Mar. 25—In an attempt to encourage more people of color, and Black women in particular, to consider careers in the Albuquerque Police Department, the local chapter of the NAACP is hosting a recruitment forum.
It will be held 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 26, at the University of New Mexico's Continuing Education Building, 1634 University NE. Speakers will include representatives of APD, FBI, the Mayor's Office and prominent members of the community.
"A lot of people offer criticism, complaints and point fingers at law enforcement, so the NAACP wants to take a positive approach and provide constructive solutions to APD's low number of officers, and to make sure that their workforce is diverse," said Albuquerque NAACP President Harold Bailey.
Of 927 sworn APD officers, 27 are Black, or 2.9%, and none of them are women, said Nichole Rogers of the Office of Black Community Engagement, which is part of the city's Office of Equity and Inclusion.
There are smaller numbers of officers who identify as American Indian or Native Alaskan, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and multi-cultural, meaning two or more races. Among these groups there are 11 women, Rogers said.
Hispanics account for 414 of the department's sworn officers, and 77 of them are women; while there are 431 white officers, with 49 women among them, she said.
"It's important for the Black community and other communities of color to support law enforcement, to get involved in recruitment and to help change the attitudes that people have about law enforcement," Bailey said.
He noted that as incentives, APD is offering a hiring bonus of $10,000 for officers and a starting wage that will be $32.69 an hour starting in July; and for police service aides, age 18 and older, a hiring bonus of $1,500, and a starting wage of $15.43 an hour.
"The Albuquerque Police Department is always looking at more ways to better diversify the rank and file of our police force," said department spokeswoman Rebecca Atkins. "Having officers from many different backgrounds allows us to provide a voice to sectors of our city and diverse groups that may not have had a voice with law enforcement previously."
Shaun Willoughby, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association, said Tuesday, "We need more officers of every race, creed and color, male and female."
The department, he said, is currently extremely understaffed. And while Mayor Tim Keller has said his goal is to have 1,200 sworn officers on APD, Willoughby said a better estimate is 1,400 to 1,500.
The ever-increasing amount of paperwork that officers are required to do "is an administrative burden that needs to be compensated with additional staffing," Willoughby said.
The forum is being co-sponsored by the office of African American Student Services at UNM, and the National Council of Negro Women.