$2M grant going to Albuquerque’s Violence Intervention Program

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Albuquerque Community Safety Department’s Violence Intervention Program now has $2 million more to help achieve its goals. It’s coming from the Department of Justice, through a program that’s part of President Joe Biden’s plan to address violent crime.

“The first thought is awesome. The second thought is, here we go,” said Jeffery Bustamante, deputy director of the violence prevention and intervention program within Albuquerque Community Safety. “It allows us to expand our reach further into the community further into our schools, and really try and interrupt these cycles of violence.”

The VIP program is a gun violence reduction program, that focuses on those at the highest risk of being involved in gun violence in Albuquerque.

ACS works with APD to identify those people, and the department intervenes to try and offer a better path.

Bustamante says since the VIP program started in March 2020, they’ve had 620 engagements with people at high risk of being involved in gun violence, and 150 have accepted services.

“We understand Albuquerque is in an important moment right now. And our number one priority is meeting that moment,” he said.

The money will allow ACS to bring on more staff to do the work and reach more people. It can also help with starting the establishment of an Office of Violence Prevention in Albuquerque. Leaders say they can look to other cities like Philadelphia and Newark, already showing success in their offices.

“We have to approach this as a community and our community includes those people who are incarcerated or who are returning from incarceration, those people who commit crimes, those people who are addicted to drugs, those people experiencing mental illness, and those people who are experiencing homelessness, we all of these people are part of our community,” said Alex Uballez, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico. “We will help you if you let us and we will stop you if you make us because that is the way the message is the most effective. And that is the way in which we can lead folks out of this desperation and violence.”