ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Better policing and stronger community-police relationships. Mayor R.J. Berry believes it begins with Community Policing Councils. It’s why he’s set up six throughout the city, in the six APD area commands.
The goal is to have meaningful conversations about the department and the communities they serve, identifying concerns and opportunities along the way.
Mayor Berry says he’s been talking to community leaders, families of police shooting victims and officers who have been wounded in the line of duty. He says success for APD and the city begins with a good relationship with the community.
Berry says he will choose neighborhood leaders in each area who will then select community members to participate in the councils. Each council deals with questions, concerns and challenges specific to their area. Berry says these people are expected to be the voice of their communities, talking to neighbors and bringing their concerns to the table.
Mayor Berry says APD officers will also be a part of the councils. The councils, he says, will have voting members so ideas and recommendations will go directly to the chief of police who will take them into account when setting policy.
“This is not an event, going through this process of community policing, this is a process and it’s going to take months and years to get where we want to get but what we’re trying to do is get these foundations in place,” explains Mayor Berry.
Community leaders on hand for the mayor’s announcement say it’s everyone’s responsibility to participate in the conversation. They say, it’s a two-way street, the community has to improve communications with officers and have more respect for APD.
“It just tears me apart when you hear parents telling their kids, don’t call 911, you need to fear the cops. That is not the way to go. We need to make some significant improvements to get rid of that attitude,” says Academy Hills Park Neighborhood Association President Donald Couchman.
So, how do you become a member of one of these councils? You can apply online.
Berry says he hopes to have these councils up and running by July. He says he wants to take information gathered by the members and use it in the city’s meetings with the Department of Justice. Berry says he plans to announce a second phase about a broad-based community input process in June.