ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – One state lawmaker thinks State Police should have a larger presence in the city for at least a year to help an understaffed Albuquerque Police Department tackle the crime problem here.
Sen. Sander Rue hopes to bring 30 more State Police officers here to Albuquerque as early as next summer.
There are more than 660 State Police officers across New Mexico. Right now, only about 60 of them are stationed in this district, which covers about six counties.
This legislation would bump that number up to 90, with at least 30 of them designated to only Albuquerque. This comes after Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered 50 officers to help out here in May, resulting in more than 400 arrests.
The Republican senator from Albuquerque said the additional officers would work the streets as APD tries to get its staffing up over the next year. Then, the 30 State Police officers could return to their home districts.
Rue said sending any more than 30 officers to Albuquerque would hurt other parts of the state.
“I think the public should be very concerned and upset that we don’t seem to be able to get up to full staffing levels with APD,” Rue said. “I just don’t understand why we can’t find enough people here in our community that would want those careers or be accepted into those careers in law enforcement.”
The Albuquerque Police Union said since APD officers can’t make misdemeanor arrests unless there are urgent circumstances, their hands are tied when it comes to fighting crime. The union also believes the DOJ reforms have made it tougher for police to do their jobs.
“I think we are past our pride at this point,” union president Sean Willoughby said. “I think it is time for the community to know it is not about pride. It is actually the truth. Your police officers are handcuffed, and we are not going to get the city back under control until they take those cuffs off, and if State Police can come in here without the handcuffs and make an impact on violent crime, I am all about it.”
Sen. Rue said since State Police may be coming from rural New Mexico to the largest city, there may need some more training before they hit the streets. He said the bill requires little cost, just putting the officers up in Albuquerque.
The legislative session starts on January 21.
It’s not just State Police who have tried to step up their presence in Albuquerque in the past year. The sheriff’s department is also running a lot more operations here, when they used to focus primarily on areas outside the city limits.