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Fire Eden, Candidate Says

Fire Eden, Candidate Says

'Out of control' crime holding ABQ back, she says

Former police officer Michelle Garcia Holmes believes that until Albuquerque solves its crime problem, it will languish and not reach its full potential. That potential involves becoming a premier vacation destination, a place where businesses want to move, and a place that people see as an ideal location to start a business, she said.

“I think crime is out of control in Albuquerque. We have to make Albuquerque safe again,” Holmes said in explaining her decision to run for mayor.

“I want to be the mayor that takes care of the crime issue and then bring Albuquerque back to the jewel it is. Once we start to reduce crime issues, I think Albuquerque is going to be one of those places where businesses want to come to.”

To start, Holmes would fire Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden, get the department on track to meet the U.S. Department of Justice’s reform recommendations, ramp up APD’s recruiting efforts so the department has 1,100 cops and slowly return the department’s focus to community policing efforts.

“I want to bring new leadership to the police department. I want to bring in a new police chief,” she said. The new chief must be someone “who believes in communication and who believes in working with the DOJ.”

“I understand there are divisions of the department that have come into compliance [with the settlement agreement], so what is hindering us from doing that departmentwide?” she asked.

“I want a police chief who will understand the police department as a whole and understand the DOJ mandate and who is a good communicator and who can collaborate with other agencies,” she said. “That will be crucial in achieving my goal of reducing crime.”

To bring APD’s ranks up to 1,100 officers, Holmes, who after leaving APD worked as chief of staff to state Attorney General Gary King, said she’d run three training academy classes a year, each with 50 to 60 cadets. In her first year, she’d run an academy for 50 police service aides. Those aides would respond to calls that don’t require uniformed officers, and the aides often go on to become police officers, Holmes said.

Battling crime

Not only will it take more cops to reduce crime, but it will take collaboration and cooperation between the police department and other law enforcement agencies such as the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office, the courts and probation officials, Holmes said.

She wants to see APD embark on what she called “Problem Oriented Policing” in which cops and neighborhood associations work together to identify certain crime problems and then attack them. “You can resolve issues if you communicate with neighborhoods,” Holmes said. “I would encourage whichever police I hire to endorse POP projects. We have to be innovative because of the smaller department.”

Holmes said she would also like to see APD restart a gang resistance program in middle schools and make more less-than-lethal force options available to cops in the field. “We need something that can create more distance between officers and offenders. We have a lot of less-lethal weapons out there, and training officers in less-lethal weapons is a good thing.”

The economy

To help boost the city’s struggling economy, Holmes said, she would focus on Albuquerque’s positives and work on increasing tourism.

“We have a beautiful city here. We are a premier vacation destination. The next mayor has to address the economic issue and hone in on tourism,” she said. “Why don’t we have two balloon fiestas? Why don’t we have a bike ride? We need to have more events throughout the city and have them throughout the year so we can have an influx of tourism.

“I would love to see people hike the La Luz Trail, jump on a bike and ride to Tingley Beach and have a big fiesta. We need things to do here.” She would work to build a new arena in the city during her first term in office, she said.

ART and public transit

Holmes said she isn’t sure that the city will get all of the federal money it needs to complete Mayor Richard Berry’s Albuquerque Rapid Transit project. But if it is completed, she’d try to have a “Free after Five” program in which the nine-mile-long bus route on Central Avenue would be free after 5 p.m. She added that the city needs to work on expanding other bus routes, keeping buses clean and making them safe.

Finally, Holmes said she’d work to make Albuquerque better overall.

“We can’t be 50th in everything,” she said. “I want to be 25th so we can say we’re not 50th anymore.”

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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  • Anonymous
    February 16, 2017, 10:12 am

    Under the CASA, the CPOA is required to forward complaints that potentially have criminal implications to APD internal affairs for investigation.

    That said, why is Chief Eden not on administrative leave while under investigation for perjury?

  • Sabina webster
    February 16, 2017, 10:20 am

    I totally agree with the idea of a new police chief. Although my husband and I do not live in Albuquerque, we lost our son, Daniel Webster to the hands of a hardened repeat offender while trying to take him into custody Dan "Scott"was shot 6 times close range and we lost our son 8 days later. Not one time did Chief Eden approach His father or I to give us his condolences, nor did he return 4 phone calls we made to the Department to talk with him about our son. I’m very disappointed in a police chief that does not care enough for his officers families to even return one single call. The devisation in loosing a son is one that effects family members on a daily basis. I would think that the police chief could have taken a few minutes out of his day to contact us. Daniel Scott was with the APD for nine years.

  • Jose Lara
    February 21, 2017, 3:39 pm

    Mrs. Michelle Garcia Holmes, I certainly will take into consideration what I have read when it comes to voting in a new leader. I love the idea of becoming 25th instead of 50th. Everything you have said is exactly what Albuquerque is in dire need of.
    Thank you for your many years of service with APD. God Bless and Good Luck on your campaign.

  • Anonymous
    March 6, 2017, 2:09 pm

    A Tourist approach ruins every thing, look at what it has done for Santa Fe : gentrification and transient opportunities and a shallowness. And Yet another arena ? There is no sensitivity to neighborhoods here. Seems like she really wants to be police chief, how about Miami ?

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