DA Sam Bregman talks new policies, challenges to address teen gun violence
BERNALILLO COUNTY, N.M. – Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman says 2023 saw some meaningful improvements on the crime fighting front, and he’s got the numbers to back it.
“This crime issue is by no means something we need to be doing a victory dance around, but I think things are getting better,” said Bregman.
It’s important to note Bregman is also looking to keep his job, and he reversed course last year after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed him to run the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Now, he’s running and hoping voters will approve of his year one report card.
Everything starts with recruiting, having more people to do the job. Bregman says it is crucial to all the progress they have made this year.
People can see he doubled the hiring numbers and brought in 45 new attorneys. That has helped nearly double the amount of felony trials year over year.
And, they did that while increasing the conviction rates for felonies and misdemeanors, and increasing the number of people they are holding in jail before trial.
A major concern is the number of juvenile cases opened up by more than 200 cases in 2023 — cases involving a gun are up 35%.
Guns and children is the issue, Bregman says it keeps him up at night, and because of that he’s making a change.
So, what is he doing about this surge in teen gun violence?
He’s trying to cast a wider net and find out how these children are so easily getting guns, and hopefully charge others with illegally selling or stealing them.
On Tuesday, there’s a new policy. Bregman says there will be no plea discussions with any juvenile accused of a crime with a gun unless they tell law enforcement where they got the gun from.
But can he do that?
KOB 4 spoke with a defense attorney Tuesday that says setting conditions for plea deals is pretty common practice.
If it’s effective and leads to more gun crime charges, or slows down the teen gun violence, remains to be seen.
Of course, all of this is happening a week before the next legislative session begins.
But will Bregman have a wish list?
It’s all about funding. He wants to see lawmakers pony up and fund everything from police to the public defenders’ office to build on the progress he says has happened in 2023.