ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There are not enough police officers, at least that’s what two city councilors are saying. They want that to change, and they want the mayor to make it his top priority to fill the empty positions.
Councilor Don Harris and Ken Sanchez are sponsoring the bill to make the mayor’s office accountable for hiring police officers.
The Albuquerque Police Department has released a few videos trying to recruit more officers to join them, but Councilor Harris says videos like those aren’t doing enough.
That’s why Harris and fellow Councilor Sanchez, are proposing a bill that states the mayor’s main priority should be hiring more police officers.
“I think what the city has been doing hasn’t really been working,” said Councilor Harris. “If you look at the last several years, we haven’t been able to really crack the eight-hundreds in terms of police officers.”
That is why he is proposing the mayor detail APD’s recruiting strategy every July 1, and hire an independent group every five years to look at ways to fully staff department, including pay hikes.
“Comprehensive study that will look at all of these things that it’s done by an independent agency that will be chosen jointly by the administration, jointly by the police oversight agency, as well as the city council,” said Councilor Harris.
According to the Mayor’s Chief Administrative Officer, hiring officers has always been a top priority.
“What we’ve been able to do is get the largest graduation classes of almost 100 officers a year over the last couple of years,” said Rob Perry.
Over the last four years, the mayor’s office has acknowledged a difficulty in hiring officers, despite offering the best starting salary in the state. They say there’s a reason for that.
“The DOJ and the scrutiny of that, the political dynamics of which we’re seeing here play out particularly in an election year. It’s difficult work under the best of circumstances,” said Perry.
Councilor Harris says if the scrutiny and the city’s reputation for crime scares recruits away, then APD needs to pay even more.
“If one of the things we can do is allocate a lot more money so we can get a lot more police officers here, then that’s what we have to think about doing,” said Councilor Harris.
The mayor’s office says it takes around 1,300 applications just to recruit a class of 25 cadets. Even after the last graduating class, APD is still 150 officers short.
APD’s goal is 1,000 officers. Back in April, Harris and Sanchez teamed up for a bill to require APD to have 1,200 officers, it was voted down.