The news headlines for April 4, 5, 6 and 7, 2019 reported 8 dead, including a child of 5 beaten to death by her father with a rubber water shoe and an 8-year-old girl who was shot and critically injured in a Northeast Albuquerque home from a stray bullet, all in four days.
On April 29, 2019 the Albuquerque Journal front page headline printed in red letters read “IN BERNALILLO COUTY” followed in black letters by “114 PEOPLE SHOT IN 112 DAYS”.
On July 4, 2019, the front-page Albuquerque Journal headline read:
“APD: DETECTIVE ON DUTY FATALLY SHOOTS ARMED MAN; SHOTS EXCHANGED DURING SURVEILLANCE WORK; DETECTIVE SLIGHTLY INJURED”.
On Saturday, July 6, 2019 a Journal headline read “MAN CHARGED WITH SHOOTING, KILLING HIS NEIGHBOR.” The defendant allegedly shot and killed his neighbor after they got into a fight about the neighbor’s dog. The defendant claimed the victim pulled a handgun and began shooting at the defendant’s yard. The defendant claimed he went into his house, grabbed a rifle and fired back from the entrance of his house killing the victim. No handgun casings were found at the scene from the victim’s gun. A neighbor told police he saw the defendant standing on a stack of pallets outside and he had propped a rifle looking through a scope aiming it toward the victim.
On Sunday, July 7, 2018 it was reported APD is investigating 4 people who were shot in a parking lot near Gold Avenue early Sunday morning. APD Police reported finding blood and shell casings, then received information that four people were taken to hospitals throughout the city suffering from gunshot wounds. APD reported they located a vehicle with “multiple impacts and visible firearms.” The vehicle was sealed, and police were seeking a search warrant.
NEWS DISCREDITS CLAIMS ABQ CRIME IS DOWN
The news reports and headlines reflect just how violent Albuquerque has become. All the recent headlines undercut Mayor Keller’s July 1, 2019 press conference to announce a decline in all categories of crime for the first 6 months of 2019 compared to the first 6 months of 2018.
These are the very type of headlines that are used in campaigns against any incumbent Mayor who tries to take credit for reducing crime rates when it’s simply not true. This article is a deep dive into comparing the City’ crime statistics for the last two years to the statistics of the last 10 years.
CRIME STATISTICS ANNOUNCED
According to the statistics released during the July 1, 2019 Keller press conference, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) reported to the FBI that in the first 6 months of 2019, the property crimes of home burglaries were down and auto burglaries were down . Robberies, sexual assaults and murders were also down from the first 6 months of last year. Double-digit drops during the last 6 months in violent offenses included robberies, down, aggravated assaults, and rapes.
Following are the APD city crime data released for first 6 month of 2018 compared to first 6 months 2019 with the percentage of changes:
During the July 1, 2019 press conference, Mayor Tim Keller had this to say about the statistics announced:
“Crime is still far too high, and the fight is nowhere near being over. This is something for us that is about a long-term, sustained effort that we have deep resolve around, and what we’re sharing today at least shows we believe these efforts are at least pushing us in the right direction.”
APD Chief Geier for his part said:
“[The declining numbers are encouraging and] we’re starting to see these results, but, again, we know that people are still being victimized every day.”
CITY ONE OF 10 MOST DANGEROUS BIG CITIES
On April 25, 2019, it was reported that the website Safewise named Albuquerque one of the 10 most dangerous big cities in the nation. The city ranked 8th , up from number 12 just one year ago.
According to the KRQE news report, Albuquerque had the highest property crime rate, with more than 73 per 1,000 people. The study compared trends in wealth distribution, graduation rates and ethnic diversity.
The report states that “the top 10 most dangerous metro cities have a violent crime rate that is 3.8 times higher than the national average. Albuquerque’s violent crime rate (per1,000) was 13.69.
St. Louis and Detroit topped the list of most dangerous communities, while Corrales was named the safest community in New Mexico. Cities were ranked based on FBI crime report statistics and population data for the most recent year available which was 2017.”
CITY NUMBER ONE IN AUTO THEFTS THIRD YEAR IN A ROW
On June 26, 2019 it was announced in its annual report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) that Albuquerque metropolitan statistical area for the 3rd year in the row is ranked number #1 in auto thefts in the country. The #1 ranking is despite the decrease in auto thefts. The Albuquerque metropolitan statistical area includes the 4 counties of Bernalillo, Sandoval, Torrance and Valencia counties.
