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Mayor Tim Keller Unveils New Downtown Public Safety District

Mayor Tim Keller announces the creation of a new Downtown Public Safety District with an Albuquerque Police Department APD Downtown Substation.

Sept. 12, 2018

Mayor Tim Keller announced the creation of a new Downtown Public Safety District. The new district will include an expanded and permanent police presence with a Downtown Substation, along with services from several city departments and community partners to build a vibrant Downtown and keep people and businesses safe.

As part of the press conference, Mayor Tim Keller said:

“Cities rise and fall with their Downtown areas. There’s no doubt we are facing challenges in many parts of our city, but Downtown is our state’s only true urban center and a commercial capital; it’s unique and it’s time we honor that with a special public safety model. Making this area safe to live, work and play is key to our city's—and even our state's—success. We’re not going to band-aid this or try and push these problems to other areas, we want to step up and address them with a comprehensive approach. Today is just the start, it won’t happen overnight. It will be a long road, and it also means tackling crime from all sides by providing compassionate access to services for folks experiencing homelessness or struggling with behavioral health challenges and addiction.”

The Downtown Public Safety District will be housed at a Downtown District Substation, located at the Alvarado Transit Center and may include future locations. The eight existing police officers assigned to Downtown will be expanded to 12 and a Deputy Chief, a Lieutenant and a Sergeant will oversee the day-to-day operations. Police Service Aides will also be assigned to the district.

“As someone who owns a business Downtown, I have to tell you that we have our challenges, but we build our businesses here because we believe in Albuquerque,” said Mark Baker, owner of Humble Coffee, which has a Downtown location. “The fact that APD reached out to our business directly, and has been in consistent contact with us has been a refreshing change and we’re looking forward to the community policing that will come out of the new Downtown substation.”

Because homelessness is more concentrated Downtown, APD will assign Crisis Outreach and Support Teams (COAST) and Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officers to the Downtown Public Safety District to address homelessness and behavioral health needs.

As part of Mayor Tim Keller’s all hands on deck approach, several other departments and community partners will contribute resources to the Downtown Public Safety District, including:

  • AFR will increase its presence by posting near Central during high-volume call time, and by driving a loop around the district after each call for service.
  • Albuquerque Fire and Rescue’s new Home Engagement and Alternative Response Team (HEART) program is also exploring a downtown home base.
  • The Transit and Municipal Development departments will contribute security personnel to the district in coordination with APD’s patrol plans.
  • The Family and Community Services Department is contributing a social worker to coordinate service providers and implement Project ECHO to train mental health workers in the district.
  • The Municipal Development and Solid Waste departments will expand the use of street cleaning machines throughout Downtown, including alleyways, and add collection routes for Downtown businesses to address overflow of trash from Saturday nights.
  • Solid Waste will use its Block by Block program to wash sidewalks and its Clean City Graffiti crew to eradicate graffiti as soon as possible.
  • The Safe City Strike Force will monitor the district and work closely with Family and Community Services and other service providers.
  • The Family and Community Services Department is continuing to work with Heading Home’s ABQ Street Connect program to assist people with significant behavioral health disability and experiencing homelessness.
  • Family and Community Services is working with Hopeworks and outreach partners including APD’s COAST team, APD’s Crisis Intervention Team, and ACT teams to do mental health outreach.
  • Family and Community Services will work with the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness to assist homeless service providers.

As Mayor Keller’s team planned for the creation of the Downtown Public Safety District, APD officers reached out to residents and business owners to get their input on public safety in the Downtown area. At the same time, police ran tactical operations to crack down on crime, which produced the following results:

  • 8 felony warrants cleared
  • 13 Felony arrests
  • Heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine have been seized in the arrests
  • 3 guns recovered
  • Stolen flak jacket recovered
  • Stolen tools recovered
  • 5 summons
  • 5 misdemeanor arrests

“We are successfully fighting crime when we engage with communities to come up with solutions that keep people safe,” APD Chief Mike Geier said. “That’s exactly what we are doing with Downtown. This is a dynamic community and we need dynamic solutions that are driven by police working hand-in-hand with the people who live, work and play Downtown.”

“We’re not just talking about community policing, Mayor Keller is putting it into action here today,” Deputy Chief Roger Bañez said. “We’ve already been working with Transit Security to put more eyes on the street and with the Block by Block program safety ambassadors. We’ll be walking the streets, in addition to these partners, working to keep the public safe.”