ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For the first time since being sworn in, Bernalillo County’s newly appointed District Attorney Sam Bregman addressed his role as Albuquerque’s top prosecutor during a news conference Wednesday. The high-profile private attorney turned public official, Bregman says he’s taking the role because he’s tired of sitting on the sidelines while Albuquerque deals with a crime problem.

“I didn’t want to sit back and watch it, watch this community,” Bregman said. “l wanted to help, I want to be part of the solution, I can’t wait.”

Bregman replaces the previous Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez, who is now serving as New Mexico’s Attorney General. The appointment gives Bregman a chance to serve as the Bernalillo County DA through the end of 2024, or the final two years remaining on Torrez’s term.

“I can’t wait to help in getting these S*Bs that are out there committing crime, getting them arrested, locked up and brought before a judge and doing justice,” Bregman said Wednesday. “Because this community is suffering, and enough is enough … I can either be someone who sits back and looks at it or I can do it, so this opportunity arose.”

Prior to his appointment, lawyers within the DA’s office wrote a letter to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham asking for an internal appointment. KRQE asked Bregman if he feels he had support of the staff.

“They’re great lawyers and while they may be disappointed, after my conversations with them, they’re more emphatic about this community and doing good things. I think we’re going to be great,” said Bregman.

Bregman said he plans to focus on prosecuting violent and retail crimes. He also noted lawyers can make a lot more money in the private sector than at the DA’s office. He said he plans to go to lawmakers this upcoming legislative session to ask for money to give raises to lawyers in his office. He also said there are vacancies within the department that need to be filled.

Bregman spoke highly of his predecessor but did note one difference he would like to bring to the role as the District Attorney.

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News Conference: Sam Bregman addresses appointment as new Bernalillo Co. District Attorney

“I love the courtroom. Absolutely love the courtroom. I plan on prosecuting some cases,” said Bregman. “It’s going to be a priority of mine because I think that’s where the rubber meets the road when it comes to prosecutions office, is in the courtroom.

Over the last ten years, Bregman has represented clients in some of the most watched court cases in New Mexico. In 2016, Bregman served as a lead attorney in the trial of two APD officers charged with murder, which ended with a hung jury. He’s also represented several cases involving allegations of law enforcement misconduct, including a recent case in Las Cruces over the deadly police shooting of a 75-year old woman. He also has a pending case against state police, saying a death of their officer during an traffic stop in 2021 could’ve been prevented. He will also end his role as a private attorney, as running a private practice while holding a position for the state would break New Mexico law.

“There is no conflict there. I will tell you knowing so many of the folks up here like I know them, I can’t wait to start working with them,” said Bregman. “I’m no longer practicing law in private practice, that is forbidden and I’m not doing it. My office is in the process of doing substitution of counsel.”

“It will be good for him to be on our side, you know many years of battling him on the other side of the table I’m excited that he is on our side now,” said New Mexico State Police Chief Tim Johnson.

Addressing Bregman’s year’s long position as one of the most prominent, adversarial attorneys battling state law enforcement agencies over decades, Bregman reaffirmed Wednesday that he supports the work of the DA’s Office. Symbolically, Bregman was flanked at the news conference by Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina, State Police Chief Tim Johnson, outgoing Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez among other federal law enforcement partners.

“I know, especially in these times, how darn tough it is to be a prosecutor in Albuquerque,” Bregman said. “I will do everything I possibly can to support the prosecutors and the staff in this office, because I know how much you care for this community and I know how much you want to make a difference in making this a safer community in doing justice every single day. I’d just tell everybody in this office: I got your back.”

Bregman says he will not run for the position during the November 2024 election.

“I believe it is going to be so liberating as the district attorney that’s going to be there for two years,” Bregman said. “I believe it is going to be so liberating… [to] never ever let it get into your head, a political consideration, but instead, just do what’s best for this community.”

A former Albuquerque city councilor, Bregman also served as the New Mexico Democratic Party Chair from April 2013 through April 2015. Before that, Bregman served in other roles for the state political party.