Albuquerque mayoral candidate Tim Keller unveiled his strategy for attacking crime in the city this morning, and it includes bringing in a new police chief, creating a civilian-led department of public safety and retooling recruitment standards for police officers to bring them more in line with the state’s.
“It’s unfortunate, but crime is absolutely out of control,” Keller said during a news conference outside of the city clerk’s office. He said the city needs to deal with the problem head on and stop pointing fingers at others.
“This is the mayor’s responsibility,” Keller said, calling crime the No. 1 issue facing the city. “It’s the mayor’s job to actually address crime in Albuquerque and that’s what I want to do as the next mayor of Albuquerque.”
Keller said the city would recommit to a community policing model, try to bring back retired officers, and get rid of the “bunker mentality coming from the top.” He said he would work to get Department of Justice reforms completed as quickly as possible and redirect the millions of dollars being spent on those efforts to hire more officers.
Keller said he would bring in a civilian chief of public safety to oversee reforms across all public safety departments, and he would create a multi-agency collaboration force to get more officers on the streets right away.
As for the officer shortage, Keller said he would undertake aggressive recruitment efforts to attract well-trained officers with a goal of having at least 1,000 officers on the street within two years. The city’s police force currently hovers at around 850 officers.
“We are going to hire every single officer that we have a dollar for,” he said. To do that, Keller said, he would aggressively recruit officers from other agencies and he would look at relaxing recruitment standards to bring them more in line with state standards that every other city in New Mexico follows. And, he said, the city should give officers who fail the physical fitness test another chance, for example.
“It’s harder to get through the APD academy than it is to get through standards,” Keller said.