Pay incentives helping recruit Albuquerque police officers

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For the last few years, the Albuquerque Police Department has been struggling to hire new officers. Now, they say new recruitment efforts have been successful.

So how are they getting more recruits? The simple answer is higher pay, but APD Chief Harold Medina also pointed out they have also turned some attention to retainment.

Currently, the department has around 850 officers on the force. Officials say another 27 will be graduating from the police academy, and 14 other officers have transferred in from other departments across the state.

That would bring their officer count up to 890.

“We have been pretty consistent in hiring 100 officers every year and that worked well for us in 2018 and 2019,” Medina said.

However, even more officers would leave the force or retire every year.

“Retention became a big issue and that’s what I want to talk about, the retention of our officers, we knew retention was key,” Medina said. “We were losing 10 to 15 officers a month.”

In the last couple of months, APD has taken a two-pronged approach – reward those who stay and increase the base pay for all positions.

“Any officer with 19+ years is given a bonus of $1,500 a month,” Medina said.

Cadets are getting the biggest raise of an extra $10 an hour. Patrol officers are getting a $7 raise, and lateral officers or transfers from another department will see a $1 increase.

“This is a very different APD than it was two years ago,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said.

The city has spent $60 million in what the mayor calls crime-fighting tech, like gunshot detectors, speed cameras, and license plate readers.

“All of these things are supporting our officers so that we can apprehend and capture and have good legal cases to help keep those who have done bad things in our city off the street,” Keller said.

Previously, the mayor and chief have mentioned getting the police force up to 1,200 officers. They told KOB 4 they would still like to see that happen eventually.