Thursday, October 2, 2008

Victor Montoya Comments on Crime in the Valle de Sur

This past weekend a 31-year ol man was killed in La Mesa. The suspected murderer was 18 years old, a local man. About a month ago gang members staged three drive-by shootings in one night in Anthony. All were in their late teens or early twenties. Crime is very much with us in the valley and is a major concern for most citizens.

Last year we rallied against it. The first meeting, set up by Commissioner Saldana, had to turn away many people who wanted to attend, for lack of space. The next meeting was at St. Anthony Hall, with about 200 people. As time went on, however, after many meetings, politicians began to blame politicians, the shefiff blamed the judges, and the finger pointing got so bad the enthusiasm about the issue faded.

Sheriff deputies argue there are no strong juvenile laws in New Mexico. when juveniles commit crimes they must meet a point system before an officer will arrest them. The officer must call a juvenile probation officer outside the county (usually in Albuquerque) to see if the suspect meets the point system. If not, they are released to parental custody. Gangs from outside the area know about these lenient laws, so they begin recruiting members here, as early as the third grade.

Another problem is the problem of curfews. Given the high crime in Anthony, many have called for a curfew to be enacted and enforced. However, the New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled these curfews violate young peoples' rights. Can something be done about this?

A year ago we asked for tougher laws for graffiti after a youth was shot in the face for defacing another gang's graffiti. We pushed for parents to be held responsible for their children's actions and for strengthening juvenile and graffiti laws. As of today there has been nothing done about it.

It is time to set the bickering and stonewalling aside. We ask law enforcement officials, politicians, and government officials to help us acquire the tools we need to stem the tide of this deadly violence. Let us work together to send the young people of the valley to college and not to prison. Let's work to find solutions, and stop finger pointing

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