Mayor details APD’s plan to modernize

Mayor Tim Keller
Mayor Tim Keller

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

When you request an Uber, you get a driver who is already nearby.

When you call 911 in Albuquerque, any officer might be dispatched, regardless of how far away he or she is.

“Uber is tenfold in technology ahead of our current CAD (computer-aided dispatch) and RMS (record management system),” said Cmdr. Chris George of the Scientific Evidence Division. “Right now, the dispatcher says ‘OK, this officer is not on a call, we’ll use him or her. They’ll be on the way over.’ ”

He said other police departments across the country have computer systems with GPS so the officer closest to a call is the one sent. The hope is one day the Albuquerque Police Department will, too.

George, along with Mayor Tim Keller, Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair and Chief Policy Adviser Damon Martinez, met with Journal editors and reporters Tuesday to provide details on the city’s priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

The city will ask for $20 million to upgrade its existing crime-fighting technology, such as the computer and records systems used by officers every day and its mobile crime scene units, as well as to implement new technology, such as gunshot detection devices and license plate scanners.

“As we’ve gone through different aspects of the department, we keep coming across this problem on the back end that’s running underneath everything at APD,” Keller said. “I believe that it affects almost every aspect of criminal justice … . What I mean by that is when and how and what the courts get, what the district attorney gets, what we get and how we actually allocate our officers.”

Keller and his staff visited cities across the country, including Detroit and Oakland, as well as Chihuahua, Mexico, to look at the technology their police departments employ and realized APD has a long way to go.

For example, each time a call currently comes into dispatch, it can get routed through the Real Time Crime Center, where analysts work through several different records systems to find out as much background as they can.

“If there is one call, one welfare check, our team in the RTCC of four analysts can work up a 20-page dossier on the history there and get that to the officer before that call,” Keller said. “But if you have thousands of calls a week, it’s impossible. That’s the issue.”

The hope is, by improving existing software and purchasing new software, the systems APD uses will be able to “talk” to each other and will be able to quickly compile information on an address or a call before an officer heads out.

“We’ll need to invest time in developing the system that’s the best for us and New Mexico, and using the most of what we already have,” CAO Nair said.

In addition to the $20 million, the city is also asking for $10 million to fund Violence Intervention Programs statewide – $2 million of which would go to Albuquerque – as well as funding for the Gateway Center for Behavioral Health homeless shelter, $22 million to widen Paseo del Norte on the West Side, $1.5 million to improve school crosswalks and more.

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