ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque’s continued push toward community policing will now mean stationing bicycle-riding officers across the city.
In a speech to business and community leaders Wednesday morning, Mayor Tim Keller said all Albuquerque Police Department area commands will now have bicycle patrols as part of an effort to get officers interacting with citizens beyond just answering calls for service.
“We’ve realized – and it’s an age-old lesson (that) goes back to the 1800s – if you want officers in the community to talk with each other, they can’t be behind a door,” Keller told a crowd of about 200 people gathered for an Economic Forum of Albuquerque breakfast. “The bike is actually this gateway, where you’re allowing them mobility; the police officers can get around, (but) you’re also enabling the opportunity for folks to actually talk to each other.”
The 22 bicycle cops will be spread among the city’s six area commands.
“We want more officers interacting with businesses and residents in the community on a more frequent rotation,” APD Deputy Chief Harold Medina said in a written statement. “Adding these officers in each area of town allows us to do just that.”
APD has already been using bicycle patrols in certain parts of the city, and it is unclear how many more the 22 represent. An APD spokesman said the number often changed, but the new city budget – effective July 1 – has 22 “dedicated” bike positions and officers can now bid to take those spots.
Keller on Wednesday touted the progress the city has made in reducing crime, crediting both a shift in focus to more community policing and the increasing cooperation across departments and agencies.
But Keller acknowledged the tremendous scope of the problem, showing a map of the city blanketed with red marks indicating crime.
“People ask me, ‘Mayor, where is crime the worst? Where do we have to focus?’ … Everywhere,” he said. “This is the reality in our city. There are some things we’re doing … but I don’t want to lose sight of where we are. Crime is everywhere.”