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APD Youth Leadership Lowrider

Information on the APD Southwest Area Command's Lowrider.

Background of APD Youth Leadership Lowrider

Since 2019, the Albuquerque Police Department's Southwest Area Command has partnered with a wide variety of local businesses and entities to provide automotive mentorship opportunities to retrofit a police vehicle. APD also held a contest open to local students to create a design to be painted on the vehicle’s hood. Winners of this contest were provided scholarships for school as well as local recognition. While this initiative involved using $30,000 from APD’s Neighborhood Policing budget, local businesses donated over $60,000 worth of materials and operational support in order to make this a reality.  Upgrades to the police vehicle include everything from hydraulics to bodywork and artwork. APD is using this community oriented approach to be able to use their vehicles as a tool for building relationships between the lowrider community and law enforcement, while also providing mentorship opportunities for local youth.

Initial conception of the APD Youth Leadership Lowrider began in July of 2019. The program was initiated when the Albuquerque Police Department’s Southwest PRT Officers held a Coffee with a Cop event at West Mesa High School. While trying to connect with the students, many of them suggested the department get an “actual cool car” with a loud stereo-system. Officer Gabriel Candelaria who got the idea from Officer Jason Deatherage, expressed the desire to build a lowrider patrol vehicle to City Councilor Klarissa J. Peña and she immediately realized the positive impact this could have on the youth of Albuquerque. Councilor Peña and APD’s Southwest PRT Team collaborated to make a youth leadership program. Councilor Peña allocated $30,000 for the program and the journey of the vehicle began. 

APD Youth Leadership Lowrider

The first step in the process was to put some of the funding right back into the youth of Albuquerque, by holding a mural art contest. The winner of this contest, Kalyn Flores, was given a $5,000 scholarship on December 10th, 2019. The $5000 was donated from Nusenda Credit Union. Ms. Flores' artwork is displayed on the hood. In addition to the contest winner, 6 runner ups were each given $500 dollars in scholarship money for a total of $8,000. 

This is more than an at-risk youth leadership project, this vehicle serves as an avenue through which various marginalized parts of our community can build bridges with the Albuquerque Police Department and Police in general. Throughout the various stages through this project there have been many instances in which individuals have expressed that this project has changed their entire outlook on police for the better. Sergeant Larry Middleton had contacted a student at West Mesa High school who had a negative view of police. This student’s dog was shot by police during a past incident. This project allowed Sgt. Middleton to bridge a gap between her pre-judged ideas of police. By the end of the class she was participating in the oil change and expressed how her opinion of police is now positive and she feels not all police are bad. The interaction with this student was only possible because of the Youth Leadership Lowrider Program.

This lowrider is more than a vehicle with a candy paint job and shiny set of rims, the vehicle represents relationships and has come to represent something larger than sum of its parts. Community events in which the lowrider has participated include:

  • Partnering with West Mesa High School auto mechanic shops for routine maintenance on the vehicle.
  • Partnering with the Impalas Car Club on their 2nd Annual Truck or Treat at the Westside Community Center.
  • Taking the vehicle to attend a Christmas concert held for the children of incarcerated persons.
  • The vehicle attended Lowrider night at Isotopes park and allowed the public to vote on the color scheme for the vehicle.
  • Through the youth leadership program $8,000 contributed by Councilor Peña, Nusenda Credit Union, and Westside Speech Academy were given as scholarships to local youth. The scholarship competition was put on as an art competition open to local youth through which they were challenged to produce art relating to community policing. The winning piece of art serves as the mural of the lowrider.
  • The winner of the art competition, Kalyn Flores, worked with Blast Factory Paints to paint the mural on the vehicle.
  • National media attention to the involved youth of the Youth Leadership Program via the New Mexico Bowl.

This project would not have been possible without the hard work and donations from members of our community.

APD Lowrider Unveiled at Drive-thru Car Show

On Saturday, May 15, 2021, the Youth Leadership was unveiled at Balloon Fiesta Park with numerous individuals, businesses, and car club's that contributed to the project on hand to see the finished car first. Councilor Peña and APD recognized each and every person for thier efforts in putthing this car together. Read more about May 15th car show and unveiling.

APD Youth Leader Lowrider Unveiling May 15, 2021

History of Cruising Task Force

The Albuquerque City Council created a Cruising Task Force in December 2017 responsible for making recommendations to promote responsible cruising in the City of Albuquerque. The Resolution, sponsored by City Councilors Klarissa Peña and Isaac Benton, acknowledged that the current Ordinance allowed the City Council to limit cruising, calling it "a threat to the public health, safety, and welfare through congestion created by the repetitive, unnecessary driving of motor vehicles," but also acknowledged that if done responsibly, cruising should be celebrated by the City as being part of the community's cultural heritage.

The Cruising Task Force held a total of six meetings throughout the months of February and March 2018 to discuss local issues surrounding cruising and potential solutions to address those issues. Over 35 local stakeholders were involved with the task force, including lowrider club representatives, private parking lot owners, small local business owners, and city staff from APD, Cultural Services, and City Council. During these six meetings, the Task Force discussed the existing conditions surrounding cruising behavior, culture, and regulation in the City of Albuquerque and provided a list of recommendations for the City to further support the cruising community. The Task Force identified six types of recommendations: 1) Legislative,  2) Administrative, 3) Event Coordination, 4) Enforcement, 5) Barricades, and 6) Next Steps.

Not long after these recommendations came to the Albuquerque City Council, the City repealed the No-Cruising Ordinance and began working on a variety of other initiatives, including the creation of a Lowrider Police Car. More recently, the City of Albuquerque was also contacted by National City in California who is planning to establish their own task force with the intention of repealing their No-Cruising Ordinance and adopting some of the other recommendations that came out of Albuquerque’s Task Force.