Albuquerque launches the second Metro Crime Initiative
Last August, 13-year-old Bennie Hargrove was shot and killed by a fellow classmate at Washington Middle School. Police say the classmate who shot Hargrove, 13-year-old Jaun Saucedo Jr. had taken his father’s handgun and shot Hargrove after he confronted him for bullying a fellow classmate.
On Wednesday, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, surrounded by federal, state, and local officials convened at the park next to Washington Middle School to announce the second round of the Metro Crime Initiative. This second version will focus on new solutions to address the Fentanyl crisis, domestic violence, and gun violence.
The same type of violence that Representative Pamelya Herndon says rocked this community in the wake of Hargrove’s death.
“Young Bennie Hargrove lost his life in a senseless violence, gun incident right here at this park. Bennie had such a bright future, the day he died, he was trying to resolve a dispute among his classmates using non-violent protocols when he himself became a victim of violence.”
Reduction in gun violence was one of the 40 action items originally presented last year when Keller and the city launched the first iteration of the Metro Crime Initiative. Out of the 40 items, only 10 have been addressed and another 11 are still in progress. But none of the action items related to gun control have been addressed to this point.
Hargrove’s family, who were in attendance Wednesday, flaked both sides of the podium, each wearing a t-shirt with his photo printed on it. Hargrove’s mother, Colette Wise, said something must be done to protect children in schools.
“We never want to see another family go through the sadness that my family went through with losing Bennie,” Wise said. “We must stop the senseless gun violence and protect young children.”
Keller said the biggest lesson learned from the first Metro Crime Initiative was the fragility of the New Mexico criminal justice system. In order to fix this system, Keller points to the shared responsibility everyone who is in a position of leadership in New Mexico has when it comes to addressing crime.
“We all have a role to play in fixing (the criminal justice system) and we have to own that responsibility,” Keller said. “If we each pull our own weight, that is the individual accountability, I’ve got to do my job as mayor, APD has to do their job as police department, but every other piece in that chain from the courts, to the criminal justice system, to the detention centers, to the attorneys involved, all of the above have to do their part as well.”
Moving forward, the second session of the Metro Crime Initiative will hold three separate meetings, each focused on a different aspect of the initiative. The first will be held on July 16th, from 10:00am-12:00pm and will be focused on guns, gun violence, and access to guns. The second session will be on drugs and behavioral health, and that will be held on August 16th, from 9:00am-12:00pm. The third and final session will be on September 20th, from 10:00am-12:00pm, and the main focus will be domestic violence.
Information on the public can attend these events both in-person and virtually will be made available in the future, with summaries of each event being provided by city officials at the conclusion of each meeting.