Santa Fe police union upset over changed requirements

Posted at: 01/09/2013 6:24 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

There is a list of qualification requirements a Santa Fe police officer must meet to even apply to be considered for the position of lieutenant.

But SFPD Chief Ray Rael said no one is applying, so he is simply expanding the criteria and essentially, the number of applicants, while the Police Officer Association President, Sgt. Adam Gallegos said, instead, it is just lowering standards.

"This is a mistake," Gallegos said. Gallegos disagrees with Rael over what he sees as easing the qualifications for becoming a lieutenant.

"It is a mistake to circumvent the current system that's in place," Gallegos said.  "It's a mistake to bring in people that are lacking that critical experience, and I'm talking about having been a sergeant."

The criteria for a lieutenant position used to be a minimum of a high school diploma or GED and three years as a sergeant with SFPD. Now, an officer need not be a sergeant.  Instead, qualifications include: a high school diploma or GED, along with three years as a supervisor or manager and five years as an SFPD officer; or 60 college credit hours from an accredited college or university and five years of service with SFPD.

"It's not an automatic, nor is it a reduction of the qualifications," Rael said.  "It's merely an expanding of the pool."

The primary reason for the change, Rael said, is that current sergeants are not interested in a promotion to lieutenant. 

Pay range is anywhere from $30 to $53 an hour. But, Gallegos said, lieutenants are not allowed overtime and lose some benefits, which are among the main reasons some qualified sergeants do not apply to move up.

A recently advertised lieutenant vacancy had only one applicant.

Rael said he is anticipating three to five more vacancies over the next year and has to fill the positions somehow, adding he will look outside of the department for potential candidates if necessary.

When asked if Rael thinks by changing the qualifications it is any easier for an officer to become a lieutenant, he responded, "Not at all.  As I indicated, they still have to go through all the same testing, they still have to meet minimum criteria."

Gallegos has a different perspective.

"If you put in a lieutenant who promotes from a police officer then all of a sudden you're going to have a situation where the current sergeants are going to have to train their boss," Gallegos said.