Mayor Keller, APD Chief Medina Outline Requests for State Assistance to Combat Crime

Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Harold Medina outlined specific and urgent requests to the state that will make a powerful difference in lowering crime in the Albuquerque Metro Area. City leaders added to their previously requested help from two years of work with local criminal justice leaders on multiple items designed to fill gaps to make Albuquerque safer. 

Since 2021, the City has convened leaders in the criminal justice system through the Metro Crime Initiative (MCI) to create legislative priorities and action items to fix the broken criminal justice system. Many MCI proposals have not been passed in their entirety, and instead, proposed legislation has been watered down to the point of being ineffective. Funding for vital programs, personnel, and resources has been slashed dramatically from the amounts needed to effect change. In just the last few weeks, 5-year-old Galilea Samaniego and 11-year-old Froylan Villegas were killed in separate deadly shootings. Now is the time to call a special legislative session to adopt the policies the Mayor and our partners have recommended to keep our children safe from gun violence.

“Albuquerque families can’t afford political debates that distract us from fighting violent crime. This is a powerful moment to listen to police and behavioral health professionals to create the change we need in a special session,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “Too often, the legislation we propose gets watered down to the point that it’s ineffective and funding is slashed from the amounts needed to make a difference. Now is the time to actually change the laws and provide the funding needed to fix a broken criminal justice system, to crack down on assault weapons, target fentanyl dealers, rebuild the addiction treatment system, and amp up resources for courts and prevention programs.”

Due in part to the recommendations of MCI, APD has made numerous administrative changes and improved cooperation with partner agencies. As a result, homicide clearance rates are the highest they have been in decades, and APD academy classes are full. APD needs other parts of the criminal justice system, especially the courts and jail, to have the funding and tools needed to support their work and hold criminals accountable. 

“Our officers are dealing with the same offenders, committing the same crimes every day,” APD Chief Harold Medina said. “We have improved investigations after being criticized by a top legislator, and we have charged over 200 murder suspects since then. We created a team and moved it to the District Attorney’s Office to help with prosecutions. And we used money from the governor and the Legislature to boost incentives for officers, resulting in larger cadet academies. Finally, we have consistently advocated for increased funding, along with more accountability, for all other parts of the criminal justice system to ensure we are all doing everything possible to crack down on crime. But little has changed, because our jail sits half empty while repeat offenders are out on Albuquerque’s streets.”

The City Will be Re-submitting its Legislative Priorities Under the Metro Crime Initiative with Several New Additions:

REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE

  • Explore the removal of the preemption on cities from addressing assault rifle proliferation.
  • Stronger penalties for possessing firearms in drug distribution crimes.
  • New charges for the random firing of a gun in public.
  • New charges for carrying a firearm while intoxicated.
  • Permanently establish and fund the New Mexico Office of Gun Violence Prevention.
  • Expand the Albuquerque Community Safety department’s Violence Intervention Program to all middle and high schools in Albuquerque to interrupt cycles of violence for young offenders and support victims of gun crimes.
  • Close loopholes in Reg Flag law.
  • Add more federal prosecutors to New Mexico to address gun and drug-related offenses.
  • Implement “Duke City Stat,” involving additional jurisdictions in crime strategy and tracking, particularly concerning violent crime in Albuquerque, specifically the NMSP (New Mexico State Police).

BOLSTER COURTS TO CLOSE THE REVOLVING DOOR 

  • Permanent fix to the pre-trial detention system.
  • Establishment of dedicated ‘fentanyl court’ staffed with retired judges if needed to prosecute dealers within 90 days and provide treatment for users upon arrest.
  • Establishment of Fentanyl specific response team to educate social networks of victims and link to violence intervention programs.
  • Longer sentences for 2nd degree murder. With more than 200 suspects charged with murder, many offenders are pleading to 2nd degree murder, which only carries a 15-year sentence. The sentence would be increased to 20 years.
  • More jail time for retail theft offenders who brandish a gun during the commission of a crime. Firearm enhancements should be increased to 10 years and a requirement that the enhancement be fully imposed following a jury finding of fact.
  • Designate 2nd degree homicide by vehicle or great bodily harm by vehicle as a serious violent offense. Offenders would be required to serve 85% of their sentence.
  • Enhance domestic violence penalties and breadth of laws.

REBUILD BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SYSTEM

  • Establish immediate options for behavioral health and addiction services as an alternative to jail for some non-violent offenders.
  • Expand treatment programs for those affected by mental/behavioral health problems.
  • Expand addiction programs with emphasis on fentanyl treatment.
  • Incentivize new provider services.
  • Development behavioral health training/career path programs.
  • Career training in behavioral health for underserved youth.
  • Fund peer support programs for crime victims.
  • Establish and fund a community victims ombudsman.
  • Capital funding for facility improvements at the Family Advocacy Center.
  • Contract to transport inmates to jail.
  • Establish security branch to monitor prisoners while being cared for at UNM Hospital.

FIGHT CRIME

  • Regular and reoccurring presence of New Mexico State Police in the Albuquerque Metro Area with a designated traffic unit to patrol state highways and dedicated narcotics and auto theft investigators.
  • State direct participation in warrant backlog initiative
  • Enact enhanced criminal sentencing for road rage and violent crimes on the roadways.
  • Prioritize enforcement efforts against drug trafficking and distribution networks.
  • Enact stricter street racing penalties.
  • Common sense regulations, similar to other states on assault weapons, large capacity magazines and bump stocks.
  • Fix “asset forfeiture” law to increase funding for public education on narcotics and support drug trafficking investigations.
  • Continue to the referendum on Juvenile diversion programs engaged in violent crime.
  • Introduce “return to work” legislation to allow qualified/certified officers to return to duty.

FUND CRIME FIGHTING TECHNOLOGY AND INFRASTRUCTURE

  • $20 million expansion of the Real Time Crime Center, and $10 million in new cameras to help coordinate law enforcement operations in the Metro region.
  • $6.5 million helicopter and assistance from the State Police helicopter to patrol the Metro area when APD’s primary helicopter is not flying.
  • Ensure adequate funding for Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) to quickly process persons taken into custody and provide for their constitutional detention.
  • Fund community command posts on east and west sides of Albuquerque.
  • $10 million to expand gun detection technology.
  • Increase funding for violent crime investigative units to expand investigative and apprehension resources. Consider expanding the Digital Investigation Team (DIT) and integrating drone technology.
  • Increase speed detection devices to monitor and enforce speed limits throughout all state roads within the Metro area.
  • Allocate $10 million for the creation of two additional police substations in high crime areas.

STRENGTHEN COLLABORATIONS AND PROCEDURES

  • Establish medical check protocols between UNM Hospital and MDC.
  • Ensure adequate funding for MDC to quickly process persons taken into custody and provide for their constitutional detention.
  • Improvements to conservatorship programs for severely addicted.
  • Notify law enforcement when offenders are deemed incompetent by the courts. 
  • Require parole/probation officers to notify law enforcement and victims when offenders are released.
  • Work with Bernalillo County to identify and resolve bottlenecks in processing persons taken into custody for detention.           
  • Create a specialty court for auto theft.
  • Expand use of use of specialty courts such as mental health and homeless.
  • Crime in Albuquerque is primarily driven by repeat offenders who are career criminals. Under the NM habitual offenders act, mandate that prosecutors are utilizing habitual offender enhancements.
  • Require mandatory reporting for mental health providers, requiring them to report individuals under their care to the National Instant Criminal Check system.
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