Manpower levels at APD have been an issue for some time now. Councilor Brad Winter, while running against the current head of APD - Martin Chavez, made it an issue in the last election (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required). There's nothing in Sunday's article that makes one believe that APD has addressed the situation, nor is there any indication that they have come up with a viable plan to correct it.
APD's claimed strength is 998 officers with (according to the Journal) 43.5% of those officers available to take calls. That's about 434 officers ready to come to your aid when your being robbed, beat, or criminally victimized. Our Eyes tell us that the bid number (434) is actually 409 and that the actual total number of sworn officers available is closer to 800. None of the above numbers can actually be verified because APD is keeping them locked away on the 5th floor where neither the Journal nor City Councilor Brad Winter can get a look at them.
(Sidebar)APD is simply asking all of us to take them at their word, which is particularly troubling considering that all of the empirical evidence suggests that they're playing with the numbers. In addition, APD spokesman John Walsh would like us to believe that they cannot account for calls for service taken by the 56.5% of the force that make up APD's specialized units. Are we really to believe that over half of APD's officers and their activities cannot be accounted for? If that is true it's a sign of colossal incompetence.
The Almighty Marty (no doubt in an attempt to look more gubernatorial) announced an open government initiative last week. The Journal ran a story just this morning heaping praise on the mayor for his proposals (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required). We've got a suggestion for the aspiring governor... produce an APD manpower roster (sworn and not) complete with assignments for public review. If you're going to push for open government, try opening up APD.
Our Eyes on the other hand aren't buying spokesman Walsh's assertions. Any officer that responds to a call for service is tracked and reports are generated... as they should be. The Eyes have it that APD just doesn't want to admit that their specialized units rarely volunteer to take a call for service and if they show at all, it's usually in a backup role. The Eyes went so far as to call Walsh's assertion a... uh, shall we say, falsehood.
We can sit around and argue numbers all day long, but that doesn't change the fact that APD will take longer to get to you when you really need them. All of the excuses - like having to respond to burglary calls, 10-44's (accidents without injuries), and animal in danger calls - don't change the fact that we are not getting the police protection that we are paying for. Chief Schultz maintains that if they didn't have to respond to all of those calls that response times would improve. That's like saying if they didn't have to enforce the law, there'd be more time to enforce the law.
The fact of the matter is that APD has a number of problems and they're doing everything in their power not to admit that they've got a problem. If you take a gander at a few of the posts on this site, you'll quickly identify a number of comments from various readers that can only be officers (hopefully off-duty for a number of reasons). Morale is obviously down, manpower levels are not what they should be, and officers are feeling the need to apologize to people when they finally arrive at a call.
It's obvious that, as APOA President Ron Alivas said, "[officers are] coming to us telling us they are getting their butt kicked out there." If that truly is the case, then they are losing as a department and we are losing as a community. It's time that the 5th and 11th floors take the first step toward recovery... admit you've got a problem.