ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Police say they’ve arrested the arsonist who started two fires in the bosque over the weekend, as Albuquerque Police Department and Albuquerque Fire Rescue are working to prevent more. APD’s Open Space Unit hopes just their presence can deter people from setting fires or even catch them in the act.
“Just patrolling these areas because we do get 311 referrals, as well as referrals from the city Parks and Rec side of open space identifying any kind of camps that are set up or just any suspicious activity in those areas,” OPD Open Space Unit Sgt. Chris Schroeder said. The unit has a sergeant and as many as six officers patrolling the bosque at any given time by airboat, on foot, bicycles, and ATVs so they can access all areas and trails.
The sergeant said they’ll let the homeless know that camping in the bosque is illegal and they have to clear out. Parks and Rec crews will then clean up abandoned campsites.
Police do have two cameras in the bosque that connect to the real-time crime center to spot any suspicious activity. In fact, they say one near Tingley Beach helped them nab a suspect in two fires Saturday. “Oddly enough that same individual committed another crime not far from here and was apprehended and we were able to tie him to both of those based upon our surveillance cameras,” Schroeder explained.
AFR also has its own open space patrols every day monitoring the bosque, foothills, and west mesa. They have four firefighters per shift who specialize in woodland firefighting stationed in the bosque for a quicker response time and to serve as a deterrent. They drive along the levy road from Cesar Chavez all the way up to Alameda.
APD says they’re not identifying Saturday’s arson suspect at this time because he hasn’t been charged yet.