According to a recent report from the Legislative Finance Committee, in 2010 Albuquerque spent about $150 million on policing and had nearly 1,100 sworn officers on the streets. By 2017 it was spending $172 or so million but had seen the number of sworn officers decline to 880 or so officers. The situation in Bernalillo County was a much more gradual and consistent.
I reached out to one of the LFC authors in an effort to better understand the data and what reasons the authors uncovered for this seeming lack of prioritization of police officers. The responses included: the economic crisis, inability to retain officers, costs associated with the DoJ’s oversight. The DoJ issue is real, but how big of an issue it was is hard to understand. Other issues cited are certainly more open to debate.
What is not up for debate is that the City recently passed a significant tax gross receipts tax hike for the alleged express purpose of recruiting and retaining police officers. It would seem that a thorough accounting of where the money went for police officers from 2010 to 2017 would be in order, but we’ll see what happens with this recent cash infusion).
Was it really DoJ that sucked up money that could have been used to put cops back on the streets (and what does that say about DoJ if it is?) If not, what mistakes were made that led to plummeting police hiring while spending was on the rise (and the US economy and New Mexico economies were in the tank).