Friday, January 22, 2010

Bad Cops, Bad Union Leaders.

A horrible video has popped up in the Santa Fe and New Mexico news media. Every profession has its share of bad people. There are doctors who rape people while they are under anesthesia. There are lawyers who steal peoples life earnings, teachers who take advantage sexually of the students whose lives are entrusted to them, and even priests who abuse children sexually. There are bad people in my chosen profession also. Yes there are bad cops, cops who make all the rest of us look bad.

Every day there are thousands of cops who do the right thing and they will never make the headlines with as big of a splash or stay in the headlines as long as the ones who do bad. Unfortunately there are two ways a cop makes the headlines for more than a day. When they are a bad cop and when they die in the line of duty.

The current case is now becoming a part of the political scene. A local race for mayor is being thrust into the police abuse that occurred in 2007. Usually the incumbent mayor is saddled with the burden of anything an officer does under his watch, even though the mayor really does not have any direct oversight of the individual officers. In this race the shoe is on the other foot. The leading opponent of Mayor David Coss has aligned herself with the police and fire unions. Asenath Kepler initially garnered the police union endorsement after deep divides in the police union allowed Allen Lopez to become president and Adam Gallegos to become Vice President. I know both officers well, I was Allen's training officer in 1989 or 1990 when he was a young rookie and Adam worked for the Sheriff's Office before his discontent and anti management views drove him to leave and go work for the City Police. I thought that Adam would start over at the city and leave his discontent behind but from all indications he has transferred that discontent to a new police administration. It is unfortunately also my understanding that Allen Lopez has joined the ranks of the malcontent as well.

At the Santa Fe City Police the union has a history of electing those who are most vocal against the administration or those who have an axe to grind. This is unfortunate since the growth and success of the police department is dependent upon good management/union relations. What union members there have not yet figured out is that smart effective union leaders are better for the union as a whole than angry ineffective leaders. It is worse when those leaders are facing disciplinary actions themselves or have had a troubled past. The Santa Fe Police Officers Association (the union) is a chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police. I have great respect and admiration for the Fraternal Order of Police as I was the former local Vice-President of the F.O.P. and former union president of the P.O.A. . However locally the F.O.P. and P.O.A. have become wayward children of the National Organization. The Santa Fe F.O.P. is near bankruptcy and the P.O.A. is in shambles.

On top of all that we come back to the incident I started this blog post with. The reprehensible beating of the 17 year old suspect who was in handcuffs at the time is embarrassing to watch and there is no way to justify what happened on that day. Yet Sergeant Allen Lopez the police president continues to give statements to the media that these officers, two of whom were fired, should have kept their jobs. There is statements from the mayor that the police union pressured him to intervene in the firings and indications that the reasons the police union did not endorse Mayor Coss was because the mayor refused to intervene. In another city police disciplinary described in a story in the Santa Fe Reporter an officers testimony about an incident was proven to be false in audio recordings and he was fired. The mayor was also asked to intervene and again the police union president was claiming termination was too harsh. An officers word means everything in court and when you are caught in a lie your career is over. As a former City Police Union President I can say it was unethical and outside of the provisions of the Union Contract to ask the mayor to intervene in these disciplinary actions. I give big kudos to Mayor Coss for not allowing politics and union pressure to enter in to what was the right thing to do.

When a union president allows himself to be portrayed in the media as defending bad officers their credibility in the public becomes unreliable and their influence on the public for political endorsements and asking for the public's help when it is time for raises and other needs becomes diminished. As a former union president I can say that the union has a responsibility to assist its members through the disciplinary process and support them to a conclusion. They need to balance that responsibility with their responsibility to provide effective leadership to the rest of the union members as well and allowing the union to look foolish in the media and the public eye does not further their cause. Yes there are bad cops and the rest of us in law enforcement must speak out the loudest when we see them disrespect the profession we all love. Only then will the public believe that we are not all the same.



Betsy said...

i hope one of those lawyers you don't like sues the crap out of the city and the cop. most lawyers don't steal peoples' life earnings. we defend people.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Greg Solano, to supporting zero tolerance of police misconduct. Rarely does police brutality get caught on video, and even more rarely do officers truthfully testify against each other. When clear use of inappropriate force is unequivocally caught on video, We must act to weed out the officers who have a lack of judgment around use of force. We can't allow the mentality that the police are the "biggest gang" in town, who can use intimidation tactics to counter the threat of teen gang members.

-Sean Knight, Pojoaque

Lilly said...

This took a lot of guts to write and what was really out of line was for the union to stick up for these officers. Did they not see the video of the beating? Or listen to the audio tapes of the officer lying that he identified himself as an officer? And when is Adam Gallegos going to be fired for being a stalker/peeping tom!

Anonymous said...

After several reviews of this video I noticed that this video appears to be altered. The boy in the back has his jacket off then the boy has his jacket on in same frame (a minor glitch). Also, the officer standing by the boy in the back also appears out of no where. The officer in the middle was not in the room then in the room by the table. Where did he come from? I dont see him entering the room. Lots of disappearing and appearing going on in only a few seconds of video. What was the reaction time for these officers appears to me to be like in a few seconds? Or did it seem so long because its so altered? Seems like the officer is stuck with the waste basket. The jacket trick got me to really question what happened. Also, the video has four officers in the room. Why did only three get punished, and the fourth has no mention? Clearly he is watching. Why was that officer not mentioned in any article for bad behavior? It is scary that perception can be used in so many ways.

lisa said...

Bad officers are out there. And no matter the profession, public service is just that- service. Protect and serve happens to be what police swear to uphold. Unfortunately there does seem to be some type of misrepresentation with regards to the video. The one officer did go overboard with force used, (why did he and what time frame is unclear). However, I can't tell what the other officers saw, or that mysterious fourth officer did or saw. Both my young sons want to be police officers and I have done my best to instil honor and duty in their moral makeup. I hope that punishments fit crimes, and that officers who had really no part were not punished. Maybe a repremand for not stopping the other officer. We are all entitled to a vigorous defense no matter what, and I believe that justice will prevail. To make a judgement or put all the officers in the same class as teachers who pray on children or rapists, is just wrong. I do hope the truth comes out, completely, and if something was tampered with, then I also hope that it too becomes clear and rectified. I do thank all those who serve and protect and bless those who give their lives everyday so that me and my family have a safe world.

Anonymous said...

A million miles of respect for your vital presence in society Mr. Solano. Law is necessary. Truth is this...
That kid listens to rap, likes gangster movies and wants a lot of money, like most arrested in that age range nowadays. 50 cent tells 'em to do it, but does 50 really feel that way? Or is he payed to? Why would he get paid to promote such ideals intentionally? This is hard, but the cure for cancer is cansema, medical marijuana and mms. 27,000 kids die a day from starvation, bio fuel is made from corn and over 5 million gas tanks get it a day, all the while hydrocell technology has been successful for over 2 centuries. I don't lie and I can go on forever. Free energy is a reality while the public is blinded by subject matter of no real importance and shuffled through that beastly justice system. Tell me you can't change these people with a different approach. If you tried, then you'd see what we're up against, similar to the kid in the tape, near hopeless. Meanwhile 50 releases another album with hidden frequencies you can't hear and kids start piling in the doors, cuffed and ready to learn the workings of the underworld. Gotta get the head of the beast and I trust it's not 50.

Thank you.

AnnaMarie said...

No matter what appears in the frames there is no reason what so ever to treat someone like that. Obviously the teen was in handcuffs and if he was telling the officer anything the officer should have ignored it (don't they know words can never hurt you guess not) that is totally uncalled for and all of the officers should have been fired.