“It’s unfortunate, but crime is absolutely out of control. It’s the mayor’s job to actually address crime in Albuquerque, and that’s what I want to do as the next mayor.”
– New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller, candidate for Albuquerque Mayor, August, 2017
The crime statistics released for 2018 and 2019 make it clear that despite all of Mayor Tim Keller’s promises to bring down skyrocketing violent crime, implementation of new programs, increasing APD personnel and millions spent, violent crime is still “absolutely out of control”. Regretably , Mayor Tim Keller has failed to do his “job to actually address crime in Albuquerque.” Keller has already made it known he is seeking a second 4-year term in 2021 and his record on the crime reduction front will be difficult to defend.
ABQ’S CRIME STATISTICS IN A NUTSHELL UNDER MAYOR KELLER
On Thursday, July 2, 2020 APD officials held a press conference to release the Albuquerque crime statistics for 2019. Given Mayor Keller’s words as to whose job it is to address crime, a synopsis of the statics during Mayor Tim Keller’s tenure is in order before the disclosure of the 2019 statistics by APD. The synopsis is required in order to focus on the statistics because statistics were falsely reported by the Keller administration for his first 18 months in office and the categories were then changed to comply with FBI crime reporting.
In 2018, during Mayor Keller’s first full year in office, there were 69 homicides.
In 2019, during Mayor Keller’s second full year in office, there were 82 homicides. Albuquerque had more homicides in 2019 than in any other year in the city’s history. The previous high was 72, in 2017 under Mayor RJ Berry. Another high mark was in 1996, when the city had 70 homicides.
As of August 3, there have been 32 homicides reported in Albuquerque for 2020.
HOMICIDE CLEARANCE RATES
For the past two years during Mayor Keller’s tenure, the homicide clearance percentage rate has been in the 50%-60% range. According to the proposed 2018-2019 APD City Budget, in 2016 the APD homicide clearance rate was 80%. In 2017, under Mayor Berry the clearance rate was 70%. In 2018, the first year of Keller’s term, the homicide clearance rate was 56%. In 2019, the second year of Keller’s term, the homicide clearance rate was 52.5%, the lowest clearance rate in the last decade.
In 2017, during Mayor RJ Berry’s last full year in office, there were 7,686 VIOLENT CRIMES. There were 4,213 Aggravated Assaults and 470 Non-Fatal Shootings:
In 2018 during Mayor Keller’ first full year in office, there were 6,789 violent crimes There were 3,885 Aggravated Assaults and 491 Non-Fatal Shootings.
In 2019, the category of “Violent Crimes” was replaced with the category of “Crimes Against Persons” and the category includes homicide, human trafficking, kidnapping and assault.
In 2019 during Keller’s second full year in office, Crimes Against Persons increased from 14,845 to 14,971, or a 1% increase. The Crimes Against Person category had the biggest rises in Aggravated Assaults increasing from 5,179 to 5,397.
“Crimes Against Society” include drug offenses, prostitution and animal cruelty.
In 2018 During Keller’s first full year in office, total Crimes Against Society were 3,365
In 2019 during Keller’s second full year in office, total Crimes Against Society increased to 3,711 for a total increase of 346 more crimes or a 9% increase.
On June 26, 2019 the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) released its annual list of cities with the most stolen vehicles reported. Despite a 28% reduction in auto thefts over a two-year period, Albuquerque ranked No. 1 in the nation for vehicle thefts per capita for the third year in a row.
911 EMERGENCY RESPONSE TIMES
In 2009, under Mayor Martin Chavez, the average 911 emergency response time to calls, whether it was a life or death emergency or a minor traffic crash,was 8 minutes 50 seconds.
In 2011, under Mayor RJ Berry the average response times to 911 emergency calls was 25 minutes.
In 2018 and 2019, under Mayor Tim Keller, the average response times to 911 emergency calls spiked to 48 minutes.
MAYOR KELLER’S STRUGGLES TO “DO GOOD” AND FULFILL CAMPAIGN PROMISES
Candidate Tim Keller campaigned to get elected Mayor on the platform of implementing the Department of Justice mandated reforms, increasing the size of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), returning to community-based policing and a promise to bring down skyrocketing crime rates. On December 1, 2017 Tim Keller was sworn into office.