The country as has seen a decrease in auto theft overall, but Albuquerque area has made even bigger and more significant gains in reducing auto thefts. According to the annual NICB report, in 2018 almost 2,700 fewer cars were stolen in the Albuquerque area than the year before, a 27% decrease. In 2017, 1,096 cars were stolen per 100,000 residents and in 2018 that figure was 780 cars stolen per 100,000 residents.
Notwithstanding the decrease in auto thefts, it was not enough to reduce the Albuquerque metropolitan statistical area as the number one ranking area in the country for stolen vehicles per capita in the country. While the Albuquerque area had fewer stolen vehicles in 2018 than in 2017, the city of Albuquerque saw a slightly higher decrease of 29%. According to APD data, there have been 1,135 fewer stolen vehicles so far this year over the same time period last year. (2019: 1,750 compared to 2018: 2,890)
CITY’S 2008 TO 2018 CRIME STATISTICS
Albuquerque’s FBI Uniform Crime statistics for the years 2008 to 2018 reveal just how bad violent crime has increased in Albuquerque over the last 10 years. Violent crimes include murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults. Property Crimes include burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft. The hard numbers for the last 10 years reflect that crime has not declined much and that like a waive on a beach, it had “ebbed and flowed” over the years.
The number of HOMICIDES reported each year from 2008 to 2018 are:
The number of RAPES reported each year from 2008 to 2018 are:
The number of AGGRAVATED ASSAULTS reported each year from 2008 to 2016 are:
The total number of VIOLENT CRIMES (murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault combined) reported each year from 2008 to 2018 were:
2017: 7,686 (Aggravated Assaults: 4,213, Non-Fatal Shootings: 470)
2018: 6,789 (Aggravated Assaults: 3,885, Non-Fatal Shootings: 491)
The total number of ROBBERIES reported each year from 2008 to 2018 are:
The total number of AUTO THEFTS reported each year from 2008 to 2018 are:
The total number of BURGLARIES reported each year from 2008 to 2018 are:
The total number of PROPERTY CRIMES (burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft) reported each year from 2008 to 2018 were:
The COMBINED STATISTICS FOR PART I CRIMES (the number of incidents reported) each year from 2008 to 2018 are as follows:
2008: 36,757 total reported crimes
2009: 33,329 total reported crimes
2010: 30,784 total reported crimes
2011: 32,316 total reported crimes
2012: 33,955 total reported crimes
2013: 34,936 total reported crimes
2014: 35,457 total reported crimes
2015: 39,487 total reported crimes
2016: 46,665 total reported crimes
2017: January to June: 24,770 (Full year numbers unavailable)
2017 AND 2018 CRIME STATISTICS SHOW DECLINE
Comparing full year statistics for 2017 and 2018 shows a decline in the percentages for one year. Review of the city’s crime statistics for the entire year of 2018 show the largest decreases in the property crimes of auto burglary, auto theft, commercial burglary, and residential burglary, and robbery.
The crime statistics for the entire years of 2017 and 2018 are as follows:
VIOLENT CRIME FOR 2017 AND 2018
AGGRAVATED ASSAULTS FOR 2017 AND 2018
NON-FATAL SHOOTINGS FOR 2017 AND 2018:
ROBBERY FOR 2017 AND 2018:
PROPERTY CRIMES FOR 2017 AND 2018:
DECLARING GUN VIOLENCE “PUBLIC HEALTH THREAT”
On April 8, 2019, Mayor Keller and APD Officials announced several proactive and reactive initiatives designed to combat gun violence in the City and declaring gun violence a “public health risk.”
The specific 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 and putting more officers in those areas.
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.
INCREASING SIZE APD POLICE FORCE
APD’s intends to spend $88 million dollars beginning last year in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, over a four-year period, with 32 million dollars of recurring expenditures, to hire 322 sworn officers and expand APD from 878 sworn police officers to 1,200 officers. The massive investment is being done in order to full fill Mayor Tim Keller’s 2017 campaign promise to increase the size of APD and return to community-based policing as a means to reduce the city’s high crime rates. Last year’s 2018-2019 fiscal year budget provided for increasing APD funding from 1,000 sworn police to 1,040. This year’s 2019-2020 fiscal year budget has funding for 1,040 sworn police.
On June 17, 2019, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) announced that is has hired 116 police officers during the first full budget year of the Mayor Tim Keller Administration. A very large percentage of those officers are lateral hires from other departments. It is projected that with the additions APD will reach 957 sworn officers by the end of July, 2019 and reach 981 by the end of the summer. For the 2019-20129 fiscal year that begins July 1, 2019 APD has been is budgeted for 1,040 full time sworn officers.
