City cuts military benefits for officers despite contract

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE)- Shaun Willoughby, the President of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, is downright angry for members of the Albuquerque Police Department who are also members of the military.

“This is shameful what’s going on here,” said Willoughby.

He said in March, the city cut benefits promised to officers who also serve in the military.

“We started getting phone calls from military veterans overseas wondering what happened to their military time benefit,” said Willoughby.

He said in a contract with the City of Albuquerque, officers serving would be given up to 420 hours pay a year while serving the National Guard or reserves.

“Unilaterally just one day in March it stopped,” said Willoughby.

He said the city is now only paying up to 150 hours, equal to about nineteen days of work.

In August in Washington D.C., the Department of Defense honored the City for the program. Police Chief Gordon Eiden accepted the award, but Willoughby said by that point, benefits had already been cut for at least five months.

“I’m a little bit concerned because this community and the taxpayers of this community have always supported our veterans that are on deployment,” said city council member Ken Sanchez addressing the issue at the most recent city council meeting.

The Mayor’s Chief Administrative Officer responded: “We’re working with human resources to try and resolve the issue,” said Rob Perry.

Perry went on to say the 150 hours refers to a cap on being paid for military training, he said the City wants to make sure police officers aren’t taking advantage of the extra pay.

“There’s a few officers that are volunteering for this because it’s lucrative, you’re double dipping, you’re being paid by the military while you’re on the military order and you’re secondly being paid by the city, the full salary,” said Perry.

He also released this statement today:

The City has earned the National Civilian Employer Award from the Secretary of Defense twice. The award recognizes the City’s rich benefits and commitment to our employees that serve as citizen soldiers.

Our benefits, including paid leave for up to 430 hours per year, far surpass what our counterparts at the State or County provide. We have simply asked for documentation and records from the union to support these rich benefits.

I am truly disappointed that union bosses would attempt to mislead the media and the public on a day when we should all be honoring our veterans.

But, Willoughby said the city can’t ever give the Union a clear reason for the policy change, “They can’t really hone in on exactly what their problem is.”

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