Since Mayor Tim Keller took office, APD has added 116 sworn police officers to the force. Keller is spending $88 million dollars 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 to full fill Mayor 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, a far cry from the 1,200 sworn officers Keller promised.
BREAKING A PROMISE NOT TO RAISE TAXES
In 2017 when running for Mayor, State Auditor Tim Keller promised he would never raise taxes unless there was a public vote even if it was for public safety. Candidate Keller said he would draw from various agencies, departments and programs where large, misappropriated budgets existed to deal with any city deficit. Within 4 months after assuming Office, Mayor Keller agreed to and signed a city council-initiated $55 million dollar a year tax increase without voter approval, thereby breaking his campaign promise not to raise gross receipts taxes without a public vote. 80% of the new tax revenues were supposedly dedicated to public safety, yet $40 million went towards a projected deficit that never fully materialized.
TAKING CREDIT FOR CRIME REDUCTIONS THAT DID NOT HAPPEN
Every quarter when the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released the city’s crime statistics, Mayor Keller would do a press conference to release the FBI crime statistics. For the first year and a half of Mayor Tim Keller’s 4 year term, he released crime statistics every quarter, sometimes even a few of days before the quarter ended. Keller’s briefings were misleading in that he overstated reductions since the department was comparing quarterly data before all the reports had been turned in. He did so on July 1, 2019 to report the statistics for the 2019 second quarter and to compare them to the 2018 midterm year numbers.
The statistics released by Mayor Keller on July 1, 2019 reported 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 reported as down from the first 6 months of the previous year. Double-digit drops were reported in violent offenses included robberies, aggravated assaults, and rapes. The problem was the statistics were totally wrong.
On Sunday, December 1, 2018 is was reported that all the crime rate reductions Mayor Keller reported in his July 1, 2019 press conference were in fact not at all accurate and seriously flawed and misleading to the public. The 2019 mid-year statistics and the statistics released at the end of 2018 were dramatically revised to include hundreds, and in some cases thousands, more incidents than were reported by Keller. The final numbers for all of 2018 showed violent crime actually increased, and in many categories the crime rates only dropped in single digits and not the double digits Mayor Keller was taking credit for during his press conferences.
WHAT WENT WRONG
On December 13, 2019 APD officials held a news conference to explain what went wrong with the crime statistic reporting. The officials said that Mayor Keller had been “unintentionally” releasing incomplete data for the last two years. APD Deputy Chief Armijo blamed the inaccurate statistics on different software programs that were antiquated and that were not fully integrated. At one point, Armijo said that when APD converted its data system in 2018 from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system to the National Incident-Based Reporting System(NIBRS), APD’s crime statistic “numbers went into a black hole”. When APD discovered the glitch, the system had to be re-calibrated and the numbers were downloaded onto the new system. Mayor Keller, despite the embarrassment and loss of credibility, has never held anyone accountable for the fiasco and has never apologize to the public for misleading us.
EXPLAINING SUMMARY REPORTING SYSTEM (SRS) VS. NATIONAL INCIDENT-BASED REPORTING SYSTEM (NIBRS)
“In 2018, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) began reporting its annual crime statistics using the Federal Bureau Of Investigation’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). NIBRS is the most current national framework for reporting crime and replaces the FBI’s Uniform Crimes Reports (UCR). This change is important because, compared to UCR, NIBRS provides more comprehensive and detailed information about crimes against person, crimes against property and crimes against society occurring in law enforcement jurisdictions across the county.”
Prior to 2018, APD reported data using the Summary Reporting System (SRS), which included 8 crime categories and counted only the most serious offense during an incident. The 8 offenses were chosen because they are serious crimes, they occur with regularity in all areas of the country, and they are likely to be reported to police. In the traditional Summary Reporting System (SRS), the eight crimes, or Part I offenses are:
1. Murder and Nonnegligent Manslaughter
2. Forcible Rape
4. Aggravated Assault
7. Motor Vehicle Theft
A link providing a complete definition of each category under the SRS system is here:
Starting in January 2021, the FBI will no longer accept data in the SRS format. The FBI is requiring crimes to be counted through the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). In NIBRS, there are 3 major reporting broad categories:
Crimes against persons
Crimes against property and
Crimes against society.