According to an APD news release, about two-thirds of the 116 new officers are already patrolling the streets and taking calls for service. The remainder are expected to be on duty by the end of the summer. Of the 957 police officers APD now has, 533 are patrolling the streets taking calls for service.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The feel good news is that the hard numbers reflect that for ONE full year of 2017 to 2018 and the first 6 months of 2019 crime is going down in the major categories. The feel bad news is the 10-year statistics confirms crime is not down, especially when it comes to violent crimes. In a nutshell, violent crime is not down and the statistics need a dramatic turnaround before people will feel safe.
During their July 1, 2019 press conference, Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Michael Geier to their credit did not claim victory in reducing the crime rates in Albuquerque. That would have been a major political mistake given the communities’ anger over crime in general. The hard numbers released do not yet reflect a trend that can be relied upon for any sort of a victory lap on their part.
Crime has spiked so much in Albuquerque for the last 10 years that , even with a 30% or more decrease in each category as announced by Mayor Tim Keller and Chief Michael Geier, the numbers are still way too high, especially in violent crime and they both know it. Violent crime and auto thefts are at unacceptable levels. A sign of the times of how bad things have gotten in the City is when no one believes Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Geier’s when they both say that crime is going down.
Albuquerque’s population has remained relatively the same for the last 4 years yet the hard number of crimes continue to rise. In other words, the city is experiencing more incidents of crime with fewer residents. When a city is ranked for crime with FBI crimes statistics , it uses a per capita basis which is so many crimes per 100,000 population and it tends to skew the numbers toward the worst-case scenario.
During the July 1, 2019 press conference APD Chief Geier seem to acknowledge the problem when he called the numbers encouraging, but went on to say many in the community have not personally felt the progress. Chief Geier said “We’re starting to see these results, but, again, we know that people are still being victimized every day.”
When it comes to crime, public perception overrides reality. If you’re a victim of a crime, it’s hard to accept the statistics that crime is down. For any politician to claim credit for reduction in crime is always very foolish and dangerous given how volatile crime really is. During winter months, crime tends to go down and during summer months, it tends to spike, very much like a wave on a beach flowing in and then flowing out.
It is more likely than not that the reduction in the overall percentages of crime can be attributed in part to APD adding 116 more police officers to the force in one year, with at least 70 experienced laterals recruited from other departments. More cops mean more patrolling the streets and making more arrests. APD will be spending $88 million over 3 more years to hire 300 more cops to patrol streets assuming they can actually recruit and hire that many. There have been no reports on how successful APD has been declaring gun violence a “public health risk” and if the announced proactive and reactive initiatives have been at all successful.
A declining trend in crime would be reflected in a 4 to 5 year period . The question that must be asked is “Can APD sustain the declining numbers?” The answer is no one really knows for sure. It’s “not a sure bet” that simply hiring more cops will bring the crime rates down. Increasing the number of sworn police could actually increase the numbers because more cops mean more arrests and prosecutions.
No doubt Mayor Tim Keller is hoping crime will decline significantly before he runs for another term in 2021. Keller campaigned on the issue of making public safety the number one priority of his administration, returning to community-based police, reducing crime and implementing the Department of Justice reforms. If he does not deliver on his promises, even after spending millions to increase the size of APD, he may not get elected to another term.
Mayor Keller and APD Chief Geier need to continue their efforts. Only time will tell if crime is indeed going down and what headlines will be used in the 2021 Mayor’s race.
This blog article generated a lot of reaction on the web page from Keller defenders who are way too sensitive. The article points out crime rates have gone down for 18 months and what is being done. Having press conferences every 3 months to announce declining crime rates when the national rankings still have city in top 10 for violent crime and auto thefts is trying to make a mole hill (declining rates) into a mountain (acceptable crime levels). The article also points out what Keller and Geier said about the need to do more and it is suggested that people don’t try to make something bigger than it is. The article gave all the good news for the last year and a half, the Mayor’s comments as well as the policy to declare violent crime a public health threat and outlines the gains in APD staffing.
What was said at the end of the article is “The feel good news is that the hard numbers reflect that for ONE full year of 2017 to 2018 and the first 6 months of 2019 crime is going down in the major categories. The feel bad news is the 10-year statistics confirms crime is not down, especially when it comes to violent crimes. In a nutshell, violent crime is not down and the statistics need a dramatic turnaround before people will feel safe. …. Mayor Keller and APD Chief Geier need to continue their efforts. Only time will tell if crime is indeed going down and what headlines will be used in the 2021 Mayor’s race”. No doubt Keller will be pointing to his own positive headlines.
The sources for the above statistics can be reviewed at the below links:
For 2008 to 2016 statistics see:
For 2017 statistics see:
For 2018 statistics see: