Albuquerque city officials highlight safety efforts for local law enforcement during COVID-19

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Mayor Tim Keller and Albuquerque city officials took part in a press conference on Monday, April 13 to provide updates on the local coronavirus response and also highlighted efforts to keep police officers safe as well as updates on enforcements.

General updates

The Presbyterian Balloon Fiesta COVID-19 testing center is closed on Monday due to the weather. To find an open testing center near you, call the Department of Health’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.

Optum has three available testing sites, one at the Journal Center, one on Tramway, and at their Rio Rancho location.

Albuquerque Public Schools grab and go meals are now available three days a week from 11 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Students will receive meals for two days.

The City of Albuquerque’s drive-up WiFi sites are up and running and is providing free internet at hotspots around the city including APS grab and go meal sites, city facilities and schools.

The New Mexico Human Services Department has announced that it is distributing an enhanced payment of Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) to households that did not get the maximum SNAP benefits in March and April. The additional SNAP payment is meant to provide relief to families who were impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Applications are now available for the New Mexico Recovery Fund that will support larger businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 health emergency.

Law enforcement

Mayor Keller stated that the Albuquerque Police Department is taking health order enforcement seriously but that the department is still vigilant regarding crime. The mayor said that regarding health order enforcement, the city is up to about 273 complaints and has taken part in 420 levels of education and has only issued two citations.

Over the weekend, Open Space areas remained busy and officials report in general, the public complied with social distancing practices. The Open Space parks team and APD had several educational conversations with the public and a couple of citations were given, however the city reports there were no major problems.

Over the weekend, APD arrested another member of the Metro 15, making them the 35th offender arrested since the beginning of the initiative. APD also continues to hire officers.

The mayor stated that in cities across the nation, curfews are put in place as the result of officer shortages. At this time, the city is not facing this problem and officials are hoping to prevent it.

In order to do so, the city is working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among law enforcement and first responders. The city is trying to limit police officers exposure to the virus as best they can by issuing safety glasses, gloves, two types of masks, and hand sanitizer to officers.

The department is also following the medical-approved guidelines for the reuse of masks and coworkers are being separated to prevent community spread of the virus. Mayor Keller said while the city is taking steps to prevent officers from getting sick, it is most likely that some first responders will contract COVID-19.

Officials are putting best practices in place now, in order to limit the possible spread. At this time, there are no positive COVID-19 cases among first responders.

APD Chief Mike Geier reports that the department has taken 111 assessments of APD personnel which take place when an officer or APD employee is exposed to COVID-19. If the person who is thought to have exposed the personnel displays symptoms, an evaluation takes place and the personnel are isolated.

If the individual thought to have exposed the personnel tests positive, the personnel will also be tested for the virus. APD currently has five officers who are in this isolation stage.

APD has developed a three-tiered staffing system that will enable them to fill any depleted spots due to this assessment process. The first tier includes 135 officers and 35 supervisors that can be pulled without impacting any investigative units.

The second tier is an additional 39 officers and six supervisors which would include officers in investigative units. The department’s last tier would include tier one and two in addition to 215 officers and 55 supervisors which would significantly impact investigative units.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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