Albuquerque Historical Society suspends downtown walking tours

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Albuquerque Historical Society has decided to stop their free downtown tours after they said the tours became a safety issue for their guides.

City leaders addressed their concerns last December during a Downtown Public Safety ECHO meeting but ultimately were unable to come up with solutions everyone agreed on.

“There was one guide who was vomited on, and he has no interest in coming downtown,” said Trudy Merriman, the walking tour coordinator and member of the Albuquerque Historical Society.

“Possibly having some training for all of your training people on de-escalation techniques for some of the individuals you are dealing with,” said one of the city leaders during the ECHO meeting.

Leaders also suggested those guides use the APD app to report any issues on tours and offered to help find more volunteers.

“We can also have you meet the officers that are working on Saturday mornings because during the market time, we have officers already in the downtown areas,” said one of the leaders.

Other organizations, including Heading Home, offered support if the Historical Society needed it.  However, Society leaders claim these potential solutions won’t work.

“We are all volunteers, and it became a bit embarrassing to have people come from out of the state to come and see what had become of our streets,” said Merriman.

The group said these walks originally started as a fun way to give back but after a series of problems with Albuquerque’s homeless community, they don’t see a way to continue doing them.

“We had to bypass urine on the streets, defecation, vomit, and um, we are all seniors giving these tours,” she said.

The group wanted an increased presence of officers along the walking route.

A spokesperson with the Albuquerque Police Department sent KOB the following statement about the society’s concerns: 

“Multiple departments within the City of Albuquerque have offered extensive resources to the Albuquerque Historical Society with regards to their downtown tours. From assisting AHS with parking, to recruiting additional volunteers for their tours, to safety and cleanup issues in the downtown area. No less than four city departments (APD, ACS, Solid Waste and Family and Community Services) offered assistance and solutions. The city still stands ready to assist should AHS chose to resume its tours.”

“I don’t understand how they can open an office down here but yet the police aren’t visible to people who do business down here,” said Merriman.

Merriam said the solutions provided were reactive, not proactive. However, the APD representative said that the city has added lights and cameras throughout downtown to improve safety.

The APD rep added that they also moved a substation to a more centralized part of downtown to boost overall presence. APD said everything they offered the organization back in December still stands – should the Society decide to bring the walking tours back.