ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As violent crime approached record breaking numbers in the metro, Albuquerque’s mayor says it’s time to take a different approach.
Mayor Tim Keller announced the creation of a new “Violence Intervention Program” at a news conference Friday. The program includes the creation of a new division within the Albuquerque Police Department, which is being tasked with collaboration.
“This can’t come soon enough,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “We need this desperately in our community.”
The mayor says the goal of the new program and police division is to share more information with law enforcement partners and prosecutors about criminals, as well as increasing outreach to victims and roping in social services to help address their needs.
“It does get very complicated and it’s very different by person, but it’s that early engagement and communication that is something that I mean, frankly, we just haven’t been doing, and that’s what this is all about,” Mayor Tim Keller said.
The announcement comes after an Albuquerque woman was murdered in her driveway early Tuesday morning after what police believe was an attempted robbery. The city is on track to break the record for the total number of homicides in one calendar year, 72.
“This is a situation where essentially just throwing a bunch of officers at something like that in a particular neighborhood isn’t really going to do anything,” said Keller, addressing the topic of violent crime.
A collaborative effort addressing violent crime is something Mayor Keller says the city has not done well in the past.
“Unfortunately for decades, we have not done any of this,” Keller said in an interview with KRQE News 13 on Friday. “Our community is paying the price for it now, so we’ve got to start somewhere.”
Introducing the program Friday, Keller placed emphasis on the social service angle of the program. The city envisions civilian employees in the “Violence Intervention Division” doing more outreach to crime victims, people whom the city believe are prone to become the next criminal offenders out of retribution.
“To do this kind of program, you have to engage with people who have been shot, who have been stabbed, and you have to engage with the people that possibly know who would have done that,” Mayor Keller said.
KRQE News 13 asked Mayor Keller is he believes the Violence Intervention Program will have an immediate impact on violent crime.
“I wish someone could just deliver immediate results, I think unfortunately that’s just not the reality with respect to what these crimes are about,” Keller said. “They’re crimes of passion that involve, either domestic violence or drugs or gangs, and so those are things, there is no tactical plan we can roll out this weekend, unfortunately.”
Keller says it will take a long-term effort to address the problem of violent crime, a process that he believes will take hundreds of new officers, millions of dollars and likely years of investment.
“We do know if we sustain an effort, that we don’t trick ourselves into thinking that over a month of some sort of saturation patrol or something like that, we can end violent crime, if we’re realistic about this and dedicate over the long run, we can make a difference,” Keller said.
Next week, the city will reveal new details on the “Metro 15” component of the new division, an effort by the city to highlight the most problematic criminals in the area, and what they plan to do about them.