ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Albuquerque police officer who recently retired after more than 25 years with the department has filed a lawsuit accusing the department of retaliating against him after he raised questions about Albuquerque police instructors’ certifications.
The lawsuit also raises questions about the validity of the certifications of Albuquerque police’s current defensive-tactics instructors and the hundred or so officers they have taught.
Former officer John Corvino on Thursday filed a complaint for damages for whistle-blower protection act violations against the department, Chief Gorden Eden and Lt. Michael Archibeque, and Joe Wolf, the former director of the police academy.
The lawsuit alleges that, in October 2013, Archibeque and Wolf used an uncertified instructor to teach about two dozen police officers “intermediate force” and “ground control” courses. After passing the courses, the police officers became certified instructors on those topics and are teaching Albuquerque police cadets, according to the suit.
Corvino said he told department officials and the Law Enforcement Academy Board that the police officers shouldn’t have become certified instructors, and he was retaliated against, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit said that Corvino was ordered to have no further communication with law enforcement academy personnel, and Archibeque wrote a letter to the academy that said the courses were legitimate and told Corvino to sign his name at the bottom, making him appear to be the author.
Police also started an internal affairs investigation into Corvino, after which Eden handed down an 80-hour unpaid suspension. Eden cited insubordination, bringing the department into disrepute and releasing confidential material as reasons for the suspension, according to the suit.
“John Corvino was a role model for everything cops should be like,” Thomas Grover, Corvino’s attorney, said in an interview. “That he had to go through this shows how far this department has come down.”
Corvino raised questions about Albuquerque police’s use-of-force instructors’ certifications during the time when the Department of Justice was investigating APD for its use of force. The investigation concluded last year that the department had a pattern of excessive force.
“Corvino sought to intervene to correct invalid training and certification in order to keep the department from disrepute and further harm,” Grover said in the lawsuit. “As a consequence of his efforts to ensure defensive tactics training was compliant with state rules … Eden, Wolf and Archibeque retaliated against Corvino.”
Grover also said in the suit that Eden and the academy personnel never attempted to remedy the situation and the police department’s use-of-force instructors continue to teach police cadets defensive tactics.
“The validity of as many as one hundred police officers’ certifications remains in question and in doubt because of the invalid training provided to them,” Grover said, adding that one of Corvino’s goals for the suit is to ensure that Albuquerque police instructors have their proper certification.
An Albuquerque police spokeswoman declined to comment.