ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A new survey by the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Union shows just how low morale is among officers at the department with many saying they’re considering a career change. Eighty-five percent of responding officers say they’re thinking about leaving the department.
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“They feel handcuffed, they’re frustrated that the citizens are frustrated, and nobody is allowed to do police work,” said the President of APOA, Shaun Willoughby.
Willoughby says 137 officers have already resigned this year along with the response to the initial question there are 13 pages of comments explaining what would need to happen within the department to get officers to stay. Things like hiring more police officers and an overhaul of the use of force policy are repeated multiple times.
The survey also asks officers if they would recommend a career in law enforcement to those seeking employment, 60% of the respondents said no. “I don’t know a single police officer who would recommend the Albuquerque Police Department as a place of employment,” Willoughby said.
The survey also asked officers what they believe is contributing to the growing crime problem in the city. A lot of the responses say they’d recommend a career in law enforcement but they’d advise joining a different department.
More than 400 officers responded to the survey, a little less than half of them say that Department of Justice constraints are the biggest contributor to the crime problem in the city.
Willoughby says it’s time for APD to start dictating policy for the department saying they have a right to identify things that are not working and fix them. One of those things he says is the use of force policy. He says officers are spending hours of their day being investigated by Internal Affairs for use of force when they could be out on the streets fighting crime.
“You have citizens in this community that are waiting for a police response for hours, simply because a police officer is being investigated because a bad guy said to ow,” said Willoughby.
Willoughby says the revolving door criminal justice system is also part of the problem, not only for the city’s crime rate but also morale in the department. The fewest number of officers cited drugs, gangs and guns as a top factor in the city’s crime problem but the lack of officers was on the list.
APD sent the following statement Friday:
We have acknowledged and been up front about the fact that officers are not happy with the DOJ settlement agreement and the focus on discipline. At the same time, the Court-appointed monitors are coming out with a new report that once again criticizes the department for not doing enough to discipline officers.
The fact is we are working with the DOJ and the Congressional delegation to push back against unreasonable demands from the monitoring team, while working toward compliance and lasting reform.
I would also point out that 61% of voters in a recent survey support the job our police officers are doing. Public support is essential for our department to be effective.