It’s not a crackdown, says Sgt. Juan Griego of the state’s Special Investigation Division. But at a meeting held last Tuesday, May 9, by the Downtown Action Team, the topic of choice was public safety. At the event, the city rolled out its plans for Downtown enforcement this summer. And it goes a little something like this:
• The New Mexico Department of Public Safety's Special Investigation Division (SID) will be making special efforts to control underage drinking and sales to intoxicated people.
• Police presence will increase, with more officers on Segways and bicycles.
• Six security cameras will be installed at major intersections in the Downtown area to be monitored from a remote location.
• The Alvarado Station at 100 First Street, near the Century 14 theater, will include a prisoner transport center, a place where officers can drop off prisoners to be transferred to the Metropolitan Detention Center. This will save officers the 17.5-mile trip to the center on the Westside.
• An anti-cruising ordinance, passed by the City Council on May 2, 2005, will be strictly enforced.
SID agents will be testing people on the street, says Griego. If someone blows more than a .14 on the Breathalyzer, the last person seen serving that patron liquor will be be charged with serving an intoxicated person. Depending on the size, weight and tolerance of the drinker, a .14 can be four, five or six drinks, according to Griego.
Penalties vary, but if found guilty in Metropolitan court, servers can be fined or lose their server's permit. The establishment could be forced to close their doors for a couple days and fined up to $5,000, depending on how many previous violations the business has. If violations become recurring and are considered a problem, the bar could lose its liquor license.
Capt. Ron Paiz, who oversees the Valley Area Command (Downtown lies in the district), says there will be an increased number of officers in the area, though they will be more spread out. “There will be less police on Fourth and Central,” he says. “We'll keep an eye on parking structures and people who hang out on the periphery and like to cause trouble.”
Also, Paiz says officers will more often be on bikes, horses and Segways, making it easier for them to get from place to place. “It opens up dialog with the people,” he says. “It's more friendly, more of a community-friendly tool, I feel.” Paiz says he's also glad the prisoner transport station will be Downtown, because it means more officers from all parts of the city will be in the area dropping off people they've arrested.
And the cameras? Just an “added level of safety,” Paiz says.