Updated: November 27, 2019 12:04 PM
Created: November 26, 2019 10:47 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - While Albuquerque police continue investigating a city homicide record of 72 murders, union officials told KOB 4 that city leaders need to focus on recruiting more officers.
“We need more officers on the street. We need more detectives calling victims back, working on these cases,” said Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association president Shaun Willoughby.
“We need to focus on that. Less PR, less puff, more actual, basic police work,” he added.
KOB 4 asked Willoughby about the city’s latest crime-fighting initiative “Metro 15.”
“This Metro 15 – it’s a great concept. It’s a rebranding of a concept we’ve been doing for years, right? We work well with the DA’s office and I find it good and powerful that all of these entities are coming together because they just told everybody that their credibility is on the line too," Willoughby said.
Under Mayor Tim Keller’s plan, authorities will identify and apprehend the city’s 15 most violent offenders.
Keller also recently announced the Violence Interruption Plan, which will try to cut down on certain offenses like homicides and shootings.
Still, Willoughby thinks city leaders need to focus on staffing.
“This is the number one crime plan that I don't think was addressed at today's press conference. The number one crime plan is fully staffing this police department."
Keller wants to hire 100 new officers a year until the city hits 1,200, but Willoughby wants the city to conduct an in-depth staffing study to make sure police are working in the right departments.
Willoughby said community policing and bike patrols are great, but wants to see more officers patrolling and investigating homicides.
"It's a great thing for the community. We love taking a group of kids to see a Frozen movie. We want to have relations with this community and we want to build and focus on community policing but the number one attribute of community policing is policing," he said.
A spokesperson for the mayor’s office told KOB 4, "Despite resistance from the union leadership, APD has made great strides in meeting the requirements of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement and we continue to restore public trust in our officers."
They also sent the following statement:
"The first thing Mayor Keller did when he took office was overhaul the police department to more effectively fight crime and invest in officer salaries to make APD recruitment more competitive. We inherited the smallest police force in recent memory at fewer than 850 officers, and we are on track to meet our goal of hiring 100 new officers a year for 4 years. The additional officers allowed APD to more than double the number of homicide detectives, while providing investigative training for all detectives. We created Problem Response Teams in every Area Command, brought back bike patrols, created the Downtown Public Safety District, re-opened community substations, tackled the rape kit backlog, resulting in the prosecution of serial rapists, and created the Violence Intervention Program that has officers who are dedicated to reducing violent crime. Our focus on recruiting is unrelenting.”
Willoughby called the city’s recruiting efforts a “work in progress.”
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