ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, along with other city officials held a news conference Wednesday. Officials talked on the Metro Crime Initiative that will focus on gun violence, domestic violence and the fentanyl problems sweeping through the city. The full conference can be seen in the video above.
In a May 19th news conference highlighting recent homicide arrests Keller said the city would be reconvening the initiative again in 2022. “The Metro Crime Initiative has moved the needle in a number of fronts in the criminal justice system, but there’s a lot further to go,” Keller said. “With a 60 day legislative session coming in the fall, this summer is really when we have to get to work.”
As fentanyl issues continue in the city, lawmakers and police are looking to solutions after an Albuquerque beauty shop owner was recently arrested in an undercover operation. Agents seized approximately 7,000 fentanyl pills in total, along with $20,000 in cash, 10 pounds of cannabis, some amount of heroin, handgun parts and ammunition.
The Metro Crime Initiative includes lawmakers, city leaders, and healthcare professionals who will focus on three big problems facing Albuquerque. They will meet three times from July through September. Each meeting will focus on a different topic. The first will focus on gun violence. One of the priorities that will be discussed at that meeting is legislation that would hold parents responsible for a child taking their parent’s gun and using it in a crime.
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A bill to do that was introduced in the last legislative session but did not make it to the governor’s desk. The bill was introduced after 13-year-old Bennie Hargrove was shot and killed at Washington Middle School. Police say the gun the teen suspect, Juan Saucedo Jr., used belonged to his father.
The second goal is to find solutions to end domestic violence. One initiative will focus on the creation of a crime database. “And especially when you look at things like domestic violence, childhood issues, and going through CYFD and so forth. Data is a huge stumbling block for part of the criminal justice system as is tracking backlogs. There is no way to understand the delayed justice issues that are happening at different levels of the courts and corrections system because we don’t have a shared database system for that,” said Mayor Keller.
The third goal is to tackle the city’s fentanyl crisis. Chief Medina talked about further cracking down on crime problems, specifically at problem hotels. He highlighted 15 people who were arrested in an APD Narcotics Operation at the Bow and Arrow Lodge on east Central, and another 23 calls for service at a Foothills hotel.
Medina says there is action that can be taken at the local level to address these motels including a new abatement process to close problem motels quicker.
University of New Mexico Hospital officials will also be a part of the initiative. They say there was a 30% increase in overdose deaths over the last two years. They hope to increase the availability of treatments.