The 3 major categories are then broken down into 52 sub-categories. NIBRS counts virtually all crimes committed during an incident and for that reason alone NIMRS is far more sophisticated than the “most serious incident-based” reporting SRS reporting system.
“In the National Incident-Based Reporting System” (NIBRS), each offense reported is either a Group A or Group B offense type. There are 23 Group A offense categories, comprised of 52 Group A offenses and 10 Group B offense categories. Law enforcement agencies report Group A offenses as part of a NIBRS incident report, but they report only arrest data for Group B offenses.
Each offense collected in NIBRS belongs to one of three categories: Crimes Against Persons, Crimes Against Property, or Crimes Against Society.
Crimes Against Persons include murder, rape, and assault, and are those in which the victims are always individuals.
Crimes Against Property include robbery, bribery, and burglary, or to obtain money, property, or some other benefit.
Crimes Against Society include gambling, prostitution, and drug violations, and represent society’s prohibition against engaging in certain types of activity and are typically victimless crimes.
“In NIBRS, law enforcement agencies collect detailed data regarding individual crime incidents and arrests and submit them in separate reports using prescribed data elements and data values to describe each incident and arrest. Therefore, NIBRS involves incident-based reporting. … There are 52 data elements used in NIBRS to describe the victims, offenders, arrestees, and circumstances of crimes.”
A link to a complete guide to the NIBRS crime reporting system is here:
CORRECTED STATISTICS FOR 2018
In February, 2019 APD reported very different numbers to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program. The data reported showed violent crime had actually increased 3.7% between 2017 and 2018 during Keller’s first full year in office driven by aggravated assaults.
The adjusted statistics released for the year 2018 reflected the following:
Aggravated assault increased 21%, rather than decreasing 8% as announced during Keller’s July, 2019 news conference.
Rape increased by 3%, rather than decreasing 3% reported by Keller.
Auto theft decreased 14%, not the 31% reported by Keller.
Homicides remained basically the same decreasing by a single murder.
Robbery decreased 32% and Keller reported it decreasing by 36%.
The final numbers for all of 2018 showed violent crime actually increased, and in many categories the crime rates only dropped in single digits and not the double digits reported by Mayor Keller. At an October meeting of the City Council, APD provided the revised statistics but failed to report that the numbers had changed drastically. Mayor Keller also did not hold any kind of a press conference to correct nor announce the corrected statistics.
The corrected statistics reported in October, 2019 for 2018 were as follow:
Auto burglaries decreased 16%, not the 38% as previously announced
Auto theft decreased 22%, not 39% as Keller reported
Commercial burglary decreased 3%, not the 27% Keller reported
Residential burglary decreased 16%, not 39% as Keller reported
Homicide decreased 2.5%, not 18%, but homicides have since increased substantially and the city has tied the all-time record of 71.
Rape decreased 3%, not the 29% Keller reported
Robbery decreased 30%, not 47% reported by Keller
Aggravated assault decreased 7.5%, not 33% reported by Keller
Aggravated assault increased 21%, rather than decreasing 8% as announced during Keller’s July news conference
Rape increased by 3%, rather than decreasing 3%
Auto theft decreased 14%, not the 31% reported by Keller
Homicides remained basically the same decreasing by a single murder
Robbery decreased 32% and Keller reported it decreasing by 36%
ONE YEAR LATER
A full year has elapsed since Mayor Keller has held a press conference to announce the City’s crime statistics. On Thursday, July 2, 2020 APD Deputy Chief Harold Medina, Records Division Manager Katherine Roybal-Nuñez and APD Real Time Crime Center Commander Leonard Nerbetski released the crime statistics APD submitted to the FBI for 2019 using the National Incident-Based Reporting System, or NIBRS. The July 2 briefing did not include data from years prior to 2018.
