Aragon decries ‘gimmicky’ promises on crime - Albuquerque Journal

Aragon decries ‘gimmicky’ promises on crime

Mayoral candidate Eddy Aragon says one of the solutions to Albuquerque’s crime problem is building morale among officers by making sure they feel appreciated. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Eddy Aragon says he has the ‘fresh eyes’ to fight crime.

The conservative radio host turned mayoral candidate said he hates what he considers dog-and-pony shows on crime-fighting efforts put on by Mayor Tim Keller’s administration. Aragon called the promises to lower crime “gimmicky.”

“It’s important for us to understand what the real problems are, I don’t know that we do …” he said. “I’m the best option because, essentially, I’m going to be there to listen … and make quick decisions.”

Unlike his opponents, Mayor Keller and Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, Aragon has never run a city or a sheriff’s department.

He said he has, however, kept a pulse of crime in Albuquerque through news articles, officers who confide in him, his listeners and residents — touting the 700 text messages on his phone.

Aragon said he believes the key to solving Albuquerque’s crime problem involves taking better care of officers, rebuilding specialized units and offering a more hands-on approach with reform efforts. To do so, he said he would enlist a council of people, mostly retired law enforcement, to inform his decisions on police and crime.

“I love everything about Albuquerque, I just hate where we’re at right now. Way too much finger-pointing, not enough … problem-solving,” Aragon said. “And I think I could do it in a very short time. I don’t believe in force. I believe in flow; we need to change the direction we’re going in.”

The televisions in Aragon’s studio — where he currently resides — are kept on such networks as One America News Network. Conservative pundit Steve Bannon is often on the screen.

Aragon is an outspoken fan of former President Trump and, where crime is concerned, said he admired the way Rudy Giuliani cracked down on crime as mayor of New York.

At times, Aragon also makes unverifiable claims about controversial topics — one being that attempts to take down the Juan de Oñate statue were a “complete and total setup” to “steer the masses.” That protest, in June 2020, made national headlines after it ended with a man being shot multiple times. He did not respond when asked to elaborate further.

Aragon also asserts that much of the crime in Albuquerque is tied to cartels, a certain faction of the homeless population and corruption. He said that, as mayor, he would expose those in organized crime who work with city government and cartels to “control the streets.”

“I constantly say I’ll either be murdered or I’ll become mayor,” he said at one point.

Asked to identify the people he says are working with city government and the cartels to control the streets, Aragon declines. “I want to at least make it to the election,” he said.

Ask for forgiveness, not permission

Aragon said 1,500 officers are needed to patrol the streets of Albuquerque. To reach that number, he said, officers need to feel appreciated. APD currently has about 900 officers.

“People need to trust police officers again, we need to get back to re-funding the police … build morale, let them know they’re fully supported,” Aragon said.

He said he would “immediately” reallocate $18 million from unscheduled overtime pay to give officers a bonus, up to $18,000 for some, without increasing taxes. When pressed for details, Aragon said he would make the directive, and work with the department and union to figure

out specifics.

He said he would also pass a no settlement policy on lawsuits to support officers and would “forensically” audit the department top to bottom to get a picture of what they’re doing day to day and “better help them.”

“I don’t know if they’re spending five hours filling out paperwork or five hours out on the street. And the fact is that nobody really knows any of these things,” he said, adding that his experience working with a Fortune 500 company would help him with organizational structure.

Aragon said he would also get involved in the Department of Justice reform effort by building a better relationship with the independent monitor and being “more combative” to advocate for the police officers.

“This is something that I will have to deal with, and the only way that I can do that is by picking up the phone and saying, ‘this is unreasonable. This is a bit too much,’ ” he said. “You want to ask for forgiveness, never for permission. The thing is, we’ve given them permission to do absolutely everything.”

Regarding the police union, Aragon said he would be in constant communication to get the “pulse” of officers, but establish healthy boundaries so they aren’t “controlling” him.

We need to know who our criminals are

Aragon said the only measure of success in fighting crime is lowering “every single category.” The answer is not to hide behind national trends, he said.

Aragon said he would employ a multi-faceted approach to fighting crime and doesn’t believe in ShotSpotter devices or gun buybacks. He said he would focus on violent crime by staffing special units, particularly the gang unit.

Aragon said he would also have officers assigned to specific neighborhoods, not moving from place to place. “I grew up in a place where we always knew who our police officers were. They worked there for 10, 15, 20 years,” he said.

Aragon said he would make sure police dispatch is better staffed so people are not waiting for help. He said he would have officers arrest people on misdemeanors to keep track of “the build-up of crime that happens over time.”

“We’ve got to do a better job of knowing who our criminals are,” Aragon said. He claimed a significant portion of crime in Albuquerque is tied to homeless people, but that he is not trying to criminalize the population.

Aragon said many homeless people need help with drug and mental health issues, and that he would offer that. He said he would target those who “choose” to be homeless, and exploit others through rape and violence.

Aragon said he thinks the public would feel safer if they were better informed about crime.

“If our city was more transparent — and if I were your mayor and I were able to convey what really happened there — people would be less afraid and more willing to say ‘OK, now I know what’s happening,’ ” Aragon said. “We need to understand the paradigms of the crimes that are out there. That can be communicated more effectively by the mayor, instead of hiding and saying, ‘Well, here’s what we’re improving.’ ”

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