At a GACC Board of Directors meeting yesterday, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller presented updates on important city issues like crime, homelessness and Downtown revitalization.
Crime and Homelessness
Keller told the board technology and civilianization are helping make the city safer. High-tech tools like speed cameras and license plate readers reduce the need for officers to pull drivers over for citations, and ShotSpotter technology can pinpoint where a gunshot was fired within 40 feet to help detectives collect shells and kickstart investigations. ShotSpotter alone has helped law enforcement arrest up to 90% of people who fire guns in the city, Keller said.
Meanwhile, civilianization has proved to be a public-safety force multiplier with the creation of the landmark Albuquerque Community Safety Department. The department has helped divert more than 26,000 calls from APD since September 2021 – a fact that has helped increase police capacity to fight crime, shortened APD response time by an hour in some cases, and helped connect people in need with city services they can benefit from.
“It’s literally a game-changer for us,” Keller said, adding that major national and international media outlets have held up the new department as the future of first response.
Keller also discussed the city’s work to solve homelessness. The newly-open Gateway Center, an overnight shelter with valuable co-located services like health care and housing navigation, is helping build out infrastructure to meet unhoused people’s needs. The mayor thanked the Chamber for its tireless support for the facility, recalling the Chamber-organized trip he took to San Antonio to observe the Gateway’s model, Haven for Hope.
But there’s still more work to be done, Keller said, and it needs to be done in Santa Fe. He said a special session is likely the only way to adequately address the state’s continued struggle with crime, due to the time constraints of a 30-day session. He shared the more than 50 policy recommendations contained in the Metro Crime Initiative developed in partnership with local law enforcement and other local leaders, and suggested a good place to start would be using the state’s billions of surplus dollars for further investments in crime-fighting technology.
Economic Development and Downtown Revitalization
Keller offered insights into the Sunport’s $100-million renovations – the largest investment in the airport since it was built – and the return of international service to Mexico. The city also continues to make investments in sports facilities to boost sports tourism, with plans to break ground on an Olympic-size pool this winter, and talks of volleyball and basketball facilities ongoing as well.
“We’ve got to set Downtown free,” Keller said, explaining the area’s dependence on government help is holding it back. Legislation allowing Metropolitan Redevelopment Areas across the state to collect incremental gross receipts tax was a big step, but he said Albuquerque’s Downtown really needs a business improvement district, or BID, to allow local businesses to pool resources and make investments they believe in.
But exciting new changes are on the way: The Rail Trail, a pedestrian “highway” featuring interactive stops along the way that tell Albuquerque’s story, is in the works already. A permanent stadium home for New Mexico United soccer is likely to move forward with City Council approval. And federal reshoring efforts have translated to record-breaking jobs announcements for the city, with Maxeon planning a $1.7-billion investment and 2,000 new jobs in Mesa Del Sol and big plans to grow the Very Large Array tenfold.
Mayor Keller emphasized the importance of collaboration within the Albuquerque community, and he thanked the Chamber for its continued engagement and support on these critical issues. We’re grateful to the mayor and his team for taking the time to share these important developments, and we’re pleased to report so much positive news. There’s always more work to do, but perhaps the Duke City is building some momentum.