One of the most powerful political groups in the great City of Albuquerque is the police union…at least during my time there several years ago.
Without that sweet police union endorsement, it’s actually difficult to get elected as mayor.
Spouses and families of police officers flood voting booths for the candidate who’s going to raise salaries.
Make those pay-raise promises & lay off the police discipline during your first term and you’ll have a good chance of keeping your seat the second term while keeping the police union happy.
Backing your chief 100% no matter what the citizenry says helps too.
This is perhaps why past mayors have been reluctant to even acknowledge an excessive force problem with the Albuquerque Police Department.
Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, as the old cliché goes.
While the union’s power may have slipped under Berry, their strength echoes in the current system that makes it difficult to fire an officer or administer discipline.
I could be completely wrong, but that’s just my analysis based on the 9 years I spent reporting in the city.
It’s taken boisterous protests in the streets and finally a Federal investigation for someone to acknowledge a problem.
“A disconnect exists between officers and residents about the perception of overly aggressive conduct by officers. We observed that many officers were dismissive of community concerns. For instance, many officers complained that the media generated the complaints about their perceived aggressiveness in citizen encounters. Some officers complained that citizens were the ones who were aggressive towards them” –DOJ Report on Albuquerque Police
It’s true the media are also sometimes at fault for not doing enough to hold the department accountable.
Sycophant reporters will not scrutinize the department because they need to have their calls returned by police sources on the next major crime story.
Crime stories win in local Albuquerque news as viewers drive this appetite.
People want to know whose mug shot is going to land on the six o’clock news.
People want the crime coverage and local TV gives it to them because that’s what the research tells them to do.
Do a bad story about APD and you won’t get information for your lead story.
That’s a de facto rule within APD and there’s no doubt department public information officers know the power they wield with some local media.
This is a toxic relationship that has curbed critical reporting.
It’s been said many times people get the government they deserve.
The same goes for their media.
But what’s next?
In the wake of today’s news, I saw people asking “So what’s City Hall gonna do? What’s the DOJ gonna do now?”
Those questions are fine, but I have my own question.
What are VOTERS going to do now?
A politician is often tone deaf to protest because they know the people who are spray painting buildings don’t vote.
The sound of a pen on a ballot makes more noise.