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In Wake of Violent Weeks, Mayor’s Metro Crime Initiative Develops Strategies for Shutting Revolving Door

Key stakeholders aim to increase community safety through adequate sentencing, resources for victims, and offender reentry services to mitigate threats.

Aug. 27, 2019

Today, The City of Albuquerque convened the Metro Crime Initiative for the fourth of five sessions. Elected officials, law enforcement leaders, legal experts, victim advocates, reentry specialists, and individuals with lived experience discussed how systems of sentencing and services can better align to improve community outcomes. One primary goal of this work is to outline clear items for the legislature, including in a possible special session on crime. 

“In the wake of violent weeks, we must turn our frustration into action to stop the criminal revolving door that threatens our community,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “With the Metro Crime Initiative, we have the chance for leaders across the justice system to step up with concrete solutions and to support whatever it takes to make our system work again. We’re bringing our partners to the table to develop specific action items to close dangerous gaps in the system. From common sense gun safety, to changes to keep violent offenders behind bars, to proven re-entry services, it is time to demonstrate what we need to make our community safe.”

Participants discussed action items including firearm sentencing enhancement, establishing a pre-trial presumption of dangerousness for offenses involving a firearm, effective and 24-7 monitoring of individuals awaiting trial, gun safety and limits to magazine sizes, wrap-around resources and service referrals for victims of crime, and bolstering re-entry programs that are proven to meaningfully reduce recidivism when an offender has completed their sentence.

“This initiative gives us a rare opportunity for transformation,” said Attorney General Hector Balderas. “This work approaches issues in the criminal justice system with a level of detail and critical thought that will lead to specific recommendations across the system.”

”We have to do all we can to keep violent threats out of our communities. It's critical to build consensus and alignment on tactics and reforms, like changing state gun laws and strengthening 24/7 monitoring,” said Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock, Albuquerque Police Department. “At the same time, building in advocacy for victims, providing wrap-around services, and having their input in sentencing goes a long way in making sure that they’re properly served by the system and don’t turn to crime themselves to get the resolution they seek.”

“To make lasting change, it is essential that we reach more people early, when we have the best opportunity to get them help and get them moving in a better direction,” said Chief Judge Stan Whitaker, Second District Judicial Court. “Specialty and therapeutic court programs are proven successful. The extremely low recidivism rates for participants make clear that we need resources to expand these programs.”

“It is initiatives such as these that work towards developing a comprehensive understanding of the root causes of violence and ways in which communities can collaborate to meaningfully address these causes and impact change,” said MaryEllen Garcia, Grants Bureau Chief, Crime Victims Reparation Commission.

Today’s panel discussion can be viewed online here. Panelists included:

  • Chief Judge Stan Whitaker, Second Judicial District Court
  • Chief Deputy Attorney General Anne Kelly
  • Angel Garcia, Social Services Coordinator, Violence Intervention Program
  • MaryEllen Garcia, Grants Bureau Chief, Crime Victims Reparation Commission
  • Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock, APD
  • Jeff Holland, Executive Director, Endorphin Power Company
  • Cory Lee, Executive Director, Crossroads for Women

The fifth and final session of the Metro Crime Initiative, Calling in Backup: Career Pipelines, will be held on Thursday, September 9 at 1:30 p.m. All sessions are streamed live on One Albuquerque Media, GOV-TV 16 YouTube.