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Starting this fall potential cadets will be required to have at least 60 college-level credit hours or three years military experience.

Albuquerque - Mayor Richard J. Berry announced Thursday that significant changes are being made to Albuquerque’s Police Department’s training academy.

Starting with the 108th Cadet class, which is expected to begin this fall, potential cadets will be required to have at least 60 college-level credit hours or three years military experience. In addition, Mayor Berry also announced that he is going to begin a nationwide search for a civilian training director. The director will preferably have background in law enforcement and education. Previously, the academy has been run by a sworn law enforcement officer from within the department.  Sworn officers will still play a key role in the administration and training functions of the academy.

APD will continue to work closely with the criminal justice programs at Central New Mexico Community College and the University of New Mexico to identify prospective applicants and to improve public safety training.

"We are already recognized as having a progressive academy and these changes are additional ways to raise the public safety bar for the citizens of Albuquerque. We want to be proactive in preparing the next generation of police officers."

Currently the 106th cadet class is going through training at the law enforcement academy and since November, recruiters have been accepting applications for the 107th cadet class, which is expected to begin in the spring. Although the changes will not officially begin until the 108th class, applicants with college credits or military experience currently applying for the 107th cadet class will be given priority hiring preference.

"It’s not easy to become an Albuquerque police officer," Police Chief Ray Schultz said. "With the new requirements it’s going to become even more challenging. That’s what we want – the best of the best."

According to a 2010 study conducted by the National Institute of Justice, only about 1 percent of police departments around the country require college degrees. In 1994 APD had established a college credit or military entrance requirement. The requirement was dropped in 1999.

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