Community frustration prompts crime to be priority in upcoming legislative session

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SANTA FE, N.M. – Crime is promised to be at the forefront of the upcoming legislative session as frustration among those who crack down on crime appears to be heightened.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham laid out her public safety priorities, ahead of the session set to start in two days at the Roundhouse.

APD Chief Harold Medina has said over and over – he needs more officers and help from the community and state legislature to see a change in the metro.

"The police department needs the community’s help. The community needs to voice. We need change. We need a lot of things to occur in order for us to make a safer community. The police department alone aren’t going to lower these crime rates. We need a support network behind us that is going to help us in doing so and hold people accountable,” said Medina.

First and foremost, she said she wants to create a $100 million fund to hire a thousand new officers statewide.

She also wants to flip the script on the state’s bail system. Instead of prosecutors proving why someone should stay behind bars until trial, the suspect would be responsible for proving why they shouldn’t.

Another focus– changing statutes of limitations and sentences for violent crimes.

"We need to do it and it sends a very strong message, if you’re conducting crime in the City of Albuquerque we’re coming for you. We’re coming for you again and we’re going to keep coming, until you’re gone because you’re either locked up or you know New Mexico is hostile towards anyone who is violating our public safety requirements or rights and is committing crime, period,” the governor said.

This tough on crime talk is overdue for many people – especially those who lost loved ones to the crisis.

Elias Otero was murdered in a carjacking situation in Albuquerque. His mother, Alicia Otero, has been fighting for change since he died.

She told KOB 4, Sunday, she feels encouraged by the governor’s plans, especially regarding bail reform and tougher sentences.

She said she would’ve liked to see the governor push a stronger three strikes law – but at least it’s a start.

"New Mexicans don’t feel safe in their own homes or in their cities and we need this right now just to feel a peace of mind,” Alicia said. "I think families are paying attention now. What legislators are going to be voting against, these bills. And we’re woke. We’re paying attention now because this is really important to us and to our state."

Albuquerque set a new homicide record in 2021. In 2022, APD also added four homicide cases to their workload during the week of Jan. 10, including three within 10 hours of each other.

Education, the economy and the environment are also hot topics on the agenda for the upcoming 30-day session. KOB 4 will be at the Roundhouse every day, starting at noon Tuesday.