White House calls out Mayor Tim Keller over funding claims

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The White House is calling out Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller over millions in grant funding for police, as Operation Legend brings 35 federal agents to the city.

Shortly after the announcement of Operation Legend, Albuquerque city officials highlighted a specific federal grant funding issue as a broken promise from the federal government. The Albuquerque Police Department was awarded around $10 million in federal funds from the COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program in early 2020.

The money is in part said to be available to spend on hiring more police officers. In a prior interview with KRQE News 13, Mayor Keller contended the federal government never delivered the money.

“We’ve had a lot of challenges where the federal government will work with us, say, ‘Yes,’ to a program and then either the check never comes in the mail, which is the case, we think, with roughly $10 million with this past operation,” Keller said in an interview with KRQE News 13 on July 23. “Or, they never sign off on the paperwork changes where we say, ‘well, we only wanted to do this,’ or, ‘we need it for that,’ and then literally just no one gets back to us, so this has been happening in a number of small ways throughout our relationship since the Trump Administration came into office.”

In response, a spokesperson for the White House sent KRQE News 13 a statement Friday saying in part Albuquerque officials “refuse the more than $10 million.”

Statement from John Horstman, White House Director of Media Affairs/Special Assistant to President Trump

“President Trump is committed to law and order and continues to take action to ensure the safety of Americans across the country. It is unacceptable that local officials refuse the more than 10 million dollars of support and personnel that President Trump has offered to Albuquerque to stem the violence that is disproportionately impacting disadvantaged communities, protect our citizens, and restore the rule of law. To refuse this help is a political stunt and an abdication of duty to protect law abiding families and community members.”

Statement from John Horstman, White House Director of Media Affairs/Special Assistant to President Trump

In response to the Trump Administration’s statement Friday, Albuquerque Police provided a statement implying that the city hasn’t accepted the federal COPS program grant funds because of policies tied to the use of those funds. Albuquerque Police says it still expects to receive the $10-million federal grant.

Statement from Gilbert Gallegos, Albuquerque Police Department spokesman

“We’re flattered that all of a sudden the White House is taking so much interest in Albuquerque, but anyone telling you we aren’t utilizing federal money is either out of touch or trying to score cheap political points. Crime has been a problem for a long time, and unlike President Trump, our officers do the hard work of fighting it every day. We’re actively looking for ways to make federal money work—but we won’t sell out our community for a bait and switch excuse to do low-level round ups or target communities of color.  Albuquerque deserves legal transparency, in the form of the standard documentation on what Operation Legend is and what is isn’t.”

Statement from Gilbert Gallegos, Albuquerque Police Department spokesman

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