Amid police staffing woes, how well protected are Albuquerque schools? | KOB 4
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Amid police staffing woes, how well protected are Albuquerque schools?

Caleb James
March 13, 2018 08:47 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- With gun violence in schools at the front of many minds, safety is a major part of the discussion.

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As KOB has reported many times, multiple units within the Albuquerque Police Department suffer amidst the agency's staffing concerns. But according to the union, there are 80 percent less school resource officers on the force than eight years ago.  

References to school resource officer programs are woven throughout hundreds of pages of Albuquerque Police Department annual reports, but it's harder to find any reference to the program beyond 2013.

The Albuquerque Police Officers Association tells KOB the constant presence of uniformed officers on Albuquerque Public Schools campuses has dramatically decreased since 2010. The union estimates 48 resource officers served on the force then. Now there are only eight, according to union leadership.

A spokesman for the department disputed the figure -- only slightly -- on Monday. APD said the official school resource officer presence on the force is 10 officers. 

Either figure represents about an 80 percent decrease.

But APS on Monday says the reduction in city police resources doesn't mean campuses are unprotected. The district has its own armed police force staffed largely by retired former police.

The district tells KOB there are currently 56 armed officers on the APS force. Each high school has its own officer assigned, and spokeswoman Monica Armenta said a handful of middle schools also have a full-time officer based on size and calls for service.

Police union leadership said APD's decrease in resources is a symptom of overall staffing concerns at the department.

APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos echoed that response, acknowledging a reduction in overall staffing at the department had contributed to the reduction of specialized units.

"That doesn’t mean APD stopped working on crimes that were covered by specialized units," Gallegos said in an e-mail to KOB on Monday. "Instead, it means that specialized officers were assigned to patrol or specialized positions were left vacant when officers left." 

Gallegos said the decision to place APD officers on Albuquerque Public Schools was made when the department had more resources.

"Chief [Mike] Geier would prefer to have more school resource officers, and that issue will be revisited as APD moves to more aggressively hire sworn officers," Gallegos wrote in the e-mail. "But the chief is cognizant of today's threats to schools, and he is taking several steps, including the new threat assessment, to keep schools safe."

Gallegos said Geier has directed staff to develop a schools threat assessment to better prepare the department to respond to potential school threats despite staffing concerns.

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Caleb James

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

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