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Downtown Albuquerque gets a new T.E.A.M to combat crime

Downtown central Albuquerque
Gino Gutierrez
Downtown central Albuquerque

Locals and tourists alike can expect to see a greater law enforcement presence in downtown Albuquerque. At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller announced a new joint effort between public and private partners that will help fund an Albuquerque Police Department T.E.A.M, or Targeted Enforcement Action Monitoring unit.

This is in an effort to help address crime in the downtown area and make it more accessible and safe for the public. Beginning after July 4th, this new effort will completely transform downtown Albuquerque according to Keller.

“Downtown all of a sudden is going to be a very different place in terms of a couple of things. We’re adding in lights all over downtown, including the alleys over the next six months, we also know that we’re going to be opening this new police station right in the middle of downtown and most importantly we’re adding desperately needed resources downtown at key times of the day and key days of the week.”

Due to the officer shortage in Albuquerque, officers participating in this program will do so on a volunteer basis through the chief’s overtime program. Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina explained that the TEAM program will build and expand off the overtime program.

“The TEAM concept will build off of our Chief’s overtime program. What's different about this is, in the past, we’ve always gone out and allocated resources to big box stores and protected one industry or one location. In a way it was hampering our ability to put the resources where we wanted to, to protect the whole city. So we did make adjustments to our chief’s overtime program earlier this year and we cut out our involvement at so many big box stores to ensure we would be prepared for this next step.”

According to Medina, this TEAM program will also be of no cost to the taxpayer. Instead, it will be funded by the city, downtown business owners, and private donations. The goal of this police enhancement is to help make downtown more “vibrant” in the words of Medina. Allowing for more locals and those visiting to feel safe when walking the streets downtown at certain times of the day and evening, more specifically around the times bars close.

“That’s why we want to make sure we’re putting additional resources out here to make sure that people can come out here and feel safe. It goes into quality of life issues to ensure that people are harassment free and that people can work down here.” 

When asked why the city and department don’t dedicate funds directly to downtown instead of relying on private and business donations, Medina said it would be unfair of the department to single out one part of the city for increased police funding while failing to do the same for others. Keller said the city will help in some capacity, but it’s up to downtown to help itself as well.

“Downtown has to take control of their own future too, they have not had skin in the game, they have not been doing anything to support what we’re doing downtown, and that’s changing with this initiative.”