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Albuquerque Police Department
Abbreviation APD
Motto "In step with our community"
Agency overview
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* City of Albuquerque in the state of New Mexico, United States
Size 181.3 sq mi (469.5 km2)
Population 555,417 (metro total: 902,797) (as of 2012)[1]
Legal jurisdiction As per operations jurisdiction.
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Albuquerque, New Mexico
Agency executive Gorden Eden, Chief[2]
Area Commands
Helicopters 1 - Air 1 Eurocopter EC120
Plane / Fixed Wings 1 - Air 5 (Cessna 182)
APD Website
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Albuquerque Police Department is the largest municipal police department in New Mexico, it is located in Bernalillo County and has jurisdiction within the city limits, with anything outside of the city limits being considered the unincorporated area of Bernalillo County and governed by the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department.


Albuquerque police pictured in 1932

Early history[edit]

The city's first police chief J.R. Galusha, was appointed in 1916. Prior to this, and since 1881, the unincorporated town of Albuquerque had been patrolled by a succession of marshals, aided by volunteer watchmen.


The decade of the 1970s began for the APB with the retirement of chief Paul Shaver, the city's longest serving police chief. Shaver had led the department for the preceding 23 years, and started his career as a patrol officer in 1933.[3] Following Shaver's retirement, in June 1971, the city was rocked by rioting following the arrest of several students by police for public intoxication. The ensuing, three-day melee was brought under control only after the deployment of the New Mexico National Guard. Thirteen civilians were shot during the disorder, some by police officers and some by private citizens repelling sporadic looting that accompanied the unrest.

In 1973, the Chicano Police Officer's Association of Albuquerque and twelve Albuquerque police officers sued the city in federal court, alleging that Hispanic-surnamed citizens were discriminated against in the hiring and promotion of police officers.[4] The lawsuit survived adverse testimony[5] and several motions to dismiss[6] and even went up to the Supreme Court of the United States[7] before being scheduled for trial in 1978.[8]

On May 15, 1978, the parties agreed to a stipulated judgment which required the city to pay $8,000 to Beserra and $8,000 to the Chicano Police Officer's Association and to meet an affirmative action goal of 34% Hispanic-surnamed individuals in the police department by July 1, 1981 and also to complete an affirmative action internal audit of the police department to verifiably validate the testing procedures for promotion. The department will also assign a Chicano police officer to the police academy; and expand department language and cultural awareness training.[8] After the settlement was approved, the lawyers for the Chicano Police Officer's Association asked for additional money from the city for attorney’s fees, and over the dissent of Chief Judge Seth, the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court ordered them to be paid.[8] Despite the settlement, complaints continued[9] even into the 1990s.[10] However, the 34% target had been exceeded by 1993 with a 39.4% Hispanic-surnamed force.[10]

In 1976 Albuquerque police coordinated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Operation FIESTA. The year-long series of undercover investigations and stings, funded by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, targeted the fencing operations then prolific in the Albuquerque area, resulting in 79 arrests.[11]

Modern Era[edit]

Between 2010 and 2013 the number of police employed by the city of Albuquerque plummeted by more than 15-percent as a result of officer resignations, a drop attributed to pay cuts imposed by the city to balance a budget deficit, and low department morale.[12]

Albuquerque police became the subject of an extended period of public controversy beginning in 2010 following revelations of financial impropriety in the police officers union, and high cash settlements the city had been forced to pay people who had sued the department for various reasons. In addition, media reported that the department had one of the highest rates of shootings in the United States. News that the police union had been routinely providing cash payments to officers involved in shootings to help them recover emotionally from the event, further heightened public scrutiny.[13][14][15]

An Albuquerque DUI unit police car photographed in 2012.

