Why is Berry and APD always in “spin” mode even when it comes to something that supports their own complaints that APD is seriously understaffed?
In this Channel 4 Investigative Report report, Berry himself acknowledges that DWI checkpoints have gone down dramatically but says staffing levels are not the problem causing the reporter to even do a “double take” and repeat Berry’s comments admitting checkpoints are down.
Mayor Berry was specifically asked if the city had any concerns about the officer shortage that may be contributing to fewer traffic stops and he said “We had 32 stops the year before last and we had in the high 20s last year—those are rough numbers,” Berry said. “We have the capability of putting these DWI checks together.”
The Mayor admits there were fewer checks points last year than the year before but refuses to acknowledge the reason for that are fewer officers.
“To the families that have lost loved ones in recent years, how do you explain the recent phenomenon of deaths going up to them?” 4 Investigator Jen French asked Berry.
“I think a lot of people are getting the message and some people aren’t and when they don’t get the message, it’s horrific,” Berry said.
Yeah, and when you don’t answer a question and then put a spin on your answer it’s even more horrific.
Berry’s and APD’s credibility always takes a hit when they “spin, spin, spin”.
STATISTICS AND STAFFING
The statistics from the Bernalillo County Metro Court are alarming and reveal just how bad things are with the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) being unable to patrol our streets, get drunks off the road, make DWI arrests and prosecute cases.
In 2009, there were 746 people arraigned for felony DWI and that number dropped to a mere 104 in 2015. In 2008, there were 6,538 people arraigned for misdemeanor DWI and in 2015 that number dropped by close to 60% to 2,942.
There is a direct correlation with the dramatic decline in the number of DWI arrests and arraignments and traffic arrangement cases and the severe decline in APD personnel.
The December 11, 2015 Albuquerque Police Department Comprehensive Staffing Assessment and Resource Study prepared by Alexander Weiss for the Department of Justice concluded that APD needs at least 1,000 sworn officers.
The Weiss report concluded that 1,000 sworn police officers were sufficient for Albuquerque provided that APD officers did not respond to certain low priority calls such as minor traffic accidents or false alarm calls.
In 2009, APD had 1,100 police officers with approximately 700 assigned to field services, patrolling our streets over three shifts.
Seven years ago, response times were at 8.5 minutes, below the national average.
It takes an average of 15 minutes to dispatch a police officer to 911 emergency calls, which endangers public safety.
In 2009, APD had a traffic unit that had upwards of 20 patrol officers and today it is at less than 10.
In 2009, APD command staff recommended that Albuquerque needed at least 1,200 sworn officers for community based policing and felony prosecutions.
The number of APD sworn officers has fallen from 1,100 officers to 850 over the past seven years.
In 2015, APD has 841 sworn police officers with only 440 assigned to the field services patrolling responding to 69,000 priority one 911 emergency calls a year.
On average, APD has between 8 to 10 police officers per 8 hour shift, per area command, patrolling the streets of Albuquerque.
Based on review of the Metropolitan Court statistics, DWI arrest and traffic code enforcement are a very low priority of APD, not out of desire, but out of necessity.
With APD field officers responding to over 69,000 priority one calls a year, not to mention thousands of lower priority calls, it is surprising the statistics are not worse at Metropolitan Court.
APD can no longer be proactive with DWI enforcement making our streets dangerous to drive.