ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A public safety program that has, so far, been successful in downtown Albuquerque is now expanding to Nob Hill. The city said Nob Hill sees similar crime issues as downtown, and this is the next logical place to launch the program.

The Brew Coffee Shop on Gold downtown has seen its fair share of crime. “I think because it was where we got hit hardest with the protests, a lot of boards, a lot of people working from home,” The Brew owner Juan Certain said.

Certain said most recently, he was assaulted a couple of weeks ago inside his shop. “I was actually afraid,” Certain said. “Nobody had ever touched me like that and I didn’t know what to do.”

Certain said Project ECHO came to mind, a public safety program that previously helped him with a parking issue. Certain called the coordinator, and it was discussed at the next week’s meeting. Through that, he is getting trained as well as his employees on how to de-escalate situations in the future. “I was worried about my employees,” Certain said. “I want to make sure that everyone is safe.”

The city said this is one of many examples of how Project ECHO has helped downtown businesses and residents over the past two years. The program brings law enforcement together with local partners, first responders, and the community at bi-weekly meetings that around 50 to 60 people attend. Albuquerque Police Officer Hence Williams said people bring up issues, and police connect them with resources and their neighbors. “It makes my job a lot more easier but it makes it a lot more rewarding,” Officer Williams said.

Officer Williams said another example was license plates getting stolen. Through that meeting, they learned of businesses that sold special screws that made it harder to remove plates. “Community members got involved,” Officer Williams said. “One community member actually went out and purchased 50 or 60 screws to hand out at this meeting.”

The program is now expanding to Nob Hill and will follow the same format as downtown. “It has worked out pretty well to know the lieutenant, to know the officers and know their names and for them to know me as well,” Certain said. “It feels like we are building a community where I can rely on the police.”

Coordinators hope the program in Nob Hill will also establish a stronger partnership between the Albuquerque Police Department and University of New Mexico Police, who the city said encounters a lot of the same issues police see outside of campus. According to a survey, people in Nob Hill said they are most concerned about things like property crime, traffic, and the homeless.

The first session for Nob Hill’s Public Safety program, ECHO, is Wednesday at 4 p.m. To join the session,