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Two officers put on leave over social media posts

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Two Albuquerque police officers have been placed on administrative leave as the department looks into their social media posts.

Gilbert Gallegos, an Albuquerque Police Department spokesman, said APD is investigating whether the officers violated the department’s social media policy. Gallegos did not respond to further questions on what the posts were about or when they were made.

He said, in general, the Albuquerque Police Department’s social media policy is intended to “protect the department from content or speech that would impair its efficiency or damage the reputation and trust the Department has or is building with the community.”

The revelations come at a time of immense friction between the public and police across the nation, including Albuquerque, as a movement to reform police departments takes hold. Most recently, local leaders, activists and community members criticized the Albuquerque Police Department’s handling and response to a recent shooting during the protest of a statue near Old Town.

Shaun Willoughby, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, said there has been an “uptick” of investigations regarding social media.

He said he hasn’t personally seen anything “egregious” or “out of bounds” in posts. And he understands their urge to be heard.

“Police officers are frustrated and they want to have a voice, they want to engage in this conversation,” Willoughby said. “They get sucked into this world of social media and they get complained on.”

With the social media policy in place and more officers wanting to speak out, he said the union is rolling out a new program Saturday – posting a letter from an anonymous officer on Facebook.

Willoughby said they are asking officers who “want to be a part of this conversation” to send letters to the APOA and selected letters will be posted.

“Your police department’s frustrated, they feel a lack of support. They want to speak, they want to engage, they want to tell their truths,” he said. “… We’re going to try to give these officers an avenue – without the fear of retaliation, online bullying and exposing themselves and getting in trouble with the administration.”

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