Keller: ABQ done poaching officers in NM

Mayor Tim Keller (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal file)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque’s quest to boost its police ranks has in the past year pulled in officers from departments in Rio Rancho, Santa Fe and even Hobbs.

But Mayor Tim Keller now says the city will relax its efforts to hire away from other New Mexico agencies.

Keller, speaking Monday to local real estate development professionals, asked for their recruiting help as the city continues trying to add 100 new officers annually – now without luring them away from other, lower-paying in-state police departments.

“We are done trying to poach folks,” Keller said Monday at a luncheon for the New Mexico chapter of NAIOP. “It was something we needed to do – and I will say I did work with all the other mayors on that and, I think actually, net-net, it worked out OK and we got our additional 100 – but we’re going to have to go to other cities now.”

Albuquerque reached its annual hiring goal last year and already-certified officers from other departments accounted for most of the influx. Of the 59 officers who participated in two of APD’s “lateral” academies last year, 11 came from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, 11 were from the Santa Fe Police Department and eight were from Rio Rancho, according to data APD provided to the Journal at the time. The classes also drew members from Socorro, Farmington and Hobbs.

Albuquerque has in recent years experienced some of the country’s highest crime rates. While Keller called the in-state poaching a matter of necessity on Monday, he said it is time to shift the strategy and begin looking elsewhere for officers – both within the local high schools and colleges, but also outside the state.

A spokeswoman said after the speech that lateral recruiting was always part of the initial plan, but the city recognized it would eventually have to start looking beyond state lines.

“With this year’s budget, we invested in recruiting and are better positioned now to do that,” spokeswoman Jessie Damazyn said in a written response to Journal questions.

Keller did not identify any specific communities APD would target, but asked the hundreds of attendees at the sold-out luncheon to help promote the city to potential recruits brought in for visits.

“We’ll be setting up delegations and when recruits come here, (we need help) to literally try to sell them on trying to come to our community and help us be safe,” he said.

Keller on Monday also asked for help with several other initiatives, including donations to help pay for housing vouchers, and to help the city provide more summer and after-school opportunities for kids.

He also urged attendees to support $128 million in general obligation bonds going before voters this November, specifically citing the $14 million that would go toward building a 24/7 centralized facility both to shelter homeless people and to direct them to relevant services and programs.

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