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A bill that would require universal background checks for almost all gun sales is a signature away from becoming law in New Mexico.

More than two-dozen sheriffs signed a letter opposing it, but the Albuquerque Police Department’s on board.

Three detectives are still working a combined 40 hours each week to solve the murders of nine woman and two teen girls whose remains were discovered on Albuquerque’s West Mesa in 2009.

KUNM spoke with Lt. Scott Norris, who took over the violent crimes section of the Albuquerque Police Department about a month ago and is now overseeing the investigation.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

It’s no secret that sex workers often don’t trust law enforcement and don’t ask police for help after incidents of violence. Officers around the U.S. are themselves arrested for trafficking, raping and abusing people on the street. Here in New Mexico, those stories pop up, too. And people who do that kind of work here say there’s a feeling that it’s either not safe, or that police won’t respond well if they report they’ve been attacked or assaulted. That can mean serial offenders go unchecked.

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Albuquerque is the worst city in the U.S. when it comes to vehicle thefts and break-ins. But auto thefts and burglaries are each down now by almost one-third, according to a report released Sunday.

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Pedestrian fatalities are up all around the United States—and New Mexico is no exception. We’re on track to have one of the worst rates in the country, and one of the worst years we’ve had in a while. Seventy-eight people were killed this year, and that number doesn’t count December. Better Burque blogger Scot Key has been following the problem for years, and he talked with KUNM about the reality of these deaths.

Courtesy of ABQ DSA

Albuquerque police increased traffic stops by 34 percent this year compared to last year, according to data from the city. One local political group is concerned about that kind of contact with law enforcement, especially for people of color. That’s why they're offering free brake-light repairs this weekend in the International District, a low-income and racially diverse area of Albuquerque known for drawing a lot of police activity.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Jonathan Sakura looked at the spot where his car was parked outside his home a couple nights ago when someone smashed the rear window and grabbed his girlfriend’s bag. "It’s a bummer. It’s violating," he said. "You know, this is our property. This is our stuff. And somebody taking something that doesn’t belong to them— it’s kinda disheartening, and morale drops a little bit."

West Midlands Police via Twitter / Creative Commons License

New evidence has shattered the widely believed narrative of how 10-year-old Victoria Martens was killed in Albuquerque. Right after her death in 2016, detectives interviewed her mother Michelle, and based on that, they pinned the homicide on her and two other adults. But two years later, the District Attorney says that story is false, and DNA evidence points to another killer, who’s still out there.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

UPDATE: The Office of the Medical Investigator determined that the bones construction workers found are ancient and not related to the gravesite discovered in 2009.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

All around the United States, students filed out of their classrooms on Wednesday, March 14, to stand for school safety. It’s been a month since the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

In New Mexico, school administrations had mixed reactions to the planned walkouts. Over the last couple of weeks, KUNM followed the students at an arts charter school in Albuquerque, as they organized with the support of school staff.

UNM Police: If There's A Shooter, We Go In

Feb 23, 2018
Arianna Sena / Creative Commons

Last week University of New Mexico campus police responded to reports of a man threatening folks with a gun. The school sent a mass text alert and officers eventually arrested a man with a BB gun. Public Health New Mexico’s Sarah Trujillo spoke with UNMPD’s Lieutenant Trace Peck about what would happen if someone was firing a gun on campus.

The city of Albuquerque says the monitor charged with overseeing reform of the police department is not neutral and has an ax to grind. James Ginger released his sixth report on APD’s progress. The Albuquerque Police Department also just last week  rolled out its own website: APDreform.com. A coalition of community groups called APD Forward says the site is little more than spin meant to hide lingering problems on the police force. 

APDreform.com

The Albuquerque Police Department has been involved in a reform process for years after federal investigators pointed to a pattern of officers using excessive force. The monitor charged with overseeing progress released the sixth report on Wednesday, and has been critical of the department’s willingness to make real changes. 

Keller And Lewis Faceoff For ABQ Mayor

Oct 4, 2017
Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Voters whittled the eight-candidate ballot for mayor down to just two contenders: state Auditor Tim Keller and Westside City Councilor Dan Lewis. About 97,000 people voted in Albuquerque’s election on Tuesday, Oct. 3, and that’s significantly more ballots than the dismal citywide election four years ago.  "Today citizens of our city came out to vote like they haven’t in a long time," Keller told a crowd of supporters.

