On March 21, 2018 the dead body of a man was found around 11:00 am at the Econo Lodge located at Coors Boulevard and Iliff Road.
According to reports, an employee of the motel entered a room at the motel to clean it and found the slain victim.
Five homicides in six days!
Fifteen homicides reported in three months thus far, or 5 a month and counting!
Albuquerque had 13 murders by this time last year.
Yet another record set in Albuquerque’s violent crime rates.
APD Public Information Officer Simon Drobik would not disclose detailed facts on how the man died but did say there was enough evidence to conclude it was a homicide because of the condition of the room and the way the body was discovered.
Drobik stated that five homicides in six days has placed a severe strain on the department.
The five killings have taken resources away from other police work and other violent crime calls for service throughout the city.
APD spokesman Simon Dobik went on to tell the media:
“We don’t know what’s going on. I’m not sure why people are committing violence against each other. It’s very unsettling.”
“We’re strapped. We’re working really, really hard to solve these crimes. … We’re trying to keep the public safe, but we recognize that people continue to be violent toward each other and we can’t run an operation to stop that.”
“We are asking the public to calm down.”
The more things change the more things stay the same, even with a new Mayor and a new interim APD Chief of Police who took over on December 1, 2017.
Law enforcement always insist that one of their own do press briefings so as not to jeopardize an investigation, taint a crime scene, or for that matter not say something that may result in evidence being suppressed.
The public has seen this type of scenario play out before with an APD public information officer trying to calm things down while the top brass and the Mayor are nowhere to be found, for at least a couple of days.
Photo ops playing quarterback in exhibition games and running in track meets are not going to cut it.
What is needed is real leadership.
It is the Mayor of Albuquerque or at least the Chief of Police that need make assurances to the public about what is going on and what they intend to do to get a handle on our violent crime rates.
ALBUQUERQUE IS A VIOLENT CITY
In 2017, violent crime rose by 18% over the previous year.
Since 2012, violent crime has dramatically increased in Albuquerque by 77%.
The 77% increase in violent crime in 2017 was still significantly less than “nonfatal shootings” which increased by a whopping 148%.
According to APD statistics released for 2017, homicides increased by 23%, robberies increase by 43%, rapes increased by 21% and aggravated assaults increased 4.2%.
The dramatic increase in crime in 2017 followed a 15.5 percent increase in violent crime in 2016.
In 2016, Albuquerque had a 13.3% increase property crimes.
Since 2012, Albuquerque’s violent crime rates have steadily increased.
The most dramatic figures in the 2017 crime statistics are for robberies, which increased by 43.6%, and nonfatal shootings, which were up by 148 percent.
On December 28, 2017 Albuquerque reached a record high of 75 murders in one year.
(See December 28, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, page A-1, “The city has reached 75 homicides with decomposed body, police say”)
The record high was originally 70 murders in the year 1996.
APD HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION UNIT OVERWHELMED
Currently, there are only nine homicide detectives, and a sergeant, that are currently investigating homicides.
APD’s homicide clearance rate has usually been in the 80% and it is now only 59%.
APD’s Homicide Detective Unit is overwhelmed by the caseload and needs immediate help and resources.
APD says detectives are also working on 35 unsolved murder cases from 2017 alone.
The Homicide Investigation Unit needs to be at least 15 detectives to 20 detectives.
APD is in a crisis mode and it needs to concentrate on recruiting seasoned homicide detectives from other departments if necessary.
At the very least, APD needs to ask for temporary assignment of personnel from other agencies such as the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department or the State Police to help clear out the cases.
The longer a homicide case takes to complete an investigation or is neglected because of lack of personnel, the less likely the cases will be solved.
Adding to the crisis is the emotional toll an unsolved murder takes on the families of the victims.
APD SWORN OFFICER DEFICIENCY
The steady increases in our crime rates coincide with the steady decrease in size of the Albuquerque Police Department.
APD is so severely understaffed it cannot complete felony investigations and get the cases over to the District Attorney for successful prosecution.
Eight (8) years ago, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) was the best trained, best equipped, best funded department in its history and fully staffed with 1,100 sworn police officers.
In eight (8) years, APD went from 1,100 sworn police to 853 sworn police.
In 2017, APD was funded for 1,000 sworn officers but had only 853 sworn police officers.
Funding for the unfilled positions has gone to pay police overtime.
Last year, APD busted its overtime budget by $4 million dollars and it went from $9 million budgeted to $13 million spent in overtime.
In 2016, field service officers responded to 546,550 calls for service with a priority 1 response time of 11 minutes, 35 seconds which is approximately two minutes over the national standard.
Of the 853 sworn police 436 are assigned to field services, resulting in 417 sworn police officers assigned to the various specialized felony units and command staff.
The Keller Administration is proposing to spend $88 million dollars, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures to expand and grow the ranks of APD.
The goal is to hire and expand APD from 850 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers by implementing a hiring and recruitment program that offer incentives, pay raises and bonuses to join or return to APD in order to return to community-based policing in the hopes of bringing down the city’s high crime rates.
On March 21, 2018, it was announced that the Albuquerque Police Department, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State Police were joining forces to address the city’s and the county’s out of control auto theft rates.
The initiative is called the “Bernalillo County Auto Theft Suppression Effort”.
The auto theft suppression effort will include tactical operations that combine technology, resources, manpower and intelligence from all three of the law enforcement agencies to arrest more suspects and recover more stolen vehicles.
The same concept as the “Bernalillo County Auto Theft Suppression Effort” should be implemented to deal with Albuquerque’s unresolved homicide cases.
High crime rates, public safety and the Albuquerque Police Department were the biggest issues debated in the 2017 Mayor’s race.
Both Mayor Tim Keller and Interim Chief of Police Michael Geier have now been on the job less than 4 months commencing December 1, 2017.
Voters have had a belly full of being told to “calm down” about our high crime rates for the last eight years.
I do not envy Mayor Tim Keller nor Chief Michael Geier and voters are expecting results.
Both Keller and Geier wanted the jobs, they knew what they were getting into and they need to move fast on increasing APD staffing.