ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Taking a new approach toward crime in the southeast part of the city, Albuquerque Police has carved out a new area command focusing on some of the city’s most dense neighborhoods. The city’s new University Area Command began work over the weekend and will continue at least for the next year under a pilot project status.

At a Tuesday news conference announcing the new command, APD says 30 rank-and-file officers and nearly ten higher commanding officers make up the team. The command will cover areas within the boundaries of San Mateo to the east, I-25 to the west, I-40 to the north, and Mesa del Sol to the south.

The command will operate out of a UNM-owned building near the city’s various sports stadiums. A longtime lieutenant for APD most recently working on the homicide team, Ray DelGreco will oversee the command alongside six sergeants and two lieutenants.

Speaking as to the reason for the shift, Mayor Tim Keller acknowledged that the previous Southeast Area Command was too big and has the highest crime rates. He believes smaller area commands will provide a “more focused, community-driven, intensive ability to keep people safe” in neighborhoods.

“This is the busiest area command in the city,” said Deputy Commander Josh Brown, who oversees the southeast area. “Day in and day out, they take the most calls for service, it has the highest violent crime rates, and it’s also one of the most vibrant and diverse portions of the city, as well.”

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Albuquerque Police open new University, Nob Hill area command | News Conference

The new area command represents a split of much has been a much larger Southeast Area Command in the past. With now two area commands covering the southeast part of the city, APD says the University Area Command will be able to “provide additional resources to the University and Nob Hill areas.” The Southeast Area Command will retain policing responsibilities for the International District and other surrounding neighborhoods.

“I know for this community, this is a very, very big deal,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said. “It’s something that our city councilor and many at the city, at APD have wanted to do at least for a decade and we finally figured out a way to be able to do it.”

Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, the city had six area commands, including the Foothills, Valley, Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast. On the city’s website, APD describes most area commands as “managed by a commander and staffed with between 82 and 119 officers, depending on the size of the area command and level of calls for service.”

Keller said there are “a couple other areas” in Albuquerque the city might try splitting into new area commands, however, he didn’t elaborate as to where. The city says it will evaluate the area command’s future in one year. It’s also requesting four-million dollars from the state Legislature for help paying for a permanent home for the command.

Chief Harold Medina said the Proactive Response Team for the southeast will also be stationed in the new University Area Command. That team was formerly the Open Space Unit, which disbanded in November 2022. Medina says the unit will now focus on going after suspects with warrants.

“They will now be attached to a squad that is not responsible and tied to a radio for taking calls for service as needed every day,” Medina said. “They’re going to be proactive, they’re going to be down here, trying to clear up some of our warrants, and when they’re needed, they could easily by pulled to some of their open space duties.”

To note, an area command, which is a region, is different from a substation. The city has around 10 substations, including three in the downtown and Old Town areas and one in Nob Hill, inside of an old diner building.