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More Cops on the Street

More Cops on the Street

The community policing plan -- which gets more officers out from behind desks and onto the street -- is part of APD's first restructuring effort in at least a decade.

BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI

The Albuquerque Police Department will ramp up a community policing plan that will put more officers in city neighborhoods, and it will shoot for a staffing level of 1,000 sworn officers, Mayor Richard Berry and Police Chief Gorden Eden said Tuesday.

The effort is called Police and Community Together, or P.A.C.T., and its goal is to have 75 percent of all officers in the department’s six area command as opposed to 65 percent today, Eden said. It will include new neighborhood policing teams that will consist of one sergeant and six officers that will focus on community and neighborhood issues like graffiti, property crime and auto theft. It will also involve the deployment of more detectives, narcotics officers and gang specialists to the area commands as opposed to having them based Downtown.

The community policing plan is part of APD’s first restructuring effort in at least a decade, and the department’s goal of getting back to 1,000 sworn officer staffing level that was recommend in a staffing report released Tuesday by APD’s outside consultant, Alexander Weiss Consulting.

Weiss said the department needs 1,000 officers as opposed to the 831 it currently has. It needs 522 cops to be assigned to patrol duties and taking service calls, compared to 390 it has today.

“APD is highly compartmentalized and fragmented,” Weiss’ report said. “Area commanders lack authority and resources to accomplish their mission” and “APD has limited flexibility in how it deploys sworn personnel, based on overly restrictive collective bargaining units.”

The recommendation that APD have 1,000 sworn officers undoubtedly came as a relief to some in the community. Many people, including public officials, had speculated that the staffing recommendation would come in at between 1,200 to 1,300 officers. The department had 1,100 officers in 2009, but has shrunk since them. APD is currently budgeted for 1,000 officers.

Eden said the department can get to the 1,000-officer level by November 2017 if the Legislature passes return-to-work legislation that would allow retired cops to return to their jobs and collect a salary while still receiving their pensions. Without return-to-work, APD would be around 100 officers short of its goal in November 2017, Eden said.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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Albuquerque’s definitive alternative newspaper publishing an inquisitive, modern approach to the news and entertainment stories that matter most to New Mexicans. ABQ Free Press’ fresh voice speaks to insightful and involved professionals who care deeply about our community.

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