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NM Police, Sheriffs See Officer, Deputy Shortage

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Police departments and sheriffs' offices across New Mexico are battling shortages of officers and deputies amid retirements and low pay.

From Albuquerque police to small rural agencies like the Torrance County Sheriff's office, departments are reporting staffing shortfalls and say it may get worse next year.

Officials say the shortages hurt agencies' ability to fight crime and often require officers to work many shifts.

Eddy County Sheriff Scott London says his agency is facing potential staffing shortages because 20 percent of his staff is eligible for retirement in 2014.

Department heads also say some agencies in neighboring states offer better pay.

The shortage comes at a time when agencies say Mexican drug cartels are increasingly using New Mexico's isolated regions as routes and small rural areas are fighting gangs.