ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – In the middle of an Albuquerque Police officer shortage, neighborhoods are trying something new to stay safe. They’re hiring private security to keep guard when officers can’t.
More and more people are on board with the idea. A southeast heights neighborhood is considering hiring a private security company to help combat crime.
The security officers ride in marked units around the metro and many of them carry weapons.
“Burglaries, robberies in progress, everything that you can think of, we’ve dealt with it,” explained Aaron T. Jones, President of the International Protective Service.
Their uniforms appear similar to local Sheriff’s deputies, but they’re part of a private security detail.
“We try to work hand in hand with the police department and sheriff’s office and try to be good eyes and ears, as well as be a proactive force,” said Jones.
Most security officers with IPS are ex-law enforcement or military. Jones was previously a detective with Valencia County.
IPS has provided security for the Four Hills Neighborhood for nine years. Now, neighbors in the southeast heights are considering IPS security for their area.
“They catch somebody doing something, they can bring in law enforcement,” said Ray Sanchez, who lives near Hyder Park. “It’s kind of like having an additional alarm system at your house.”
Neighbors told KRQE News 13, crime in their area has been on the rise, and the added security offers people peace of mind.
There’s been a shortage of APD officers. The department has some of the lowest staffing levels in nearly a decade with less than 900 officers.
“There was somebody trying to break into one of my neighbor’s cars the other day and it took us a while to get a police officer out there,” Sanchez recalled. “If we had those kind of guys (IPS), they may have deterred them you know, they may have stopped them.”
Jones said IPS officers in New Mexico cannot make an arrest, but they can detain someone if they see a crime committed. They can also respond to calls for service 24/7 and alarms just like police.
IPS said they recruit retiring officers with the New Mexico State Police, APD, and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.
“We find that’s a great avenue for them to come and use the training and the assets that they’ve learned in the government, and come put it to use in the private sector,” Jones said.
Jones said their presence alone can help deter criminals.
“When they see our cars, our guys, they realize that there’s a force out there to be reckoned with,” he said.
He added, each security officer goes through extensive training. They can be hired by individuals on an hourly basis, or by groups or businesses to provide 24/7 service.
Neighbors in the southeast heights will have a meeting soon to decide whether they want to hire private security. IPS officers said they document crimes for law enforcement, and will testify in court when needed.