As Albuquerque Police tries to hire more officers, the department’s also looking to increase visibility by letting officers take their cars to more places while off duty.
The department says it’s now in the process of rewriting its take-home vehicle policy with the hope of getting more cars out in the community to help deter crime.
Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Gilbert Gallegos says the policy change is an initiative suggested by Mayor Tim Keller’s administration, calling it an “innovate way to fight crime.”
“Get more visibility out there, we’ve had a shortage of officers,” said Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesman for Albuquerque Police.
The department is seeking to hire hundreds of additional officers to its core of about 850 current sworn officers. But before more officers join the ranks, the department hopes making its cars more visible will help.
Gallegos likens the presence of officer patrol cars to the department’s mobile camera trailers.
“We know those serve as a huge deterrent, crime goes down significantly, just because people know there are eyes in the area,” said Gallegos.
APD administrators are looking to relax the current take-home car policy, which says officers are not authorized to use take home cars for non-duty related functions other than “physical training” and transportation of an officer’s own kids to daycare or school.
“8. Off-duty employees are not authorized to use their take home vehicle for conveyance to and from non-APD part-time employment, or non-duty related functions. Off-duty employees shall use their take home vehicle in a professional manner. Department personnel may use their take home vehicle for conveyance to and from physical training.”
“12. Employees participating in the Assigned Take-home Vehicle Program will not be authorized to transport any passengers except under the following conditions: the transportation of the employee’s children for school/daycare purposes while the employee is en-route to and from work, the approval of a ride-along and when the employee is on an on-call status.”
–From Albuquerque Police Department – Standard Operating Procedure – 2-5: Use of Police Vehicles; Chapter 3: Procedures; Section K: Assigned Take-Home Vehicle Program
Ideally, APD says it wants to see more officers’ cars out on the street at community functions and places where they normally go like pools, parks and community centers.
“There already are a lot of officers who are coaching youth league teams and involved in faith based organizations, we’re encouraging more of that involvement so they’re interacting with the community,” said Gallegos. “What better way than to have them in their cars out there?”
APD says it’s currently working on re-writing the take-home car policy, but hopes to have a new one in place by July.
The Albuquerque Mayor’s Office is asking for an extra $4 million for new APD cars and in-part to help pay for the added cost they think will come with the expanded take-home policy.