September 13, 2023

ABQ mayor calls for special legislative session for gun violence issues

Courtesy Photo

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller called for the governor to call a special legislative session to discuss solutions to the gun violence issues plaguing New Mexico’s largest city.

“Albuquerque families can’t afford political debates that distract us from fighting violent crime. This is a powerful moment to listen to police and behavioral health professionals to create the change we need in a special session,” Keller said in the press release. “Too often, the legislation we propose gets watered down to the point that it’s ineffective and funding is slashed from the amounts needed to make a difference. Now is the time to actually change the laws and provide the funding needed to fix a broken criminal justice system, to crack down on assault weapons, target fentanyl dealers, rebuild the addiction treatment system, and amp up resources for courts and prevention programs.”

Keller and Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina released an outline of requests they have that they feel would help ease the crime issues in Albuquerque.

Keller said the requests come following two years of work with criminal justice leaders through the City’s Metro Crime Initiative “to create legislative priorities and action items to fix the broken criminal justice system,” a mayor’s office press release stated.

“Many MCI proposals have not been passed in their entirety, and instead, proposed legislation has been watered down to the point of being ineffective. Funding for vital programs, personnel, and resources has been slashed dramatically from the amounts needed to effect change,” the press release stated.

Keller referenced the fatal shootings of Galilea Samaniego, 5, and Froylan Villegas, 11, in recent weeks when he asked for a special legislative session to be called.

APD has made administrative changes based on MCI recommendations, the press release stated.

“As a result, homicide clearance rates are the highest they have been in decades, and APD academy classes are full. APD needs other parts of the criminal justice system, especially the courts and jail, to have the funding and tools needed to support their work and hold criminals accountable,” the press release stated.

Medina commented that APD has been dealing with “the same offenders, committing the same crimes every day.”

“We have improved investigations after being criticized by a top legislator, and we have charged over 200 murder suspects since then,” Medina said in the press release. “We created a team and moved it to the District Attorney’s Office to help with prosecutions. And we used money from the governor and the Legislature to boost incentives for officers, resulting in larger cadet academies. Finally, we have consistently advocated for increased funding, along with more accountability, for all other parts of the criminal justice system to ensure we are all doing everything possible to crack down on crime. But little has changed, because our jail sits half empty while repeat offenders are out on Albuquerque’s streets.”

The City plans to resubmit the MCI legislative priorities with some additions including establishing a New Mexico Office of Gun Violence Prevention, expand the Albuquerque Community Safety Department’s Violence Intervention Program to all secondary schools in Albuquerque and establishing a “fentanyl court” to “prosecute dealers and provide treatment for users upon arrest,” the news release stated.