Eight dead, including a child of 5 beaten to death by her father with a rubber shoe and an 8-year-old girl was shot and critically injured in a Northeast Albuquerque home from a stray bullet, all in four days! The news headlines for April 4, 5, 6 and 7, is a tragic reminder of what Albuquerque has become and what it is today: a very violent city.
The news headlines for the 4 days were:
Thursday, April 4, 2019, Carlos Armijo, 42, was gunned down outside his South Valley home; Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies say it was retaliation after a fight outside a taco truck.
Friday, April 5, 2019, morning, first respondents found the battered and unresponsive body of 5-year-old Sarah Dubois-Gilbeau. The child’s father has been charged in her death, allegedly beating her with a rubber water shoe for not doing homework he assigned.
Friday, April 5, 2019, 19-year-old Eric Apisa was pronounced dead, three days after being shot in the head during an apparent drug deal.
Friday, April 5, 2019,, BCSO deputies found a body with signs of trauma in a ditch in the 1700 block of Bridge SW. They identified the man as Manuel Barraza, 49.
Friday night, April 5, 2019, APD officers shot Pedro Escalante, after he fled an “altercation” in a stolen vehicle, crashed into a car and pointed a gun at police during a foot chase.
Saturday April 6, 2019, a woman was found slain in a home in the 1100 block of Via Chamisa NE.
Saturday April 6, 2019, a couple was found dead in a home in the 600 block of Princeton SE, south of the University of New Mexico.
Sunday, April 7, 2019, a young child was hospitalized after being shot in a Northeast Albuquerque home.
On Monday night, April 8, 2019, a man was shot and killed on Albuquerque’s West Side.
VIOLENT CRIME STATS
On March 30, 2019, the Albuquerque Police Department released the City’s crime statistics for the first quarter of 2019 which runs from January to March of 2019.
The good news is that APD reported that crime is continuing to drop from 10 years of historic highs in all major categories. The bad news in the statistics released is that the city saw an increase in nonfatal shootings.
According to the statistics, non-fatal shootings went up 12% and there have been 131 nonfatal shootings the first quarter of the year compared to last year’s number of 114. The statistics reflect that in the first three months of nonfatal shootings around the city occurred roughly three times every two days. Nonfatal shootings have increased from 2017 to 2018 rising by 14%.
APD DECLARING VIOLENT CRIME AS “PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE”
On April 8, 2019, APD finally announced its long anticipated new program and efforts that will deal with “violent crime” in the context of it being a “public health issue ” and dealing with crimes involving guns in an effort to bring down violent crime in Albuquerque.
City official’s argued that gun violence is a “public health issue” because gun violence incidents have lasting adverse effects on children and others in the community that leads to further problems. APD will track violent crime relying on the same methods used to track auto thefts, weekly reports summarizing shootings, refining policies, and learning from best practices used by other law enforcement agencies.
One goal is for APD to examine how guns are driving other crimes, such as domestic violence and drug addiction.
On April 8, 2019, APD Officials, accompanied by Mayor Tim Keller, announced several proactive and reactive initiatives designed to combat gun violence in the City.
The initiatives announced include:
1. Using data from APD’s Real Time Crime Center to focus on areas with a heavy concentration of gun violence and identify any patterns.
2. Forming units of officers called Problem Response Teams in each area command. The Problem Response Teams will be made up of officers who don’t take calls for service but will be available to help community members as they need it. After a violent crime, the teams, along with Albuquerque Fire Rescue, will visit the neighborhood and provide resources or information.
3. Identifying those who are selling firearms illegally to felons or juveniles.
4. Working with agencies and universities to conduct research on gun violence as a public health issue.
5. Implementing a standardized shooting response protocol that police must follow within the first 72 hours of a reported crime. APD intends to collect and test all casings at shooting scenes and intends to purchase new equipment and technology that can assist detectives in investigating gun crimes.
6. APD is in the process of hiring additional personnel for the crime lab and securing technology that will increase efficiency around DNA testing including automating the entire unit. The unit that tests DNA and the unit that tests latent fingerprints will be split in an attempt to reduce a backlog of evidence that needs to be tested.
7. Increasing the use of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network and the Problem Response Teams. The National Integrated Ballistic Information Network program is used to identify which guns have been used in multiple crimes by analyzing all casings they can find at violent crime scenes where a firearm has been discharged
8. Use of a placard police officers can hang on doors to encourage residents to call with information about a crime.
APD officials also announced that the city has already received state and federal money to create a Crime Gun Intelligence Center that will use new technology.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Bringing down violent crime involving guns, such as murders and domestic violence, is always more difficult because of issues such as substance abuse, the disintegration of families and many times the failure of law enforcement to respond and social services to respond to warning signs.
A murder is usually committed when another crime is being committed such as armed robbery or domestic violence or it’s a crime committed in the heat of anger and a gun is readily available.
Most victims who are murdered know their killer.
It’s difficult at best to bring down homicide rates, but it can be done when you bring down other violent crime such as armed robbery, aggravated assaults, illicit drug offenses and domestic violence.
Domestic violence is clearly the most difficult category to bring down when it comes to violent crime because of the “cycle of violence” involved with such crimes.
All too often in domestic violence cases, the abused decline to charge and prosecute and return to their partner or spouse with the “cycle of violence” continuing.
New Mexico has ranked among the top 10 states with the highest rates of women killed by men during the last decade.
On September 16, 2017, according to an annual study published by the Violence Policy Center, it was reported women are more likely to be killed by men in New Mexico than nearly any other state.
The study found the state has the 10th-highest rate of women killed by men, marking the third straight year New Mexico had appeared toward the top of the list, while New Mexico’s overall homicide rate ranked lower.
Statics in Albuquerque show that after about the 10th or 11th time there is a call out of the Albuquerque Police Department to a home for domestic violence, it is usually to pick a woman up in a body bag.
Albuquerque’s dirty little secret is that domestic violence is the number-one reason why a woman is admitted to the emergency room of the University of New Mexico Hospital.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed Senate Bill 328 which prohibits gun possession by someone who’s subject to an order of protection under the Family Violence Protection Act.
Under the enacted legislation domestic abusers must surrender their firearms to law enforcement.
The gun possession prohibition also applies to people convicted of other crimes such as battery on a household member.
APD should concentrate on and target domestic violence as its first major step to bring down violent crime.
The fact that crime is continuing to drop in all categories from 10 years of historic highs in all major categories but nonfatal shootings is commendable, but far more must be done to reduce overall violent crime.
The increase in nonfatal shootings is a reflection that Albuquerque is a violent city with a culture of violence that will be extremely difficult at best to eliminate.
Only time will tell if APD’s new initiatives are successful, and we all most hope they are for the safety of our families and ourselves.