City of Albuquerque Brings Back Open Space Unit Full Time
BY: ABQ RAW staff
On August 15th, 2023, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and APD Police Chief Harold Medina along with other city officials announced the creation of a revamped APD Open Space Unit. What will happen in the near future is the City of Albuquerque will hire and recruit additional employees to run a hybrid conservation/policing unit in Albuquerque's open space.
The Department has signed an agreement with the Albuquerque Police Officer’s Association to create 12 Open Space Conservation officer positions and hire directly to that position. This agreement will allow APD to find officers with specialized knowledge in patrolling open spaces, rather than urban areas.
On November 18th, 2022, in an internal APD video posted on their "Daily 49" newscast, Deputy Chief Mike Smathers informed all APD employees in the video that the Open Space Unit was being disbanded in 2023 and went on to thank them for their service. Once the public found out the news it made the community question this decision about APD higher ups disbanding a critical outdoor unit.
Here is a story on when the APD Open Space unit was orignally disbanded: CLICK HERE
When the Open Space Unit was eliminated it had a budget of around 1.4 million dollars and according to Chief Medina the revamp will come at a cost of at least 5 million dollars per year to operate.
According to the middle Rio Grande Conservancy District Open Space works to acquire and protect the natural character of land designated as major public Open Space in the 1988 revised City of Albuquerque Comprehensive Plan. These lands, which are comprised of over 28,000 acres in and around Albuquerque, are managed to conserve natural and archeological resources, provide opportunities for outdoor education, provide a place for high and low impact recreation, and define the edges of the urban environment.
Officers from the Albuquerque Police Department patrol Open Space areas by foot, vehicle, all terrain vehicles, horseback, and mountain bicycle.
Watch the full press conference announcement here: