BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico State Police officers are hitting the streets of one metro area city to help curb crime while the city struggles with an officer shortage.
“Right now, I’ve just been driving around in places that I think, where it may be good to have a police presence,” Sgt. Richard Williamson said.
This past summer, NMSP covered Central Avenue in Albuquerque to help tackle the crime problem. Now, they’re at it again, this time, on the rural roads of Belen.
“They have smaller patrols, smaller areas where they’re assigned to neighborhoods, whereas we have this whole county…we can go wherever we like,” Sgt. Williamson said.
Since the police department is short-staffed, State Police officers have come to town to fill in the gaps.
“All this rural area is also a part of Belen, so you can see the small department is having a hard time. With their number of officers, this is a lot to cover,” the sergeant said.
Sgt. Richard Williamson says since the start of the operation last week, they’ve been dealing with a lot of property crimes.
“Burglaries, larcenies, sometimes there are some stolen vehicles that are recovered in this area,” he said.
Williamson says with 40 officers assigned to the operation, they are able to help cover other parts of Valencia County as well. They’re also doing more than just patrol and traffic stops.
“There’s one team out assisting serving warrants, then there’s the tact team who’s out here serving high-risk warrants…” Sgt. Williamson said.
They hope their presence sends a clear message to criminals.
“This isn’t just a place where they can get away with whatever they like,” he said.
State Police officials say they have extra officers on the streets from noon to midnight each day.