ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The National Guard’s Military Police units in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho are often the first ones called during an emergency.
Those units were put on standby in the days surrounding the APD protests just in case they turned violent.
Under a new proposal, soldiers who are now based in the Rio Rancho armory would have to drive to Farmington and back if they’re called up to an emergency in Albuquerque, an extra six hours round-trip.
Soldiers currently based in Albuquerque would have to drive to Belen and back.
“It’ll definitely put a delay because most people that live in Albuquerque live fairly close to the armory, either Rio Rancho or the one in Albuquerque on Wyoming,” said Chris Barthol, a former soldier with the 919th Military Police Company in Rio Rancho.
Military Police soldiers told KRQE News 13 the units who train in armories in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho will be moving to Belen and Farmington in September.
The National Guard said nothing is finalized, but confirmed the units are two of 20 in New Mexico that could be on the move.
“If we do move a unit like the military police, for example, it would be to ensure they have the best possible facilities congruent to their mission requirements,” said Brig. Gen. Andrew Salas, Adjutant General for the New Mexico National Guard.
Salas said even if all military police units move out of the city there would be plenty of other units that could immediately respond to an emergency in Albuquerque.
“We have members of the infantry; we have transportation company folks, we have our security forces, we have maintainers,” he said. “We have a large cadre of disciplined soldiers and airmen that we could call upon.”
Military Police soldiers we spoke with off-camera said there’s something else at stake: troop morale and more time away from their families.
Soldiers have drill weekends once a month.
The National Guard said it doesn’t pay soldiers for extra travel time.