It is all about attitude.
Although I did not know about an incident involving Greg Allen in the early 1990’s, what little I know about him, and more so his arrogance and standoffish attitude, made me realize that Greg Allen represents the attitude that has led to so many police scandals within the department in the last decade, some leading to the deaths of individuals under police control. I have seen Allen’s arrogant attitude of them-versus-us too many times before and therefore I understand it for what it is.
Greg Allen espouses the police attitude of everyone is a thug in all police encounters. If you aren’t subservient to his police officers than you deserve what you get from them, even if it is unprofessional, illegal or unethical. For individuals like Allen; you do as you are told no matter the circumstances. It is a dangerous attitude and one that has led to many police abuse cases in El Paso and elsewhere. It has no place in a police department.
I realize that there is a vocal minority, including the police union, kowtowing to Greg Allen for political favors that are likely going ballistic with this post. There is also a cadre of political operatives milking this incident for political points. Lost somewhere in between the rhetoric are the facts.
Let me lay them out for you.
However, before I start, let me let you know how I came to know about the incident I am going to share with you. I friend shared with me a post made by Debbie Nathan on her Facebook Chucopedia page about an incident involving Greg Allen and some high school kids. Another friend of mine kindly shared with me a set of open records requests that Debbie Nathan posted online. What I am about to share with you comes directly from the government records that Debbie Nathan posted.
The open records set of documents contain over 500 pages of an internal investigation report (IA92-174) involving several El Paso police officers, including Greg Allen. The investigation involves an incident from November 13, 1992 involving some students from Hanks High School. All of the information I am sharing with you today comes directly from the El Paso Police Department’s investigative file. Although 12 police officers were involved in the incident and accused of various violations, today I am going to focus on Greg Allen’s actions on that date, and the outcome of the investigation.
According to the police investigation, on November 13, 1992, El Paso police officers from the “Tactical Section went to Hanks High School to investigate a complaint of possible retaliation” against a police officer. A number of juveniles were transported to the Tactical Office in order to take statements. According to the initial report, one of the juveniles became “belligerent with the officers and attempted to strike Sgt. Allen (current police chief Greg Allen) in the facial area.” The report adds that “Sgt. Allen avoided the subj’s strike, and Sgt. Allen struck the Subj. [redacted] in the face twice with an open hand.”
The initial police report adds that the Juvenile Probation Department would not accept the juvenile because he was complaining about “pain to the side of his face and his ear.” The report concludes that the juvenile was transported to Thomason Hospital, now UMC, where he was diagnosed with “two ruptured ear drums and a hairline fracture of the jaw.”
The police investigation focused on three issues in regards to Greg Allen, a sergeant at the time. They were whether Greg Allen “physically abused” any of the complainants, did Greg Allen “verbally abuse” any of the complainants and did Greg Allen “order the transportation of any of the juveniles in custody to the TAC Office”.
According to the investigative narrative, one of the juveniles stated that he was arrested on November 13, 1992 outside of Hanks High School. The juvenile stated that “Sgt. Allen slammed his face against a car.” Once at the TAC office, the juvenile adds that Greg Allen “picked him up out of his chair and slapped him across both if his left and right ears.” The juvenile continues that he was taken to a room where “Sgt. Allen struck him with an open hand and also struck him in the jaw and chest and elbow.” The report goes on to describe that after the juvenile was returned to his seat, sometime later, “Sgt. Allen then returned and picked him up by the neck and threw him over a table, picked him up again and began squeezing his Adam’s Apple and told him that he could kill him right now.” The juvenile also added that Greg Allen told him “that if he reported what happened that he would go to his home and if he had to go through the whole family, he would get him.”
Greg Allen told the investigators, “that he did have physical contact with [redacted] in the room at the TAC Office.” Allen added the had uncuffed the juvenile and “was asking questions and [sic] one point he told [redacted] that he was a ‘Goodamm Liar’.” Allen added in his narrative that the juvenile “then jumped to his feet with his fist clutched and as he rose to meet him, [redacted] swung at him.” In response to the alleged attack, Allen added that he “slapped [redacted] across the face once with his palm and once with the back of his palm, and then he grabbed him by the neck and pinned him to the wall.”
