Below is the press release issued on March 22, 2018 at 5:30 pm by Mayor’s Keller’s spokesman the day after the 5th murder in six days with commentary.
From: “Gallegos, Gilbert Jr.”
Date: March 22, 2018 at 5:20:31 PM MDT
Subject: RELEASE- Mayor Keller Addressing Crime Head-On
ALBUQUERQUE — Mayor Tim Keller released the following statement regarding recent violence in Albuquerque:
“Like families throughout Albuquerque, I am disheartened by the recent spike in violence in the city we love. We are focusing city priorities to help make the public safer. We restructured APD to get more officers and resources on the streets in your neighborhoods and are working with the community to better fight crime. As we work to turn trends around, our city’s recent violent confrontations have involved gun violence, drug trafficking and gang activity, and domestic violence that too often turns deadly. APD currently has nine homicide detectives and we are adding two more. We are also providing additional resources to help with the extra workload and address unsolved homicides.
“I want to thank our officers who are on the frontlines fighting and investigating crime every day. We are working to get you back-up by hiring more officers and getting you the resources you need. The council and the city are drafting the budget this spring and these investments will take time. Right now we need everyone to come together with our neighborhood leaders, business-owners and faith-based organizations to take our city back. If you have any information about crime in your area, please call Crimestoppers at 505-843-STOP.
The press release was issued apparently in response to the five (5) murders that have occurred in six days and that was given front page coverage by the Albuquerque Journal as well as the lead story by the TV news stations.
It is very disappointing the murders were not even mentioned in the press release.
The press release is very short on specifics and very long on public relations.
The media from what I can tell did not even bother to report on the press release.
It is commendable that Mayor Keller is “disheartened by the recent spike in violence in the city we love” but there is nothing recent about our spike in violent crime.
I am sure the rank and file police officers appreciated the obligatory “thank you” for being “on the frontlines fighting and investigating crime every day” and saying “we are working to get you back-up by hiring more officers and getting you the resources you need”.
However, I suspect the rank and file are more interested in knowing what is being done now and they have heard the same damn thing before from the previous administration.
What is somewhat embarrassing is the last sentence in the press release “If you have any information about crime in your area, please call Crimestoppers at 505-843-STOP”, like making a phone call is going to matter much considering what the APD spokesman said to the media the night before:
“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 public to calm down.”
I guess we all need to make sure we calm down when we see another murder and call crimestoppers.
What is even more disappointing is that a two paragraph “public relations” press release was issued to address the murder crisis and violent crime increases as oppose to a substantive press conference.
The Mayor and the police Chief had no problems appearing at a press conference two days before on March 21, 2018, to 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, and they should do the same with their upcoming plans for APD.
The press release was a lost opportunity to show real leadership and to talk about what is being done now as opposed to just saying “we are focusing city priorities to help make the public safer.”
The media and the public have heard the same claim two years ago from the previous administration when the press release said “We restructured APD to get more officers and resources on the streets in your neighborhoods and are working with the community to better fight crime.”
Two years ago, a big deal by the media was made out of the “reorganization” that was suppose to add upwards of 100 officers to patrol the streets.
What the Keller Administration needs to address is the proposal 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.
APD HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION UNIT OVERWHELMED
Currently, there are only nine homicide detectives.
The only real new information in the press release is that two more will now be added.
Adding two more detectives as announced is a good start.
APD’s homicide clearance rate has usually been in the 80% and it is now only 59%.
APD says detectives are working on 35 unsolved murder cases from 2017.
APD’s Homicide Detective Unit is overwhelmed by the caseload and needs immediate help and resources.
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.
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%.
In 2017 “nonfatal shootings” 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.
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.
The record high was originally 70 murders in the year 1996.
APD is severely understaffed having gone from 1,100 sworn police in 2010 to 856 in 2018.
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.
I do not envy Mayor Tim Keller nor Chief Michael Geier but voters are expecting results and are impatient after eight years of failed leadership.
Both Keller and Geier wanted the jobs, they knew what they were getting into and they need to move fast on increasing APD staffing.
On April 1, 2018, the Keller Administration is due to summit first budget to the City Council for review and approval and perhaps at that time Mayor Keller and Chief Geier will do a press conference to discuss what specific plans they have to address APD funding and to bring down our violent crime rates.