May 8, 2015

Former APD trainer sues department over retaliation claims

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A former Albuquerque police officer filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the Albuquerque Police Department on Friday.

gavel on stack of documentsJohn Corvino filed a motion with the Bernalillo County district court asking for damages after he was allegedly the target of retaliation. According to the complaint, Corvino raised concerns about training deficiencies within the department and was subsequently reprimanded for his actions.

The suit names the City of Albuquerque, APD chief Gorden Eden and two other employees of APD as defendants.

The case dates back to 2013 when Corvino, then a trainer for APD, notified his superiors that instructors were training officers without proper certifications. Corvino said he was then instructed to not communicate with personnel of the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy about the potential training deficiencies.

The complaint alleges Joseph Wolf and Lieutenant Michael Archibeque punished Corvino under the guise of insubordination, when really it was for being a whistleblower.

From the complaint:

In his memorandum to IA, Defendant Archibeque alleged Corvino’s behavior had been “detrimental to the APD academy and now the department as a whole.” Defendant Archibeque further alleged that Corvino, “…constantly [has] done all that he can do to bring a negative image to the Academy and the Albuquerque Police Department[.]”

The suit says after he was the subject of an internal investigation, Corvino was shunned by other officers and excluded from department activities.

Corvino was excluded from APD Academy personnel events including birthday or promotion celebrations, denied issuance of Academy physical fitness apparel, given the silent treatment, was subjected to increased scrutiny, denied use of the APD Academy gym, was excluded from providing training to other personnel while other non-academy personnel were brought in, excluded from providing instruction to APD Police Service Aids, was criticized publicly by supervisors in front of other non-department officers, had his office removed and was ordered to relocated to a cubicle, had his department issued car replaced with an older used model, was disallowed to go home early on occasions where others were allowed to leave early, and additionally found his office tampered with the morning following evening training scenarios.

The suit also says Corvino was placed on an 80-hour suspension, causing him to lose 40 hours of vacation time.

Corvino filed the suit a few weeks after Eden issued a statement on YouTube addressing an internal allegation of officer misconduct by an APD officer. In the video, Eden said it was important to protect whistleblowers from retaliation. Corvino’s lawsuit points to that statement as a reason why Eden was negligent in his position of power.

With such a statement, Eden acknowledges and confirms that APD personnel can be subject to retaliation and need protection.

Corvino is asking the court for damages he incurred for his pain and suffering as well as attorney’s fees.

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