ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As New Mexico is seeing a huge spike in COVID cases, so is Albuquerque Police. The department is seeing fewer officers on the streets as positive COVID cases within the department keep them home.
To date, Albuquerque Police have reported 106 positive COVID cases since the pandemic started, and nearly half of those — 52 at the moment — are dealing with positive tests right now. Now, APD is putting plans in place to make sure enough officers are available to still keep up with patrols.
“We’re adjusting schedules, we’re utilizing officers that just came off of their on-the-job training,” said Mike Smathers, Deputy Chief of Police for APD. “Each individual division has plans in place to adjust with these impacts.”
Right now, 35 sworn members and 17 civilian staff of APD are COVID-positive. An additional 95 people are also on leave, either exposed to COVID or they’re awaiting test results. The department says while they’re actively using PPE across the board, performing routine testing on staff, and keeping patrol units sanitized, it really comes down to removing exposed staff from the streets and offices.
“We continue to have really aggressive in place to remove, protect, and test anyone who is symptomatic or has a high risk of exposure,” said Deputy Chief Smathers. “We continue to alter our work practices.”
APD says they’re working on limiting exposure as much as they can with virtual meetings and working from home when possible. So far, APD has administered around 5,600 tests to employees during the pandemic.
Albuquerque Fire Rescue says they’re also seeing a jump in cases. They say there are 16 firefighters who are currently COVID-positive and several others on leave for exposure or awaiting test results. Out of roughly 700 firefighters in the department, AFR says 60 have tested positive since the start of the pandemic.