ABQ 4WARD: What can town council do to curb violent crime in Albuquerque?
KOB 4 sat down with councilors Pat Davis, Isaac Benton and Klarissa Peña.
“Let’s be honest. Everyone is frustrated,” said Davis. “Clearly more needs to be done.”
About two-thirds of this year’s homicides took place in the four boroughs mainly south of I-40. Most – nearly 1 in 3 – were the Davis District.
Davis admits the council wasn’t perfect, but he believes Mayor Keller and the APD leadership took too long to get new initiatives off the ground. He says APD and the mayor need a comprehensive plan.
“It doesn’t exist in relation to our month-to-month, year-to-year plan to address these issues. We’re still playing some kind of whack-a-mole, responding to the call instead of anticipating it, ”said Davis.
Davis, himself a former cop, doesn’t think recruiting is the problem for APD. The department does that with new officers once they have received them.
“I think we need to change how we deploy these new officers and where we prioritize them,” said Davis. “We have a long-term strategy, but it’s very frustrating. It’s coming late and it’s a long-term strategy. “
When asked if it would be realistic to make progress on crime prevention in Albuquerque over the next year, Davis replied:
“Yes. It is absolutely true, but we have to be smart about what we do.”
Benton says the city council successfully campaigned for Justice Department grants and worked on APD reform and recruitment.
“I think we did a good job,” Benton said of the councilors. “I think we have to be innovative. We need to get more officers out of their desks and onto the streets. “
Benton acknowledges, however, that the role the Council can play in these efforts is limited.
Both Benton and Davis say stricter gun control laws would help. Mayor Keller has banned weapons from certain city-owned areas, but the courts or the roundhouse should give the city council the opportunity to enact stricter measures.
Benton also believes it is up to him and his colleagues to get involved in fighting crime outside the justice system.
Benton says the focus should be on early childhood education and affordable housing.
“I think a stronger social safety net,” said Benton.
Peña seems to reiterate Benton’s view of the city council’s role in a proactive approach, saying the focus should be on funding more mental health and substance abuse resources to prevent violence before it happens.
“We’re doing some really good things,” she said. “I think when we don’t have the opportunities or resources that people have available, the problems start to persist,” said Peña.
When asked if it was realistic that Albuquerque would make progress in the fight against violent crime, she replied:
“Absolutely. I think a lot happens, doesn’t it? Change takes time.”
Some city councils in other parts of the country have declared emergencies over rising murder rates. Davis says Albuquerque can’t do this because city law forbids it.