- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - While waiting on a federal judge to rule on an overhaul plan, the Albuquerque Police Department unveiled Monday a new recruiting effort aimed at bringing strong candidates on as officers.

Police Chief Gorden Eden said the department will begin accepting candidates who can now earn 28 hours of college credit upon graduating from the academy. Those candidates will then have three years to earn 32 hours of college credit to stay on as officers.

Previously, Albuquerque police required candidates to have at least 60 hours. But Eden says that requirement was causing the department to lose good recruits. That change came as Albuquerque police faced scrutiny for over a high number of police shootings since 2010.

“We want quality over quantity,” Eden said at a press conference. “I think there are people who have a heart to serve.”

The new move comes as the police department faces a shortage of around 120 officers and amid a pending agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to overhaul the force following claims of excessive force.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said the department has funding for 1,000 officers total and wants to reach that mark soon. “We are going to make sure we do what we can,” Berry said.

In addition to the change on college credit, Eden said the department would look to hire veterans with at least two years of consecutive military service.

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