A group of Albuquerque city councilors is proposing an idea to get a new team of bicycle-mounted police officers patrolling a huge stretch of Central Avenue.
The proposal calls for earmarking $1 million in internet sales tax revenues to hire up to ten bike cops for the ART corridor of Central between Unser and Louisiana.
For years, many people have had safety concerns along different parts of Central, including in the downtown neighborhoods. “It’s not fun to be walking alone, especially at night,” said Marissa, who works at Tucanos and says fellow staff members walk together when leaving work.
The concern is also felt by other stakeholders on Central, including Nob Hill business owner Kurt Oelsner. “It has been a concern of mine,” said Oelsner. “I make sure to have at least two staff on at night.”
The idea for a new team of bicycling police officers dedicated on Central is one that has Oelsner excited. “I love the idea, I support the idea and I’m excited about the idea,” said Oelsner, who’s owned the Chocolate Dude business along Central for about five years.
Four councilors, including Pat Davis, Isaac Benton, Klarissa Peña and Ken Sanchez, are now backing the idea for the new bike cop proposal. The proposal calls for funding for the ten bike cop positions to come from the internet sales tax revenues that the state recently started collecting.
Councilors proposing the initiative say the first $1 million would be earmarked for the bike cop positions. The councilors are also offering to use their council district “set-aside” funds to pay for the bikes.
KRQE News 13 has learned those ten bike cops would be new positions that would not take away from current police patrols. The proposal calls for the officers to cover Central in groups between Unser and Louisiana.
Local businesses and property owners up and down Central came up with the idea. “They’ll be present, they’ll be visible, I think it’s a great idea,” said Oelsner. “If you have visibility, the bad guys stay away.”
While Oelsner thinks it could help many feel more comfortable shopping on Central again, some Central business employees also like the idea. “I think I’d feel much safer working down here, just having…knowing that people are here to protect us,” said Marissa.
Alongside the unveiling of the bike cop proposal Thursday, councilors are also planning to unveil a new grant program for Central businesses to help market and promote themselves to the community.