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First Responders Gather In ABQ On 9/11 Anniversary

Rita Daniels / KUNM
Manuel Maldonado, a Grant County deputy sheriff, and Albuquerque Fire Department Capt. Emily Kane

First responders who work on the front lines are worried that their collective bargaining rights may be on the line because of a pending case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

On the anniversary of 9/11, hundreds of firefighters, cops and paramedics from across the country gathered in Albuquerque to talk about what they need in order to do their jobs.

For Manuel Maldonado, who is a deputy sheriff in Grant County, that means the right tools, like police cruisers with low mileage.

“As long as we have newer units, lower miles, our response time is a lot faster,” Maldonado said. “People aren’t waiting an hour, an hour and a half, for us to respond.”

He said they only have four deputies on duty at any given time to cover the vast area, and that when he first started with the department, most of their cruisers had over 200,000 miles on them.

That, he said, ended up delaying emergency services, but through collective bargaining, they were able to staff up and get safer equipment.

First responders are worried that the case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court could weaken their unions.

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