Mayor Keller on if he'd support return-to-work: 'I'm focusing on today' | KOB 4
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Mayor Keller on if he'd support return-to-work: 'I'm focusing on today'

Brittany Costello
January 13, 2018 09:43 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. – Santa Fe city councilors are looking to fix the police officer shortage in the capital city and are urging state lawmakers to take up the issue.

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On Wednesday night councilors passed a resolution encouraging state lawmakers to allow the Santa Fe Police Department to hire retired police officers and allow them to still collect retirement benefits.

This request is nothing new to state lawmakers.  A few years ago, lawmakers made changes to public retirement plans to stop what’s known as "double dipping," the idea that public employees can’t receive retirement pay and a normal paycheck.

Councilors say by allowing the so-called "double-dipping," the department will be able to get more officers to return to duty.

City councilors say the police department is having a difficult time in hiring just 20 officers, and even mentions the Albuquerque police shortage of around 400 officers in the resolution.

Communities, law makers and even former Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry has pushed for it.

"It's fiscally responsible. We need the help.  I’ll fight it.  If we come back with a bloody nose and don't get done again, that's unfortunate but we're not going stop just because we haven't had success yet,” Berry said in a 2017 interview.

But he didn't get it done.  It's a proposal the Albuquerque police union has long opposed.

“Return-to-work is the past, it's history.  It's bad legislation," said Shaun Willoughby, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association. “It’s fiscally irresponsible and it’s not what Albuquerque needs going forward into the future.”

So what does the new mayor of the state's largest city have to say? KOB asked Mayor Tim Keller if he would support such legislation.

“That’s really a legislative issue, and obviously I was in the Roundhouse for all of those votes and so forth and I know this. I’m focused on dealing with crime today," Keller said on Saturday. "Whether or not that passes, it will have an impact several years down the road, so I’m going to stay focused on today."

Over the years, legislation has been filed to allow officers to return to work. But during those sessions the bills died for one reason or another.

Prior to the upcoming session convening on Tuesday, a return to work bill has been pre-filed in the house. https://www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/Legislation?Chamber=H&LegType=B&LegNo=137&year=18 

 

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Brittany Costello

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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