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CNM graduates first class from police academy

Graduate Norman Luke Shatto gets a hug from his girlfriend, Makella Matier, as Central New Mexico Community College’s New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy graduates its first class of police cadets Thursday. The graduates are aiming to work for the Albuquerque Police Department.(Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s newest police academy held its first graduation ceremony Thursday.

There were 19 Albuquerque police cadets in the graduating class at Central New Mexico Community College’s New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy, a new 18-week program that teaches curriculum designed by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

“As a community college, we are here to support the educational and workforce training needs of our community,” CNM President Katharine Winograd said in a news release. “We are very proud to be partnering with the Albuquerque Police Department to help with the education and training of the next generation of police officers, which is such an important cause for our community. We congratulate the first graduating class of the CNMLEA, and we look forward to these inspiring cadets serving and protecting our beloved Albuquerque community with great distinction.”

The first class was for students who hope to work for Albuquerque police. But police departments in Rio Rancho, the Village of Corrales, Los Lunas, Moriarty and the Pueblos of Laguna and Isleta, sheriff’s offices in Sandoval, Valencia and Torrance counties, and the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office have said they will also send some of their recruits to CNM, college officials said.

Thursday’s graduates still need to complete an abbreviated version of the Albuquerque police academy. Officials have said the additional training will take about 10 weeks.

After that, Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said, the cadets will need to complete on-the-job training before they can patrol by themselves.

The new method of training police officers was announced last year with hopes it would help fill the ranks at APD, which has struggled for years to remain fully staffed.

Gallegos said APD is authorized to have 1,053 police officers in the 2020 fiscal year, which starts in July. Not counting Thursday’s graduates, the department has 957 sworn officers. Gallegos said seven officers are in a lateral police academy, and the department is planning to seat a class of about 50 cadets in an academy starting later this summer or early fall.

CNM will seat another police academy in the fall with cadets for other law enforcement agencies in the surrounding area.

“Our priority is to rebuild our ranks at APD and put the department in the best position to tackle crime from all sides,” Chief Michael Geier said in a news release. “Our partnership with CNM has exceeded expectations as we focus on our commitment to community policing. I am looking forward to building on this partnership, which helps us keep Albuquerque safe and build a quality workforce.”

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