A quote from the film “A Few Good Men” emblazons the back of APOA t-shirts. It includes notions of honor, code, and loyalty. Honor, code, and loyalty are powerful words for if a person is to be faithful to such notions they will do what’s right, for the right reasons, regardless of who it’s for and what challenges face them.
For several years now, concerns about how the APOA leadership spends membership dues funds has always lurked in the background. In fact the Eye broke a story about how then APOA President Ron Olivas seemed to use the APOA credit card for personal expenses (yes, this is the same Ron Olivas who is now a paid employee for the APOA with duties we and APOA members are unclear about.) (Link for 04/04/08 story). We then followed up the story a year later with (link 05/25/09) where it seems little had been addressed despite there being outrage by the membership in general and by Sgt. Paul Heh in particular (link 05/30/09). Despite all of this attention our Eyes tell us little change occurred and now a crisis of confidence challenges APOA President Joey Sigala and Vice-President Felipe Garcia.
A couple of weeks ago the Albuquerque Journal ran a story regarding a leaked email from APOA lawyer Fred Mower. Mr. Mower expressed concern to Sigala and the Executive Board that the APOA’s fiscal house was in need of attention. Namely it seemed “self-paid” activities were consuming significant amounts of APOA funds and Mower raised questions about the APOA covering the cost impending costs associated with the wages lawsuit against the city and Mayor Berry. Now the story has evolved into something that has been a long standing practice between the APOA and officer involved in shootings. Because Sigala and Garcia have been inept in their handling of the issue, the mayor has entered the fray ordering the Chief to compel the APOA to stop its practice of paying funds for officers to help get out of Albuquerque when they’ve been involved in a shooting. From the spending of APOA funds at cigar shops to the mayor’s politicization of this issue, there are so many lies involved and being expressed by persons of leadership we can hardly keep up. These revelations however lead to more question as asked by current APOA members:
•Was personal spending of union funds by APOA President Olivas and now current APOA President Sigala ever explained and reigned in?
•How much has Sigala in fact paid himself in addition to his police salary?
•What hours worked justify this payment to Sigala?
•How much has Garcia been paid in addition to his police salary?
•What hours worked justify this payment to Sigala?
•How much were APOA executive board members in fact paid in Christmas bonuses? How long has this practice been going on?
•What other per diem funds has the APOA paid out to other members?
•What precisely is Ron Olivas’s job function within the APOA and what is salary, and what benefits does the APOA provide to him?
•Why does the APOA vigorously defend some officers in asserting their rights and abandon others?
•When exactly did President Sigala’s wife work at the APOA, what were her hours and how much money was she exactly paid?
•Why does Sigala remain silent in front of Chief Schultz’s lie about not being aware of the APOA policy to support officers after they’ve been involved in a shooting?
While we agree with the APOA that how they spend their money is none of the public’s concern. However it is of immediate concern to the membership. The membership expresses to us that there is unfair and unequal treatment as to how officers are represented by the APOA and they are concerned that if they speak out they will find themselves at odds with Sigala and Garcia who seem to practice personnel issues much like Chief Schultz: with vindictiveness. President Sigala said “he’d rather resign than do a cop.” If that the case, why did the APOA NOT represent APD Officer Doyle in his recent termination? Our eyes tell us Sigala had seen the disputed video with Chief Schultz well before a second IA inquiry yet did nothing to help Doyle keep his job. Why did the APOA not only fail to represent APD Officer Ahrensfield but provide cover and employment to Officer Olivas who facilitated the events that led to Ahrensfield’s termination? One officer was fired and faced criminal charges while the other got three weeks off and now works for the APOA. Why is President Sigala granting cover to Chief Schultz who knew and always has known about the APOA’s payment to officers after shooting incidents? The facts supporting these questions reveal there is much merit to the claim that the APOA picks and chooses what battles it’s going to fight rather than following the words offered on its t-shirts: Honor, Code, and Loyalty.
Lastly, and possibly most unsettling, the Mayor has inserted himself into an issue that he has no stake in. If he in fact can order the APOA to stop spending money in this instance, can he order the APOA to stop spending money in other instances? If the APOA wants to support a candidate who opposes Berry in the next election, can he order the APOA to keep from spending money in support of the candidate?
These are some of the biggest issues to yet challenge the APOA and APD in the history of their institutions. We at the Eye believe in Honor, Code, and Loyalty amongst the profession of police officers. Our advice to all of the APD officers out there is to step up and get involved because you are seeing the destruction of two noble institutions at the hands of people who prey upon your lack of involvement.
The Piercing Truth
This is right from the dictionary and seems to describe Albuquerque, Berry and Schultz. Fascism (f ash ,izem) noun An authoritarian right wing system of government and/or social organization. (in general use) extreme right wing, authoritarian, chauvinistic and/or intolerant views or practices. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one group over another, national, ethnic, especially social strata or monetarily; a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. Compliments of one of our Eyes