Controversial APD practice continues despite mayor's calls to stop it

Updated: 05/29/2014 10:33 PM | Created: 05/29/2014 10:32 PM
By: Danielle Todesco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Many thought a controversial practice by the Albuquerque Police Officers Union had stopped. But now we know that officers involved in critical incidents are still getting reimbursed for trips to get away from the stress, despite the mayor's calls to stop it.

That practice has been around for as long as the union has: Officers involved in something like a shooting can get reimbursed for up to $500 dollars in hotel costs or travel expenses to get away from the public attention.

In 2012, this practice came under fire and many thought it stopped. But it never did.

Union President Stephanie Lopez says they have no plans to stop it. Lopez says it's important to support the officers.

"We try to do as much as we can to provide that camaraderie and that unity as well," Lopez said Thursday.

The Albuquerque mayor's office released this statement about the matter:

"The Mayor strongly condemned this practice in the past and he continues to condemn it today. While the Mayor and the City cannot dictate how the union spends its dues, the Mayor urges the union to end this practice now."

The Albuquerque Police Department said in a statement that Chief Gorden Eden was not aware of the practice and was "very disturbed" to learn about it.

Lopez said they feel the officers are under attack from the public after a critical incident, and need to get away from the scrutiny.  

"If an officer feels that during the time that their name is being hit in the media or there's negative attention being brought on them, and it seems now that it's been worse more so with Anonymous and all these other activists that we've had involved, it's never been that bad before," Lopez said.  "But when they're getting negative publicity, we want them and their family to have the ability to not be around."

Lopez said this is not just for officers involved in shootings. It is also a benevolence pay to help with funeral expenses if an officer loses an immediate family member.

The union has also used the money to help with travel expenses for officers who have sick children in out-of-state hospitals.

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