After delay, city says bonuses will be paid to new officers
January 16, 2018 10:10 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- They were promised a lot to come protect the streets, but KOB learned some new Albuquerque Police Department officers still hadn't received bonus checks and moving expenses after months on the force.
Within about a half hour of KOB's phone calls to APD and Mayor Tim Keller's office on Tuesday, the Albuquerque Police Officers Association was assured the delayed payments are back on track. However, the union's president said he's disappointed the call was necessary in the first place.
"We need to upset the morale of a young two-year police officer like we need a hole in the head," said APOA President Shaun Willoughby.
Willoughby said he was frustrated by phone calls he received last year while Richard Berry was still mayor of Albuquerque. Six new police officers -- recruited with the promise of a signing bonus, and reimbursed moving and travel expenses -- still didn't have their checks.
"These are young guys that we're asking to spend the next 25 years with us," Willoughby said.
Then on Dec. 1, 2017, Keller took office. Willoughby said he started making the rounds to collect those payments with renewed hope, calling up the chain of command all the way to the city legal department.
"We did everything we could to exhaust all of the means of communications to get this rectified in a timely fashion," Willoughby said.
Willoughby told KOB requests to reimburse those new officers and pay them their signing bonuses went unanswered by the Keller administration. KOB reached out to APD and Keller's office on Tuesday to ask them about the delay in payment. The union got a call from Keller's office shortly after.
"One phone call from you today and I get a phone call that this has been corrected," Willoughby said. "And that makes me very happy."
Keller's Communications Director Alicia Manzano said the final approval of those payments was signed by the new administration's Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair after a month in office on Dec. 29. Moving and travel expenses should show up on those officer's coming paychecks.
Willoughby said the union had no idea the documents had been signed until Tuesday, a full two weeks after the payments were approved by Nair, according to the city.
"It's kind of frustrating that even for the CAO of this administration to have to go through this much red tape to do what was already promised to these guys," Willoughby said. "It's ineffective and inefficient."
Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said the signing bonuses are paid in installments per department policy, and will also make it to those officers in question.
When asked about the delay between Keller taking office and Nair approving the payments, Manzano said: "The administration made this a priority, authorizing the bonuses in a timely manner, making sure the officers received them at each stage as agreed upon."
Updated: January 16, 2018 10:10 PM
Created: January 16, 2018 09:27 PM
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