Governor, state, city, law enforcement officials hold press conference on crime fighting initiative
In front of a mural commissioned by New Mexicans To Prevent Gun Violence, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, along with state, city, and law enforcement officials gathered for a press conference Thursday, to discuss upcoming crime fighting bills ahead of the 30-day legislative session.
In the words of Lujan Grisham, those gathered at this press conference were selected particularly to help devise a plan to tackle violent crime in New Mexico.
“When you have a really difficult challenge in public safety and preventing crime and protecting every single New Mexican. You bring the best and the brightest together and we diligently, in a bipartisan, nonpartisan fashion work to do everything we can about the incredible public safety issues that require immediate attention.”
Lujan Grisham focused her portion of the press conference on four key areas where the bills to be introduced in the upcoming legislative session will tackle violent crime and repeat offenders.
The first area of focus was bail, and more specifically the constitutional responsibility to protect individuals who are arrested for a crime, but are unable to bail out due to their income status.
Lujan Grisham said the state wants to change the presumption, specifically targeting people who commit violent crimes.
“If you commit a violent crime, the burden is on you to demonstrate why it would be safe to have you go back into the community.”
The Governor said this change would not diminish the state’s responsibility to every New Mexican in terms of bail. But would reinforce the fact that your constitutional right to feel safe and protected in your home is one the state must maintain and do something about.
The second area of focus is a bill dealing with second degree murder. This would increase the prison time faced for those who commit this crime. The goal would be to prevent these individuals from re-entering society earlier and possibly commit additional violent crimes.
The third area deals with possession of a firearm. Those caught in possession of a firearm, in any capacity would be upgraded to an automatic felony.
Lastly, Lujan Grisham plans to set up a fund of $100 million. This fund would be made available to every jurisdiction in the state, and allow them to tackle local crime in their areas. It would also help prevent the poaching of officers from one jurisdiction to another.
Continuing with monetary increases to law enforcement, the Governor also announced that state police officers could be getting a 19% pay raise. They are asking the legislature to approve this pay jump. If approved, it would be the largest in state history.
Lujan Grisham ended her portion of the press conference by saying she is confident these new crime fighting measures will pass in legislation.
“I am confident that this dream team here, and there are others. Are going to get every single one of these bills over the finish line. I am confident that every single one of these leaders here, police officers, public safety officers is going to work diligently to make sure their personal stories of dedication are not minimized by not getting this legislation over the finish line.”
Lujan Grisham then made way for New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.
Balderas praised the Governor and the other officials gathered for their action, and spoke about the current situation of violent crime facing the state.
“You know violence, trama, it's become normalized in the state of New Mexico. An officer was shot in Farmington, a baby dumped in a dumpster in Hobbs, three shootings last night in Albuquerque.”
But Balderas said these new bills, set to be introduced, will help give the resources necessary to fight violent crime on a state-wide level.
Targeting repeat offenders, gun violence, and prioritizing the victims, and ensuring justice. A change Balderas said, that will help modernize the way New Mexico fights crime.
“Let me be blunt to you, some of New Mexico’s criminal laws are drastically behind the times. For far too long, New Mexico has ranked below the national average in keeping our children safe and our families safe due to stunningly low and ineffective penalties.”
Balderas showed full support for this new crime fighting plan, and sees it as a way to help reform the state.
"I support the Governor’s initiative because these are necessary changes needed to address crime in a very ever changing world.”
Bernalillo District Attorney Raul Torrez, said this upcoming legislative session represents a rare opportunity for the state to tackle crime head on.
"We have been advocating for these proposals and yet this is the first time that going into a legislative session, we have a real opportunity.
Torrez shared a story about a meeting he had with family members of victims of violent crimes. Saying that these meetings, which occur monthly, give these families a chance to share their feelings, complaints, and experiences with the criminal justice system in New Mexico.
“Monday night, a group of families who have lost loved ones to violent crime gathered in my office, as they do on a monthly basis. And part of what they do in those gatherings is to share their experiences, share their experiences in the criminal justice system. Vent their frustrations with the way the system has treated victims, the way the system has frankly failed to hear them. But we hear them now, we are here today because we hear those families, and now it’s time to act.”
Torrez went on to say he believes that there are elements in this legislative package that will have a dramatic impact.