‘It’s a community issue’: DA hopes to fight juvenile gun violence

[anvplayer video=”5183344″ station=”998122″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s been six months since Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman took over the office. He was appointed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to finish off Raúl Torrez’s term after Torrez was elected as the state’s attorney general.

On Thursday, Bregman provided an update on where things are since he took over. He said conviction rates are up by nearly 10%, which some could say is a good thing – but he also highlighted a big problem, juveniles with guns.

“This is no victory lap, this is nothing of any sort like that, what this is is I am telling you I believe things are starting to get better when it comes to crime in Bernalillo County,” Bregman said.

Bregman said his biggest priority overall was recruiting.

“We needed more prosecutors when I got into this office,” Bregman said. “We have hired 35 prosecutors in six months. In the entire last year before this year, in 2022, this office hired 12 total.”

In 2022, homicide attorneys had more than 50 cases each. That number is now down to 27.

“The more we bring in new attorneys, the more we unclog the bottleneck, and the more opportunity for each attorney to spend on each case,” Bregman said.

The district attorney also said his office has done twice as many trials in the first six months of 2023 compared to all of last year.

Looking at a breakdown of crime statistics from APD, Bregman shared:

  • Robberies are down by 53%
  • Homicides are down by 20%
  • Auto thefts and burglaries are down by more than 10%

However, despite the positive improvements, one issue is trending in the wrong direction.

“We have 150 different cases in this community where juveniles were found with a firearm, used a firearm, or something along those lines,” Bregman said. “This is a community problem.”

The district attorney said the problem will only get better through partnerships like the anti-gun initiative in schools he rolled out in March.

“Juveniles with guns is such a dangerous, dangerous recipe,” Bregman said. “They are our future. We say that it is almost cliché. But they are the next generation and it is very, very important that we do what we can to ensure everybody’s safety.”

Bregman also talked about a diversion program they offer to people struggling with addiction. It gives them the opportunity to keep felonies off their record and get treatment.

Bregman also told KOB 4 that he plans on running for district attorney next year. He said he wants to see these things through. He also said the governor knows of his plan to run.