APD announces new effort to target downtown gun crimes

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Wednesday, Albuquerque police announced a new initiative to “aggressively” target gun crimes in the heart of the city.

The pilot program will use federal laws to target people shooting guns in the heart of the Duke City.

People who violate any gun crimes downtown can now face federal charges – this is under the federal “Gun-Free School Zones Act.” 

If someone uses a gun to commit a crime, and they are within 1,000 feet of a school, they can be federally charged. Offenders could face up to five years in prison and a maximum fee of $5,000. There are six schools in downtown Albuquerque. 

Police say referring these cases to the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute is a step up from the leniency of state laws here in New Mexico.

“The problem is with state laws, they’re very weak and a lot of areas and one of those areas that they’re weak is the fact that negligent use of a firearm is just a misdemeanor,” said APD Chief Harold Medina. 

Signs will go up across downtown to show the federal restrictions in place. 

City and APD reps say for right now this is a pilot program. They will be testing out how this works in downtown Albuquerque, and if things are successful it could be something to look into for other areas of the city too.

One local downtown business owner KOB 4 spoke with says he’s welcoming this new initiative.

“I think we all just want anything at all, so anything any policymaker can do to invoke change, especially when it revolves around gun violence, we welcome it,” said James Black, a downtown Albuquerque business owner. 

APD will start enforcing these new efforts now. They will finish hanging up all of those signs we just showed you in the next few days.

KOB 4 spoke to business owners who gave some rare insight into what really happens in the early morning hours on Central Avenue.

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