The link to the full APD crime stats report is here:
Prior to 2018, APD was reporting crime statistics using the SRS program. In 2018, APD fully switched from the Summary Reporting System (SRS) to National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBERS), the current national framework. According to APD Deputy Chief Medina it is “too difficult” to be accurate to compare data between the two systems and to years before 2018. As explained above, the old system SRS had 8 major specific types of crimes only counting the most serious crime in one incident involving numerous crimes at once, while NIBRS has 3 categories with 52 sub categories with all crimes reported in one incident. The problem is you cannot compare accurately the crimes to the previous years before Keller took office, but the trajectory none the less is that violent crime is still trending upwards when it comes looking at the raw data that is easily gleaned from the statistics.
The 2019 crime statistics released during the July 2 press conference revealed the following:
Overall Crime decreased IN 2019. The reduction was driven by “Crimes Against Property” which include burglary, fraud, robbery and motor vehicle theft. Between 2018 and 2019, there was a single digit 7% drop, not a double digit drop as reported by Keller, in overall crime, from 75,538 incidents to 70,223.
CRIMES AGAINST PERSONS
Crimes against persons include homicide, human trafficking, kidnapping and assault, remained constant.
Crimes Against Persons increased from 14,845 to 14,971, or a 1% increase.
The Crimes Against Person category had the biggest rises of the 3 categories as follows:
Aggravated Assaults increased from 5,179 to 5,397.
In Homicide Offenses, justifiable homicides decreased from 16 to 6
There was a rise in “Negligent Manslaughter” from 3 to 8.
Statutory rape jumped from 1 incident to 10 incidents.
There were 80 murders reported in 2019, compared to 69 to 2018, both years Keller has been in office.
CRIMES AGAINST SOCIETY
Crimes Against Society include drug offenses, prostitution and animal cruelty.
In 2018 During Keller’s first full year in office, total Crimes Against Society were 3,365 and increased 2019 during his second year to 3,711 for a total increase of 346 more crimes or a 9% increase.
Crimes Against Society had the biggest jumps in drug offenses, from 2,515 to 2,796, Animal Cruelty Offenses went from 11 to 32. There was a decrease in prostitution offenses from 130 to 70.
CRIMES AGAINST PROPERTY
Total Crimes Against Property in 2018 were 57,328 and in 2019 51, 541 for a total reduction of 5,787 or a 10% reduction.
The largest drops in property crime were in Auto Theft, Burglary and Fraud offenses aside from identity theft, which skyrocketed from 7 to a whopping 437.
During the July 2 press conference, Deputy Chief Harold Medina noted that some of the new units and “proactive measures” APD has implemented has generated more arrests and therefor increases in crime statistics.
The best example given by Medina is the Gun Violence Reduction Unit’s which found more “weapon law violations” and rose from 596 to 709.
Medina also noted the “double-digit” reductions in auto theft, something Albuquerque in recent years has been found to be number one in auto thefts in the country per capita. 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 ranked number #1 in auto thefts in the country. The #1 ranking was despite the decrease in auto thefts.
APD Deputy Chief Medina acknowledged the city “still have a lot of work to do” in tackling violent crime and said:
“We still have crime that’s way too high, but at least we continue to move in the right direction.”
HOMICIDE CLEARANCE RATES OUT OF CONTROL
For the past two years during Keller’s tenure as mayor, the homicide clearance percentage rate has been in the 50%-60% range, a dramatic decline from previous years. 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 for 2019 is 52.5%, the lowest clearance rate in the last decade.
RESPONSE TIMES OUT OF CONTROL
The time it takes for APD to respond to priority 1 calls has a major impact on increasing physical injury to victims or callers. On February 20th KOAT TV Target 7 reported on an investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD’s) response times. In 2011, the average response time to all calls, whether it was a life or death emergency or a minor traffic crash was 25 minutes. In 2019, that time period spiked to 48 minutes in the average response time. Since 2011, there has been a 93% increase in 911 response times with 48 minutes now being the average time of arrival.
