Thursday, April 19, 2007
APD Requesting $1M for Recruiting
By T.J. Wilham
Journal Staff Writer
The Albuquerque Police Department is in a "recruiting crisis" and is asking the City Council for more than $1 million to fix it.
APD's recruiting budget is $110,000. Officials say they need the extra money to expand to 1,100 officers by year's end. APD has 998 officers, including 18 part-timers.
The money is part of the department's overall $145 million budget request for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
The extra recruiting money would be for advertising, booth space and retention bonuses to keep veteran officers from retiring.
Police Chief Ray Schultz told councilors during a recent budget workshop that his department is having problems recruiting because law enforcement agencies around the country are after the same people and some of them pay better than APD.
"We have been trying to attract officers for the last 15 years," Schultz said. "But it has now come to a crisis stage over the past couple of years."
APD officers can retire at 20 years, earning 70 percent of the average of their top three years' pay. If they wait until 22 years and 10 months, they can earn 80 percent.
The department wants to give an extra $1,000 a year to officers who reach 20 years. Patrolmen who have 20 years now earn $50,189. Officers who stay past 21 years would earn an extra $5,000 a year.
An officer who has been out of the academy for one year earns $39,520.
The retention bonuses would apply only to sergeants and officers. Last year, APD set a record when 67 officers retired.
APD has been aggressive and controversial in its recruiting. It has posted fliers on the police cars of other agencies and started a campaign using the runaway bride theme that received national media attention. Next week, Schultz is going to Michigan to offer jobs to 29 state troopers recently laid off due to budget cuts.
APD also has sponsored sporting events, started a rehire program that allows retired officers to return and offered $3,000 in hiring bonuses. It wants to increase the bonuses to $5,500.
For the past four years, city officials have wanted to increase the size of the police department, which had been operating at 855 officers.
Mayor Martin Chávez initially set a goal of 1,000 and then increased it.
This year, more than 27 percent of the city's $498 million in estimated spending is dedicated to the police department. The $145 million request would account for 29 percent of the budget.