ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With the Albuquerque Police Department busy and short officers, a city councilor wants to give Albuquerque Rapid Transit security guards more power in order to keep riders safe.
Unlike other city buses, the Albuquerque Rapid Transit has its own 13 dedicated transit security officers, but City Councilor Ken Sanchez fears they don’t have the tools to keep riders safe.
“I basically want to meet with the administration. The new mayor, Keller, is in town now and we want to make sure that we work with him on this,” Sanchez said. “But I do believe our security needs additional authority.”
Some riders in Albuquerque agree.
“I think that’s an amazing idea,” Delano Zamora said. “I’ve seen things get out of hand to the point where someone will pull out a knife or something and people get hurt.”
That’s the exact situation Sanchez wants to prevent. He also doesn’t want security guards to have to depend on APD to help deescalate a situation if trouble breaks out.
“Right now our police department is really strapped with help. We need more police officers and I think with the additional training of our security officers, that will make a tremendous amount of difference,” Sanchez said.
Transit Department Public Information Officer, Rick De Reyes, told KRQE News 13 that right now the transit security officers are equipped with handcuffs, batons and OC Spray. He said they are also allowed to detain people until police get to the scene, but Sanchez said he wants them to have even more power.
“I would hope that they would have some arresting powers and that they would be allowed to carry a taser with them,” he said. “Hopefully we will never have to resort to that, but there have been situations with the bus drivers where they’re put in a really difficult position and they cannot do anything at all.”
Some people said they wouldn’t feel comfortable with the guards carrying tasers, saying it could make the situation worse.
“I feel that it would be a bad idea. I feel like the more “weaponized” security officers are chances are things would escalate,” one person said.
Sanchez said if this idea is adopted, ART security guards would have to get additional training, but this is still far from becoming reality. Councilor Sanchez said there are still other kinks the city has to work on when it comes to the bus system.
He said before drafting any type of legislation, he plans to share his ideas with the Mayor Tim Keller and his team.