ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two high-profile shootings at city parks last year convinced Mayor Richard Berry that he should roll out a pilot program addressing security after dark, he announced at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Speaking at Los Altos Park, the site of one of the shootings, Berry said the pilot program will include two security officers patrolling 15 city parks throughout the night in order to deter crimes or report them to police, along with three or four additional cameras and a surveillance system that can be monitored in real time.
The program, which costs $68,000 from the general fund, will begin immediately and will be monitored over the next several months to decide how to adjust or expand it.
Six people were injured and a 17-year-old boy was killed at Los Altos skate park on Lomas near Eubank NE last March when a fistfight turned into a gunfight. A 14-year-old boy was shot in the head during a drive-by at Pat Hurley Park near Atrisco and Central NW last July.
“We have had too many incidents in our parks over the past couple of years; it goes back decades, even,” Berry said. “Sometimes, parks are a place where people decide it’s a good place to do drugs or decide it’s a good idea to perpetrate other illegal activity. We want to make sure that the folks that don’t want to do the right thing know we have eyes and ears out there.”
Before the start of the pilot program, officers with the Albuquerque Police Department responded to calls at parks and monitored five cameras set up by the Real Time Crime Center, said Jen Samp, the spokeswoman for the Parks and Recreation Department.
Shortly after the shooting at Los Altos skate park, Barbara Taylor, the city’s director of parks and recreation, said officials would look into additional security measures, including cameras, higher fences and earlier closing times.
But Berry had said he thought the parks were safe the way they were.
However, he said Thursday he wants the community to feel safe at the more than 300 parks around the city and hopes the program will address that.
“We want those people to be safe with their families while they enjoy those parks,” Berry said. “We want them to rest at night knowing that, if there is illegal activity happening in their parks, we are working hard to stop it and keep their neighborhood safe at the same time.”