Otero County Sheriff David Black says the reassignment of State Police officers to Albuquerque is a case of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
“It’s put a burden on the rural communities,” said Black.
Last month, 50 officers were moved to help deal with the crime problem in Albuquerque, especially on Central Avenue. Black says six of those officers came from his county, and they rely heavily on State Police.
“We’ve lost our second line of defense,” he said. Black has written a letter to state officials questioning the move, and alerting them to the impact it’s having on his county and likely others.
He says they’ve had to put special operations on hold as drug seizures continue to rise, and with two Border Patrol checkpoints closed there, he says Highway 70 and Highway 54 are just an open door for more crime.
Black believes it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the state and the country start to feel the effects. “It’s going to go to Albuquerque, it’s going to go to Denver, it’s going to continue.”
“This is an all-hands on deck approach. We’re not prioritizing one part of the state over another,” said Director of Communications for the Office of the Governor, Tripp Stelnicki.
The Governor’s Office says despite the claims, the governor is doing what she can to keep the state safe, and claims the sheriff’s letter doesn’t contain any real facts.
“It’s an unfortunate politicization of a situation where the state is actively and creatively dealing with a problem that we…there’s no playbook for this,” said Stelnicki.
While the sheriff understands Albuquerque needs help too, he stands by his words. “We need them back, it’s as simple as that,” said Black.
KRQE News 13 reached out to State Police directly. They say they are working with Black to address his concerns, and officers who remain in rural counties continue to be proactive.
The Governor’s Office also says it’s gotten a lot of positive feedback about the increased patrols here in Albuquerque.