Albuquerque needs more officers on the street, Romero says. “I know we’re shorthanded, even though the mayor says we have 1,100 cops. He’s counting policemen in the airport, cadets still in training.” It’s a challenge, he continues, because though some new cops are hired, others retire. The community policing concept needs to become a reality—“We need to stop talking about it and do it”—he adds. Officers should be integrated into neighborhoods and schools so they become connected, a part of them.
We need to get the politics out of the police department, particularly when it comes to hiring at the upper levels. Commanders shouldn’t be at-will employees, which by definition makes them beholden to the mayor. We’ve got to cut the administrative fat at the top. We’ve got so many deputy directors, it’s not even funny. We need to let cops do their job. We need to push authority as far down as we possibly can. The mayor, he says, shouldn’t be running APD. The disciplinary actions that occur in the police department need to be fair and they need to be handled by the police department.