Historic Old Town Association considers hiring private security

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The relatively new Historic Old Town Association is organizing, and turning their attention to hiring private security.

Kathy Hiatt described why she wants to pitch in for private security for Old Town a few weeks ago.

“It’s things like, people going through in the middle of the night and tipping over flower pots. Turning over furniture,” said Hiatt. “There’s someone who goes around and anybody that’s got an outside faucet they turn on the faucet, and leave it running all night. It always makes you feel violated.”

“Reactive approach to crime is not going to solve any of the problems,” said Old Town business owner Pete Kassetas.

Kassetas has an interesting perspective from the taproom he runs in Old Town.

“I’ve never heard a tourist walk by and say, ‘I’m never coming back to Old Town because there was a banner hanging off a railing.’ It was because someone was doing crack in the plaza, or exposed themselves, or done whatever,” said Kassetas.  

He’s also the former New Mexico State Police chief, and understands the realities of policing the metro.

“They can’t be here all the time, and it’s nice to see a unit cruise through. But the reality is that took all of 10 seconds. I’m a realist, I do not expect APD to sit here all day,” Kassetas said. “It’s difficult because they’re stacked for calls, might take them 30 minutes to two hours.”

Now they are in the process of sending out letters to merchants and residents, asking people to pitch in their hard-earned money to have a quick response from a private security company.

In the meeting on Monday, they estimated a majority of businesses do not want to pay up.

“I commend the people that are getting involved, or at least contemplating getting involved. Because sitting on the sidelines and complaining about it is one thing, but actually doing something is another,” said Kassetas. 

This new group believes they can make a difference.

 “I think all of us want to come together and get something done. And this is a place to start. Alright, yeah. I agree,” said Kassetas. 

Kassetas says what they are trying to do is not so different from what the city is doing downtown. They’re soliciting extra money for extra patrols on a smaller scale that’s controlled by the Historic Old Town Association.

This move comes after several other parts of Albuquerque are seeing new security initiatives.