Public Administration ETDs

Publication Date



This is a study of the possibilities of achieving improved police service for the entire Albuquerque-Bernalillo County metropolitan area through consolidation of local law enforcement agencies. Material for this study has been gleaned from a variety of sources. It includes research on problems of general governmental consolidation in this country, problems relating specifically to consolidation of law enforcement agencies, and the opinions of local governmental leaders and law enforcement specialists concerning police agency merger. The hypothesis of this study is that consolidation of law enforcement agencies in Albuquerque-Bernalillo County can be accomplished and can provide improved police service to all areas of the metropolitan community. The study contains an evaluation of both the Albuquerque Police Department and the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department, conducted by a nationally-known consulting firm. The recommendations of this firm are presented, and the issue of improving each agency separately is discussed in comparison with the concept of improved police service through consolidation. The potential results of consolidation are seen as being superior to single agency improvement. This thesis also evaluates the legal, economic, political and other problems associated with consolidation efforts. It is pointed out that a variety of legal problems exist, primarily in relation to the traditional and constitutional purposes of governmental organization at the county level, Economic considerations, relating to current law enforcement agency funding, and a tax basis for consolidation are discussed. Finally, political considerations are wieghed in determining the possibilities of accomplishing consolidation locally. The various strategies available to bring about consolidation are discussed, and those appropriate to Albuquerque-Bernalillo County are further evaluated. Lastly, the success or failure of law enforcement consolidated locally is considered. This is basically a case study which attempts to apply general principles to the specific case at hand. Since such consolidation has not yet come about in the Albuquerque metropolitan area, nor have many of the specific issues been researched, a part of this thesis is speculative. Nevertheless, many basic factors are considered. The conclusions of this study are that a single police service in Bernalillo County has more to offer citizens than do separate agencies, regardless of improvements suggested, and that consolidation can result either through general governmental consolidation or through interlocal contract. The question of how soon such consolidation might occur is left open, as are questions concerning specific legal problems, the tax basis for consolidation, and future political events connected with this question.

Degree Name

Public Administration

Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Public Administration

First Committee Member (Chair)

David Richard Jones

Second Committee Member

John Mace Hunger

Third Committee Member

Frank Xavier Steggert



Document Type