The Albuquerque Police Department is not going to be getting any bayonets from the U.S. military.
That is not to say it had been; APD has never received the combat-intended knives during its participation in a federal program that transfers military equipment to local law enforcement agencies.
But the City Council has voted to eliminate even the possibility of hand-me-down bayonets.
The council last week unanimously approved a resolution to prohibit APD from taking some – though not all – military castoffs provided through the U.S. Department of Defense’s 1033 program, essentially passing a narrower version of a demilitarization bill it had rejected in August.
That unsuccessful bill, carried by Pat Davis and Lan Sena, would have prohibited the city’s police more generally from “applying for or receiving surplus military property for civilian law enforcement use.” APD had through the program previously received a mine-resistant vehicle, firearm accessories, cargo containers and more.
That bill failed on a 4-4 council vote.
Councilors Brook Bassan, Cynthia Borrego and Klarissa Peña all voted against that bill, but returned to co-sponsor legislation that more narrowly defines what APD should not get through the program. It explicitly prohibits APD from accepting bayonets, weaponized aircraft, grenade launchers, explosives and firearms of .50 caliber or higher. The legislation also would prevent the city from taking military riot helmets and riot batons.
But Peña said it leaves open the possibility the city could accept such items as clothing and storage containers. The previous bill, she said, “made a bold statement, but it really took away APD’s ability to acquire other necessary equipment” from the military.
Davis said making a statement was part of his initial intent. He said the 1033 program is designed to “give out weapons of war and surplus military equipment,” and that the city’s police department does not need to use it for that or anything else, such as office supplies. Davis ultimately voted for the new bill, but said he still hoped to end the city’s 1033 involvement completely.
“I don’t support us participating in the entire program; I think it just continues to further it along even when it’s quite frankly unnecessary,” he said.
APD, in fact, has not received anything through the program since 2016 and Mayor Tim Keller – who took office in 2017 – said this summer he supported a formal end to Albuquerque’s participation.
His office said he is expected to sign the more limited bill the council passed last week.
“Under our administration, APD has not (taken) and is not interested in taking military weapons from this program,” Keller said in a statement.
OPINIONS WANTED: The city of Albuquerque is asking residents how it should use a newly acquired 2.2-acre property in Wells Park.
The site – known as the Walker Property and located at 507 Rosemont NW – was purchased to “spur revitalization in the area,” the city said in a news release.
Officials are now asking the public what that could look like. City staff will be at the property taking suggestions on a chalkboard from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday and will hold a virtual feedback meeting at 6 p.m. Oct. 20.
For more information about the site, go online to http://bit.ly/WalkerProperty.
Jessica Dyer: firstname.lastname@example.org