Mayoral candidate Michelle Garcia Holmes says she has the “experience and knowledge to quickly and effectively attack Albuquerque’s epidemic crime problem,” and earlier this week she released a document outlining the steps she would take.
The 13-page plan, which she has dubbed her Crime Impact Program, contains familiar ideas, such as increasing the number of officers in the Albuquerque Police Department; working with former chiefs and other public safety experts to find an interim and then a permanent chief for the department; and building a new mental health/addiction treatment center using money generated by Bernalillo County through a gross receipts tax previously adopted. But the plan also focuses heavily on combating auto theft, with Garcia Holmes noting that Albuquerque is No. 1 in the nation for that crime.
“I think it’s really crucial and essential right now that we have a crime fighter in the mayor’s office,” she said. “… I’ve worked in this system. I’m not going to go into the mayor’s office and have a learning curve. I think it’s too risky to elect someone who doesn’t have public safety knowledge right now.”
In a news release announcing her plan, Garcia Holmes, a retired police detective and a former chief of staff for the state Attorney General’s Office, said, “We can’t risk our safety to amateurs at this crucial moment in time.”
Her plan calls for filling all 1,000 of APD’s budgeted officer positions, then evaluating whether more are needed. Currently, APD has about 850 officers.
Other ideas include:
• Working with the district attorney to create a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program at APD, essentially a referral program for addicts who commit minor crimes. She said restitution and proper court adjudications would be part of the program.
• Investing in a District Attorney Liaison Unit to ensure that APD is providing fully investigated cases – including all lab work and crime lab analysis – necessary to obtain convictions.
• Making sure the Crime Analysis and Prevention Team unit has the resources it needs. She said the unit would work with area police chiefs, sheriffs and district attorneys to combat auto theft.
• And seeking a new state statute “allowing finger prints and/or DNA found inside stolen cars to be acceptable probable cause to make an arrest,” the plan states. “This change will give law enforcement another tool to fight auto theft.” She said she would also ensure that evidence and stolen property found in recovered vehicles is processed appropriately and completely.
“Crime has really had a big impact on our businesses,” she said, adding that she will work with small businesses to get them back on track.