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The wife of an Albuquerque police officer who was wounded in the line of duty has confronted City Hall, warning them that she is “their worst nightmare.”
“They don’t want to be held accountable,” Tryna Verbeck told Fox News.
“We don’t have enough officers on our street,” she continued. “They are put in these dangerous situations where they are trying to get a handle on the situation without using a use of force, and it’s not always possible.”
Albuquerque Police Officer Mario Verbeck responded to an Aug. 19 armed robbery call, but when he and another officer located the fleeing suspect and gave chase, the suspect fired at them, critically injuring both.
Watch the Fox News Digital Originals story.
“This was my worst fear because we talked about it. All our friends that we’re close with, they knew that things have been escalating the last two years to lead us into where Mario and I are now,” Tryna Verbeck told Fox News. “We knew, other officers knew, that this was going to happen sooner or later.”
The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) had entered into a settlement agreement after the U.S. Department of Justice found in 2014 that the department “engaged in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force.” As such, officers undergo exhaustive investigations whenever they are involved in a use-of-force incident.
“The state’s criminal justice system is fundamentally broken, and there is no single person or government that can fix it alone,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller wrote in a letter to the New Mexico state legislature earlier this month. “Our state deserves more than another round of the blame game; we deserve and demand solutions.”
What is thought to be a tougher crime bill is in the works in the state’s legislature, and the Albuquerque mayor’s office hopes that a new, sweeping Metro Crime Initiative will have an effect on reducing crime as well.
“You have high crime, you have high substance abuse, you have a weak on crime approach at the state legislature—we have since the beginning of time,” Detective Shaun Willougby, president of the Albuquerque Police Association, told Fox News.
“Couple that with a completely handcuffed police department and eight years into a consent decree … and this is what you get,” Willoughby continued.
While her husband lay in the hospital, Tryna Verbeck held a press conference on the steps of City Hall.
“I am here to let people know that I am now your worst nightmare,” Verbeck told the crowd in September. “You will not use my husband or the other officers as your political backdrop,” she said.
“I don’t have to be quiet anymore,” she told Fox News. “It is their choices as politicians that has brought us to where we are now with our crime statistics.”
APD director of communications Gilbert Gallegos said in a statement provided to Fox News: “Albuquerque came to a standstill this summer when Officer Verbeck and his colleagues were shot in the line of duty. The criminal justice system is fundamentally broken and it is clear that no one can solve it alone.”
“Every entity must take responsibility to fix it,” the statement continues. “In his first term, Mayor Keller made historic investments in APD, officer pay raises, crime-fighting technology, and has successfully hired 100 new officers every year. Now we need action at every level. This legislative session, the administration has pursued the change that our communities are demanding on the state level, including investments in hiring and laws to crack down on gun crime.”
At home now and recovering from his injuries, Officer Verbeck praised his wife and her efforts.
“It’s not only just for me that she’s speaking for,” he told the outlet. “She’s speaking for other officers in my department throughout this state, for everybody that she’s the speaker for, the wives that can’t speak, won’t speak, are afraid to speak, and this was the breaking point.”
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