New Mexico governor provides update on crime, public safety initiatives
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham held a news conference Tuesday alongside other state officials to provide an update on public safety initiatives in the Albuquerque metro and across New Mexico.
It has been a month since the governor issued an emergency public health order focused on gun violence. Despite the challenges to that move, the governor says her plan is working.
New data shows that the Albuquerque Police Department, Bernalillo County deputies, and New Mexico State Police arrested more than 500 people combined in September, just in the metro. They also seized 20 guns.
Those arrests mean the inmate population at the Metropolitan Detention Center grew 11% in the same month. The secretary of the state’s Department of Corrections says now they’re looking at ways to help the already overwhelmed staff at MDC.
“One of the things our department is doing this week is taking on 48 of their most staffed, intensive, dangerous inmates from their population and bringing them into our facilities,” said Alisha Tafoya Lucero with the Department of Corrections.
State leaders are also looking at ways to make the booking process easier for officers in the field.
“Bookings were taking 6+ hours – that takes officers off the streets,” Lujan Grisham said. “In some cases, they stopped doing arrests at all because you can’t put someone somewhere if you can’t book them.”
The data also shows 166 gunshots detected over a 4-day span in September. That dropped to 128 over another 4-day span later in the month.
However, the governor said that too many of those guns are still ending up in the hands of teens.
“The fact that we’re sending students home from schools – which I’m glad, because they’re safe –because there are firearms at every school, including grade schools, must end,” Lujan Grisham said.
So far, six guns have been found on APS campuses in September and October. Since last month, 32 juveniles have been charged for crimes involving guns.
The fate of her public health order is still up in the air. Last week, a federal judge extended a preliminary hold on gun restrictions that are part of the revised public health order – which would limit the use of firearms in certain public areas in Bernalillo County, specifically areas used by children.
Other parts of the order are still in effect, including a surge of New Mexico State Police in the metro to help with reducing and discouraging violent crime.
The governor says the NMSP effort has helped APD and BCSO and resulted in more arrests.
“We’re looking for sustainable, long-term impacts that will stay the course so that our communities are safer,” Lujan Grisham said. “Every single New Mexican deserves that and there’s not a single New Mexican who isn’t impacted by our public safety challenges, and quite frankly, this epidemic and crisis.”