LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KFOX14/CBS4) — A billboard some people could find offensive raised some eyebrows and questions in Las Cruces.
The billboard showed a graphic photo to make the argument that crime is up in the city and placed blame on city council members and demanded action from them.
CBS4 on your side spoke with Las Cruces police who provided us with a report that showed there had been an increase in violent crime in Las Cruces over the past five years.
We also spoke with a city councilor who said this billboard is just a scare tactic.
Groups like this funding this billboard are honestly, in my eyes, fear-mongering," said District four Las Cruces City councilor, Johana Bencomo, "These hard realities are happening all over the county we are seeing the fallout and the consequences of housing crisis an opioid crisis a mental health crisis and the lack of adequate investment in all of these.
City councilor Johana Bencomo acknowledges that crime is up in Las Cruces, but she said the controversial billboard that showed a person lying on the ground surrounded by drugs is not the way for those who are concerned to get their message across.
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The annual crime trend report that CBS4 obtained from LCPD showed there has been a steady increase in crime in Las Cruces over the past few years.
There was a total of almost 500 violent crimes in 2019 and in 2021, after the height of the pandemic, there was a total of more than 700 violent crimes.
"There’s only so much that Las Cruces police or any police department can do. We need the help from individuals in our community. So if you see something that looks suspicious, call it in right away," said Dan Trujillo a Las Cruces police spokesperson.
Bencomo told us the city invested in programs that aimed to alleviate poverty to address the problem.
"While these billboards, these expensive billboards are being put up, the city council my colleagues, city staff and many of our community partners like community of hope, are working tirelessly to find solutions that will address the root causes; poverty, addiction, lack of access to mental health resources," said Bencomo.
People around town told CBS4 they were hoping to see a change.
"It’s different from when we were younger for our kids now that we have kids and I think it has gone up and I hope it goes down because it kind of makes me want to move now," said Las Crucen, Adrianna Nava.
"I think a lot of people just stopped caring and think they can get away with it. I don’t think they really consider the consequences anymore," said Michael Vorgon.
Las Cruces police told CBS4 their main concern was the uptick in property crime and they wanted to remind people to lock their cars and not leave any visible valuables.
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