Albuquerque, NM (KKOB) – The Albuquerque Police Department is launching a Community Ambassador Program that designates officers as liaisons with diverse communities throughout Albuquerque.
This program will establish clear, consistent lines of communication with various communities that have not had formal relationships with law enforcement. Interim Chief Harold Medina said he wants to focus first on relationships with constituencies based on race, sexual orientation, and religion.
“Historically, APD’s community policing efforts have focused on business and neighborhood organizations with longstanding relationships with the department,” Mayor Tim Keller said. “We need to be proactive with our outreach to communities who are victimized by crime, but may not trust police.”
As part of the department’s efforts to move toward a community policy model, APD will recruit officers who want to become liaisons through the program. This will be collateral duty where the Ambassadors will meet with various groups throughout the city, to listen to their concerns.
As the Community Ambassador Program launches, Chief Medina will assign five groups, four of which will be based on race and ethnicity. Those groups will be designated as liaisons with Asian, Hispanic, Black and Native American communities, and the fifth group will work with the LGBTQ community.
One of the first groups APD is working with as part of the Community Ambassador Program is Black New Mexico Movement, whose members raised concerns with Chief Medina following this summer’s protests in Albuquerque. In addition to working together to address those concerns, APD and members of BNMM agreed to partner this week and deliver turkey dinners to families and staff at University Hospital.
“We know there are diverse groups and viewpoints even within these communities,” Chief Medina said. “Our goal is to build relationships and address concerns about the inequalities in our community. This is a way for our officers to lend an ear and bring those concerns to the appropriate parties so we can help make necessary change.”
The officers who become ambassadors will receive advanced training in community relations. Every month they will bring the individual groups concerns to Chief Medina so he can assess if he needs to personally meet with them or if other city departments would be better suited to address those concerns.
Additionally, the Ambassadors will work to recruit individuals from the groups they are assigned to, to diversify the department with the various voices of the community.