In November 2012, a union-sponsored survey of Albuquerque police officers found that all but three of the 456 departmental personnel who responded to the questionnaire characterized departmental morale as "low," with 18-percent saying the U.S. Department of Justice should be called on to initiate an inquiry into the department.[16] The same month, the United States Department of Justice launched a civil investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department.[17][18] According to that investigation, the APD engaged "in a pattern or practice of violating residents' Fourth Amendment rights" and of using deadly force "in an unconstitutional manner" and called for an extensive series of reforms.[19] While some in the New Mexico legislature called the report an indicator that change in the department was needed, state senator Lisa Torraco said local prosecutors should also be held accountable for failing to provide proper oversight of the department, explaining her view that district attorney Kari Brandenburg was "the root of the problem."[20]

Prior to the report's release, a survey by Albuquerque's KOAT-TV found that 42-percent of the city's residents trusted police, 22-percent distrusted police, and the remainder "fell somewhere in the middle." City council member Rey Garduno characterized the results of the survey as "not good" for the police department, while Mayor Richard J. Berry said he continued to "stand behind" the police department.[21]

In February 2014, Gorden Eden was selected to replace chief Ray Schultz who had stepped down due to ongoing controversy.[22][23] The following month, a group of approximately 300 Albuquerque residents protested against police in a tumultuous demonstration that ended with the deployment of tear gas and scattered clashes between police and protesters. Mayor Richard Berry said the protest had been sidelined by a smaller group within the larger demonstration that was determined to create havoc.[24][25] A counter-protest the following week drew a crowd of several hundred in support of the police.[26]

On May 3 of the same year, police shot and killed Armand Martin. The shooting came following a six-hour standoff between police and Martin, whose wife had called 911 after Martin had allegedly stated his intent to kill his children. According to police, officers opened fire after Martin exited his home shooting wildly at nearby houses with two handguns.[27] Two days later, in response to the shooting, several dozen protesters - led by activists Andres Valdez and David Correia - descended on Albuquerque city council chambers, presenting a self-styled "arrest warrant" for Chief Gordon Eden and forcing the premature adjournment of the council meeting.[28] Valdez subsequently declared he and protesters had successfully deposed the city government in a "coup d'etat," though the council reconvened normally two days later.[29] Correia said he got the idea to attempt a "citizen's arrest" of officials from the 1967 Reies Tijerina courthouse raid, an incident in which protesters supporting land redistribution stormed a courthouse, gunning down police who attempted to resist the takeover and taking the sheriff and a journalist hostage.[30]

Rank structure[edit]

Title Insignia
Chief of Police
4 Gold Stars.svg
Deputy Chief
3 Gold Stars.svg
2 Gold Stars.svg
US-O1 insignia.svg
NYPD Sergeant Stripes.svg
Police Officer


The department employs approximately 1,000 commissioned law enforcement officers, who operate out of six area commands. An air unit operates a Eurocopter EC120, and a Cessna 182.

In September 2008 the US Department of Justice Bureau of Statistics reported the Albuquerque Police Department as the 49th largest police department in the United States.[31] The crime rate in Albuquerque is 53-percent higher than the U.S. average, with notably high levels of drunk driving and gun violence.[32]

In popular culture[edit]

