- Associated Press - Sunday, February 21, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Albuquerque’s mayor is looking at bonuses as a last resort to stave off an officer shortage.

The Albuquerque Journal reports (https://bit.ly/1XFWw26) Mayor Richard Berry said bonuses would be used to attract officers from other agencies in New Mexico and elsewhere.

He said this move may be necessary after the failure of legislation that would have allowed retired officers to return to work while still drawing their pensions.

“We have to do what we have to do,” Berry said. “It’s a darn shame you’d have to cannibalize from other departments because you can’t get a common-sense bill through the Senate.”

Dozens of New Mexico cities supported the measure. Berry, a former legislator, says he plans to push the bill next year.

Opponents objected to the bill allowing double dipping for returning retirees as they draw both pensions and paychecks, and say younger officers should be hired.

“We need to get more cops on the street,” Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, said earlier this week. “But my personal preference is to get people who are going to be there for the next 20 years.”

City Council President Dan Lewis says there are other methods to boost the police force, including building a better relationship between the police union and top department officials, offering recruitment and retention bonuses and funding more classes for cadets.

“We have the ideas,” Lewis said. “We just need good leadership. We need someone leading that department who feels like his job is on the line. Get the numbers up or get out of the way.”

The city has 814 officers this month compared to 1,099 in mid-2010. The shortage comes amid reforms related to federal findings of excessive force.


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

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