Albuquerque mayor, police union differ on ‘Operation Legend’

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – President Donald Trump’s Operation Legend is garnering very different reactions from Albuquerque’s mayor and the police union, and both sides are making their cases on national news.

Mayor Tim Keller in a press release this week called the effort to bring more than 25 federal agents to Albuquerque a “stunt” by the president, while the police union says the extra manpower is desperately needed to help fight violent crime in the city.

“This is not a new concept,” Albuquerque Police Officers Association President Shaun Willoughby told News 13 on Thursday. “The FBI, the ATF, the DEA, even the secret service, Department of Homeland security. We need all the help we can get. We’ve been working with these partners for decades.”

Willoughby thanked the president Thursday morning on Fox and Friends for the plan to send the additional federal agents in the coming days to help fight violent crime, including gun violence.

This comes amid an ongoing APD officer shortage, and as the police union on Thursday released its annual survey of police officers in which 80 percent of responding officers said they’re considering looking for other jobs.

“We have an entire community that is sick and tired of crime being out of control,” Willoughby told News 13. “Our community deserves to feel safe in their own homes, our victims of crime deserve to have follow-up. This is a no-brainer. This is common sense.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Keller on CNN expressed he doesn’t believe this is a method to actually help local law enforcement, saying the president could be trying to rile people up in progressive democrat cities.

“He’s going after democrat cities as part of his reelection strategy. We’re very concerned that it’s inciting violence,” Keller told CNN.

But, he said he’s willing to work with the feds under written confirmation from the president that these aren’t “secret police” working to round up protesters, like in Portland.

“To make sure that city ordinances are followed and reflects our values in where we’re trying to fight crime and the other area is even overlapping resources. So, if we’re doing gun violence reduction work, that they’re not duplicating it,” Mayor Keller told News 13 on Thursday. “We want to make sure that undocumented immigrants are not being unfairly targeted. We want to make sure there’s no racial profiling.”

Keller said the city is requesting that written documentation for this new operation and is researching legal options in case these agents violate city ordinances.

APD is still waiting on nearly $10 million in funding from the Department of Justice’s former Operation Relentless Pursuit. That was awarded before the pandemic to help Albuquerque hire 40 more officers and pay for equipment, according to an APD spokesperson.

“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 with we think roughly $10 million with this past operation,” Keller said.

Read the APOA 2020 State of Policing Survey here:

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