With mounting concerns over crime in Albuquerque, a city councilor has announced a new initiative: bicycle officers will start patrolling Central Avenue in southeast Albuquerque.
This move is about two years in the making after City Councilor Pat Davis and the Keller administration first announced bike officers would be coming to Central. Now, you’ll finally start to see them. Where you see them, however, will depend on what’s going on.
This team of six is assigned to address community problems that don’t always end with an arrest, getting ahead of crime, but also able to respond to incidents.
Their first task is to patrol the problematic area of Central and Wyoming. Although, you’ll see them all along the Route 66 corridor in southeast Albuquerque, talking to business owners, people on the street, making connections and arrests.
“If you live in southeast Albuquerque, particularly in the International District that’s been plagued by gun violence, particularly in Nob Hill where our business owners have been asking for help, I think the answer is this is something that was in place before these incidents in the last few weeks. It took more than a year for us to the plan together and to get it done,” said Councilor Davis.
They are working 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. shifts Wednesday through Saturday. The goal is to get more officers on bikes doing this.
A big reason why it took so long to get this team going was low staffing. However, Councilor Davis says as of last week, APD has 955 sworn officers which is a major turnaround from just two years ago.
Businesses in Nob Hill have been complaining due to the lack of police presence in the area and the escalating break-ins in there. New Mexico State Police also started patrolling more along Central over the weekend.
“The criminals in this area are just getting ridiculously out of hand,” Robert Steinberg, who owns Stone Mountain Bead Gallery on Central near Morningside, said.
He’s spent the last 27 years in Nob Hill, but says no years have been as concerning as the last few. Wednesday morning around 8 a.m., he says, a man tried to break into his shop. He didn’t get in, thankfully, but still did some damage.
“This used to be a really nice, safe, quiet, peaceful, hip area, and just more and more it seems like the criminal element’s taking over,” Steinberg said.
The perp symbolizes the bigger problem of crime in the area, affecting both people and businesses.
“We need a lot more police officers in Nob Hill, and most important, we need judges that lock people up that are career criminals,” he said.
Steve Weinstein is one of the bicycle officers who is assigned to southeast Albuquerque.
“For instance, yesterday…we saw someone sitting in an alley. My partner and I were able to ride right up to him and just have an open conversation with him,” Weinstein explained.
Steinberg says he’s anxious to see the presence of officers like Weinstein, pay off.
“Sure it’s in the right direction, but I think we need even more,” Steinberg said.