Mayor Keller talks public safety plans, new stadium and Gateway Center timeline
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Tuesday, we learned the City of Albuquerque has new crime fighting operations in the works to lessen the load on police, while still working toward a safer place for all of us.
The goal is to make sure Albuquerque police can focus on violent and serious crimes, and other departments can step in for other issues.
Mayor Tim Keller went through the city’s plans for tackling multiple aspects of public safety.
“We’ve got some bold ideas that are in the works, that are in process. And we know that our city still has a fighting chance against these challenges,” said Keller.
Like our homeless epidemic, retail and violent crime, and an understaffed police department.
But Keller says his administration is trying to take some pressure off APD.
“We’ve had to invest a lot in technology, we have been playing catch up. But the good news is, we’re almost done with that. Now we’re using these tools,” Keller said.
Keller says the city spent more than $70 million on various crime fighting technology like speed cameras, gun shot detectors and upgrading the Real Time Crime Center with 24/7 staffing.
“We have 9,000 cameras now in a Real Time Crime Center. And I’m going to show you how this is helping us fight crime, but it’s also pretty obvious. Again, if you can’t put an officer on every corner, then you better have a camera. And that’s what we’re doing right now in Albuquerque,” Keller said.
He says other plans are still in the works. The relatively new Albuquerque Community Safety Department will start operating 24/7 this fall.
The department was Keller’s solution to have social workers respond to situations where police aren’t the best option.
ACS data shows the department has already taken 40,000 calls in two years – about half of those would have gone to APD.
Keller says other cities are noticing.
“We have Seattle in town last week copying this model. Denver’s copying this model. Literally 30 minutes ago, I was talking to the Pueblo mayor about this model,” said Keller.
NEW MEXICO UNITED STADIUM
Keller also gave an update on some “perks” like a new stadium for the New Mexico United. He wants to look at putting it at Balloon Fiesta Park.
Last year, voters turned down a new stadium. This time around, the team is looking at private funding.
“Obviously, it’s not a done deal. But I will tell you permitting and planning and all of this stuff is starting, capital raising is happening right now in the private side. And our goal is this winter to break ground on this stadium,” said Keller.
The city first announced the Balloon Fiesta Park site in March. At that point, they were looking at the parking lot just east of the field.
NEW GATEWAY CENTER TIMELINE
Keller says some parts of the Gateway Center are open. But, he admits it will be at least two more years until it is fully operational.
“Look, it’s a little delayed because of asbestos. Before that it was delayed because of zoning. You all know how that works, but we are doing this,” Keller said.
City officials have broken up the center’s opening into phases by addressing one service at a time. For example, a housing navigation center, a first responder drop-off and a sobering center.
Other services like mental health care and overnight shelters will take even longer to open than originally planned.
“My goal is, in the next two years to have all those phases open. It’s gonna be a heavy lift, but we have to do this for Albuquerque,” Keller said.