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.