Created: October 17, 2020 09:23 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — City leaders are in the process of finalizing next year’s budget, which includes more money for law enforcement.
Despite nationwide protests for cities to defund their police departments, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller wants to increase APD’s budget by 3 percent to $212 million.
"In Albuquerque, as you know, is very unique and we do recognize the crime issue and we are not reducing the budget of APD,” said Sanjay Bhakta, the city’s chief financial officer.
According to Bhakta, APD received $205 million last year.
Additionally, some funds in next year’s budget will be covered by the CARES Act. The city will also receive $10 million from the federal government to hire new officers.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr recently criticized the city for not taking advantage of the funds. However, the city pointed out it could not sign off on the documents because of a glitch on the federal government’s website. Bhakta believes the money from the grant should be available in the coming weeks.
Meantime, APD officials said they’re seeing more people interested in joining APD.
According to Alex Rahimi, a detective with the department, there are about 50 cadets in the current academy, but the next class could have closer to 80.
When asked if the pandemic and recent protests to defund police have deterred people from wanting to become officers, Rahimi told KOB no.
"You know this year has been our best year with our recruiting,” he said.
Rahimi said APD has started to do more recruiting via social media because of the pandemic. They’ve also launched the #IfICanYouCan campaign to attract more candidates.
“We learned a lot too – what it means to have that online presence,” he said.
According to Rahimi, they’ve doubled the amount of interest cards they usually receive and are working with more applicants than usual.
In addition to upping APD’s budget, Keller previously announced plans to start a new public safety department that will focus on issues like homelessness or mental health.
“I think what we all agree on is that there is certainly a need for the new department and we all agree on that,” said Bhakta. “Ultimately, the goals of the mayor and council seem to be the same. However, the mayor wants to do this in a rather aggressive manner.”
City leaders will discuss next year’s spending during Monday’s meeting at 5 p.m.
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