Crime is so bad in Albuquerque that one mayoral candidate says she can't release her crime-fighting plan because her opponents will steal it.
So how bad is Albuquerque’s crime epidemic?
So bad that one mayoral candidate won’t release her crime-fighting plan because she’s apparently afraid that her opponents will steal it.
This is not a joke.
In a strange Facebook exchange on July 5, candidate Michelle Garcia Holmes said that she has a crime-fighting plan but can’t yet release it, even though there are less than 90 days left in the campaign.
“I hear both of you loud and clear, however, those who have no plan or can’t come up with their own, have been wanting mine. Leadership and knowing who to hire is key! Stay tuned you will hear all about it and be pleased,” Garcia Holmes said on Facebook when asked what her crime plan was.
The response illustrates the strange and ineffectual mayoral campaign and its candidates so far.
Crime in the city is exploding, and none of the candidates are really jumping on the issue and shouting about how they’re going to end it. There are no bomb-throwers when it appears that’s exactly what the campaign and the city’s residents need right now. And now a candidate is scared her anti-crime plan will be stolen.
In fact, no candidate has released any real details of how they’re going to get crime down. All have said that APD Chief Gorden Eden needs to be fired and that the department needs more officers. But none have said what they’ll do after Eden is gone or how they’ll pay for all those new cops and keep current cops from leaving the department or retiring.
The candidates had a perfect opportunity last week when the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce decided to give Mayor Richard Berry an excellence in public safety award. The award was widely ridiculed, and protesters showed up outside the awards ceremony to shout and scream, but there were no mayoral candidates to be found.
Any one of them could have separated themselves from the pack by holding a quick news conference and shouting that the award was insane and that they would immediately stop the craziness.
But there was barely a peep from the candidates.
So what’s going on? Why aren’t the candidates out there demanding action and differentiating themselves? Why haven’t any of them seized on the most important issue facing the city and its residents? What are they waiting for?
Political analyst and blogger Joe Monahan is baffled by the say-nothing candidates.
“None of the candidates seem to be campaigning yet,” Monahan told ABQ Free Press. “Most seem to be raising money. For the magnitude of the problems we have, this is a late-starting campaign. It’s surprising not to hear more forceful dialogue from the candidates.”
Monahan speculated that political consultants have scared candidates into silence by telling them they’ll offend voters if they say anything too strong.
“Part of it is the consultancy. They’re saying you don’t need to step on toes, don’t rock the boat, don’t get people looking at us too closely,” Monahan said.
If that’s the case, it’s disturbing, and it means that all of us lose.
So in order to help clarify where the candidates stand on crime and what their actual plans for fighting it are, ABQ Free Press looked at their websites and Facebook pages to see if there are any actual plans out there.
Here are the results for all the candidates:
Michelle Garcia Holmes: No plan, just some vague talk about how, as a former police officer, she’s qualified to be mayor.
“Crime emerged as the number one issue, especially property crime among individuals and business people in the community,” Garcia Holmes’ website says.
And on April 29 she wrote: “Michelle Garcia Holmes is an expert in public safety. In the weeks to come Garcia Holmes will release her “SAFE CITY, PROSPEROUS CITY PLAN” to deal with the violent, and property crime issues, in Albuquerque.”
More than two months later, Garcia Holmes has unveiled no crime-fighting plan.
Brian Colón: Vague talk and no plan. “The first priority of government is to keep people safe, and rising crime in Albuquerque is an urgent issue we must address,” Colón’s website says. “Brian will ensure APD has the staffing and funding it needs to fully utilize innovative approaches when combating crime and protecting the rights of all of Albuquerque’s residents.”
Colón gives no details about how he’ll ensure that APD has the staffing and funding it needs. Nor does he detail what those “innovative approaches” will be.
Wayne Johnson: Nothing at all on his website about crime or how to fight it. In fact, Johnson’s last post on his website is dated April 3. But don’t worry, the website assures us that Johnson “has the experience, integrity and vision to be our next mayor.”
Dan Lewis: Says he has a four-point plan to attack crime, but has no real details. And Lewis sounds a lot like Mayor Richard Berry as he talks about making Albuquerque “the worst place in the country to be a criminal!”
Here are the four points of Lewis’ plan: “Keep repeat offenders locked up. Back the firefighters and police officers who risk their lives to protect ours. Unite city and county police and fire departments to create new standards of accountability and efficiency. Put 1,200 police officers on the streets of Albuquerque.”
Lewis doesn’t say how he’s going to keep all those repeat offenders in prison. And he doesn’t mention that it’s not his, nor the police department’s decision on who gets convicted or how long they stay locked up. That’s up to judges, and a mayor has no control over judges. Nor does Lewis say how he’s going to get 1,200 cops on the streets, or how he’d pay for them.
To give him credit, Lewis has made crime the centerpiece of his campaign since he announced his candidacy.
Tim Keller: A five-point plan, but no real details. Keller wants to “Restore trust by reforming APD top to bottom. Institute real community policing. Finish DOJ efforts and take back our police department. Connect health, housing and homelessness. Find common-sense solutions to gun violence.”
In terms of community policing, Keller wants to “get cops out of cars and on bikes and on foot and in trusted communication with neighborhoods,” and “get at least 400 well-qualified, community policing-proven new officers on our streets to enable actual community policing.”
That’s a noble goal, but how that will happen with a woefully and chronically understaffed police department is a mystery. Right now, cops can’t do any community policing because they spend their days running from 911 call to 911 call.
To be fair to Keller, he has the most extensive and comprehensive approach to crime of any candidate. But again, there aren’t many details about how all that’s going to happen and be paid for.
Gus Pedrotty: No plan, just vague talk. Here’s what Pedrotty’s website says abut crime:
“Emergency service restructuring is crucial to providing better and more cost effective care. By clarifying the roles of our responders, combining administrative oversight, and creating accessible services like sobriety outposts for cyclically arrested citizens, we provide better social conditions for residents. We will improve relationships with first responders and create a clear accountability system.”
Ricardo Chaves: No plan, no details, just vague talk. “We must have new leadership in the police department, and we must put new police on the beat, where they can fight crime effectively,” Chaves’ Facebook page says. “The new chief that I appoint will be an outsider who is beholden to no one, and who will inspire the confidence of both the citizens and Albuquerque’s finest.”
Susan Wheeler-Deichsel: Nothing at all about crime. Zero. This candidate’s LinkedIn page is all she’s got, and it says almost nothing. Two months ago she said she would have a crime-fighting plan, but so far there’s nothing.
So there you go. We live in a city that’s being overrun by criminals and we have one candidate who’s afraid to release her crime plan out of fear it might be stolen.
It apparently hasn’t occurred to Garcia Holmes that if other candidates release their crime plans before she does, and hers sounds like theirs, she’ll be accused of stealing. Then we’ll have to drag her down to the station and book her.
God help us all.
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