On March 25 and 26, 1993, the El Paso Police Department held a disciplinary hearing. The board members of conducting the hearing were Deputy Chief Gregory Drollinger, Deputy Chief Edward Ortega, Kevin Shannon and Dr. Nick Reyes. The board chairman was Assistant Chief Joseph Messer. According to the “Disciplinary Board Ballot”, Greg Allen faced four “issues”.
1. “Did Sergeant physically abuse Complainant [redacted] while in custody?”
2. “Did Sergeant verbally abuse Complainants [redacted] and Samuel Lujan while in his custody?”
3. “Did Sergeant transport juveniles in custody to a location not designated by the Juvenile Court, i.e. TAC Office?”
4. “Supervisory Dereliction”
The first three issues were “sustained” by board members whose ballots I reviewed, except for one board member, Ken Shannon, who did not believe that Greg Allen physically abused the juvenile. The board recommended a range of 2 to 10 day suspensions for Allen. The fourth issue was penciled in, and sustained by one member of the investigative board.
As a result of the investigation many of the officers that were involved were suspended without pay for their actions on that day. On June 3, 1993, Greg Allen, then a sergeant, was suspended for five days. According to the memorandum, the suspension was the result of several violations. Here are verbatim specifications for why Allen was suspended.
“On November 12, 1992, Det. John Eoff, who was assigned to the Tactical Division, was involved in an altercation with several subjects at the Arby’s Restaurant, located at 10988 Montwood. On November 13, 1992, all three Tactical Division squads, including officers under your command, were organized and returned to the scene of the altercation in an attempt to locate the subjects. You [Allen] and two other police supervisors accompanied Tactical members to the scene and were present when the subjects were located. Several juveniles and one adult were taken into custody for Disorderly Conduct. You [Allen] were aware that the Juvenile Court Judge had previously issued orders which specifically directed that peace officers can only transport juveniles in custody to an officially designated location, i.e. the Police Department Youth Services Division of the Juvenile Probation Department. In spite of this order you allowed subordinate officers to transport the juveniles directly to the Tactical Division offices and personally transported one of the juveniles. You failed to exercise appropriate supervisory control of the entire situation.”
The discipline memorandum lists the following disciplinary history for Greg Allen.
1. “On February 5, 1987 you [Allen] were responsible for the careless discharge of a firearm which resulted in damage to City property. You further failed to report the incident to a supervisor in violation of the rules, regulations and procedures. You received a three day suspension.”
2. “On September 19, 1992 you [Allen] were present at an eating establishment in which various units violated rules and regulations in regards to the number of units present at one time at an eating establishment. You [Allen] were counselled for your involvement.”
3. “On July 8, 1992 you [Allen] were present at eating establishment with other officers in violation of rules, regulations and procedures regarding the number of police units at any one eating establishment. You had previously been counselled for a similar incident and for this incident you received a written reprimand.”
On June 17 through June 23, 1993, Greg Allen took “vacation in lieu of suspension”.
As I wrote in my original post, the issue is about the demeanor demonstrated by Greg Allen during the press conference and other times, like during questioning about the Pope’s visit to Cd. Juárez. His demeanor is not indicative of a police officer who is focused on serving the community through inclusion. Rather the incident described above and the instances of arrogance displayed by Allen during press conferences indicates a mentality of them versus us that is dangerous in all police officers.
I have been documenting over the years the many instances of abuse and even deaths caused by El Paso police officers. You are all well aware of the many officers accused in the overtime scandal, the officers arrested for drug trafficking, petty theft and sexual abuse. These are not one, or two instances of bad apples, but rather an extensive list documenting a culture of arrogance and ethics failures among the police force.
Ethics and training derives from the top to the bottom. Rank and file derive their attitude about ethics and responsibility from the leadership above them. It is also important to remember that Greg Allen was not next in line when he was appointed as chief by Joyce Wilson. Wilson passed over two other officers, one a female that had seniority over Allen, when Wilson appointed him interim chief. The city settled a lawsuit filed by the female officer for discrimination in that appointment.
However, the most important thing to note is Greg Allen’s disciplinary record, specifically his attitude about policing. If you carefully look at the history, then it makes sense why Greg Allen stopped forcing police officers to undergo lie detector tests during investigations into their conduct. Allen called the lie detector tests “garbage”.
More importantly, look closely at the numerous instances of police misconduct in El Paso and you can clearly see that Greg Allen has done nothing to address them other than pay lip service to not tolerating misconduct within his ranks.
It is only a matter of time before another death occurs as result of Greg Allen’s inability to control his police officers.