Albuquerque has now reached a record high of 75 murders in one year.
(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.
Currently, there are only five homicide detectives, with three in training, and a sergeant, that are currently investing the 75 murders.
APD’s homicide clearance rate has usually been in the 80% and and it is now only 59%.
Complicating the murder investigations is the increase in the number of homeless people that have been murdered this year.
Fifteen (15) of the 75 murders involve homeless people.
The murder of homeless people are usually very difficult to solve because the murders usually occur in the outdoors and there is not much of a crime scene left where evidence and witnesses can be found.
Clearly 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.
APD Police Spokesman Simon Dobrik says “You can’t just go out to the field and grab two officers and, all of a sudden, make them homicide detectives”.
Officer Dobrik is correct when he says that it takes years of grooming through various positions, from impact to robbery and burglary detectives, as they “refine” their skills.
That may be the case, but 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 Sherriff’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.