ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - With winning re-election now off his checklist, Mayor Richard J. Berry is turning his attention to finding a permanent police chief for the Albuquerque Police Department.
When former Chief Ray Schultz stepped aside in August, Berry tapped deputy chief and 21-year vet Allen Banks to lead the department as its interim chief. Berry made it clear that he wouldn't make a permanent pick until after Tuesday's election.
Now the search for Schultz's replacement is kicking into high gear. Berry says the city will soon engage a national search firm at an estimated cost of no more than $30,000.
"I want someone who is an innovator and who's willing to be on the front edge of policing and techniques," Berry said. "I've asked my staff to within the next 90 days, sometime around the first of the year, have this process completed."
An Albuquerque Police Officers Association survey of police officers last year found the vast majority disapproved of the job both Berry and Schultz were doing.
Despite that, APOA Vice President Shaun Willoughby is on board with Berry's interim pick and Schultz's former right-hand man.
"We'd love the mayor to take a good strong look at Allen Banks," Willoughby said.
Willoughby says that's not because the union fears the change an outside candidate might bring but because an internal candidate has better knowledge of the city and department.
"We just feel there are many qualified individuals within our department," Willoughby said. "It's a shame to spend up to $30,000 of taxpayer dollars to do a national search."
In comments Thursday Berry gave a thumbs up to Banks' performance so far.
"Chief Banks is doing a wonderful job," Berry said. "I'm really hopeful that he applies."
In a statement, Banks says he'll consult with his family before deciding whether to apply for the permanent job or not.
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