ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Bernalillo County sheriff has taken a lot of heat for meeting with President Donald Trump and welcoming federal agents to Albuquerque. Sheriff Manuel Gonzales talks about his trip and while people call for his resignation, he says he’s weighing becoming mayor.
Democratic Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said he didn’t think twice when he got an invitation last week to meet with Pres. Trump. “I would do anything on behalf of the people to make them safe. My obligation is to this community. I went on behalf of the people,” Gonzales said.
The sheriff joined Attorney General William Barr and the President in Washington, D.C. as they announced the deployment of 35 more federal agents to Albuquerque saying the city needs help stopping violent crime. “Violent crime here is three times higher than any other place in the country. For me, just building a relationship and figuring out how to collaborate with our federal partners and making that stronger because we’ve done it in the past…it’s been very successful,” Gonzales said.
In New Mexico, fellow top Democratic leaders blasted the plans. U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich even called for the sheriff to resign for aligning with the president, his resistance to get body cameras, and opposing control laws.
“I’m going to go back a little bit… I’m not a legislator. But if they want to have the discussion or they want to have me inform them about the needs of law enforcement…I’ll talk to them about anything on their agenda,” Gonzales said when asked about the policies of the party he believes in.
Local leaders say they’re worried about federal law enforcement clashes with protesters in Portland, Oregon. John Anderson, the U.S. Attorney for New Mexico, says this operation will only target violent crime and gun violence here.
Gonzales returned from D.C. Thursday morning. He’s exempt from the state’s 14-day quarantine because he was traveling on business. KRQE News 13 asked if he would consider self-isolating or getting a test before going back to work. “I would seriously consider it,” said Gonzales.
While people ask him to resign, Gonzales says he’s weighing a run for mayor. Photos from the sheriff’s trip show him surrounded by Attorney General William Barr and more than a dozen other people not wearing masks or social distancing. The sheriff says he does wear his mask and does all he can to protect others even saying one of his deputies issued a citation to someone for not wearing one.