OB Eyewitness News 4 has learned Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry has tripled the number of officers on the police department's gang unit. The move is just one part of his plan to fight gang-related crime in the city.
Speaking at a luncheon on Wednesday, murmurs of disbelief could be heard as the mayor announced there are 113 gangs operating in Albuquerque. He then unveiled his plan to get that problem under control.
"When I took office, we only had five officers involved in anti-gang activities. We're going to triple that amount of manpower on the gang force," Berry said.
The move is a surprise, considering the Bernalillo County Sheriff recently cut the size of his gang unit. "These are tough budget times and I don't know why they cut back necessarily, I personally haven't had a conversation with him. But we team closely with the sheriff's department and this is just a way for us to make this a priority," Berry said.
As part of that priority, the mayor also unveiled an interactive website to educate to public on local organized crime. There is also a link to post anonymous tips about suspected gang activity. Tipsters can then follow the progress of those tips as police investigate them. "And then there's a secured part of the site, where only law enforcement can get involved and do multi-jurisdictional work as well," added Berry.
He says he'll check the efficiency of the website down the road. "It will be quantified by the number of tips. It will be quantified by the actual law enforcement activities. It will be quantified by adjudications. It'll be quantified by actually the amount of activity we get, based on tips from the website," explained Berry.
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) - Albuquerque Mayor R.J. Berry unveiled a new website on Wednesday that encourages the community to keep an eye on local gangs.
"We want to make this a bad place to be a gang member," Mayor Berry said about the city.
StopABQgangs.org is full of information for teens and adults and also allows other law enforcement agencies to interact with each other.
"There are over 113 gangs that have some kind of activity in the city of Albuquerque. That's not any more than most cities, but the fact of the matter is that that's a lot and we just want to make sure we're putting the public safety resources forward so we can really fight this issue," Berry said.
The Albuquerque Police Department has also tripled the officers on its gang squad since Mayor Berry took office. APD says they also now a gang expert working 24 hours a day seven days a week.
"If we can get law enforcement and the community to team up against criminal activity that's what we're looking for," Berry said.
Berry wants citizens to become educated with the website, and then be able to help police.
"We're certainly not glorifying gangs and we really haven't put anything on the website that glorifies a gang lifestyle," Berry said about the "sobering and candid" website. "We think it's also important for people in the community to understand that there things around town that you may not normally snap to that are gang activity that you can then make law enforcement aware of. We think that's an important aspect."
"If we handle it from the proactive side there as well as discourage our youth from getting involved in the gang lifestyle, it's not an overnight situation, but over time I think we'll make a positive difference," Berry said.
Four years ago under former mayor Martin Chavez, the city passed a law that called for an online gang registry. But it was snared by legal problems which stopped it from being enforced. Mayor Berry says this new website is a completely different initiative.
Albuquerque's mayor told an audience something that stunned them today. it was about gangs - how many there are here - and what he's doing about them. kayla anderson has more in our big story. "speaking at a luncheon today, when the mayor told his audience there are 113 gangs in our city- there was a murmer across the room of total shock. then, he unveiled his plan to get that problem under control." mayor richard berry says he's tripled the size of apd's gang unit. "when i took office, we only had five officers involved in anti-gang activities. we're going to triple that amount of manpower on the gang force." the move is a surprise- considering the bernalillo county sheriff recently cut the size of his gang unit. "these are tough budget times and i don't know why they cut back minute thumbnail 05:00 pm necessarily, i personally haven't had a conversation with him. but we team closely with the sheriff's department and this is just a way for us to make this a priority." as part of that priority- the mayor also debuted this new, interactive website today. "look at everything from gang prevention, to gang enforcement, to the proactive and reactive things that we can do."
"City of Albuquerque unveils newest anti-gang initiatives" is categorized as "local". This video was licensed from Grab Networks.
Mayor announces new website, increased resources to fight gangs.
Mayor Richard Berry announced the creation of a new anti-gang website and said the city will take other new steps to blunt gang activity.
Speaking at a Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Berry said the new site, stopabqgangs.org, will offer tips on spotting gang activity, tattoos and graffiti. People can also submit tips anonymously, then get a tracking number to follow how police respond.
Berry warned that the new website is graphic, with information on the violent initiations recruits endure to join a gang.
"It's just really a very sobering website," Berry said. "We want to have a candid conversation with the community."
Albuquerque doesn't necessarily have a worse gang problem than other places, he said, but it wouldn't be right to pretend gang activity doesn't happen here. More than a hundred different gangs have been documented in Albuquerque, sometimes home-grown ones and sometimes just others that pass through town.
The website features a secure section for law-enforcement agencies to share information with each other.
It also provides explanations for parents and teachers, so they will be better informed when talking to their children and students.
Berry also said he will triple, to 15, the number of police officers dedicated to gang activity.