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The ABQ unveils a list of things to do to “reverse the trend of crime”

Mayor Tim Keller unveils a list of 40 measures his administration and various stakeholders have identified as a way to reduce crime in Albuquerque. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

After five sessions bringing together law enforcement, judicial officials, prosecutors, defense lawyers and representatives of higher education and rehabilitation institutions, the city unveiled 40 articles which it said “ will reverse the trend of crime in the region ”.

“I’m going to tell you to stand up here as a collective community, in our respective offices, and admit our challenges, admit our failures, but also commit to doing more in the future, that is – I think – what we all expect from our leaders, ”Mayor Tim Keller said at a late morning press conference at the Real Time Crime Center in the Albuquerque Police Department. “I want to thank everyone for participating in this because it is not easy. It’s easy to blame someone else, it’s easy to point fingers, it’s easy to make excuses. And that’s what you won’t see in this effort in the future. “

The administration launched the Metro Crime Initiative in mid-July with the aim of identifying ways to fix what it called a failing criminal justice system. The five sessions, each approximately two hours long and broadcast live on the city’s YouTube channel, focused on early intervention opportunities, detention, diversion and hearings, resources for victim advocates and reintegration of offenders; and career paths.

The resulting to-do list includes: “invest in mobile speed control to free officers while fighting the scourge of reckless driving”; “Establish a working group to review officer retention and lateral recruitment programs for all New Mexico police departments”; “Create restorative justice programs in schools”; “Fund the needy co-pay for drug testing in pre-prosecution diversion programs”; and many other articles.

The last item came out of conversations with the district attorney’s office and the public defender’s law firms.

“We are covering the cost of the drug tests required to participate in pre-prosecution diversion for those who cannot afford it,” said Executive Director Sarita Nair. “The cost is therefore not an obstacle. And this is the kind of simple, concrete idea that grew out of this initiative that we can all commit to definitely fund and move forward with.

It also includes legislative changes such as “passing a law that makes owning, operating or doing business with a ‘chop shop’ a crime” and “the presumption of dangerousness before trial when an offender uses, brandishes or is in possession of a firearm during a violent, drug or property crime.

Notably, while the Bernalillo County Commissioners and Director attended the meetings, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office did not.

Keller said the sheriff’s office was invited to every session, but “frankly they’re the only ones in the whole of New Mexico who never show up or respond.”

Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, a candidate for mayor, initially said he had not been “officially invited”. Then he said that he was invited, but that he had not had time between his constitutional duties and his campaign, and he thinks it is all “smoke and mirrors”.

“So for them to try and invite me – thinking I’m going to show up in the middle of these things that for me are more urgent – to try and distract me from finally winning this race, I’m not going to fall into that trap.” Said Gonzales.

Officials stressed that just because an agency’s logo was included on the document along with the action items that didn’t mean they approved of everyone.

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After the press conference, Chief Public Defender Bennett Baur said he believed the initiative was “a great forum” which allowed for “wonderful discussions with the chief of police and with the mayor’s staff”.

However, he said, he strongly disagrees with a number of points regarding the justice system and proposed laws. For example, he said the group had not had the opportunity to discuss pre-trial detention in depth.

“I think if we detain people pre-trial the way they talk – they want to change the rules around the case management order – I think in the long run it might actually create more. crimes, ”Baur said. “We will keep people in jail before trial, maybe for months, and that actually increases recidivism. So I think this group has started some good discussions. But I’m thinking of the 40 things here, there’s four or five, I think, that won’t help solve the crime. They would make matters worse.

He said that instead of keeping more defendants in jail awaiting trial, the focus should be on better police and better prosecutions to secure convictions for the culprits.

“The other thing that I think it’s really important to talk about is the conditions in the prisons and prisons,” Baur said. “If people are to be detained, what are the conditions? And how are they going to be when they come out? And that’s something I think we haven’t had time to talk about.

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