Officials announce new plan to address Downtown crime - Albuquerque Journal

Officials announce new plan to address Downtown crime

Deputy Chief Josh Brown speaks at a news conference about a new program to address crime Downtown. (Elise Kaplan/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Put your money where your mouth is.

That’s what the city is suggesting to Downtown businesses concerned about crime, annoyances and public safety issues.

At a news conference at Central and Third on Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Tim Keller and Albuquerque Police Department leaders announced they are asking businesses to contribute to a fund to pay for a program similar to “chief’s overtime.” Typically, chief’s overtime consists of private businesses, organizations or event organizers paying for officers to be stationed in certain areas.

“The challenge is we are in a resource-constrained environment,” Keller said. “What we are announcing today Downtown is that we are going to do something very different. We are going to treat Downtown, essentially, like a neighborhood that has an acute crime problem.”

The initiative, called “Targeted Enforcement Action Monitoring,” will begin after July 4.

Keller said the extra officers will be able to focus on traffic enforcement, DWIs, modified exhaust, illegal firearms and the parking lots where after parties and violence break out after the bars close. The city will also be adding more streetlights and is planning to open a substation on Central between Third and Fourth by the end of the summer.

Officials said PNM has contributed $15,000 and so far there is a total of $90,000 pledged.

“Now I want to mention not all of the businesses are supporting this,” Keller said. “We want them to, we need them to. We have enough funding to get started and try this out this summer. That’s all the funding we have. But we hope we’re going to demonstrate how important this is and then we’ll get enough funding to run this year round.”

Terri Cole, president of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber supports the plan.

“We think this proposal helps level the playing field for smaller businesses in the Downtown area, which we’re obviously supportive of,” Cole said. “Right now businesses like Home Depot and Lowe’s pay chief’s overtime during the day and it seems reasonable to us that Downtown businesses ought to be able to use the same model.”

In anticipation of the implementation of the plan, APD began moving officers off assignments at big box stores, said Chief Harold Medina.

He said he’s noticed recently that those stores are hiring private security instead.

In response to questions about why private businesses should be asked to pay for extra police presence instead of the city itself, Medina said they have to choose where to spend public funds and have to be fair to the rest of the city.

“This is a way for people to fund Downtown, specifically, and not us devoting all our resources and money to just one specific part of town,” Medina said. “Because the moment I devote our resources and funding to Downtown, I guarantee there’s going to be another part of town asking ‘where’s my cut?'”

Keller said the city is committed to helping Downtown but “Downtown has to take control of their own future, too” by taking steps like creating a business improvement district.

“We’re there to help them and we’re going to get it started but they cannot be dependent on the City of Albuquerque to continue to do everything for them every year,” Keller said. “Because that is exactly why we’ve gotten into this spot right now.”

To donate to the TEAM initiative, visit the One Albuquerque Fund website.

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