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NM police can no longer arrest for non-violent misdemeanor crimes

Officers must issue a citation instead

By PoliceOne Staff

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque police officers can no longer make arrests for non-violent misdemeanor crimes, the police chief said in a personnel letter obtained by KOAT Tuesday. 

Police Chief Gorden Eden Jr. wrote that officers must issue a citation instead of arresting the individual. Officers can make an arrest if they deem it necessary, but the reason will need to be filed in an incident report. 

In addition, officers can take individuals wanted for non-violent misdemeanors to Metropolitan Court to resolve warrants or fines instead of booking them in jail. 

The new policy is a result of a recently-settled 20-plus year lawsuit filed by an inmate arrested for a non-violent misdemeanor. The suit focused on conditions of the county lockup, according to KOAT. 

Shaun Willoughby, President of Albuquerque Police Officer’s Association, said he is concerned the department is making citations a priority. 

“Now, if someone breaks a business owner's window and we have the suspect in custody, I have to go ask the business owner how much the window is instead of taking that suspect to jail,” he said. “Jail is a deterrent for crime … what about now?” 

City spokesperson Celina Espinoza said officers have already been performing the practices and the letter was a formality.

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