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27 officers join Duke City police force

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque police added experienced officers to their ranks on Friday when officers from other departments graduated from an Albuquerque police academy.

Members of the Albuquerque Police Department’s 21st “lateral academy” are sworn in on Friday. (Ryan Boetel/Albuquerque Journal)

There were 27 officers who took their oath Friday morning as part of the graduation of the 21st “lateral academy” at Albuquerque police. The officers, who have worked at other police agencies or were retired, completed a seven-week course to join Albuquerque police.

There were 27 officers who took their oaths Friday morning as part of the graduation of the Albuquerque Police Department’s 21st “lateral academy.” The officers, who have worked at other police agencies or were retired, completed a seven-week course to join APD.

Albuquerque Police Chief Michael Geier said officers in the class have a combined 256 years of law enforcement experience. Some of the officers have worked in law enforcement for just over two years while others were pulled out of retirement after nearly 30-year careers.

The lateral class included six officers from Rio Rancho and five from the Santa Fe Police Department. There were also two retired Albuquerque police officers returning to the force. One officer came from Mancos, Colo., and was the only one from an agency outside New Mexico.

Mayor Tim Keller said APD has added 89 officers in the past three months. Those officers came from two lateral academy and one regular police academy.

The new additions give the city more than 900 officers. The exact number of officers on the force wasn’t available Friday.

For years, the department has struggled to stay completely staffed and the city’s crime rates have increased to some of the highest in the country for a city its size. Keller has said he wants to grow the force to 1,200 officers.

Keller said during the ceremony that the city plans to graduate another lateral academy in several months and a regular police academy, which is about a six-month program, sometime this summer.

“You are the No. 1 priority for myself and my administration,” Keller told the graduates. “New Mexico rises and falls with Albuquerque, and right now Albuquerque’s biggest challenge is public safety.”

Todd James, a former Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy who retired several years ago with 20 years of law enforcement experience, was recognized as one of the most distinguished graduates in the academy class.

He said the pay – Albuquerque police officers are some of the highest-paid in the state – was just one of the reasons he returned to the job.

“You spend most of your career trying to make law enforcement what you do and not what you are, but then you leave it and you realize it is what you are,” he said.

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