A closer look at violent crime, officers hurt in the line of duty

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The president of the Ten 82 Foundation says his volunteers have been much busier this year – because their cause benefits first responders hurt or killed on the job.

“But the requests have come in quite rapidly in probably the last year. Six months to a year. We’ve been helping out a lot of people, and unfortunately, it’s a lot of officers who were involved in violent incidents,” said Ryan Tafoya, president and co-founder of Ten 82.

What is causing more of these incidents – and what can be done? KOB 4 spoke with two local experts Tuesday for a closer look.

On Aug. 19, 2021, four Albuquerque police officers were hurt during a shootout with a robbery suspect in the Foothills. It’s one of the most high profile instances of officers injured in the line of duty in recent memory, but it’s not the only case.

In January, an officer was shot by a suspect in Farmington.

Just last month — a New Mexico State Police officer was shot near Sedillo hill. And a couple of weeks later — a Hobbs officer was shot by a suspect.

Just two weeks ago– Santa Fe Police Officer Robert Duran was killed during a high-speed pursuit on I-25.

“I think that people are more emboldened. There have been more injuries. People are fighting with the police more often, and I think they have been emboldened to basically go against the police, not obey police commands, and create an environment that becomes more violent,” said Ryan Tafoya president and co-founder of Ten82 Foundation.

Retired Albuquerque Police Commander Paul Szych agrees, both men put a lot of blame on the state’s pre-trial detention laws.

“They’re in the system, and they’re quickly back out on the street, there’s literally no consequences for their actions at that point,” said Szych.

It’s been a common complaint among law enforcement since New Mexico voters approved a constitutional amendment on bail reform in 2016.

“We can fix this, we just have to commit to fixing it at every level,” Szych said.

There was an attempt to close the so-called revolving door this past legislative session, but it ultimately failed.

“And I think that has a lot to do with the nature of our politics as of late,” said Tafoya.

The governor did sign a number of bills this month intended to fight crime. They include more funding for officer recruitment, high penalties for gun crimes and money for violence intervention programs statewide.

But in February, Bernalillo County Distric Attorney Raúl Torrez told us he didn’t believe the crime package would do enough. And Tafoya and Szych agree.

“Our courts need to step up, our legislature needs to step up and make some pretty major changes. They need to untie the hands of the courts, they need to untie the hands of the police officers,” Tafoya siad.