On January 16, KOB 4’s news anchor Steve Soliz sat down with Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier to see what APD is doing to tackle the city’s crime crisis. The interview is part of an ongoing process by Channel 4 to cover the city’s crime problem and ask our leaders what is being done. The link to the channel 4 interview is here:
This is one interview that is a must see by anyone who is concerned about the city’s high crime rates. Instead of expressing any kind of outrage nor showing any kind of real emotion or frustration and saying what he is doing, we have a police chief in a very quiet, meek voice and in a “matter of fact manner” say APD is doing all it can with the resources it has and saying some progress has been made with auto thefts.
The real jaw dropper was when Cheif Geier was asked what he would say to someone who has concerns for the city, who has lived here for some time and who feels the city is no longer the city they once knew. Geier said he would tell them “Generally, its a safe city” and went on to say all the crime is being done in certain “pockets” of the city that are targeted. He said APD is making an effort with the limited resources it has, but saying that is no excuse, but sounding like it was an excuse.
APD Chief Michael Geier noted in the interview he has increased the homicide unit from 5 to 11 detectives. According to APD, this is the most detectives they’ve had in the unit in more than 20 years. Geier did not disclose the fact that homicide unit detectives have solved 38 out of the 82 of the cases from last year, or a dismal 46% clearance rate, even after the homicide unit was given additional training on homicide investigations last year by a former APD Homicide Detective with a national reputation who had a 95% clearance rate upon retirement and who is now a consultant.
The homicide clearance percentage has sat in the 50%-60% range for the past two years, but this is lowest clearance rate in the last decade. According to the proposed 2018-2019 APD City Budget, in 2016 the APD homicide clearance rate was 80%. In 2017 the clearance rate was 70% and the clearance rate for 2018 was 56%. The clearance rate is now below 46%. In other words, APD’s clearance rate has gone from 70% to 46% all under the watch of Chief Michael Geier and Mayor Tim Keller.
LIKE HELL IT’S A SAFE CITY
On December 18, US Attorney General William Barr announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is initiating a major crackdown aimed at driving down violent crime in 7 of the nation’s most violent cities in the country. Not at all surprising is that Albuquerque is one of those cities. The other 6 cities are Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Memphis and Milwaukee. All 7 cities have violent crime rates significantly higher and above the national average.
According to Attorney General William Bar, Albuquerque has a violent crime rate that is 3.7 times the national average per capita , and the cities aggravated assaults are 4 times the national average per capita.
At a news conference in Detroit, Michigan, AG Bar dubbed the initiative “Operation Relentless Pursuit”. The federal agencies that will participate and be involved are the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the U.S. Marshals Service. The DOJ will intensify federal law enforcement resources in the 7 cities by increasing the number of federal law enforcement officers in each of the cities and add additional officers to federal task forces. According to Barr, the DOJ is committing up to $71 million in federal grant funds that can help fund the task forces, be used to hire new police officers, pay overtime and purchase new equipment and technology.
On December 31, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) officially recorded the 82 homicide for the city, an all-time record. On January 1, 2020, APD reported the first homicide of the year. It was on December 9, 2019, the city recorded its 74th homicide breaking the previous record of 72 murders set in 2017. Before 2017, the last time the City had the highest number of homicides in one year was in 1996 with 70 murders that year. In addition to the 82 homicides in 2019, APD Homicide detectives are also working on a back log of active cases from previous years.
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 and have all increased. 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 but have risen none the less to all time highs.
Mayor Keller and Chief Michael Geier have announced 4 separate programs within nine months to combat our city’s violent crime and murder rates. Those programs are: the Shield Unit, Declaring Violent Crime “public health” issue, “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP) and the Metro 15, yet Chief Geier says “Generally, it’s a safe city”.
COMMENTARY AND ANALSIS
No Chief Geier, generally Albuquerque is not a safe city but has become one of the most violent city’s in the country, otherwise “Operation Relentless” pursuit would not include Albuquerque. Your departments own statistics on a crime map, at least the accurate ones, is bright red with dots showing crime scenes virtually all over the city, in every quadrant, a map used by Mayor Tim Keller when making a presentation to the Albuquerque Bar Association.
Try telling “it’s a safe city” to the thousands of people who have been victims of crimes, have had their cars stolen in all parts of the city and the families of the 82 murdered victims, which includes the mother of two law enforcement officers killed in her driveway that you cited in your interview with Channel 4.
Candidate Tim Keller campaigned to be elected mayor on the platform of implementing the U.S. Department of Justice-mandated reforms, increasing the size of the Albuquerque Police Department, returning to community-based policing and promising to bring down skyrocketing crime rates. For two years, Keller tried to take credit for crime rates being on the decline. It turns out the numbers were inflated, with Keller blaming it on antiquated software. The city recorded 82 homicides in 2019, an all-time record.
Mayor Tim Keller and Chief Geier have been given everything they have wanted from city council for public safety – and then some. What is very troubling is that all the increases in APD budget, personnel and new programs are not having any effect on bringing down the violent crime and murder rates and the city is no longer safe on many levels in virtually all quadrants of the city. It is no longer an issue of not having the money, personnel or resources, but of a failed personnel resource management issue.
It is also obvious that the APD command staff Keller handpicked is not getting the job done. Major personnel changes are in order, including asking for more than a few resignations, starting with the APD command staff Keller picked and reorganizing APD. The reorganization would include increasing the number of officers sworn to patrol the streets and increasing the various units, such as the homicide perhaps to 24, and the investigations units.
If Chief Geier sincerely believes that Albuquerque is “generally a safe city”, no doubt because he believes he and Mayor Keller have done such a fantastic job making the city safe, he should declare victory over our crime rates, be thank by Mayor Tim Keller for his service to the City and retire and move on. As for Keller, voters will be deciding in 2021 if he should join his hand picked Chief in retirement from public office.