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Problem response teams get bicycles

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A problem response team officer gets on his bicycle after a suspect was arrested in Nob Hill Thursday afternoon. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

The Albuquerque Police Department’s Southeast Area Command has beefed up its problem response teams – dedicated to proactive policing – and provided each officer with a bicycle.

City Councilor Pat Davis, who represents the area, held a news conference at the Nob Hill triangle substation Thursday morning to announce that he secured $6,000 from the City Council to buy bikes for the team in the southeast area.

Davis said they’ve been working on getting the officers trained and outfitted for the past couple of years.

“This is something that was in place before these incidences of the past few weeks,” Davis said, referencing in part the fatal shooting of a University of New Mexico student two weeks ago. “It took more than a year to get the planning together and get it done.”

APD launched two-officer problem response teams in the southeast, southwest and Downtown areas earlier this year, and increased the southeast team to five officers, a sergeant and a lieutenant about three weeks ago. The five-officer unit is separate from a recently announced unit of 10 bike patrol officers that will roam the Central Avenue corridor.

The team will also assist the bike patrol officers stationed in Nob Hill during peak bar hours.

Officer Steve Weinstein of the southeast problem response team said that rather than taking calls for service, the unit looks for “quality of life type issues,” such as people who are trespassing, drinking in public, or using drugs.

Officer Steve Weinstein (left) and officer Jennifer Giron (right) with the southeast area command problem response team stand with city councilor Pat Davis as he announces the team is now equipped with bicycles. (Elise Kaplan / Albuquerque Journal)

The team can adjust its schedule as needed, but right now plans to work Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The first area it tackled was on Central from Louisiana to Wyoming, according to Gilbert Gallegos, an APD spokesman.

In that time, Gallegos said the self-initiated calls for service skyrocketed, meaning officers are tackling issues on their own rather than waiting to be dispatched in response to a call.

“Also, they have been able to work on identifying and organizing business stakeholders in our three identified business coalition areas,” Gallegos wrote in an email, referring to the UNM, Nob Hill and Highland areas.

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