Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

New public safety council to address organized retail crime in New Mexico

SANTA FE – Citing concerns about organized retail crime, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the creation of a new public safety council made up of business leaders from around the state.

“Nobody knows what’s going on more than the business community about the risks in your storefronts, your communities,” Lujan Grisham told an audience of business officials during a Tuesday event organized by the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce.

The governor then said during a Wednesday news conference she was creating the business public safety council due to widespread concerns from the business community about crime.

She said Steve Chavez, the majority owner of Mesa del Sol, would chair the council, but did not immediately provide details of how the council would function.

Chavez told the Journal the council plans to provide monthly reports to the governor based on conversations with the business community.

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Before being tapped to lead the council, Chavez has been involved with the Hispano Chamber of Commerce’s crime reduction efforts. He said as a business owner in New Mexico, he, his employees and his colleagues have all been impacted by crime in the community.

“I have several businesses throughout New Mexico,” Chavez said. “… We’ve been affected by it. A lot of my colleagues have been affected by it.”

Chavez said that next week, a full list of council members will be released. At this point, he and the governor have spoken with around eight business leaders around the state, and hope to form a council of between 12 and 15 members.

The governor also took the opportunity during the news conference to invite New Mexico Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rob Black, who was present for the event, to serve on the fledgling council.

Black told the Journal that he would be interested in joining the council.

“If there’s a role for me, I’m happy to do it,” Black said.

A Lujan Grisham spokeswoman said the council will work with businesses around the state to gauge how they are being impacted by crime. That information could then be used to bolster efforts to pass new state laws.

Chavez said the council’s first priority will be to research and follow legislation relating to public safety.

“I think we can really move the needle by … working together,” Chavez said. “I really think there’s gonna be some bipartisan support on some of these bills.”

In addition, the Business Advisory Council for Crime Reduction will work with law enforcement, judicial branch officials and state agencies to educate business owners on state efforts to curb crime affecting retailers, said Lujan Grisham spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett.

Meanwhile, the new council could also build off work done by the New Mexico Organized Retail Crime Association, a group created last fall by the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce that allows business owners and law enforcement to share information about retail crime around the state.

“We’ve been very active in trying to create that kind of network,” Black said. “I think what the governor is trying to do is bring that to an elevated level.”

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