law, the city attorney (although don't expect them to admit it when their client gets charged with a USERRA violation), and hopefully his congresswoman on his side.
It's too bad that while Detective Guillmette was braving IEDs and terrorists in Iraq, that the 5th floor was busy stabbing him in the back at home. It's no wonder APD has a morale problem. They simply don't support their own troops.
It has been called to our attention that we made two errors in the above post. The first, we referred to an 18 month deployment, which was actually 9. The second, lest we start taking ourselves too seriously - had Detective Guillmette braving enemy birth control in Iraq (IUDs), when in reality he was braving IEDs. We are currently unaware of any incidents where our troops were endangered by enemy IUDs. Both errors have been corrected in the above post. Sorry for the confusion and the unintentional humor.