ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The city’s bill for change following that scathing Department of Justice report is growing fast, well into the millions of dollars, and federal officials haven’t even made their recommendations yet.
Monday night, city councilors were scheduled to approve more money that would fund the paychecks of the city-hired consultants.
Council President Ken Sanchez said city officials hope they will be able to soften the blow from the DOJ and keep the price tag down when reforms for the Albuquerque Police Department are handed out.
“I know they’ve spent a lot of time here in Albuquerque and it is getting very expensive,” Sanchez said.
However, they’ve only been on the job a little more than two months and have already blown through $70,000.
“We are going to vote to allocate $150,000,” Sanchez said. “Which will make it a $220,000 contract at this point.”
That can be added to the growing expense sheet since the DOJ report was released in April. Mayor R.J. Berry has already approved $1 million for police training and $1 million reserved for DOJ recommendations.
Sanchez said councilors approved an additional $1.5 million for mental health resources.
In total, that’s more than $3 million tax-payer dollars.
While it might sound like a lot, both the mayor and council president said the city needs to be pro-active.
They said making changes before the DOJ orders them could shave off years APD is under federal scrutiny. A federal monitor could cost up to $6 million each year.
As the cost for the experts grows, the city said its money well spent if the consultants can negotiate to keep the number of reforms down which would save money in the long-run.
“I’m not sure how much more he will need,” Sanchez said. “With the experience that they brought that should help in the negotiations with the department of justice.”
“Cities that haven’t done that sometimes you get into situations where the expenses are much greater and take much longer,” Berry said.
The cost for other cities investigated by the DOJ has easily surpassed the million dollar mark. New Orleans DOJ reforms cost more than $50 million.
Sanchez said spending money on the changes now will hopefully lead to fewer costly court cases against APD and the city.
The city has already been ordered to pay millions in dollars for officer-involved shooting cases.