NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A new state fund is giving hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars to police departments across New Mexico with the intent of helping hire new cops. The funds are expected to pay for as many as 317 new police officers.
Earlier this year, legislators and state leaders recognized a statewide shortage of police officers. During the regular 2022 legislative session, they debated several bills that would help fund officer recruitment. Ultimately, the idea passed as part of House Bill 68, which also included changes to the criminal code.
Friday, September 9, the Governor announced how much money each participating law enforcement agency would receive to boost their staff. The Albuquerque and Las Cruces Police Departments received the largest share of the funds. Those departments are each getting $8.75 million, enough for about 67 new officers per department.
“Every New Mexican deserves to feel safe in their community, to know that law enforcement is coming when they need help,” Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a press release. “That’s why we are continuing our priority investments in public safety, funding new officers that will make a real difference in communities both small and large across the state.”
In all, 29 departments are getting a total of $41.5 million in funding from the state’s new Law Enforcement Recruitment Fund, according to the Governor’s office. Those funds will be disbursed over the next three years and come from the state’s budget.
To decide how much each department should receive, the Department of Finance and Administration considered the needs of individual police departments who applied for the funds. The payouts are based on an average salary of $75,000 per year, according to the Governor’s office.
Some larger departments are getting funds for dozens of new officers, however, others are receiving money to hire fewer. Rio Arriba Sheriff’s Office, for example, will get enough money for seven new deputies. Still, Rio Arriba County Officials say the funds make a difference.
The funds “will enable me and my team to better serve the people of Rio Arriba County,” Rio Arriba County Sheriff Billy Merrifield said in a press release. His office will get a little over $918,000 in the next three years.
While the funds are intended for new hires, they don’t guarantee departments will be able to fill the newly funded positions. Still many departments are trying to attract new staff. The Albuquerque Police Department, for example, recently posted recruitment videos on TikTok.