Question No. 1: Does the city of Albuquerque budget include funding for 1,000 police officers or doesn’t it?
In May, the budget adopted by the City Council allegedly included enough money to pay for up to 1,000 officers if recruitment efforts could successfully expand the police force.
The administration of Mayor Richard Berry wanted 1,100 officers. But when Berry signed the budget, a news release from his office reiterated that it funded 1,000 police positions.
Yet this week Police Chief Gorden Eden told councilors he doesn’t have enough money to go beyond 940 officers because the budget factors in a 6 percent vacancy rate.
Question No. 2: In what parallel universe does 1,000 equal 940?
Question No. 3: Who came up with an equation that Eden says means he will have to delay the October cadet class and not be able hire additional men and women needed to protect the most populous city in the state until some time after January?
While Councilor Klarissa Peña wants to pass some legislation “to make sure we don’t postpone” the class and Councilor Diane Gibson says neighborhood associations “want to see more police on the street,” the core problem is 940 is not, never has been and never will be 1,000, and 1,000 cops is the number the Council and the mayor assured the public would be funded with their tax dollars.
While Council President Ken Sanchez is correct that this magic math should have been part of the spring budget debate, it’s more important to find out why magic math is being used at all. Albuquerque taxpayers should be able to trust their leaders when they say what a budget covers.
And right now they can’t.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.