“We are declaring war on crime in this city." — Albuquerque mayoral candidate Dan Lewis.
Saying that Albuquerque is losing its war on crime, mayoral candidate Dan Lewis on Monday unveiled a 10-page crime-fighting plan that includes $15 million in raises for police officers, 1,200 cops and a reshuffling of the Albuquerque Police Department’s structure so that 60 percent of all officers will be taking calls for service.
“We have to stop the insanity. War is being waged against us and we are not winning,” Lewis said in announcing his plan. “We have to declare war on the danger and violence that is trying to take over our city. We will make Albuquerque the worst place to be a criminal.”
Lewis’s plan, which is posted below, calls for a national search for a new police chief, the recruitment of officers from other cities and a combined emergency dispatch center with the Bernalillo County sheriff and fire departments.
It also calls for holding judges accountable for letting criminals back onto the streets, a zero-tolerance policy for traffic offenses and beefing up APD’s detective units.
And Lewis said he would make APD quickly comply with the U.S. Department of Justice’s reform requirements.
APD will be transparent and not fight or obstruct requests for public records under the state’s Inspections of Public Records Act, Lewis said.
“We will treat the citizens of this city as if they are the bosses, because they are,” Lewis said. “To the criminals of this city, we are not leaving this city, you are. This is our city.”
Lewis, a city councilor from the West Side, announced his anti-crime plan on the southwest corner of Central and San Pedro, one of the highest crime areas of the city.
Here are some of the major points of Lewis’ plan:
— $15 million in immediate pay raises for officers and the creation of a longevity, or seniority pay scale. That, along with New Mexico’s generous retirement plans for retired cops, should help APD hire officers from other cities, Lewis said.
“I will immediately propose a $15 million increase for APD and begin negotiations with the Albuquerque Police Officers Association. We will work to keep veteran officers from retiring before 20 years and give good veteran officers the incentive to complete 25 years of service,” Lewis said.
— Lateral hires. Many cities are losing officers because they’re revising their retirement plans and making them less attractive, Lewis said. With pay raises and a good pension plan, Albuquerque will be able to retire many of those officers, he added.
— Strengthening the civilian police oversight process. Lewis said he’ll work to strengthen the Civilian Police Oversight Agency and the Police Oversight Board.
— More detectives. “I will ensure that at least 30 percent of APD’s sworn officers staff the detective bureau,” Lewis said. “Detectives must be working cases and regularly testifying to justify their positions.”
— More officers on the streets. At least 60 percent of APD’s sworn officers will take calls for service. Any officer who does take calls for service will have a marked police car.
— Reduced command staff. No more than 5 percent of the department will be command staff. And five percent will be involved in training and recruiting.
— Zero tolerance for all traffic violations, including drag racing, aggressive and reckless driving, speeding, tailgating and running red lights.
— The feds will have to comply with APD’s rules. Lewis said he won’t assign any APD officers to federal task forces unless the feds abide by the same rules that APD has to. That means that if the feds don’t make their officers wear body cameras, which they don’t, APD cops won’t be allowed to work with them.
— Enhanced emergency dispatch. The city will work with the county to create a combined dispatch center. “At any moment we should mutually know where every emergency response asset and personnel are within the city and county so we can work efficiently to rapidly respond to emergency calls as quickly and as effectively as possible,” Lewis said.
— Pulling APD cops from Albuquerque Public Schools. “APD will not continue to duplicate the effort of APD police,” Lewis said. “That means APD will not have an officer sitting with an APS office at area schools. It does mean that the beat cop for those schools will be required to stop by the school at least weekly.”
Lewis said there are several ways in the city’s current $530 million general fund budget to pay for the $15 million in raises for police officers. One way would be to make APS pay for school crossing guards. The city currently foots that bill at $4 million a year, Lewis said.
“We are declaring war on crime in this city,” Lewis said.
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