With a pile of municipal business on the table, Albuquerque City Councilors worked through a five-plus hour Jan. 18 regular meeting. And some probably left with a city-sized headache as well.
A bipartisan bill sponsored by Councilors Renee Grout, Pat Davis, Brook Bassan and Isaac Benton made significant changes to how the civilians will provide police oversight. Gone is the Civilian Police Oversight Agency board. The new version put in place by a unanimous vote is the Civilian Police Oversight Advisory board.
The civilian police oversight board has been riddled with problems and strife for years. Past executive directors have said the volunteer board made it difficult to do their job. Councilors agreed that a change is necessary.
Some of the changes include: Reducing the number of board members from nine to five; providing a stipend of $100 per meeting and $500 for completing the initial training; the new board will have to consider input given by the city’s community policing councils; and a contract employee will check out executive director applications.
One of the biggest changes is that the executive director will not have to report to the board to get the okay to make disciplinary recommendations for officers.
Zero Fare Rides On
Councilors deferred making a decision on what to do about the current free-bus-rides policy currently in place. There has been months of debate over the issue of replacing the zero bus fare program. They worked on a bill that will be back on the table Feb. 6 that does not change the zero-fare piece but will focus on security plans for our bus system. They are putting their money where their mouth is by offering up $1 million to add so-called peace officers who can make arrests and generally help maintain bus manners. The current policy of free rides will stay in place until June 30.
Shout outs were given to the Albuquerque Police Department’s Homicide Unit. A number of folks working to solve the murders that happen almost daily it seems were on hand to accept the accolades. Another high five was given to a number of students from a variety of city schools who were recognized for being Selfless Seniors.
The green light was given to allow Councilors to attend meetings virtually. They can zoom in for up to 5 meetings a year and have to give a week’s notice to the Council president.
The city’s outdoor recreation trails got $295,000 to do upgrades, create new trails and provide equipment to help us enjoy our urban open space areas.
Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina addressed the discovery of a couple of exotic animals found during police investigations. An alligator was found in a home near Old Town and more recently a tiger cub was found in a southeast residence in a dog crate. Game and Fish officers took the alligator and the BioPark is holding the tiger cub until a permanent home is found.
The next meeting of the Albuquerque City Council is set for 5pm on Mon., Feb. 6. For more information, agendas and other links go to cabq.gov.