ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque city leaders are pitching more than $50 million in funding requests for a slew of new law enforcement related investments, including funding to crackdown on Bernalillo County’s warrant backlog. The announcement came during a Friday news conference, less than ten days away from the start of the next 60-day New Mexico legislative session.
Of the requests outlined for Albuquerque’s purposes Friday, the city placed the most emphasis on a $5-million ask to pay for overtime in the execution of 5,000 outstanding felony warrants and at least 60,000 outstanding misdemeanor warrants in Bernalillo County. The number of outstanding warrants represents more than 10% of the population of Albuquerque.
“If you ask any law enforcement person in Albuquerque now, what’s the number one thing you could do in the next month to reduce crime, it’s to get those warrants served,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said at Friday’s news conference. “That’s what we’re asking the legislature to help us with.”
Officially, the city is pitching the creation of a warrant backlog overtime fund as something that could benefit the whole state. The Keller Administration envisions the fund as a $10-million dollar pot of money, with $5-million dollars reserved for the Albuquerque-metro area. The remaining $5-million could be used by other agencies, according to Keller.
“All of it’s going to come from overtime so that it doesn’t drain from [day-to-day policing]” Keller said, while gesturing a board showing APD’s active holding calls for service. “Right now, if we were serving these 5,000 warrants, no one would be responded to any of these calls, that’s the issues we’re in, so that’s why we have to do this with overtime.”
Keller said if the proposal passes, he could see the city getting a bolstered warrant task force running by July. With the funding, the city says it’s hoping to triple the number of warrants it currently is able to serve.
Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina emphasized making sure that those who are arrested are held accountable after their arrest. The city says it envisions a fund that would also be able to help bring on additional prosecutors or aid parole and probation’s efforts.
“We want to make sure that we just don’t serve these warrants,” Medina said. “That the DA’s office is prepared and we have cases ready to make sure these individuals stay in custody put our best foot forward in preventative detention hearings.”
Operationally, the city says it would use the funds in a “sustained effort” between APD, BCSO, State Police and the U.S. Marshals Service. Emphasizing a new level of collaboration, Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen appeared at Friday’s news conference. Allen effectively endorsed the city’s request for funds to operate a warrant crackdown.
“We don’t want to be victimized by crime in our community anymore, or revictimized,” Allen said. “It is very important to have deputies and officers and other people in law enforcement entities to be working together to get people off these streets.”
Newly appointed Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman also endorsed the crackdown effort Friday, saying his office is “100% supportive” of going after outstanding warrants. A
“I cannot imagine something more important for the city of Albuquerque and the county of Bernalillo than to spend the necessary resources on dealing with this warrant backlog,” Bregman said. “And I gotta tell you, we’re going to make sure we do everything possible at the district attorney’s office to not let them get away with [absconding] and make sure they show up for court.”
Two Albuquerque lawmakers attended Friday’s briefing from both sides of the aisle, including newly elected Representative Cynthia Borrego (D) and longtime state Representative Bill Rehm (R). Neither lawmakers spoke during Friday’s news conference.
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Other Funding Requests
Along with the request for a warrant crackdown fund, the city also announced requests for a series of investments related to police facilities. One of the largest requests is for $20-million to build a special operations building over the site of the now-closed Coronado Park.
“There’s a lot of interest to have a centralized [building], it’s for the entire state, every law enforcement and fire department in the state, to use a training facility in Albuquerque,” Keller said. “We’re asking for $20-million dollars to do that at Coronado Park.”
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No further details about the Coronado Park request was mentioned at Friday’s news conference. Keller said the city would also seek $10-million to buy land for a public safety center to built somewhere in southwest Albuquerque, in the area of Coors and Rio Bravo, and funding for space for a future University area command around the University of New Mexico campus.
“We’re going to be talking about this in the future,” Keller said of the proposed university area command. “We need a facility there and [$4-million] in funds for that facility.”
Finally, Keller announced an anticipated request for nearly $3-million to finish building the revamped Real Time Crime Center. Over the last year, the city has moved the RTCC’s operations from the main police station downtown to the city’s Emergency Operations Center on the westside with the aid of state legislative funding.
“From the U.S. Marshal, to the Sheriff to the DA’s Office, this is now available to entire community,” Keller said. “Now we are set up to fight crime together, literally.”
The city is also seeking $7-million to “expand capacity at the APD Academy.” The next legislative session begins on January 17.