For nearly two weeks, New Mexico State Police have surged their forces on Albuquerque’s streets, putting 50 extra officers out on patrol who have already made hundreds of arrests.
After a few of those officers were involved in two shootings within an hour of each other last week, State Police invited KRQE News 13 for a ride-along Wednesday to see what their officers are doing, where they’re working, and what they think of the unprecedented effort.
“It’ll be a little bit of time, but I think the impact that they’re able to make immediately is going to help the community,” said Robert Thornton, speaking for the so-called “surge.”
A newly appointed Deputy Chief with 18 years of experience with NMSP, Thornton was among the NMSP brass working as part of the surge Wednesday, giving an up-close look at the work officers are doing in Albuquerque.
Thornton says the surge is the first of its kind for New Mexico State Police.
“Especially the amount of officers that we’ve been able to pull in, so quickly and to get an operation of this size together, and then to make sure a big impact,” Thornton said.
State Police launched the effort on May 10, just days after the shooting death of UNM baseball player Jackson Weller, who was killed near a Nob Hill bar.
Officers working the surge are mainly focused on southwest and southeast Albuquerque with a significant number of units patrolling up and down Central Avenue.
“That’s the end result we want, we want people to feel safer in their homes feel safe going out,” said Thornton.
Days into the surge, officers from Farmington and Gallup with involved in two different shootings in one night. KRQE News 13 asked Deputy Chief Thornton if officers felt equipped to handle what’s happening in Albuquerque.
“I don’t think that they’re shell shocked, or it gives them anxiety, I think they’re out here, they do their job and like we always tell the officers, is that you follow your training,” Thornton said.
With officers patrolling virtually all hours of the day, even on foot in some areas, State Police believes the effort is helping.
“I think it’s a good call, and we’re making an impact and keeping the community safe,” said Thornton.
New Mexico State Police says it’s had more than 5,000 contacts with people in Albuquerque in the last two weeks. So far, they haven’t set an end date for the surge, only saying they’ll be here as long as they’re needed.
In its efforts, State Police has racked up more than 250 arrests, 24 recovered stolen cars, and 11 auto-theft arrests.