APD Still Losing Officers and the Numbers Don't Lie
By: ABQRAW staff
Posted: 11/7/2022 @ 12:30PM
Despite the Keller administration's promises to raise the number of officers ranks to 1200 during their first bid for mayor in 2016 the actual number remains just under what the numbers were when they took office.
We have learned that APD patrol officers (the ones actually in police cars going to calls) are about to have their annual bid, where they get to pick which area command, leadership, and shift they want to work at, and for. The City of Albuquerque is split up into 6 area commands. Once officers pick their choices, depending on their seniority, they will remain at that spot for the next year.
The actual number of patrol officers bidding into those area commands is what concerns us and it should concern every citizen. We have been told that the amount of officers prepared to bid totals only 326. That's right, 326 officers to answer the surging amount of calls for service and violent crime incidents which are out of control and at record levels. These 326 officers are all that is available for the entire city of Albuquerque. To break it down more, we learned there are 297 patrolman first class officers and 29 patrolman second class officers which adds up to the 326 total. Patrolman first class officers are the officers who have been on over one year and are not on probation anymore. Patrolman second class officers are the rookies and have not reached their one year mark and are still on probation.
APD officers investigate a homicide scene in SE Albuquerque in early 2022.
We spoke to the Albuquerque Police Officers Association President Shawn Willoughby who is frustrated with the numbers of officers available. He told us that he was able to research officer numbers from 1989 and he found out APD had 899 sworn officers and of that 640 of them were assigned to three area commands, which means around 213 per area command. The three are commands were Northeast, Southeast and Valley (back then Valley was considered everything west of Interstate 25 to the west city limits). We reached out to retired Chief of Police Sam Baca, who was police chief in 1989, and he verified he had around 900 officers and they bid at that time 640 officers to the area commands. Chief Baca also noted that at the time he was short officers according to national standards.
An APD sergeant and officer talk to a father whose child was shot at a local park in 2022.
We learned from retired officers that over the years the bid numbers were as follows:
1982: 335 patrol officers bid to 3 area commands, NE, SE, & Valley
1989: 640 patrol officers bid to 3 area commands NE, SE, & Valley
1994: 393 patrol officers bid to 4 area commands NE, SE, Valley, & Westside
2001: 438 patrol officers bid to 5 area commands NE, SE, Valley, Westside, & Foothills
2007: 434 patrol officers bid to 5 area commands NE, SE, Valley, Westside, & Foothills
2022: 326 patrol officers will bid into 6 area commands NE, SE, Valley, Northwest, Southwest, & Foothills (Westside command was split into two commands in 2008, NW & SW)
A map of the APD area commands.
Alarmingly, as of today, there are 860 TOTAL sworn officers from patrolman second class all the way up to the Chief of Police. As stated above, of those 860 current officers, only 326 of them will be divided into SIX area commands. This translates to around 54 officers per area command.
Let that sink in, in 1989 there were 899 officers and 640 working the streets. In 2022, a total of 860 officers are currently employed and of those only 326 will be on the streets.
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For the Mayors part, he has just recently offered the most senior officers with 19 years or more of service a monthly bonus of around $1500 each month. The city has also offered to pay these officers share of medical insurance costs. Both offerings require a "one year contract," it is unclear if this can actually be enforced. We have learned that the bonus has not swayed anyone from leaving. Those officers who are receiving the bonus had no desire to leave anyways. Several officers with 19 years on are in fact researching ways to buy a year to leave early. We talked to a couple of officers who are even looking to purchase military time of which officers who served can buy up to four years of APD time to retire up to four years early.
Regardless of the numbers of officers available over the years, ABQRAW has noticed the men and women of the Albuquerque Police Department have done their best to do the best they can and most remain positive. We are confident that no matter the latest numbers APD officers will still answer those piling calls with fewer amounts of officers to handle them.