State of the City ‘community celebration’ covers crime, homelessness

Albuquerque’s mayor gave a State of the City address, looking back at his first year in office and what he wants to achieve going forward.

Keller stuck to what has been his priorities from the start, including public safety, fighting the city’s homeless problem and boosting the local economy.

He put his own stamp on the address about these issues.

“We’re not going to try and be some other city,” Keller explained. “We’re going to steal their good ideas and their good people, but we’re going to be the best Albuquerque that we can be.”

This week, the city of Albuquerque announced Saturday’s event at the National Hispanic Cultural Center would be no ordinary State of the City address, but a “community celebration” featuring a band, vendors, a bar and “Metal Mayor” T-shirts for sale.

When the heavy metal stopped, Keller shared his plans to come.

“We are going to take back control of our future,” he began.

To no surprise, crime was a hot topic. Keller still wants to hire 400 more APD officers over the next four years.

“We are fundamentally understaffed at almost every level,” Keller said. “It means being able to deal with specialists’ needs like mental health and behavioral health situations. It means paralegals to help prosecute criminals, and it also means folks in our crimes against children unit to help protect our children.”

He also wants to continue the community policing approach he announced at his first speech last May.

“We are going back to old-fashioned community policing and helping business owners and neighborhood leaders in the process,” he stated in May.

APD said it is now cultivating ideas on how to curb gun violence.

As KRQE News 13 reported in December, approximately 69 percent of homicides in 2018 involved a firearm.

“We’re going to be releasing those in the next weeks to come as to how we want to specifically address and devote resources to reducing those crime rates also,” Deputy Chief of Police Harold Medina explained.

When it comes to homelessness, Keller is now encouraging citizens to donate through the new “Housing Voucher” program.

The goal is to get 1,000 transients off Albuquerque’s streets and connected with city resources.

“This means that folks can rent an apartment in the community and the household pays for 30 percent of their income toward the rent and the voucher pays for the rest so it’s a way for folks to rent an apartment,” Housing and Homelessness Deputy Director Lisa Huval explained.

As for boosting Albuquerque’s economy, Keller said city departments have swapped out 400 out-of-state contracts with local ones to keep tax dollars in the Duke City.

Albuquerque is also working on going green and hopes to install solar panels on city buildings to become 100 percent renewable energy by 2022.

Saturday’s event cost $25,000, paid for with a combination of community-raised funds and some city dollars, but it wasn’t clear how it was split.

Watch: Mayor Keller’s State of the City address

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