The full news conference is at the bottom of this post
SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham held a news conference Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. The governor provided an update on public safety initiatives in New Mexico.
The press conference comes after Gov. Lujan Grisham issued a public health order declaring gun violence a public health emergency. The original public health order included a gun ban. Its enforcement was blocked in federal court for being overly broad; the governor issued an amended version a week later. The amended ban narrows the scope of the ban on concealed and open carry of guns to parks, playgrounds, and public areas provided for kids. A judge ruled that the temporary restraining order against enforcement of the gun ban will be extended until October 11.
Governor Lujan Grisham began the conference by emphasizing that the gun violence issue is not confined to just Albuquerque but is a larger issue. “We have far too many firearms in our community. We have far too many risks,” said the governor.
Senior Public Safety Advisor Ben Baker spoke at the conference. He started with a presentation of statistics: Since the ban was implemented, there have been 502 people arrested, 20 firearms seized, and 1,370 traffic citations issued by the New Mexico State Police (NMSP), the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO). Baker also cited a reduction in the number of gunshots detected before and after the ban.
Pete Kassetas then spoke on his role of advising the governor on how to best combat the actions of criminals. He mentioned the importance of speeding up the entire process of booking and prosecuting criminals. The governor chimed in, saying, “At the end of the day, if you can’t book people, we can’t arrest people. If we don’t arrest people, they continue to commit crimes, and it sends a pretty strong message.”
Alisha Tafoya Lucero of the Department of Corrections stated that there has been an increase in the number of average daily bookings at the Albuquerque Metropolitan Detention Center since the ban. Tafoya Lucero explained that this effort has been working because of the collaboration among the Department of Corrections and other authority organizations in the state.
Teresa Casados with CYFD then spoke on the ban’s impact on youth offenders. Casados stated that 32 youth offenders have been arrested since the implementation of the ban, with 13 of them requiring an “override,” allowing them to be detained. Four of the 13 had a gun on school property, one was detained for assault on a school employee, and three were in possession of a stolen vehicle and fleeing officers.
Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Patrick Allen stated that the amount of firearm injuries in kids 17 and younger has gone up 73% in the last four years, making it the leading cause of death in that age group. He emphasized the importance of preventing these issues early on and of stopping the “cycle of violence from person to person.”
Kari Armijo, secretary of the Human Services Department, talked about the department’s proactive approach, taking the healthcare system to people rather than waiting for them to bring themselves in for help. Armijo spoke on the department’s efforts to address alcohol and drug abuse and to make their assistance services more accessible.
James Kenney with the Environment Department spoke on the state’s aim to address the fentanyl crisis. Kenney explained that New Mexico is the first state in the U.S. to set up routine surveillance of waste-water opioid sampling. The data will help the state identify where opioids are most abused and will give them information as to how and where the issue needs to be addressed.
Secretary Jason Bowie with the Department of Public Safety then spoke on the safe surrender program. Bowie emphasized that the gun buyback program hopes to reduce the access that kids have to guns by removing some of them from the community.
Governor Lujan Grisham has provided the state’s Violent Crime Reduction Dashboard for public access. To view the dashboard, click here. The governor emphasized the need for sustainable change and the importance of implementing changes on all levels of government.