ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Police say there are almost 5,000 active felony and more than 62,000 misdemeanor warrants in Bernalillo County. And Police Chief Harold Medina claims that officers are probably letting some with outstanding warrants walk free, due to a backlog.
In a letter to state legislators, Medina is now asking for targeted help. He says there’s a four-and-a-half-month backlog for the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office [BCSO] to enter misdemeanor warrants into the court system. And there’s a three-day backlog for felony warrants. Medina says the Sheriff’s Office is working on a solution, but in the meantime some people with outstanding warrants are probably walking free, despite being stopped by officers.
“Our officers make contact with people every day who have outstanding warrants,” Medina writes in his letter. “It stands to reason that they are also making contact with people whose warrants are not yet entered into the court system. That means they aren’t going to jail, and they may be committing additional crimes.”
Medina points out that it’s the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office – not Albuquerque Police – who primarily enforce local warrants. But the Albuquerque Police Department does conduct some targeted operations on warranted individuals.
The thousands of active warrants Medina highlights come from a count near the end of November, and the number is likely to fluctuate. But Medina wants state legislators to help by supporting Albuquerque’s Metro Crime Initiative.
The Metro Crime Initiative is a collaborative program through which the responsibility for public safety is shared across various branches of the criminal justice system. It began in 2021 with a to-do list of items to help reduce crime. The city called the results of that first year a “mixed bag.” This year, city officials laid out some new goals, including tackling gun violence and a push to get public safety legislation through the state’s legislature.
Story Continues Below Medina’s Letter
In his letter, Chief Medina expands on that: “I am confident that with the proper resources, this problem [of warrants] can be addressed. I am willing to work with BCSO, and I am in discussion with the judges in our jurisdiction to identify innovative solutions.”
He says that clearing the warrant backlog is “just one gap in the system,” but addressing it can help reduce crime. KRQE News 13 reached out to Rep. Patricia Lundstrom (D-McKinley and San Juan), the chair of the Legislative Finance Committee and the lawmaker whom the letter was addressed to. As of publication, we have not heard back.