ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque city officials have unveiled their plan to address a massive outstanding warrant backlog as they hope lawmakers will approve a multi-millon dollar spending bill to pay for the overtime operation. At a news conference Monday morning, Albuquerque Police say officers on more than a dozen teams will aim at addressing one warrant a week.
Albuquerque Police believe the teams can collectively serve well over 800 warrants in the first year, as some of the suspects they’re expecting to target will likely have more than one warrant. The department showed 25 wanted violent felons as Monday’s news conference, saying the priority is to go after “the most violent and recent offenders” first.
“For example, we’re looking at individuals who are wanted for homicide, armed robbery, kidnapping, [and] aggravated assault, just to name a few,” said Deputy Chief Cecily Barker of APD’s Investigative Bureau. “As the list of warrants is extensive, our investigators know that some of these individuals may be deceased or no longer in the metro-area.”
Made of more than 60,000 outstanding warrants, the metro-area’s warrant backlog has been widely discussed by Albuquerque city officials as one of the most immediate actions the city can take to address crime. More than 5,000 outstanding warrants are for felony crimes.
In ranking which warrants get served first, APD says its command staff has already taken “an in-depth look” at the thousands of outstanding felony warrants, and have chosen to prioritize the 800 “most dangerous offenders.” The lower priority warrants, including those less serious crimes that are “years old” or crimes committed by those who have “potentially not recently reoffended” will be tackled “at a later time,” APD says.
In executing the warrants, APD says its special teams, including their Pro-active Response Team, also its Impact and Investigative Services Units will be among those special teams tackling warrants. APD says those teams will assess the backlog “on a bi-weekly basis to see if any modifications need to be made.”
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Full news conference: City discusses plans to address warrant backlog
Addressing “catch and release”
Acknowledging that a surge in warrant service could impact the jail and the courts, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said Monday the city is approaching the project as a “systematic effort.” Part of that, Keller says, includes a conversation with the Public Defender’s Office on possible “surrender days” where people with warrants can turn themselves in. Those include property crime or non-violent warrants.
“We’re working with the courts in terms of additional funding that they might need to process these cases,” Keller said. “We’re also including discussions with the DA’s office on contracted attorneys and how that might help, and we’re also in discussions with the county in terms of the jail and additional resources they might need.”
When asked about the outcoming of the effort, APD Deputy Chief Barker said the ultimate goal is “to see individuals held responsible and accountable.” Barker emphasized a heightened level of communication and partnership with federal entities, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office and Metro Court.
The public push for a warrant backlog overtime fund began earlier this month when the city unveiled an initial request for a $10-million dollar request from the state legislature. Albuquerque city officials say the would help pay the overtime APD says it needs to serve warrants, while maintaining continuity in day-to-day policing. The city is proposing half the funding request would be earmarked for metro-area warrant service, while the other half would go toward warrant serving operations in the rest of the state.
Roughly a week after discussing that initial request, Albuquerque city officials doubled their ask to $20-million: half for the metro-area, with the other half going toward operations around the state. Lawmakers have yet to approve the request. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has indicated support for some crime related measures.
Albuquerque’s increase in the request for funding came after a meeting with the director of the U.S. Marshal Service, Ronald L. Davis, who visited Albuquerque on January 11. Davis has promised to surge the number of deputy marshals in Albuquerque.