City leaders propose $10 million fund to tackle warrant backlog

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — This year, the Metro Crime Initiative is focused on clearing the backlog of over 5,000 felony warrants and 60,000 misdemeanor warrants.

“If we were serving these 5,000 warrants, no one would be responding to any of these calls,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said. “That’s the issue we’re in, so that’s why we have to do this with overtime.”

On Friday, Keller and Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina announced their plan to ask for $10 million in funding for that overtime.

“The resource gap is what we’re asking the Legislature, the governor and everyone who’s up in Santa Fe to help us with, we need $5 million, which is a very low ask, given the amount of money available in overtime funds, so that we can serve felony warrants,” Keller said.

$5 million would cover warrants in the metro, and $5 million would cover warrants in the rest of the state – in the hopes of making some immediate progress.

“We’ve said it time and time again, we have long-term goals,” said John Allen, the new Bernalillo County sheriff. “But the community is looking for us to have short-term goals, and what is the result for them to be safer when they wake up in the morning. As you’re looking around the room, this is the way to do it.”

Several agencies are coming together to tackle the warrant backlog and make the community safer.

“Last year, we cleared 1,400 felony warrants,” said Sonya Chavez, New Mexico’s U.S. Marshal. “That number climbs every single year. Again, we do that in collaboration with our partners. So we look forward to adding new life to this initiative here.”

According to Keller, among those 5,000 felony warrants are 35 murder warrants.

“My advice would be if you have a warrant right now out there in the community of Albuquerque, go turn yourself in and save yourself some time,” said Sam Bregman, the new Bernalillo County district attorney.