Foothills Area Command Should Have 12 To 15
In what could be a a stunning example of just how chronically understaffed the Albuquerque Police Department is, an attorney claims that on the morning of June 20 there were only two APD officers available to take calls in the department’s vast Foothills Area Command.
Only two officers between 8 a.m. and noon when there should have been 12 to 15.
Attorney Thomas Grover, a former APD officer who often represents police officers, said it was the shocking and disturbing case.
On the evening of June 20, Grover posted on his Facebook page about the lack of cops on the street in the Foothills Area Command on the East Side. The area includes all sections of the city east of Eubank from its northern to southern boundaries.
“For those who live in the Foothills Area Command, despite repeated warnings and notices to APD’s command staff, once again there were only TWO officers taking calls for much of the morning from 8-12 today,” Grover’s post said.
“At one point there were over 10 calls holding in addition to multiple Priority One calls. Don’t believe a word that is uttered by APD’s chief nor this mayor when it comes to their efforts. The last eight years of failed policies are coming to fruition this summer.”
A retired APD officer told ABQ Free Press that the Foothills Area Command should have an average of 12 to 15 field services officers taking calls on a weekday morning. There should be a sergeant and a lieutenant on duty as well, the retired cop said.
APD is disputing Grover’s claim.
In an email Thursday morning, Espinoza said: “That is not true. There were 5 officers working at that time along with their supervisors.”
Shaun Willoughby, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, said he believed Grover’s claim.
“I’m not even a little bit shocked,” Willoughby said. “I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I can guarantee you that that is legitimate information. It happens on a regular basis. Officers have called me in situations where they’re the only one taking calls, or where there are just four in an area command.
“This has all the attributes of an understaffed police department. I’m not surprised in the slightest at the number. Everybody in the community should be furious.”
APD has been chronically understaffed for years. The department is funded for 1,000 officers, but currently has around 860.
Willoughby added: “This is a severely understaffed police department. Anyone who tells you different, they are lying.”
This story was updated Thursday to include comments from APD spokeswoman Celina Espinoza.
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