Former police chief turned crime commissioner discusses challenges in NM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Retired New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas is once again getting paid to tackle crime.
“Honestly it’s time to bring the hammer. I know a lot of people don’t like to hear that,” Kassetas said. “Instead of sitting on the sidelines, which I’m really not good at, maybe I can do a little bit of good here.”
After two months of working for the governor as an appointed crime commissioner, KOB 4 sat down with Kassetas to ask what progress has been made.
“The agencies are doing good work, it’s just not enough,” Kassetas said. “And to sit here and criticize and say, ‘It’s not enough,’ is one thing. I want to say, ‘Yeah, it’s not enough. How can I help? How can I help bring things together to hopefully enhance what we’re doing here in Albuquerque, in the metro area?'”
Kassetas says he helped distribute nearly $2 million of emergency money for officer overtime and technology upgrades to metro law enforcement agencies.
He has also helped ease pressure on the jail by moving nearly 50 inmates from MDC into state custody and is currently coordinating plans for local law enforcement agencies to work together.
“I want to focus on longer-term sustained joint operations with the agencies involved,” Kassetas said.
He says the worst of the crime comes down to two things.
“Bottom line is – it’s too easy to get a gun in the metro. It’s too easy to get fentanyl. I hope I drive up the price of guns, to where it’s not affordable to buy them anymore. It’s harder to get. Right?” Kassetas said. “I can’t buy up all the guns – gun buy-back programs. I can’t arrest all the people that are using them. But certainly we can be laser-focused in finding out who’s bringing them, where they’re going, and looking at that market, right?”
Kassetas said distributing funds was phase one, and phase two is just beginning.
“I got some strategies,” he said. “I can’t talk about it, because I don’t want to give my game plan away, or the game plan away. But – it’s in the works and I think it’s going to help.”