The Albuquerque Police Department is currently experiencing a shortage of police officers and the police chief expects the department’s ranks to continue shrinking for at least another year.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, Gorden Eden, the APD Chief, believes the department will remain understaffed for at least a year due to the high number of officers eligible for retirement.
Currently, the APD has increased the size and number of police academy classes, and hundreds of qualified candidates have expressed interest in joining the department.
However, the department has 135 fewer officers than the 1,000 authorized, and the number of officers eligible to retire will outpace police academy graduates until January 2017.
According to a police spokeswoman, officials expect the number of officers in the department to hover around 850 for a while.
“There is no way to add enough new officers to offset retirements because selecting, vetting, and training applicants is a lengthy process,” Eden said.
The APD’s lack of manpower has led to an increase in the wait time for officers to respond to calls, as well as an increase in the city’s violent crime rate.
Eden believes the department’s recruiting efforts are working because the frequency and size of the Albuquerque police academy classes are increasing.
According to documents released by the APD, the department had three police academy classes and graduated 28 officers from October 2012 to October 2013.
From May 2014 to October 2015, the department had four police academy classes and graduated 87 officers. There is another class of 41 cadets scheduled to graduate in March 2016.
The size of the APD has been shrinking over the years. According to the department’s human resource records, it has lost 432 officers since 2010.
A majority of those losses were due to retirements and resignations. During the same period, the department hired 264 officers.
Chief Eden believes the number of officers coming and going from the department will level off around May 2016, but he doesn’t feel the number of officers in the department will start to increase until late 2016 or early 2017.
In the interview, Eden said he believed the number of officers in the department would have been greater with the return to work legislation, which would have allowed officers to retire and come back to work after 60 days while collecting a pension. Unfortunately, the legislation stalled in the state Senate this year.