ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – In an ongoing effort to address community concerns, United States Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) met with social justice advocates to discuss violent crime. Here are some of the main points discussed at the August 1 meeting.
The community sessions are an effort to address violent crime with intervention and outreach. In Albuquerque, members of the public noted common themes: crime at bus stops, a negative perception of police in the community and media, and a need to expand Albuquerque Community Services.
A key concern was Albuquerque’s unhoused population. “I’ve noticed as we’ve kind of gotten on the tail end of COVID funding [unhoused support organizations] just haven’t had any additional support and so they just couldn’t keep the doors open,” Jack Champagne, the program and legal director from the New Mexico Black Leadership Council, said. “So, now we’re dealing with less of these organizations doing work and the remaining organizations are getting even more that they have to do.”
Gun violence was also a common theme. Several participants noted a concern regarding gun violence among youth.
As for who should address all these concerns, some said the Albuquerque Police Department [APD] carries too much of the community’s expectations.
“We don’t have a ton police who know what it’s like to live in the [International] District for instance, so it’s very difficult for them to understand what an appropriate response is,” said Champagne. And Starlyn Brown from the League of Women Voters of Central New Mexico said, “We expected too much of APD.”
While the discussions help bring community advocates and criminal justice officials to the same table, the U.S. Department of Justice is doing more than just talking. Recently, they awarded more than $2 million to the Albuquerque Community Safety Department’s Violence Intervention Program.