- Associated Press - Sunday, May 10, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A state report on salaries across New Mexico police agencies has found the Albuquerque Police Department’s rank-and-file members could earn more elsewhere.

Albuquerque pays patrol officers less per hour compared with other departments, according to survey by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

Albuquerque police cadets earn just above $18 per hour, making them the fifth highest-paid in the state, the survey says. Meanwhile, their counterparts in Farmington, Carlsbad and Santa Fe earn more. Hobbs police cadets receive about $22 per hour, the report says.

Patrol officers in Albuquerque were ranked as having the eighth-highest hourly wage. Rookie patrol officers in Los Alamos, Carlsbad, Hobbs, Farmington and three counties all earn more.

New Mexico police departments also differ on issuing bonuses. The report found Albuquerque police officers receive $5,000 after completing the academy while Farmington gives $3,000. But Hobbs pays officers a $25,000 bonus after they have worked for five years.

Albuquerque police receive compensation in the form of overtime opportunities, specialty pay and benefits, city officials said. Officers earn more than $70,000 per year after overtime, Mayor Richard Berry said. The overtime can include payment from businesses that hire officers off-duty to act as security. Berry added that the department gives specialty pay for officers who are on SWAT or crisis-intervention teams, the Albuquerque Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1EtBkAM).

“We believe in our officers, and, when you look at the entire package, we are very competitive,” Berry said.

Shaun Willoughby, vice president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, said the hourly rate is what matters to some officers.

“As a rookie officer, I’m not worried about retirement benefits. Those are standard throughout the industry,” Willoughby said. “You can’t tout that as an added benefit.”

Stephanie Lopez, the president of the police union, said Albuquerque patrol officers see their hourly wage rise to about $26.44 after a year on the job. That jump makes patrol officers among the highest paid in the state, she said. Still, it’s especially difficult to lure prospective recruits to Albuquerque when one factors in salary and the recent public scrutiny.

The report’s analysis comes at a time when Albuquerque is trying to retain and recruit officers amid a shortage and dealing with mistrust from the public. The city has a pending agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to carry out reforms following claims of excessive force.

According to the department’s most recent count, around 878 officers are working. That is the fewest since 2001.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com


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