Following a counter-protest, earlier this month, 17 officers, one lieutenant, and two sergeants resigned from the Albuquerque Emergency Response Team (ERT), which is in charge of handling demonstrations.

“Morale is gone” within the police department, an Albuquerque police union leader stressed on Monday, April 19, in explanation for the officials’ resignation.

According to the media outlet, an armed man who was taunting protesters was apprehended by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) field officers during the rally on Civic Plaza over the weekend. However, the man was not charged at the time of his capture.

The APD reportedly explained a breakdown in the chain of command about whether charges would be filed against the armed man. According to reports, APD officials reversed their decision and put an officer on leave while an investigation was undertaken.

KOB 4 was given the following statement about the incident by an APD spokesperson: “Chief Medina made it clear that we cannot have a breakdown in communication during critical incidents. We have worked hard to earn back the public’s trust. We will lose that trust if we resist accountability and culture change.”

The Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association believes APD’s priorities are compliant with reform efforts, but they feel that crime should be the focus. 

Expressing opposition to that decision of the APD, Police Officer Union President Shaun Willoughby told Fox and Friends host Biran Kilmeade, “We have an individual that’s being removed from this counter-protest for doing absolutely nothing wrong.” “He didn’t violate any laws. He was exercising his constitutional rights within the city of Albuquerque, and we had a sergeant taken off of his job, gun and badge removed,” he explained.

”There is a lack of trust with our administration,” Willoughby said on “Fox & Friends.” “They were not supported,” he noted, stressing that Albuquerque officers are “tired of being managed by politics.” He said his officers feel over-scrutinized, so they decided to take a stand with each other.

“Everything in Albuquerque is about constitutional policing unless the constitutional policing doesn’t prescribe to the political ideology of whoever is in charge,” Willoughby added. “That’s not how officers operate. We are not Rubik’s Cubes.

“I think Mayor Keller needs to make a serious decision of what this police department’s priority structure is,” Willoughby said. “I think that he needs to carry that sentiment down to the police chief so that your police officers feel supported.”

Being a part of the ERT is “an extracurricular activity” for those officers, pointed out Willoughby.

He questioned who would want to take on that professional liability of being involved in those protests that just were never-ending, stressing that he doesn’t blame the officers for leaving the team “at all,” also adding his concern that the APD will get anybody to replace these jobs.

“We’re going to have to use field services and traditional dispatch with civil unrest from now on,” he said.

According to Fox, citing the APD, the resignations of those officers will have no impact on crowd control operations in the future. They also reiterated that the officers who resigned from the ERT did not resign from being an officer at the department. 

Aside from the ERT, Willoughby said many people had left the department altogether. Around 20 officers have quit over the last two months.