Large Nat’l Guard operation could affect NM law enforcement

Caleb James

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — President Donald Trump’s order to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border could have a lot of implications for New Mexicans.

So far, the impact to New Mexico National Guards members will likely be relatively small. A high-ranking official tells KOB the Guard expects 20 to 30 New Mexico volunteers to travel to the border.

If this operation expands, it could potentially draw resources from local policing efforts. Agencies across the state are grappling with short-staffed forces and many individual officers are currently enlisted in the guard.

Las Cruces police employ six currently enlisted Guardsmen. In Eddy County, the sheriff’s office says a couple deputies take short deployments regularly. New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said there are currently 64 officers in the Guard across all branches.

The largest concern could happen at New Mexico’s largest municipal police agency — the Albuquerque Police Department. With just under 800 patrol officers total, the Albuquerque Police Officers Association says more than 100 serve across all branches of the New Mexico National Guard.

A union spokeswoman said: "We understand the importance of border security and agree a federal activation always takes precedence. Unfortunately, Albuquerque’s current reality is that our police department can’t afford to lose five officers, let alone over 100. It would further devastate our ability to combat crime in our community."

The National Guard members who the president is sending to the border will likely not be armed and will not be allowed to intervene in apprehension or arrests of anyone. Their role is in support of Border Patrol agents and local law enforcement.

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