New Mexico Governor Announces Public Safety Proposals for Next Legislative Session | Local News
Amid rising rates of gun violence and other crimes across the state, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday announced a series of public safety proposals that lawmakers will introduce in the next legislative session — a set that includes penalties tougher rules, bond reform and funds to strengthen law enforcement.
“Every time we talk about a violent crime, a homicide, any crime for public safety, there is a new Mexican who has been the victim,” she said during a new conference in Albuquerque, where she was joined by Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller. , Attorney General Hector Balderas, District Attorney Raúl Torrez and state lawmakers.
“If you’re asking if this is a ‘tough on crime’ press release, make no mistake, this is a ‘tough and tough on crime’ press release with the leaders of the New Mexico, especially in this space,” the governor added.
His comments came hours after Albuquerque police announced that detectives had opened investigations into three separate homicides in 10 hours: a fatal shooting in a house, a man found dead in a motel and a body discovered in a lane behind a business.
But, Lujan Grisham said, “It’s not just an Albuquerque problem. This is a state problem. It is a problem district by district, community by community. New Mexico can and will do better.
The package proposed by the governor includes:
- Imposing a “rebuttable presumption,” which Lujan Grisham says would shift the burden from prosecutors to defendants charged with murder, gun crimes, rape and other sex crimes, forcing them to prove that they do not represent a danger to the community until they are released from prison pending trial.
- Removed the statute of limitations for second degree murder and increased the sentence to 18 years from 15.
- Increase penalties for a series of crimes committed with firearms.
Lujan Grisham also aims to allocate
$100 million to “support and strengthen New Mexico law enforcement agencies” by creating more funds to hire and retain officers and civilian personnel.
Law enforcement and government officials in the city and county of Santa Fe, which has seen some of its highest violent crime rates in the past decade, say the city’s crime-fighting program governor is welcome – but only understands a few ways to solve the problem. legislation.
“We’re seeing more of these crimes that involve weapons and firearms, and more violent crimes where people suffer more serious injuries,” Santa Fe Police Acting Chief Paul Joye said. “Anything that can be a deterrent for that is positive for us.
“But it’s one aspect of a larger issue of the community and the state to address these issues,” he added.
Joye said programs such as the city’s Alternative Response Unit, which responds to calls involving people in need of behavioral health and social service support, also have an immense effect on violent crime. .
Deputy Chief Ben Valdez said the governor’s tough-on-crime agenda will create confidence that New Mexico communities are “holding people accountable” and have the teeth to do so.
“We’re really happy to see a lot of the initiatives that she’s presented…and she mentioned that Albuquerque isn’t the only place that’s experiencing this, but it’s pretty much driving the pace across the state,” Valdez said.
New Mexico’s violent crime rate rose 30% between 2014 and 2020, according to a report by the Legislative Finance Committee, while the violent crime solve rate, or the rate at which crimes were solved, fell. 25% over the same period.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said he believes tougher penalties are needed and supports the governor’s initiatives “100 percent.”
He also welcomed his fund proposal to hire more staff.
“We need a police presence on the streets and we need qualified people to do the job,” he said.
Lujan Grisham also offered a 20% pay raise for the New Mexico State Police, in line with his budget recommendations.
Mendoza said that while he supports the “long overdue” increase for state employees, he hopes the remaining funds will allow smaller departments to stay competitive.
Mayor Alan Webber said any action by the state to help city service personnel is a benefit.
“As mayor, anything we can do to get support for more law enforcement personnel and public safety officers, I think that will make a meaningful difference for Santa Fe,” a- he declared.
As for tougher penalties for crimes, Webber said he supports any effort to reduce gun violence, but he added that legislation is only one avenue.
“If we can take measures that reduce access and use of firearms by someone who is going to commit a crime, I think that is a good thing,” he said.
Defense attorneys, public defenders and other critics have raised concerns. The proposed governor’s bond reform would give prosecutors more power to detain people.
Bennett Baur, the state’s chief public defender, said in a statement that evidence shows people on bail are not a significant cause of the increase in violent crime and that incarcerating more people before trial will further harm communities in New Mexico.
“I fear the focus is on police, prosecutors and punishment, and seems to ignore the effects the proposals would have on courts, public defenders, prisons and what happens when someone accused of ‘a felony is finally released,’ he said.
Rep. Tara Lujan, D-Santa Fe, said she supports the governor’s tough-on-crime agenda, but she also hopes the governor and the legislature will ensure a comprehensive approach to violence in the upcoming session.
“We really need to deal with this holistically – what’s going on and what we’re calling crime – and really come to this place of reform and really look at the behavioral health and addictions issues that we have right now,” he said. Lujan said.
“They are looking for tougher sentences. They are tougher on a lot of these things,” she added. “I can understand that if they’re going to buttress these bills with others dealing with these other core issues.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.