ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque city leaders addressed a list of public safety legislative priorities in a news conference Friday afternoon. Speaking from city hall, Mayor Tim Keller says the message from Albuquerque is that lawmakers need to help fix the city’s crime problem immediately.
“This has to be fixed, so if you can’t get it done in 30 days, there should be a special session,” Mayor Keller said Friday. “I’ve been calling for a special session for nine months, and if we can’t get it done now, that’s OK, that’s why our state constitution has a process to deal with urgent issues, and it would be a special session on crime.”
Keller, APD Police Chief Harold Medina and several other city officials outlined a series of legislative priorities, including changes to laws, some proposed new laws and funding for crime related programs. The list includes 18 priorities broadly dealing with crime fighting:
- Legislative Action Requests
- Expand Violence Intervention Program (VIP)
- Penalty enhancements for the criminal use of firearms
- Prevent firearm charges from being plead out
- Taskforce for examine officer retention and recruitment
- ‘Chop shop’ criminalization
- Examine gun violence as public health issue
- Require gun violence owner to secure weapons
- Pre-trial rebuttable presumption of detention
- Close loopholes in extreme risk protection order
- Public Safety Investment Requests
- Mobile Speed Enforcement Technology
- Repairs and modernation to APD facilities, including APD Main and the APD Academy
- Renovations to Gibson Health Hub and Gateway Center to provide needed housing and behavioral health services
- City-wide expansion of street lighting
- Increase in staffing and capacity of court system, including specialty courts
- Create a 24/7 sobering center for central New Mexico
- Adequately fund the GPS 24/7 pre-trial monitoring system
- Reinvest in behavioral health system statewide
- Increase outpatient treatment for individuals returning from incarcertation.
Many of the ideas on the city’s list of action items came from the Metro Crime Initiative, a city-led, months-long collaborative process that resulted in list of 40 suggestions on how to address crime in the Albuquerque-area. Among the possible initiatives, the City of Albuquerque is pushing for expanding funding for its “Violence Intervention Program” (VIP,)
The VIP program is an initiative designed to “interrupt the process” where victims of other violent crimes become involved in perpetuating the violence that happened to them. Each week, VIP staff create a list of individuals affected by recent gun violence and crime. Program workers attempt to contact individuals immediately, in-person, offering support services and timely discussions about the consequences of violence. City leaders are asking for lawmakers to pitch in $2-million dollars to the program.
Some of the initiatives discussed Friday have already been backed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who alongside Mayor Tim Keller, unveiled a crime-related legislative proposals during a news conference last week. Mayor Keller believes there is finally enough momentum from most lawmakers this year to address crime during the shorter 30-day session.
“There is more momentum for this session than I’ve ever seen for crime in my time in public service,” Keller said. “We have a multi-billion dollar surplus, and we can and should use that money to fight crime, whether its in the court system, the parole system or in law enforcement directly, this is the first year you cannot use money as an excuse.”