Since the beginning of the New Year and during the first 16 days of January, 2019 there were 6 persons killed including 3 that involved domestic violence cases.
On January 16, 2019, it was reported that an 11-day old infant was found dead at a detox center, a woman died from domestic violence on the city’s west side and two men were killed, one shot and killed in broad daylight near Old Town.
The January 17, 2019 front page Albuquerque Journal headline said it all:
“Albuquerque police deal with a day of mayhem”
Mayor Tim Keller has implemented a public relations and marketing campaign to rebrand the city image with his “One ABQ” initiatives with a new logo and nickname.
Keller has come up with a strained logo that rearranges the letters in the city’s name to reflect the slang name “BURQUE” in bright red letters with t-shirts and created a web page with slick videos promoting the city.
If things continue the way they are with the murders and violence, Keller just may want to rebrand Albuquerque “Mayhem City” or “The City Mahem” a knock off of Santa Fe’s “The City Different”.
In politics, appearance all too often are everything, as is often what is not said nor done.
“Appearance politics” is something I suspect Mayor Keller is acutely aware of given that he is in public relations mode non-stop.
Mayor Keller also had a very successful State of the City Address making an inspirational speech and hosting an event that was open to all city residents and not just the business community like was his predecessor’s practice.
Public relations is a very necessary and critical part of the job of being Mayor and Keller cannot be faulted for that point.
CITY’S VIOLENT CRIME RATES
Review of the city’s crime statistics for the entire year of 2018 show decreases in the property crimes of auto burglary (-29%), auto theft (-31%), commercial burglary (-17 percent) and residential burglary (-18%) and robbery fell by 36%.
Although property crimes have dropped, violent crime is still at unacceptable levels for a city the size of Albuquerque.
In 2017, the city broke the all-time homicide rate of 70 with 72 murders and in 2018 there were 65 murders
In March of 2018, 5 homicides were reported in six days.
In December, 2018, 2 police officer deadly force shootings occurred in less than 24 hours.
In 2018, nonfatal shootings went up 4% from 470 to 491 shootings.
There were 6 more murders in the first quarter of 2018 compared with 2017 which was a 50% increase.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
It is very good news that Albuquerque’s property crime rates for the first time in a number of years appear to be declining, but for how long and to what extent only time will tell.
Keller can take comfort and a degree of credit for bringing down property crimes for the first time in 8 years and he can breathe a little easier, but not for long.
The bad news is that the city’s murder rates are still way too high and the city is way too violent.
The city still has the image of being a very violent city.
There is a big difference between governing and running for office.
When Tim Keller was running, he proclaimed that APD needed serious reform and promised to return to community based policing.
To his credit, Mayor Tim Keller is planning to spend $88 million dollars, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures to hire 350 officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers by implementing a hiring and recruitment program to offer incentives, pay raises and bonuses to join or return to APD in order to return to community-based policing.
APD has had results with their recruitment program of incentives, pay raises and bonuses with the hiring of new officers and lateral hires.
By July, 2019 APD is projected to have approximately 980 sworn police, but it will still be shorthanded to deal with the crime levels.
Keller’s plan to turn APD around is going to take more time than he may have to convince people that he has solved Albuquerque’s high crime rates, especially when there is blood in the streets and our children continue to be murdered by their own parents.
APD is now Mayor Keller’s department and APD’s homicide division has brought shame upon the department in botching case after case and their clearance rate is atrocious at less than 50% when at one time it was at least 85%.
Adding gasoline to the fire, even after a homicide is committed and defendants are arrested, cases are being dismissed because of shoddy and incomplete investigations, a failure to process scientific evidence such as DNA and with people arrested that did not even commit the crime they are charged with as was the case involving the murder of 9 year old Victoria Martens.
No amount of public relations, inspiring speeches, hand shaking and feel good FACEBOOK videos by Mayor Keller are going to bring down our violent crime rates to where they were 8 years ago.
Voters tend to be very fickle and demand results.
Mayor Tim Keller has successfully completed his first full year in office, an no matter how successful he has been, people feel unsafe and that the city is still way too violent.
With the daily reports of homicides in the news, people are beginning to believe the change they voted for is not materializing and things are getting worse with APD and crime.
If after two full years in office Mayor Keller is still dealing with high murder rates, drug-dealing and horrid child abuse cases it won’t be for a lack of police officers nor money spent, it will be for a lack of leadership.
Those are harsh words, but it is reality politics and the nature of city elections.
Mayor Keller’s success with dealing with our violent crime rates and the management of APD with respect to the Department of Justice reforms will have a direct impact on Mayor Keller’s chances of being reelected.
There is no amount of public relations that will prevent Mayor Tim Keller from being defined by our serious violent crime rates and he and APD need to act far more aggressively than they have to address the problem.
If our murder and violent crime rates are not brought under control by Mayor Tim Keller, do not be surprised if one of Keller’s opponents in 2 years does a political ad in a morgue standing next to a child’s coffin reminiscent of former Mayor Berry standing next to his stolen and burned out recovered truck and saying that Keller has failed as Mayor when it comes to public safety.