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Mayor, local lawmakers celebrate appropriations for city

Against the backdrop of the Metropolitan Forensic Science Center, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller on Thursday thanked state legislators and others for pushing to get about $60 million in appropriations for the city – “a 40-50 percent increase from what we’ve historically gotten,” he said.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller on Thursday thanks legislators and others for helping the city get about $60 million in state appropriations. The money will be spent on public safety and infrastructure, including roads, parks, libraries and open space. (Rick Nathanson/Albuquerque Journal)

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller on Thursday thanks legislators and others for helping the city get about $60 million in state appropriations. The money will be spent on public safety and infrastructure, including roads, parks, libraries and open space. (Rick Nathanson/Albuquerque Journal)

purchase and install a regional emergency communications system for Albuquerque and Bernalillo County that will integrate the radio systems of law enforcement agencies, fire departments and other emergency first responders.

More than $1 million will be used to purchase the latest high-tech DNA testing equipment to drastically cut the time it takes to analyze DNA samples, which will help to more quickly process a backlog of rape kits; about $1.5 million is earmarked for a gunshot detection system, which triangulates the sound of a gunshot to determine the direction from which it came; and $300,000 will be invested in the Crime Gun Intelligence Center for equipment to analyze bullet casings and identify the specific weapon from which they came and help determine whether a weapon was used in previous crimes.

Albuquerque Fire Rescue will get about $5 million. Plans include $1.4 million for a ladder truck, $1.5 million for safety bunker fire gear, $300,000 for pumper truck gear and $700,000 for a hazmat vehicle.

Infrastructure money will be used for projects around Balloon Fiesta Park, the Albuquerque Rail Yards and the city’s emergency homeless shelter, Keller said. Another priority is alleviating congestion on Paseo del Norte and Unser, he said.

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Albuquerque police Capt. Chris George, commander of the Scientific Evidence Division, stands in the drug evidence room at the Metropolitan Forensic Science Center. The center will be the beneficiary of new high-tech equipment as a result of a generous legislative allocation to the city of Albuquerque. (Rick Nathanson/Journal)

The Mayor’s Office, the City Council, Bernalillo County and state legislators cooperated in seeking the appropriations, Keller said. “We all had the same set of priorities. … We were all working off the same sheet of music,” he said.

State Sen. Jacob Candelaria, a Democrat who represents Albuquerque’s West Side, said that for too long the city has been overlooked in legislative appropriations.

“It’s inexcusable that our city went through years of a crime epidemic without state leadership stepping up to the plate and partnering like we are today with local leaders at the city level to ensure we have the resources, tools and personnel for safe and vibrant communities,” Candelaria said.

Rep. Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, said, “It’s been night and day since the last administration here in the legislative session.”

The Legislature, he said, is “investing over $400 million in our K-12 system, and we finally got the conversation about early childhood education going in earnest.”

Democratic Rep. Melanie Stansbury of Albuquerque said, “I believe that we were sent to the Legislature in January from the Albuquerque area with a mandate to address public safety issues in our city, systemic crime and the underlying issues that affect community well-being in our state. And I believe that over the course of the 2019 legislative session, we did just that.”

Albuquerque police Capt. Chris George holds up a bullet casing in a protective plastic bag. As part of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, technology is employed to track guns and read the unique identifiers on shell casings. (Rick Nathanson/Albuquerque Journal)

Albuquerque police Capt. Chris George holds up a bullet casing in a protective plastic bag. As part of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, technology is employed to track guns and read the unique identifiers on shell casings. (Rick Nathanson/Albuquerque Journal)

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