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Cop Union Rips Pay Boost as a “Joke”

Cop Union Rips Pay Boost as a “Joke”

"They don't care about us" — president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Associate

The City Council’s attempt to give Albuquerque police officers longevity pay increases contingent on the city meeting its quarterly revenue projections is a “joke” and a crude attempt at “playing politics” by the five councilors who voted for it, the head of the city’s police union said Tuesday.

Shaun Willoughby, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, was so upset at the council’s budget vote on Monday night that he urged all cops who are thinking of retiring to do so now.

But Councilor Patrick Davis, who sponsored the measure, said it was the best the city could do considering its poor revenue situation. And he said the police union originally asked for a whopping $15 million in pay raises despite having gotten raises in the past two years.

Giving the police union all it wanted could have resulted in layoffs of other city workers down the road, Davis said.

Willoughby was brutal in his attacks on the councilors.

“Every city police officer considering retirement needs to run because they don’t care about us,” Willoughby said. “They [councilors] don’t care about solving the problem. This is not going to get ratified [by union members]. This is a joke. They should be embarrassed even talking about it.”

The council voted 5-4 Monday to give officers longevity pay of up to $13,000 a year, but only if the city meets its quarterly revenue projections. Under the plan, the city would spend $1 million a quarter on longevity pay.

Councilors Brad Winter, Trudy Jones, Davis, Isaac Benton and Diane Gibson voted for the retention pay package. Councilors Ken Sanchez, Dan Lewis, Klarissa Peña and Don Harris opposed it.

But the problem lies with the city meeting its revenue goals, a situation that is beyond the city’s or the police union’s control.

The metro area has been mired in a stagnant economy for nearly 10 years and has yet to regain all the jobs it lost during the recession. And, for the current fiscal year, the city has fallen short of its projected gross receipts tax revenue.

For the current year, the city originally projected that GRT revenues would come in 2.9 percent higher than last year. Then the projection was lowered to 2.3 percent. And for the first 10 months of the year, those GRT revenues are only 1 percent higher than last year, according to city figures.

GRT money funds 64 percent of the city’s general fund budget.

“The APOA came to us and asked for $15 million in pay raises that would have benefited senior officers more than the rank-and-file, and they did not have a way to pay for it,” Davis said.

“In the two years since I have been on the council, this will have been the third increase for raises and bonuses and longevity to keep retiring officers on the force, and it is working.”

In 2015, the council threw $8 million at APD for raises, retention bonuses and to settle a lawsuit the union had brought against the city.

Davis continued: “Never has the progressive wing of the council and the mayor’s office agreed on so many sort of different strategies to deal with public safety in a comprehensive way, but the APOA has not been a good partner. You can’t do anything nice.”

Davis said that giving officers raises without having the recurring revenue in place would be a disaster that could lead to layoffs of other city employees, especially if the city’s revenue picture doesn’t improve. He likened the situation to former mayor Marty Chavez’s final year in office when he gave large pay raises to police officers and firefighters.

But then the recession hit and incoming Mayor Richard Berry was forced to deal with massive budget deficits. In the end, Berry forced all city workers to take pay cuts in order to close the budget gap and prevent layoffs, Davis said.

Willoughby said that Berry’s administration and councilors need to be honest with city residents about their priorities.

“If they were honest they would tell the public that this [public safety] is not a priority,” Willoughby said. “They don’t care about increased crime and they don’t care about staffing the police department properly.”

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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  • Thomas Grover
    May 16, 2017, 8:31 pm

    Lord knows I’ve been publicly critical of the APOA and some of its prior actions upon members but I can’t be more proud of Shawn Willoughby’s passion and effort to call this mess for what it is: total trainwreck.

    REPLY
  • Thomas Grover
    May 16, 2017, 8:31 pm

    Lord knows I’ve been publicly critical of the APOA and some of its prior actions upon members but I can’t be more proud of Shawn Willoughby’s passion and effort to call this mess for what it is: total trainwreck.

    REPLY
  • Aya
    May 16, 2017, 8:35 pm

    Unmentioned is exactly how much revenue the city expects the police to raise.
    Biggest problem with policing these days is that it is for-profit, so the politicians can lay waste to their budgets and find the money to cover for their mistakes.
    once you’re asking for monetary productivity and rewarding it in your police departments, you get lies, fraud and deciet.
    And once you have that, the cops are no longer feeling safe, because they’ve lied to make arrests and lied to get convictions, and they’re haunted, looking over their shoulder all the time.
    As it snowballs, you see more police violence because they’re haunted and scared, and you see more criminals making them feel that way, because when you railroad some guy who is already prone to violence, I guess you’d be stupid not to expect him to show up behind you some time.
    The crooks who get caught by honest officers hold no grudges, they took a chance and knew how the game was played, and they got caught. It’s the ones the cops lie about that are making the cops want extra money for tanks and bazookas. They want to be able to kill guys at a whim because that way, they could lie to get the arrests and convictions the politicians force them to make, and then kill the guys who they know would slip a knife between their ribs, given half a chance.
    The real criminals know the cops aren’t going near them, because the cops have done enough to be in danger themselves, so we got those guys running around feeling free to do whatever they please.
    The cops are scared and tired of feeling scared, so they don’t want to go anywhere where they know someone has good reason to hate them.
    Lay it all on the crooked, incompetent politicians, demanding the cops create a revenue stream…part of the blame then goes to the cops for being dumb enough to play along….
    Hey, politicians? Let’s get some jobs back here instead of prostituting yourselves to the highest bidder and helping all the work get outsourced all the time, and let’s make some training available to people without you trying to make education a massive profit center, and let’s quit using the jail as someplace to put everyone you disenfranchise…then maybe cops can arrest people who deserve it, leave poor and jobless people alone, quit making so many enemies, quit making lying hypocrites out of themselves and hating themselves and everyone around them for the situation they’re in and being able to walk around feeling a bit of self-esteem and not fear and recriminations all the time, instead…and maybe you might see this get more manageable….but I gotta tell ya, as long as you think doubling down on the crap that made cops criminals and destroyed the economy is the best way to solve the mess you created, you’re only gonna keep watching it get worse….and you get to be remembered as the creators of a lot of sh*t for the rest of time.
    I don’t envy you politicians your legacy.
    No one worth knowing would talk to you…and the praise of the people dumb enough to like and trust you is coming from people dumb enough to like and trust you, so it’s completely hollow praise….you see where you’re at?
    You’re not worth knowing at all, as you sit.
    What a horrible realization that must be….

    REPLY
  • Daniel
    May 17, 2017, 10:56 am

    Hey Shawn,

    The feeling is mutual. You and your ilk’s work product is a "joke".

    REPLY
  • Isaac Padilla
    May 17, 2017, 11:15 am

    Please do not rewrite history.
    The crisis started during the 2008 election.
    McCain suspended his election in September of 2008.
    U.S. GDP declined by 0.3% in 2008 and 2.8% in 2009 and started to rebound in 2010.
    Albuquerque was impacted in 2008 and 2009.
    Council took action in 2009 for the FY09 and FY10 budgets.
    Obama’s stimulus package passed in February of 2009.
    Mayor Berry did not take office until December 1, 2009.
    He introduced his first budget, the FY11 budget, in 2010.
    Mayor Chavez and council had already made adjustments to solve most of the revenue shortfalls before Berry came to office.

    REPLY
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