APD disbands Open Space Unit, redistributes officers

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Albuquerque Police Department announced they will be getting rid of the dedicated Open Space Division. 

APD Chief Harold Medina says it’s not about taking away resources, but redistributing them where it makes more sense. 

“Time and time again, we get asked, ‘What are you going to do about response times?’ Well, this is what we’re doing about response times,” said Medina.  

Medina says they’re going to be trying something new starting in January, and the APD officers in the Open Space Unit will be dispersed elsewhere. 

He says the department wants to try out a collateral system instead, similar to the old “party patrol” system. Officers working part-time on open space calls, like bosque fires or water rescues. 

“Collateral programs are nothing new to the police department, and now that we’re short, we should be utilizing them more and more, and getting more out of our investments with sworn officers,” said Medina. 

The Open Space Division has been made up of four officers and a sergeant. 

Medina says the Open Space Division doesn’t get enough calls right now to justify a full-time group, and he wants to divert those officers to divisions that are understaffed – like the homicide unit or domestic violence. 

“I want to test this out for a year, see if it works,” he said. “I’m hoping this model works. If it doesn’t work, we’ll sit, we’ll reevaluate, we’ll make changes.” 

Now, in place of those officers, Medina says there will be public service aids in place instead. 

He also hopes to add more residents to the mix as well, similar to how bait cars are placed by residents which frees up officers.