If one listened carefully at the Sept. 5 Albuquerque City Council meeting you might have heard the buzz of about $5.2 million flying towards a new police department helicopter.
At a presser before the meeting, Councilors Trudy Jones and Ken Sanchez announced they were co-sponsoring a resolution to fund a new $5.2 million helicopter to take a bite out of crime. The new whirlybird would replace the police department’s 17-year old Eurocopter EC120B, as the aircraft is nearing the end of its useful service life. The resolution was introduced at this meeting and will be voted on at a future meeting.
The money, politicos say, will come from last year’s surplus revenue. They say the helicopter will have state of the art everything and will be connected to the Real-Time Crime Center to track suspects running from police from the air, versus speeding through the streets. Even though the old helicopter has been down for much of 2018, its handlers say it has racked up about 35 felony arrests, 12 felony assists, 27 stolen vehicle recoveries and helped recover about $326,500 in stolen properties. There was no mention of how many citizens and neighborhoods were disturbed for how many hours by the noise in exchange for those numbers, but the new one is said to be super quiet. Mayor Tim Keller is excited about the proposed tricked-out chopper and says he hopes the Council takes quick action and the chopper is flying against crime in six to eight months.
Through official declarations of one sort or another, Councilors recognized a handful of important issues and upcoming events for Burqueños to take part in
The Center for Peace and Justice along with other organizations will form a giant human peace sign at 4pm on Sept. 21, when 200 plus people will gather at the University of New Mexico’s Johnson Field to form the iconic symbol with their bodies. A peace party will follow the peace sign formation at the Center for Peace and Justice at Harvard and Silver by UNM. This year happens to be the 70th anniversary of the United Nations recognition of universal peace, equality, compassion and equal protection as global goals. A moment of silence will be held around the globe at noon on Sept. 21 as well. There will be other events during the week of Sept. 16 through 22. Check the schedule at abqpeaceandjustice.org.
Raising awareness for childhood cancer received some attention in memory of every Albuquerque child to die of any sort of pediatric cancer. Councilors declared September as childhood cancer awareness month. Several childhood cancer doctors were on hand as well as a sweet little girl by the name of Auranna Martin, whose mother was brought to tears by the proclamation. Check out what this means and what you can do at facebook.com/CCFNM/.
September is also National Suicide Prevention Month. New Mexico has some heartbreaking and staggering numbers—one person dies by suicide every 19 hours in New Mexico, ranking the state fourth in the nation; suicide is also the second leading cause of death for 10-year olds here in the Land of Enchantment, according to Ane Romero from the Yellow Ribbon youth suicide prevention organization. She said the events are to break the silence surrounding suicide and to promote awareness of the warning signs along with pointing to access to resources. She invited people out to the Johnny Tapia Community Center in Wells Park for a free mental health training on Sept. 25. Check out more about this event at yellowribbon.org/
As an appropriate pairing, it is also National Recovery Month to honor and acknowledge those who are in recovery of any kind, and to raise awareness that substance abuse and mental health treatment can enable those with these disorders to lead a normal fulfilling life. People can and do recover, Councilor Diane Gibson read from the proclamation. There will be a public celebration at Civic Plaza on Sept. 27 from 10am to 2pm. More information about recovery month is at recoverymonth.gov.
It is also National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, a designation that recognizes Hispanic and Latino Americans as one of the leading sources of history and culture in our state. We live in a state where about 60 percent of the population are people of color. All of us New Mexicans can get into this celebration and tout having such a culturally diverse state, where luckily for white people, no one built a wall during the 1800s and 1900s to keep immigrants out. Check out the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s website for events at nhccnm.org.
Councilors finally got some police department stats. As of Aug. 31, there were 854 sworn officers, with just under 100 more in the wings at the department’s academies. Tucked in the consent agenda was an approximate $5.6 million in various funding to go towards the police department for more lateral academy training and incentives to keep experienced officers on the force.
Councilors also worked on the following items of civic interest:
• Approved appointee recommendations to the International Energy Conservation Code Committee.
• Created a task force to take a look at options to register and regulate short term rentals
• Adopted the Cutler Avenue Report as city policy and established The @Midtown District
• Amended then approved the Rio Grande Complete Streets plan for Rio Grande Boulevard from San Pasquale to I-40
• Appropriated $45,000 to complete a traffic study along Broadway Boulevard between Lead Ave. and Lomas Boulevard;
• Most importantly, urged Congress to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund which has been in place for 53 years and has helped set up some of our beloved local open spaces such as Cibola National Forest, Valle Del Oro National Wildlife Refuge, Petroglyph National Monument and Chaco Culture National Park.