APD Adding New Priority Call Categories And Cops Should Reduce Response Times

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has announced that the way it is dispatching police officers to 911 calls has now changed and has expanded priority the list to include a total of five categories.


According to a Channel 13 News Report, in 2018, Albuquerque Police Department (APD) police officers were dispatched to 476,726 calls for service.

However, the 2018-2019 City general fund performance measures contained in the 2018-2019 fund budget, reflects significantly more calls for service with the projected number of calls for service reported as 576,480, and the actual number being 580,238.

Call priorities are generally on a scale of 1 to 3 with 1 being the highest or most important type of call.

For decades APD has had a three priority 911 dispatch system defining the calls as follows:

A PRIORITY 1 call is a felony that is in progress or there is an immediate threat to life or property.

A PRIORITY 2 call is where there is no immediate threat to life of property. Misdemeanor crimes in progress are priority 2 calls.

A PRIORITY 3 call is any call in which a crime has already occurred with no suspects at or near the scene.

Routine events and calls where there is no threat to life or property are priority 3 calls.


A major goal of the new system is to determine what calls do and do not require a police officer.

Under the new system, a Priority 1 call is “any immediate life-threatening situation with great possibility of death or life-threatening injury or any confrontation between people which could threaten the life or safety of any person where weapons are involved.”

A Priority 5 call is a where a crime has already occurred and there “is no suspect at or near the scene and no threat of personal injury, loss of life or property.”

In announcing the change in policy, APD Public Information Officer Gilbert Gallegos had this to say:

“What we want to do is get officers to the scene of a call as quickly as possible for the most urgent calls, and by that I mean calls where there is a life-threatening situation. … Basically we’re adapting to the situation where we’re trying to make the system much more efficient and much more effective “.

APD stresses every call is different and depending on the circumstances of that call the level of priority can always change.

The single most compelling reason for the change is that it is taking way too long to dispatch police officers after a call is received.

Police are being dispatched to calls where an officer is not always needed freeing up resources.

Under the new policy, police officers will only run code lights and sirens to life-threatening situations like a shooting, stabbing, armed robbery, or a crime where a weapon is involved.

Under the new system, the public will also be asked to go to the telephone reporting unit to make a report and APD will not dispatch officers unless it meets some other criteria elevating the call.

For the lower priority calls where an officer isn’t needed, callers have three ways to file a report: online, over the phone, or at any police substation.

APD stresses every call is different and depending on the circumstances of that call the level of priority can always change.


Whenever the volume of calls for surface is discussed, it must be viewed in the context to how those calls are broken down with respect to types of crime, arrests, number of police officers.

The City budget is a “performance based” budget where yearly, the various department’s must submit statistics reflecting job performance to justify the individual department budgets.

Following are the APD performance measures statistics reported in 2018-2019 approved general fund budget:

Number of calls for service 2018: projected 576,480, 2018 Actual 580,238

Average response time in minutes for Priority 1 calls: 2018 Fiscal Year Actual: 12:26 minutes. (NOTE: In 2009, average response times was 8:56 minutes and below the national average of 9:00)

Number of sworn officers approved for 2018: 1,040, mid-year 2018 actual: 867. (NOTE: APD is projected to have 950 sworn police by July 1, 2019).

Number of cadet graduates approved for 2018: 80, actual: 85.

Percentage of service call that resulted in “use of force”: 2018 Estimate 0.05, Actual: 0.08.

Number of felony arrests 2018 Fiscal Year: Estimated 9,200, Actual: 9,592.

Number of misdemeanor arrests 2018 Fiscal Year: Estimated:18,000, 2018, Actual 18,442.

Number of DWI arrests 2018 Fiscal Year: Estimated 1,500, Actual 2018 1,403.

Number of domestic violence arrests 2018 Fiscal Year: Estimated 2,300, 2018 actual 2,336.

Percentage Homicide clearance rate 2018 Fiscal Projected: 75%, Actual: 40%. (NOTE: this is a dramatic decline reflecting a serious backlog of unsolved cases)

Number of alcohol involved accident investigations 2018 Fiscal Year Estimate: 450, Actual 560.

SWAT Activation 2018 Fiscal Year Estimated: 38, 2018 Actual: 82.

Bomb Squad Activation 2018 Fiscal Year Estimated: 925, Actual 1,061.

K-9 Activations (Building and area searches) 2018 Fiscal Year Actual: 819, 2017 mid-year actual 461.


High response times by APD to Priority 1 calls for service are unacceptable and pose a clear threat to the city’s public safety.

Every year from January 8, 2010 to mid-2015, response times for Priority 1 calls for service to APD rose and was 2 minutes and 16 seconds slower in 2015 than in 2010.


Midway through 2015, APD response time to “Priority 1” calls, which included shootings, robberies, finding dead bodies and car wrecks with injuries, was 11 minutes and 12 seconds.

In fiscal year 2016, APD actual response time to “Priority 1” calls was 11 minutes and 35 seconds.

In fiscal year 2017, APD actual response time to “Priority 1” calls was 12 minutes and 16 seconds.

The link to city hall budgets is:


There is no doubt rising response times over the years by APD was a side effect of the dwindling police force that went from 1,100 police officers in 2010 to 853 sworn police in 2017, the lowest number of sworn police officers since 2001.

Aggravating the increase in response time to 911 Priority 1 calls was the increase in the overall number of calls for service.

The dramatic increase in the city’s overall crime rates, violent crime rates and the city’s population also increased response times beyond the national average of 10 minutes.

The Keller administration is spending $88 million dollars, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures to hire 350 officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers in order to return to community-based policing.

The Keller Admiration also negotiated with the police union significant APD pay raises and bonuses and an aggressive hiring and recruitment program offering incentives to join or return to APD.

City officials project that by the summer, APD will employ a total of 980 sworn police.

With the establishment of new categories priority call and the addition of more police the APDs response time should have a dramatic decline within 6 months to a year.

When it comes to violent crimes such as aggravated domestic violence cases, rapes, murders and armed robberies, seconds and minutes can make a difference between life and death of a person.

With more police officers and the change in Priority 1 categories, APD should be able to better dispatch and save resources and perhaps save a few lives in responding to Priority 1 Emergency calls.

This entry was posted in Opinions by . Bookmark the permalink.


Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.