Proactivity is on APD's radar in new pilot project - Albuquerque Journal

Proactivity is on APD’s radar in new pilot project

Officers armed with speed guns gather on the pedestrian bridge near Winrock Town Center Wednesday morning to check vehicle speed during an enforcement along Interstate 40. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

After investigating 85 traffic deaths in 2021 – the highest number ever recorded on Albuquerque streets – police are going to try something new: proactive traffic enforcement.

The Albuquerque Police Department announced a pilot project that will free up traffic unit officers to focus on writing tickets in hot spots for speeding during peak traffic hours.

The bottom line: Tickets make drivers think twice.

“Each one of us can probably remember … when we got a traffic ticket and how it changed how we behaved and how we drove,” APD Chief Harold Medina said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

Medina added that seeing officers out giving tickets will change driver behavior.

He said relying on a combination of the two to reduce crashes is “something different than we’ve done in the past.”

The pilot project will have Police Service Aides and patrol officers respond to minor crashes, which often tie up the traffic unit, so those specialized officers can saturate areas showing “patterns of speeding, racing and dangerous driving.”

To kick it off, APD had traffic officers armed with speed guns braving bitterly cold wind gusts Wednesday morning to target speeders along Interstate 25 and Interstate 40. APD spokeswoman Rebecca Atkins said they issued 134 citations in just two hours, including for a driver going nearly 100 mph.

The announcement of the pilot project came on the heels of a year that saw more traffic deaths in the city than ever before in APD records. Also in 2021, the Albuquerque area and state had the highest pedestrian death toll in recorded history, with 49 and 100 fatalities, respectively.

APD has repeatedly attributed the uptick in deadly crashes to drivers, emboldened by empty streets during COVID-19, continuing to behave recklessly after traffic returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“Last year, we had a record that we do not like to set, 85 fatal crashes, up 10 from the previous year,” Deputy Chief Michael Smathers said. “We’re trying to change that trend and bring those numbers down.”

He said there is “clearly a direct correlation” between traffic citations and traffic safety, and “the more citations we issue, the less crashes we respond to.”

Smathers said the pilot project was inspired by encouraging returns – most notably a lower call volume – from recent weekend operations along Central, which resulted in almost 2,700 citations and 38 arrests.

APD said the agency has ratcheted up enforcement citywide this year.

APD officers issue a speeding ticket to drivers during a Targeted Enforcement along I-25 near Alameda on February 23, 2022 (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

In January and February, according to the department, officers issued more than 7,300 citations; in that same period last year, they issued just over 3,900 citations.

APD did not provide annual citation numbers for previous years.

Deputy Chief Josh Brown said that, if PSAs and patrol officers in the field are swamped with minor crashes, the traffic unit will still be able to respond to the overflow and provide relief. He asked that drivers involved in a “minor fender bender” make a report on the online app, over the phone or at a substation when possible.

Traffic Division Commander Joseph Viers said APD will also use data to identify areas with a lot of traffic crashes and crime. Then, when they do enforcement, he said it will not only reduce crashes, but also deter criminal activity.

“We’re trying to take a two-fold approach in order to help reduce crime and also get people to drive safely,” Viers said. “… Our biggest goal is just to deter unsafe driving … and make it safe for everybody to commute to work.”

Medina said that they intend to buy every marked police unit a speed gun so officers can give citations between calls for service.

Although the current focus is on speed, he said that will change depending on the need – such as for red light and seat belt violations.

He also wanted to remind the public that, in recent years, dangerous driving has led to sometimes fatal road rage incidents.

“We’re going to continue to work this process, we hope that we will continue to see reductions in speed and that it’s going to have a trickle effect into other types of crimes, not just those … associated with speed and traffic accidents,” Medina said.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Proactivity is on APD’s radar in new pilot project

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

Arizona won't wait for feds, starts filling border wall ...
ABQnews Seeker
Arizona began moving in shipping containers ... Arizona began moving in shipping containers to close a 1,000-foot gap in the border wall near the southern Arizona farming community of Yuma on ...
City, county detect first West Nile-positive mosquitoes of 2022
ABQnews Seeker
Infected mosquitoes expected to be around ... Infected mosquitoes expected to be around until 'a good, hard frost'
Vomiting causes can be elusive
ABQnews Seeker
It’s nobody’s favorite pastime. Sadly, some ... It’s nobody’s favorite pastime. Sadly, some cats retch intermittently throughout their lives
Tears of joy fill Isotopes' locker room after Bernard ...
ABQnews Seeker
After more than 1,000 games and ... After more than 1,000 games and a decade in the minors, Wynton Bernard gets his Major League call up to the Colorado Rockies.
As lawmakers eye changes, NM gets low marks for ...
ABQnews Seeker
Legislature looking to retool structure amid ... Legislature looking to retool structure amid ongoing revenue boom
Republicans open Hispanic community center in ABQ
ABQnews Seeker
GOP aims to attract groups who ... GOP aims to attract groups who typically vote Democrat
Forensics return from ‘Rust’ set
ABQnews Seeker
Sheriff's Office says agency still needs ... Sheriff's Office says agency still needs to review Alec Baldwin's phone records
Los Ranchos delays action on developments
ABQnews Seeker
Board adjourns after hours of comment ... Board adjourns after hours of comment without decision
Four suspects charged in 2021 carjacking-homicide
ABQnews Seeker
Alleged shooter, 3 others face multiple ... Alleged shooter, 3 others face multiple counts