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Council to look at consolidating police, fire services with county

Albuquerque’s City Council tonight will consider a study to examine consolidating city and county law enforcement and fire resources.

Three city councilors joined with Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales for a news conference Sunday announcing an effort to get a $50,000 feasibility study.

“I feel very confident that by looking at the study we can find ways to improve the services that we are providing,” Councilor Ken Sanchez said. “When somebody calls 911, they do not care whether it’s a city truck or a county truck or a police chief or a sheriff.”

City councilors could approve the study at their meeting tonight.

It would investigate the benefits and drawbacks to consolidating the Albuquerque Police Department, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office along with the Albuquerque and Bernalillo County fire departments.

“We have four different agencies that are essentially serving one group of people,” Councilor Dan Lewis, who is running for mayor of Albuquerque, said. “How can we do that more efficiently?”

The study will make recommendations as to whether it should happen, and if so, in what manner. Those suggestions could be as simple as combining dispatch centers or records departments.

Gonzales said he has a “laundry list of questions” that he hopes the study will address so that city and county leaders can make the decision that is best for residents. He said if the study finds that consolidation is the best option, he will support it.

“At the end of the day if that’s what comes out of it, and we can prove that, and we can show that that’s beneficial for the citizens, I would always agree to it,” he said.

Representatives from Albuquerque police and fire departments, Bernalillo County Commission and Bernalillo County Fire Department were not at the news conference.

“The intention here is to collect data, real strong data,” Councilor Isaac Benton said, “and investigate best practices as to how counties and cities work together in other major metropolitan areas like ours.”