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Let’s Talk New Mexico 9/21 8a: It’s the No. 1 issue on voters’ minds heading into the municipal election on October 3. Some mayoral and Council candidates in Albuquerque are calling for more police officers on the force and a new police chief. What do you think it will take to decrease the number of violent crimes and property crimes?

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A 2016 federal sting operation in Albuquerque that targeted largely communities of color is raising more questions about the tactics officers used and how effective they were.  

Jeff Proctor broke the ATF sting story for New Mexico In Depth and the Santa Fe Reporter. He spoke with KUNM’s Elaine Baumgartel about what he learned when he followed up with Jennifer Padilla, one of the women who was arrested in the sting.

Who Calls Police?

Aug 10, 2017
Tony Webster via Wikimedia Commons CC

KUNM Call In Show 8/17 8a: Call now - 505-277-5866 (local in Albuquerque). Not everyone reaches out to law enforcement when they're in danger or when they're victims of a crime. With the federal government trying to crack down on undocumented immigrants in New Mexico, advocates say even more people here are unwilling to call police for help. But this is an ongoing issue here and all over the country.

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Several branches of law enforcement in the Albuquerque area participated in a sting last month that targeted people who were trafficking minors for sex. But the operation netted adult sex workers, and the agencies took different approaches to dealing with them.

Tony Webster via Flickr / Creative Commons

A federal sting last year resulted in the arrest of an unusually high number of African-Americans in Albuquerque, and mostly vulnerable, low-level offenders—not the bosses of big drug and gun rings.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

After officers shot and killed a man camping in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains in 2014, outcry over how Albuquerque police deal with people who have mental illness reached a fever pitch. More than three years later, Bernalillo County announced on Tuesday, May 23, that it’s rolling out long-promised teams of mental health experts to respond to crisis calls. 

Anson Stevens-Bollen/New Mexico In Depth

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been criticized in recent years for running undercover sting operations that lead to disproportionate arrests of people of color. Last year in Albuquerque, the same ATF team picked up a hugely disproportionate number of African American people in an undercover sting operation.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

A lawyer with the Department of Justice said in Federal Court on Wednesday, May 10, that the Albuquerque Police Department has made “remarkable progress” in its reform process. But Judge Robert Brack said a recent report is troubling.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Universities around the country are grappling with security risks and costs when student groups bring extremist speakers to town. Ever since Milo Yiannopoulos came to the University of New Mexico earlier this year, KUNM has been trying to find out how much security for the event cost. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

All around the state, evidence from sexual assault cases sits untested. Per capita, New Mexico’s backlog of sexual assault evidence kits is the worst in the nation, according to our state auditor. Most of those kits are in Albuquerque. Even though legislators have passed measures about the backlog, and Mayor Richard Berry proposed putting $1 million toward shrinking it, advocates say it’s getting worse every month. 

APD: We're Still Committed To Reform

Mar 16, 2017
MoDOT Photos via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The Trump Administration’s approach to reviewing local police departments’ use of force practices has some local police reform advocates concerned. But the Albuquerque Police Department plans to fulfill the requirements of a DOJ settlement agreement on police use of force.

Arianna Sena / Creative Commons

Who should investigate or prosecute controversial police use of force and shootings? That’s a problem that comes up in law enforcement departments everywhere. A bill introduced during this legislative session tries to address it, but the measure’s being hamstrung by this year’s budget crunch. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Last fall, a jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict for the two former Albuquerque Police Department Officers facing murder charges for shooting and killing homeless camper James Boyd. And that left the door open for another trial. 

Tony Webster via Flickr / Creative Commons

The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting a criminal investigation of a shooting by a former Albuquerque police officer. That’s according to a member of the agency that does civilian oversight of APD.  

Mike Smith

A rash of broken windows at businesses along Central Avenue in Albuquerque that started last week continued Wednesday night. At least five Mexican and New Mexican restaurants and one tire shop were vandalized in recent days, including Los Compadres and Garcia’s Kitchen

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After last year’s fatiguing election cycle, candidates in Albuquerque are gearing up for another one: The 2017 race for mayor. 

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