The Albuquerque police department and fictional Albuquerque police officers are portrayed at various times in the television series Breaking Bad, which is set in the city.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the department appeared in several episodes of the television show Cops, however, beginning in 2001 Mayor Martin Chávez refused to allow the program to shoot additional episodes, explaining that "the city's police officers are portrayed in a good light, but the rest of the city looks horrible." In reporting on the Cops ban, a newspaper report at the time noted a post made to a television enthusiast website in which a reader commented "How much crime can there be in Albuquerque, New Mexico? They taped so many shows in that town, I'm ready never to visit."[33] As of 2014, the mayor's office has reiterated its intention to refuse the television show access to the city.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas". Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Executive Staff". The City of Albuquerque. 2014-03-31. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  3. ^ "Albuquerque Police Department Museum". cabq.gov. City of Albuquerque. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  4. ^ Cohea, Carol (21 July 1973) "Chicano Police File Suit" The Albuquerque Journal page 1, column 4
  5. ^ Cohea, Carol (1 December 1973) "Defense Consultant Denies Tests Unfair to Chicano Police Group" The Albuquerque Journal page 5, column 1
  6. ^ Staff (21 November 1975) "New Trial Ordered" The Albuquerque Journal page 4, column 4
  7. ^ Stover v. Chicano Police Officers Ass'n, 426 U.S. 944 (1976)
  8. ^ a b c For case history see: Chicano Police Officer's Association v. Beserra, 624 F.2d 127 (1980 Tenth Circuit, opinion by Judge Logan)
  9. ^ Staff (9 September 1979) "Chcanos Allege Bias" The New Mexican page 15, column 3
  10. ^ a b Associated Press (13 April 1993) "Group challenges hiring practices of Albuquerque Police Department" The New Mexican page 8, column 1
  11. ^ "FBI Albuquerque Division- A Brief History". fbi.gov. FBI. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  12. ^ Dan McKay (August 18, 2014). "APD shrinking; Berry reveals incentive plan". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved May 7, 2014. 
  13. ^ Michael Haederle (14 April 2012). "In Albuquerque, an uproar over shootings by police". LA Times. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  14. ^ Jeri Clausing (2012-03-23). "Albuquerque Police Were Paid 'Bounty' For Shootings Claims Victim's Father Mike Gomez". Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  15. ^ Manny Fernandez and Dan Frosch (March 24, 2012). "Payments to Albuquerque Officers Are Called a ‘Bounty System’". Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  16. ^ Proctor, Jeff (14 November 2012). "Survey: APD Officers Say Morale Low". Albuquerque Journal. 
  17. ^ Office of Public Affairs (2012-11-27). "Justice Department Launches Investigation of the Albuquerque, N.M., Police Department’s Use of Force". The United States Department of Justice. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  18. ^ Dan Frosch (November 27, 2012). "Justice Dept. to Investigate the Police in Albuquerque". Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  19. ^ Santos, Fernanda (10 April 2014). "Excessive Force Common for Albuquerque Police, Justice Dept. Finds". The New York Times. 
  20. ^ Gerew, Gary (11 April 2014). "City urged to quickly reform police department". Albuquerque Business Journal. 
  21. ^ "Survey: 42 percent of residents trust police". KOA-TV. 10 April 2014. 
  22. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/15/us/new-mexico-police-chief-chosen-for-embattled-albuquerque-force.html
  23. ^ http://www.abqjournal.com/352961/news/3-left-in-running-for-chief-of-apd.html
  24. ^ Nottingham, Shawn (1 April 2014). "In Albuquerque, protesters clash with police". CNN. 
  25. ^ Hughes, Trevor (31 March 2014). "Albuquerque police face hundreds of protesters". USA Today. 
  26. ^ Da, Royale (7 April 2014). "Albuquerque police face hundreds of protesters". KOAT-TV. 
  27. ^ Miller, Cole (5 May 2014). "Photos, 911 call released in latest APD shooting". KRQE-TV. 
  28. ^ Jennings, Trip (5 May 2014). "New Mexico: New Protests Against Albuquerque Police". New York Times. 
  29. ^ Contreras, Russell (8 May 2014). "Police shootings: Albuquerque council meets". chron.com (Houston, Texas: Houston Chronicle). 
  30. ^ "Albuquerque council meets amid heightened security". USA Today. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  31. ^ U.S. Department of Justice. "Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, 2008". Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  32. ^ "Albuquerque Really Is Like Breaking Bad". TIME. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  33. ^ Potts, Leanne (25 January 2004). "Mayor Has Banned 'Cops' in Albuquerque". Albuquerque Journal. 
  34. ^ "Television show 'Cops' returns to Albuquerque area". msn.com. Associated Press. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 

External links[edit]

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