Calling it an “all hands on deck approach,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller on Wednesday announced the creation of a new Downtown Public Safety District, which will include a permanent police presence with a substation, along with services from several city departments and community partners.
The Downtown Public Safety District will be housed at a police substation located at the Alvarado Transportation Center at First and Central SW.
Personnel will include eight police officers assigned to Downtown, with an expansion to 12 officers planned. A deputy chief, a lieutenant and a sergeant will oversee the day-to-day operations. Police service aides will also see duties in the district.
Cities rise and fall with their downtown areas, Keller said during a Wednesday news conference, and “making Downtown Albuquerque safe to live, work and play is key to the city’s and state’s success.”
“This is the only place in our state that is truly urban,” Keller said. “It’s the only place that makes sense to have an urban police force. It’s the area that’s actually policeable exclusively by bike and by foot. And it’s an area that’s still the center of our public transportation system. This is a critical component to a statewide strategy of lifting up New Mexico and it starts with Downtown Albuquerque.”
The Albuquerque Police Department will assign officers from the Crisis Outreach and Support Team, and the Crisis Intervention Team to the district to address homelessness and behavioral health needs.
“We can’t just come in here and do policing like it’s Las Vegas or San Francisco,” said Deputy Chief Roger Bañez, who will command the new substation, “Downtown Albuquerque is unique. We have to adjust our policing based on the uniqueness of the citizens and the community here in Albuquerque. We want to build a relationship and earn the trust of the communities we promise to serve. With me being here, I guarantee you, that will be one of my top priorities.”
Several other departments and community partners will contribute resources to the district, including:
⋄ Albuquerque Fire Rescue will increase its presence near Central Avenue during high-volume call times and by driving a loop around the district after each call for service.
⋄ AFR’s new Home Engagement and Alternative Response Team program is also exploring a Downtown home base.
⋄ The Transit and Municipal Development departments will contribute security personnel to the district in coordination with APD’s patrol plans.
⋄ The Family and Community Services Department is contributing a social worker to coordinate service providers and implement Project ECHO to train mental health workers in the district.
⋄ The Municipal Development and Solid Waste departments will expand the use of street cleaning machines throughout Downtown, including alleyways, and add collection routes for Downtown businesses to address overflow of trash from Saturday nights.
⋄ Solid Waste will use its Block by Block program to wash sidewalks and its Clean City Graffiti crew to eradicate graffiti as soon as possible.
⋄ The Safe City Strike Force will monitor the district and work closely with Family and Community Services and other service providers.
⋄ The Family and Community Services Department is continuing to work with Heading Home’s ABQ Street Connect program to help people with significant behavioral health disability and who are experiencing homelessness.
⋄ Family and Community Services is working with HopeWorks and outreach partners including APD’s COAST team, APD’s Crisis Intervention Team and ACT teams to do mental health outreach.
⋄ Family and Community Services will work with the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness to help service providers for homeless people.