Food trucks become part of downtown Albuquerque safety plan

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Downtown Albuquerque has gone through its ups and downs over the years. But APD and the city have a number of downtown initiatives right now, some stemming from its announcement about problem parking lots a few months ago.

Mayor Tim Keller called two lots on Central “drivers of crime” when introducing the APD substation last September.

“The city said it because it was true,” said APD Commander Nick Wheeler, of the Valley area command.

“They’re a lot less visible to the general public, there’s no bar owners, there wasn’t as much police presence, so it turns into a verbal altercation, a physical altercation, and then you know violent crimes,” said Wheeler.

APD started proactive policing of the lots, and food trucks will start playing a role too. 

The city is finalizing plans for a “food truck corral” in the lot on Central at 2nd Street on Friday and Saturday nights from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“We’ll have picnic tables; we’re going to put some fencing around it to ensure public safety. And there’s going to be lighting there’s going to be our real-time crime center cameras in the parking lot there will be officers on foot as well as private security,” explained Wheeler. 

Wheeler says there will be a bonus public safety aspect too. With all of the food trucks in that central location, officers will have a better line of sight up and down Central.

The city plans to close the lot this weekend and will start notifying food trucks about the opportunity. 

Other recent efforts to clean up downtown have gone far beyond those two lots. The TEAM program with officers from units across the board just completed its 25th weekend. Eleven downtown donors have pitched in around $130,000 for officers to work overtime.

“They’re getting a lot better sense that people are comfortable coming downtown, especially with the additional officer presence through our TEAM’s overtime,” said Wheeler. 

Commander Wheeler also mentioned new lighting, automated license plate readers, and surveillance cameras connected to the real-time crime center that are also making an impact.