Albuquerque police union head arrested on child abuse charge amid allegations she hit relative

The leader of the police union in New Mexico's largest city, who has been a critic of federally-ordered reforms into her police department, is facing child abuse and bribery charges after authorities say she repeatedly beat a teenage relative.

Albuquerque Police Officers Association President Stephanie Lopez was arrested Thursday following allegations she hit the teen in the face and head, according to authorities.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office said Lopez, 40, was booked into jail, where she was ordered held on a $5,000 bond.

A complaint says the teen complained to school officials, who contacted authorities.

The department says the arrest came after the Albuquerque police asked the sheriff's office on Wednesday to investigate the allegations.

"We are aware that APD Union President Stephanie Lopez was arrested tonight by (Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office) for child abuse," Albuquerque police spoke Tanner Tixier said in a statement. "Upon (learning) of the allegations yesterday, APD immediately called in an outside agency to investigate. At this time, no one from the department has read the criminal complaint or been briefed on the specifics of this case."

Lopez did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press.

It's unclear if she had an attorney.

Lopez was elected as president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association in 2013 as the U.S. Justice Department was eyeing a federal investigation into Albuquerque police over allegations of excessive force.

She replaced Joey Sigala who resigned amid controversy over a union practice of giving money to officers who have been involved in shootings. He later was fired from Albuquerque police after being arrested on domestic violence charges.

Those charges were later dropped after his wife refused to cooperate.

A year after taking office, Lopez received a warning from a state law enforcement board for mixing union duties with her responsibilities as a police officer while responding to a domestic violence case involving a fellow office.

Her arrest comes as an independent monitor is overseeing court-ordered reforms into Albuquerque police. A harsh report by the Justice Department faulted police for inconsistent policies and using excessive force, especially in cases involving mentally ill suspects.

Lopez has spoken out against some of the reforms and said they would get in the way of officers doing their jobs.


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