APD seeks border deployment exemption

April 7, 2018 GMT

Copyright ? 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque’s chronic shortage of police officers could get worse if the 50 to 60 officers who are members of the New Mexico National Guard are among those called up to monitor and patrol the border, as suggested by President Donald Trump.

Albuquerque Police Chief Michael Geier is expected to request that Gov. Susana Martinez exempt those officers from deployment “as a result of the department’s officer shortage and the risk to public safety,” APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said Friday.

Martinez on Thursday seemed to be receptive to that idea. According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, Martinez said, during a conference call with other border governors, that there was a need to keep law enforcement officers who are members of the National Guard on the job in New Mexico’s cities and counties.

The Governor’s Office did not return calls to the Journal on Friday requesting updated information.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed a memorandum asking that National Guard troops in the southern border states be deployed immediately to the border as it is “imperiled by a drastic surge of illegal activity.”

On Thursday, while aboard Air Force One, Trump said that he’d like to have up to 4,000 National Guard members at the border until “a large portion of the wall is built.”

Martinez has voiced her support for National Guard troops to assist Border Patrol officers in New Mexico, though the specifics have not been worked out.

According to a statement issued Thursday by Martinez spokesman Michael Lonergan, the governor will meet with representatives of the federal government in coming weeks to determine the number of troops that might be deployed and their specific duties.

“We cannot allow criminal activity to come across the border where it will only increase crime in New Mexico’s communities,” the statement read.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth A. Nava, adjutant general of the New Mexico National Guard, on Friday told the Journal that the state Guard currently has 4,000 members ? 3,000 of them in the Army National Guard, and 1,000 in the Air National Guard. Any of them could be called up if requested by the governor.

“We’re still working through the details, and as soon as I have the guidance and the mission, then we’ll execute that,” he said.

APD officers who are members of the National Guard are “ready and more than willing to go and do their duty, but this could potentially harm us,” Albuquerque Police Officers Association President Sean Willoughby said Friday.

“We shouldn’t be staffed to such a critical level in Albuquerque that having officers perform their National Guard service negatively impacts our ability to police,” he said. “If we have 50 officers walk out the door in Albuquerque, it’s going to be an issue. We have a staffing problem on top of a high crime problem, and it’s almost embarrassing to think that we have to even contend with this.”