On May 3, 2019, Albuquerque City Councilors Isaac Benton, Pat Davis, Klarissa Peña and Ken Sanchez held their own press conference to announce public safety initiatives for Nob Hill. The 4 City Councilors announced their proposal to invest up to $1.5 million in specific Central corridor for “public safety” initiatives and marketing measures for fiscal year 2020. Included is $500,000 in one-time funding for grants to nonprofit business associations and merchant groups along the central corridor.
Many business owners along the Central Corridor where the ART Bus project was constructed have complained about repeated vandalism in the area, break-ins resulting in the businesses having to spend money on expensive repairs and even security measures. Other Nob Hill business owners have expressed mounting frustration, fear and anger struggling to recover from the 18 months of Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) construction.
The business owners in Nob Hill asked for 12 bike officers and six dedicated motorized police units every night in the Nob Hill business district. This may sound familiar because that is what happened in downtown central, but on a much larger scale. The proposed $1.5 million investment supposedly will help lure customers back to the area because many businesses had to close during the disastrous ART Bus project down central.
On Friday, May 10, 2019, in reaction to the murder of 21-year-old Jackson Weller, Mayor Tim Keller, APD Chief Michael Geier, UNM President Garnett Stokes, 2nd Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez held a joint press conference to announce initiatives aimed at making the Nob Hill Business District safer and reducing violent crime up and down the Central corridor.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham did not attend the news conference but it was revealed that there were a series of meetings throughout the week where she pledged the assistance of her administration, including State Police, the state Probation and Parole Division, and the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department.
The initiatives announced at the May 10 press conference include:
1. Assigning an additional 50 New Mexico State Police officers from across the state to work out of Albuquerque. Seven NM sate police officers already work here which will bring the number up to 57.
2. Giving UNM police access to the substation and having them coordinate patrols with Albuquerque Police Department officers.
3. Expanding the hours of the Triangle Community Substation on Central and Dartmouth until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays after bars close.
4. Stationing three bike patrol teams to work in Nob Hill during the day and three or four additional officers to patrol on Friday and Saturday nights.
5. Working with the Fire Marshal and the New Mexico Registration and Licensing Department to crack down on issues relating to overcrowding and over-serving in bars that could contribute to late night violence.
6. Using the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network to match casings to guns used in shootings throughout the state.
During the May 10, 2019 press conference, APD Chief Geier said:
“The whole southeast is part of the initiative … The Nob Hill area right now is the most visible because of the recent homicide, the business owners and their concerns.”
APD to increase the presence of police throughout the area and in the Southwest Area Command, where gun violence is the most prevalent. The 57 State Police officers will be stationed along Central, from UNM to Wyoming.”
On May 14, 2019, 4 days after the press conference, the Lilly Barrack jewelry store in Nob Hill reported a break-in. Lilly Barrack Jewelry store is within walking distance of where the May 10, 2019 press conference was held as is the Triangle substation. The owner of Lilly Barack reported losing at least $30,000 worth of jewelry.
Cell phone video of the shop taken after the break-in revealed the aftermath of a burglary at the Lilly Barrack jewelry store in Nob Hill. Thieves broke a window to get into a vacant shop that shares a wall with the jewelry store and the thieves then broke through that wall.
Jamie Leeds, one of the store owners, reported:
“They had stolen every single layaway, every customer’s pieces of jewelry that was dropped off to be repaired, fixed or polished. … They had stolen all jewelry out of the cases. … Every single piece of Lilly Barrack jewelry is handmade. … There’s no two pieces that ever look exactly the same.”
ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
One thing is for certain, murders, thieves and crooks do not watch the news. Another thing certain, they apparently like Nob Hill.
Mayor Tim Keller, APD Chief Michael Geier and the Albuquerque City Council should be realizing that law enforcement takes more than just press conferences for a photo op to announce new initiatives to get results. There must be aggressive follow up by their subordinates which is the heavy lifting.
If you are being given everything you want and have asked for, and then some, sooner or later people demand results. What is becoming increasingly concerning for the City is that all the increases in APD budget and personnel and increases and the creations of new programs and initiatives at APD are not having any effect on bringing down our crime.
What is really unfortunate is that during the last year and a half, Mayor Tim Keller has had press conference after press conference to announce new APD law enforcement initiative and changes in APD policy, and nothing seems to be working. Patience is now running thin and public relations is not cutting it.
It is no longer an issue of not having the money, personnel nor resources. It is now an issue of management, or mismanagement of resources, by Mayor Tim Keller, and APD Chief Michael. If the people Mayor Keller has hired are not following through on his announced initiatives and not getting the job done, personnel changes are in order, including asking for more than a few resignations.
Otherwise voters will be making their own changes.