Friday, February 18, 2011
Police Union Votes 'No Confidence'
By Astrid Galvan
Journal Staff Writer
The Albuquerque police union has voted "no confidence" in Public Safety Director Darren White, making it the second such vote in the lawman's career.
The daylong voting resulted in 84 percent of votes against White, union president Joey Sigala said. More than half of the union's approximate 1,100 members voted, the biggest turnout in a long time, Sigala said.
White refused to comment on the vote Thursday, though Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry weighed in, saying he still has confidence in White.
Sigala said the vote was held because of general dissatisfaction with White, who gave up his sheriff post in Bernalillo County to be the city's top public safety official. Sigala said White's decisions have caused low morale among officers.
"One of the other things we take a lot of issue with is his lack of allowing (Police Chief Ray Schultz) to be the chief," Sigala said.
Union members decided to hold a no-confidence election at a meeting in January. At the time, the union was at odds with White and city administrators over the revised take-home car policy that mandated officers live within 11 miles of the Big I to take their cruisers home.
The union and the city eventually came to an agreement that will allow all current officers to take their cars home in exchange for three incentives that city officials said will save about $1 million a year.
The no-confidence vote will not have an effect on White's job.
"We know it's a symbolic motion and it's not gonna change Darren's position," Sigala said. "I have no doubt that if he chooses to run for office again someone will take advantage of (the vote) as well."
Berry, who appointed White to his spot, stood by him on Thursday.
"In order to balance the budget during these tough economic times, Darren and I have had to make some unpopular decisions in the best interest of taxpayers and to keep our police officers employed. Darren and all of our APD officers win my vote of confidence as well as the community's when we see an 18 percent drop in property crime," Berry said in a written statement.
This was the second no-confidence vote for White.
In 1999, the New Mexico State Police Officers Association voted no confidence because they felt White wasn't doing enough to get State Police needed equipment and cars. White said at the time, the association's charges against him were "ridiculous."