WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees denounced plans by the Department of the Army to cut its civilian police force, as some police officers on Fort Hood, TX and Fort Drum, NY were notified they would lose their jobs as part of military cuts.
According to Jeffrey Zuhlke, of AFGE’s Law Enforcement Committee, “about 20 civilian police officers hired on a year-to-year basis at Fort Hood will not see their employment renewed and an additional 11 officers at Fort Drum are being let go.” Sgt. Kimberly Munley and Sgt. Mark Todd, the civilian police officers who brought down the alleged Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Hasan, have both been told that their terms would not be extended. Sgt. Todd elected to leave federal service and take a position with an overseas contractor before being released by the Army. Sgt. Munley is on a leave without pay status pending the expiration of her term.
On May 14, 2010 Sgt. Munley and Sgt. Todd were recognized by President Obama after receiving the nation’s TOP COPS award from the National Association of Police Organizations. While hosting both Sgt. Todd and Sgt. Munley at the White House, President Obama said, “We are incredibly proud of the courage that all of you have shown in the conditions that we can only imagine. It’s a distinction that none of you asked for, but all of you accepted. And I promise that we will stand by you, and everyone who wears the badge, as you continue to keep us safe.” Sgts. Todd and Munley were also named AFGE Law Enforcement Committee’s Officers of the Year for 2010.
To add insult to injury, Fort Hood’s public affairs department has referred to these officers as “Department of Army contract police personnel.”
“Calling federal police officers ‘contract police personnel' is a complete misnomer. These officers are not employed by some hired gun private security firm. They are federal employees. They are trained by the federal government. They swore an oath and heeded the call to public service. They are professionals who have chosen law enforcement as a career. Considering the sacrifice of these officers you would think that the Ft. Hood public affairs department could correctly identify their positions while discussing their layoffs,” Zuhlke said.
Although current cuts are only affecting term employees, many installations will be losing permanent over-hire police officers during fiscal year 2012. The Army has indicated that these reductions are a result of decreasing operational tempo, excess military police officers and anticipated budget cuts.
Both Fort Hood and Fort Drum’s public affairs offices have said that the installations plan on filling the vacated positions with military police officers. The Army has acknowledged that Military Police officer law enforcement skills have atrophied as a result of multiple deployments and are looking at these installations as training opportunities. “The Army is failing to realize the value added aspect of these civilian police officers. Military police officers are normally detailed to conduct law enforcement operations for a few months at a time. By the time that they get somewhat proficient, they are rotated out. Instead of the Army using these civilian police officers as mentors to these young military police, they are viewing them as a budgetary line item” Zuhlke said.
AFGE National President John Gage said, “Civilian police officers put their lives in harm’s way every day, protecting our military bases and communities within. They act with great heroism and are first responders to lethal attacks on soldiers and their families. Slashing and reducing law enforcement on our country’s bases is short-sighted and puts the safety of our military communities in jeopardy.”