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Albuquerque officials lay out plan to combat violent crime

September 21, 2021 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The mayor of New Mexico’s largest city and other officials say they have a plan to address Albuquerque’s record homicides and other violent crime.

Mayor Tim Keller presented details of the plan Tuesday. It includes 40 items that range from closing what many have referred to as a revolving door in the justice system to bolstering prevention and mental health programs.

The plan came together following a series of meetings over the summer with city administrators, law enforcement, court officials and others.

Keller, who is running for reelection, has been facing heat for not being able to contain crime in the city.

“We called everyone to the table because violent crime is unacceptable,” the mayor said in a statement. “We are sick of it, we are tired of the dead ends of past ‘one off’ efforts, and we are holding each other accountable to do our part.”

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Keller’s administration acknowledged that not each individual solution is unanimously supported by those who participated in the initiative but that every item has support from multiple partners and agencies.

Supporters see the measures specified in the plan as actions that will result in systemic change. They say the measures can be implemented through changes in state law, action by the city council and administratively by agencies and departments.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also touted the effort, saying she believes that tackling violent crime will have to be done across jurisdictions and by different branches of government.

Republican lawmakers in August had called on the Democratic governor to convene an immediate special legislative session to address what they described as an “out of control” problem that has become a public emergency.

The governor has said she has specific public safety goals for the session that starts in January.

Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina has been visibly frustrated in recent weeks, particularly after four police officers were shot and injured after responding to reports of a robbery.

“Ask any officer, and all they want is the opportunity to do what they signed up for — to fight crime and keep the community safe,” Medina said in a statement. “But we can’t achieve both goals when people who commit crimes are not held accountable, and they are not getting services they need.”

The Albuquerque police force also is in the middle of reforms mandated by a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice. Some officers and others have said the situation has tied the department’s hands.

Sylvester Stanley, the city’s superintendent of police reform, said Albuquerque already is well down the path of reform and that the mayor and city council are committed to investing in the police department.