ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Following a nearly two-month effort gathering ideas to help fight crime in the Albuquerque area, local and state leaders released 40 suggestions or “actionable solutions to fight crime” during a news conference Tuesday morning. The announcement comes following the conclusion of the city’s so-called “Metro Crime Initiative” (MCI.)
“The status quo, the criminal justice system right now is not working for the Albuquerque metro area,” said Mayor Tim Keller at Tuesday’s news conference. He and the other speakers said they had the honest, difficult conversations to see what their challenges are and how to address them.
“It’s intention is to step away from the system and really look under the hood of the entire system,” said Attorney General Hector Balderas.
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Since July 16, Albuquerque police, city leaders and other stakeholders have held five MCI sessions aimed at discussing ideas to “close gaps in the criminal justice system” and help Albuquerque fight crime. The city’s five sessions covered topics like early intervention in criminal activity, detention, diversion programs, court hearings, resources for victim advocates, an offenders re-entry into society and public safety career pipelines.
At Tuesday’s news conference, multiple speakers emphasized the difficult and honest conversations they had across departments and entities as well as how a culture of finger pointing at other parts of the criminal justice system is behind them. The five sessions lead to a list of 40 action items to make the metro safer. One area of focus is drug addiction.
“Sometimes we have to look out for those who can’t look out for themselves. So, we can make it a partisan issue or we can say hey all of us are no farther away than one person from being affected by these issues,” said Jeffrey Holland, an MCI participant and someone who has gone through the criminal justice system and has experienced homelessness and addiction. Goals on the list include creating a 24-7 sobering center and also expanding court ordered treatment.
“Part of this is about holding dangerous criminals’ accountability and when appropriate, absolutely holding them behind bars. But it’s also about fixing the unacceptable cracks in the system that lead to the tragedy in the first place,” said Mayor Keller.
The MCI also aims to stop the ‘revolving door’ for criminals and reduce gun violence. “We have to work together to keep dangerous criminals off of the streets, especially those who have used guns in crimes,” said Rep. Meredith Dixon.
The list calls for offenders who used a firearm to stay behind bars until trial and to close the loopholes in the state’s Red Flag Law. Other goals on the list include tackling speeding and hiring officers and retaining them. Speakers at Tuesday’s news conference said lack of funding is no longer an excuse.
“Our first priority is to advocate for all of this in every venue possible…that includes a possible special session, that includes the 30 day session, that includes everything in between from county commission meetings to city council meetings,” said Mayor Keller.
“I am glad my administration was able to take part in these valuable conversations,” said Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in a news release. “As I have said before, tackling violent crime will take all of us, across jurisdictions and different branches of government, working together to aggressively root out bad actors and, more broadly, to sustain long-term strategic investments in programs and communities that support children and families with opportunities to thrive. I look forward to continued partnership in suppressing and mitigating violent crime throughout our state.”
When asked about a timeframe for all of these goals to be accomplished, Mayor Tim Keller said each goal has its own timeline.
According to a news release about the program sent by city representatives in July, Mayor Tim Keller hoped the initiative would help develop policy proposals that can be taken to the New Mexico State Legislature. One lawmakers said during Tuesday’s news conference the state legislature would take up crime during the next legislative session.
Tuesday’s news conference was attended by the mayor, city councilors, APD Chief Harold Medina, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, officials with the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office, Albuquerque-area lawmakers and other subject matter experts. This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is released.