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City council approves study on emergency services consolidation

Caleb James
March 21, 2017 08:35 AM

At its meeting Monday night, the Albuquerque City Council voted 7-1 to fund a study to explore options for consolidating city and county emergency service agencies. Every option is on the table, including fully integrating the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office and the Albuquerque Police Department.

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The complications that presents are many. For example, APD is under a Department of Justice consent decree. Would the sheriff's office be willing to join forces under that? Answering those sorts of questions is what the study aims to do.

City councilors voted to go ahead and begin the research process into different options for consolidating emergency services, including APD and BCSO. Understaffing and response times are both problems facing APD. The study aims to determine whether those problems could be solved by blending agencies.

Click here to read the resolution calling for the study

Exploring options for consolidation of city and county fire departments and dispatch is also included in the study, which will move ahead. Some of the options the study may explore include:

  • Cross deputizing: Establishing certain zones throughout the metro where the jurisdiction of APD and BCSO overlap.
  • Pooling resources: Authorizing officers and firefighters to work outside their jurisdiction - city cops allowed to respond to calls in the county.
  • Unification: All agencies grouped into a new agency.

The proposal's sole dissenting vote was Councilor Trudy Jones, who argued the study puts the cart before the horse.

"I'm not confident that the sworn officers from Bernalillo County would be willing to participate in our settlement agreement, but this would certainly put them in that position," Jones said. "I think I would really like to see some more homework done on this."

The bill specifies both city and county involvement in the study, as well as union representatives from the city and county agencies that would be affected. The study's proposed cost is $50,000.

Credits

Caleb James

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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