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Editorial: Stop police union checks

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In 2012 the Albuquerque Police Officers Association stopped cutting $500 checks to officers involved in a shooting and switched to cutting reimbursement checks for up to $500 to officers involved in a shooting.

But the fact officers must submit airline, gasoline, hotel and restaurant receipts doesn’t change the perception there’s an all-expenses-paid vacation on the other side of shooting someone. The practice needed to end then, and it needs to end now.

While APOA Vice President Shaun Willoughby is correct when he says that having to make the split-second decision to pull a service weapon and fire is “one of the most life-changing events in a police officer’s life,” allowing a system that could be construed as “bounty” doesn’t help the officer or his/her department. In fact, it hurts both.

APD Chief Gorden Eden has called the practice “disturbing” because it appears to “only apply to officers who are involved in shooting incidents and not provided on an individualized basis to those other officers who also face traumatic events.”

Mayor Richard Berry wants it to end and says “anything that the union does that has the appearance of rewarding officers who are involved in officer-involved shootings tarnishes the reputation of this department.”

APD officers put their lives on the line every day. Their union should not continue to allow a misguided practice that puts their reputations on the line, as well.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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