ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – It’s a matter of public safety. People in arroyos, whether its homeless camping or people in drainage ditches pose a risk to public safety when rain and flooding come to Albuquerque. Albuquerque City Councilwoman Tammy Fiebelkorn wants to make that a crime.
Although part of the city’s water drainage systems, water conveyance areas are considered private property owned and operated by the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority, which means the Albuquerque Police Department does not have the jurisdiction to remove someone from the area. This new section to the criminal code would change that.
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“Right now, it’s trespassing but there is nothing on the books that allows the enforcement of that mechanism. It’s adding a provision in our criminal code that would allow the city to remove folks from our arroyos and ditches,” said Albuquerque City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn.” Fiebelkorn says the new provision would allow APD to have more leeway in being able to cite and detain in order to remove individuals in these areas. She says it which would reduce the number of accidents and possibly even deaths when it comes to drowning in the arroyo, as opposed to just APD officers asking people to leave.
Executive Engineer of the water authority, Jerry Lovato says there is a problem with people living in the arroyos. In rare instances, kids and skateboarders have been caught playing, but Lovato says that’s the least of their problems. “The folks that we are having issues with right now are the homeless population and they are just trying to find a place to get out of the rain. A lot of times, people that don’t have a home, they are using under a bridge or inside of a pipe to hide from the rain or hide from the heat,” said Lovato.
Fiebelkorn says she hopes to see the ordinance go to full council sometime in August. The ordinance would have law enforcement first give people a warning unless there is an immediate danger which could result in arrest.