“We are El Paso’s Finest”
Several months ago one of the largest administrative investigations began involving several overtime grants overseen by the El Paso Police Department. This massive investigation involved several hundred members of our Family in Blue. El Pasowas not the only city in Texaswho suffered under the watchful eyes of the State, but so far has been the hardest hit. At the onset of the investigation I guesstimated about 20 officers would be involved and the department would have to repay almost one million dollars in grant overtime payments based on the involvement of other cities and what they were looking into. Well, the administrative IAD investigations have been completed, with just over 400 officers being investigated and hundreds cleared from any wrong doing, after a very complicated and intense process. The majority of our officers did nothing wrong and had to suffer the stress of being investigated and later cleared. As the investigation started and numerous officers were being given the bad news, I realized that the investigation would not stay in the officers’ ranks and would rise up the chain-of-command to the top levels of our department. You can not have an investigation of this magnitude and not have supervisors who oversaw such a massive problem not be dragged into the investigation. As sergeant and lieutenants began being pulled into the mix, the no-brainer would be the next level of command; commanders and assistant chiefs. Now that our City Manager is feeling the financial hit, she wants to hold Chief Greg Allen responsible for the incident. Since he is the Chief he should be responsible for our actions and take appropriate actions, which he has. The conundrum that I have is when we are doing stellar job, every politician steps up and takes credit for what Chief Allen and our Family in Blue have accomplished, but now he's on his own, from what I see in the media.
What happened to working as a team and everybody taking a hit for this excrement? To cut and run when it gets bad is a coward’s way out; stand beside us and let’s see this to the end. The Chief has done nothing but hold this department together even after the budget cuts and stripping of his authority and personnel. He has lead us to the safest city in the nation designation twice, but now he is most likely going to be forced out or asked to leave in a quiet manner. If he does who's next! Are we going to get an out-of-towner like former Chief Russ Leach, or are we going to get some civilian commissioner with no law enforcement experience that has not been derived from a book? What’s next, non-cops leading cops, lawyers dictating what we do, or some ADAdirecting our efforts because of a conviction ratio? Remember, you can’t lead officers by reading a book and never working the streets. And before you ask, two months on the streets and 20 years behind a desk does not cut it either.
Now the big question is, who and how will the funds be repaid? Will the City of El Pasoopen the purse or just cut it from the EPPD's budget next year? Are we cutting academies since we are 400 officers short or taking it from equipment purchases? Where do you squeeze money from a rock since the City Manager has stripped our budget so much that we can’t even buy coffee at a police facility? Is it to come from the mysterious rainy day fund which has already been tapped over and over again? My fear is she will come to us and try, I repeat try, and ask us for some pay deferment again. Here’s a grand idea, let’s force the rest of the hard working officers to pay for the errors of others. My simple response to such an idea is, if you are asking the association for money then let us have control over the department and management since we have to pay the bill later on down the line. If we are paying the bills…then we run the show.
I guess the big question will be who will be asked to run the department, or is she going to let Chief Allen do his job and continue his job as our leader. I hope that 2012 will bring us a lot more officers and a budget that we can actually utilize to grow this department and not shrink it.
Only time will tell!