ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There’s a new way to become a cop in New Mexico.
Central New Mexico Community College announced on Monday that it is launching the CNM Law Enforcement Academy next year. The inaugural class will head to the Albuquerque Police Department after graduation.
Growing the ranks of the Albuquerque Police Department is a priority for Mayor Tim Keller’s administration. Albuquerque police has about 880 officers. Ten years ago, there were 1,100 officers but, over the past six years, the number dwindled to a low of 831.
“As a community college, we are here to support the educational and workforce needs of our community,” CNM President Katharine Winograd said.
The 17-week academy will be available to officers who have already been hired by a police agency. In APD’s case, the academy will be an alternative to the six-month academy that Albuquerque police use to train their own officers.
After graduating from CNM, APD’s cadets will have to take another 11-week training course at Albuquerque police before they are ready to hit the streets.
Winograd said that Rio Rancho, the Village of Corrales, Los Lunas, Moriarty, and the Pueblos of Laguna and Isleta police departments also plan on using the CNM academy, as do sheriff’s offices in Sandoval, Valencia and Torrance counties, and the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Those departments can hire cadets for a CNM academy that starts next fall.
Keller said the academy at CNM will allow the department to recruit people who might not otherwise be interested in law enforcement, and also give police a chance to recruit people who are born and raised in Albuquerque.
“We want folks who know New Mexico, who have family here, who are born and raised here,” he said.
Matt Thomas, a program director of criminal justice at CNM, said cadets who graduate the academy will earn 32 college credits. Albuquerque police in most cases requires officers to eventually obtain at least 60 college credits.
Deputy Chief Harold Medina said that cadets in the CNM academy will already be city employees and will be paid while they are in the academy. He said the city will also pay for the cadet’s tuition, though the details of how much that will cost are still being negotiated.
Medina said relying on CNM to teach some of APD’s cadets the core law enforcement courses that are required of all police officers throughout the state will give Albuquerque police’s training academy time to focus on giving current officers the training that is required as part of a settlement between the city and the Department of Justice, which is aimed at correcting a pattern of excessive force within APD that the DOJ announced it had found in 2014.
“It kind of gives us a little bit of breathing room to get some training done that we want to get done in house with our current officers,” he said.