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New Mexico lawmakers return to Roundhouse to address public safety

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Roz Brown

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(New Mexico News Connection) New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has called lawmakers back to the state Capitol this month for a legislative session about public safety.

New Mexico has one of the highest rates of firearm deaths in the country and according to a survey by the website, state respondents expressed a high level of concern and experience with crime.

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Rebecca Edwards, lead safety and tech reporter for, said more than a third of New Mexicans say they have increased their security or safety measures in the past 12 months.

"People that feel downtrodden, that feel that they don't have opportunities and that can't make ends meet, give up hope, are more desperate to do things to protect themselves," Edwards asserted. "Across the country, people at the bottom don't have a way to get out."

A spokesperson for the governor has said she also will ask lawmakers to raise the penalties for felons caught with firearms. The special session starting July 18 will be the fifth since Lujan Grisham took office six years ago.

Edwards pointed out talk of public safety usually focuses on protection from crime but she feels traditional approaches often do not work over the long haul.

"It feels good to say we're just going to give the police a whole bunch more money, to hire a whole bunch of more officers, but what's the ultimate goal?" Edwards asked. "Are you going to have officers that are trained in more specialized areas? Or what's the emphasis on de-escalation going to be? Nonlethal responses?"

Earlier this year, the Albuquerque Police Department released preliminary 2023 statistics showing an increase in crimes against property and society.

Alan Webber, mayor of Santa Fe, said while Santa Fe's crime rates are lower, all public officials are working to find ways to maintain safety in their communities.

"Sometimes it has to do with the issue of gun and gun violence," Webber noted. "I think we also should focus on ways we can help people who are in public spaces and need to be given mental health services."