APD Staffing Situation: Bad And Getting Worse
APD Has Only 830 Sworn Officers
No Net Gain Expected This Year
No Real Plan To Bring APD To Full Strength
On Nov. 3, I wrote a story about the dire recruiting situation at the Albuquerque Police Department and how APD's ranks of sworn officers might actually shrink this year.
If you dismissed that as rank speculation, you'd be wrong.
(Photo: APD Chief Gorden Eden)
On Nov. 16, my story was confirmed by Police Chief Gorden Eden in a federal courtroom. Eden was testifying before U.S. District Court Judge Robert Brack about APD's recruitment efforts. He told Brack that in 2016, the department graduated more than 90 cadets from its training academy, and because of retirements and other departures, the department had a net gain of six officers.
Eden continued about how it takes 1,000 to 1,200 applicants to get a class of 40 cadets, and then he told Brack: “Our net gain [of officers] this year will be almost zero.”
If that wasn't a gloomy enough outlook for the job that mayor-elect Tim Keller will have in rebuilding the department and getting it's strength up to 1,200 officers, training Academy Director Jessica Tyler delivered even more depressing news.
Tyler told Brack that APD currently has 830 sworn officers. That's a lot fewer than the 850 number that members of the news media have been reporting recently. And Tyler said that this year, the academy will graduate 73 cadets.
Now, if APD has the same number of retirements and other departures that it had last year – around 90 – it could mean that the department's number of sworn officers will shrink.
So Keller will have to find different and creative ways to hire more cops.
There was another troubling thing about Eden's and Tyler's testimony before Brack. They both had different figures about the net gain of officers last year.
Eden said the department graduate 92 cadets for a net gain of six officers.
But Tyler said that last year's net gain was four officers, and later she claimed the net gain was four to six officers.
You would think that the police chief and the academy director would at least get their numbers straight before testifying in federal court. And, you would think they would at least have exact numbers. Sorry, but "four to six" new officers doesn't cut it for the head of the academy.
So what was it? Four net new officers? Five? Six?
Eden and Tyler make big bucks and they should have had precise numbers for the judge.
After hearing Tyler's testimony, Brack seemed a bit stunned. Then he summed up the massive problems that Keller will face in trying to grow the department's ranks.
“How do we fix this?” Brack asked Tyler. “You are not going to get there [a fully staffed department] in my lifetime or in the lifetimes of anyone here. What have you done?”
Tyler had no real answer. “We have got to do more to retain our officers. This year we hired seven lateral officers,” she told Brack.
So there you have it. APD currently has 830 officers even though it's budgeted for 1,000 officers, it probably won't have a net gain this year, and it has no real plans to hire lots more officers and end the chronic police officer shortage.
I can only say to Keller: Good luck.