2019 BANNER YEAR FOR VIOLENT CRIME REDUCTION PROGRAMS
On November 20, 2019, it was reported the homicide count in Albuquerque for the year was at 72, matching the city’s record in 2017. By December 31, the final count would be 80 homicides. In 2019, Mayor Tim Keller reacting to the spiking crime rates announced 4 plans in 9 months to deal with and bring down the city’s high violent crime rates . Those APD programs were:
THE SHIELD UNIT
In February 2018 the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) created the “Shield Unit”. The Shield Unit assists APD Police Officers to prepare cases for trial and prosecution by the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office. The unit originally consisted of 3 para legals. It was announced that it is was expanded to 12 under the 2019-2020 city budget that took effect July 1, 2019.
DECLARING VIOLENT CRIME “PUBLIC HEALTH” ISSUE
On April 8, 2019, Mayor Keller and APD announced 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. Mayor Keller and APD argue 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 is tracking 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.
“VIOLENCE INTERVENTION PLAN” (VIP Program)
On November 22, Mayor Tim Keller announced what he called a “new initiative” to target violent offenders called “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP). The VIP initiative was in response to the city’s recent murders resulting in the city tying the all-time record of homicides at 72 in one year. Mayor Keller proclaimed the VIP is a “partnership system” that includes law enforcement, prosecutors and social service and community provides to reduce violent crime.
There are 4 major components of the VIP program are:
LAW ENFORCEMENT: APD was “restructured” to create a first-of-its-kind “Violence Intervention Division” with its own Commander. The division is designed to make cross-functional partnership as productive as possible.
PROSECUTION PARTNERS: Prosecutors from all systems including the Attorney General, District Attorney, US Attorney and Office of Superintendent of Insurance will collaborate to share information and make sure cases are going to the appropriate teams and courts.
SOCIAL SERVICES: The City has always funded social services aimed at violence reduction. However, for the first time Family and Community Services is specifically working with the community to identify the most effective evidence-based violence reduction strategies, and requiring providers to work together in the Violence Intervention Program.
COMMUNITY PARTNERS: The City will reach out to community partners, including the Bernalillo County Community Health Council, that are dealing with the causes and effects of violent crime to work together on this program.
METRO 15 OPERATION
On Tuesday, November 26, Mayor Tim Keller held a press conference to announce a 4th program within 9 months to deal with the city’s violent crime and murder rates. At the time of the press conference, the city’s homicide count was at 72, matching the city’s record 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.
Keller dubbed the new program “Metro 15 Operation” and is part of the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) program Keller announced the week before. According to Keller and Geier the new program will target the top 15 most violent offenders in Albuquerque. In other words, it’s the city’s version of the FBI’s 10 most wanted list. According to Keller, the top 15 will be identified by the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office. Once a violent offender is caught, another violent offender will be added to the list.
APD PERSONNEL SHORTFALL
Tim Keller campaigned to be elected mayor on the platform of increasing the size of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), returning to community-based policing and promising to bring down skyrocketing crime rates. To that end, the Keller Administration began implementing an $88 million-dollar APD police expansion program increasing the number of sworn police officers from 898 positions filled to 1,200, or by 302 sworn police officers, over a four-year period. The massive investment was ordered by Mayor Tim Keller to full fill his 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.
Candidate for Mayor Keller promised to increase the size of APD sworn police ranks to 1,200. As of July, APD has less than 1,000 sworn police and not the 1,200 promised, despite the $88 million dollar expansion plan. According to January pay stubs, APD has 950 sworn police and graduated another 50 cadets in mid-March. After adding the new graduating class, and subtracting retirements, APD will still short by at least 200 of what was promised by candidate Tim Keller. With anticipated retirements the total number of sworn officers will be less than 1,000 by January 1, 2021 in that the corona virus has resulted in the cancellation of the Spring APD cadet class.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Three years ago when Tim Keller said “It’s unfortunate, but crime is absolutely out of control. It’s the mayor’s job to actually address crime in Albuquerque, and that’s what I want to do as the next mayor”. In 2017, Candidate Tim Keller campaigned to get elected Mayor on the platform of implementing the Department of Justice (DOJ) mandated reforms, increasing the size of APD, returning to community-based policing and a promise to bring down skyrocketing crime rates.
Mayor Keller no doubt sincerely thought he could do a better job than his predecessor and he could actually make a difference. The truth is, he has not and crime in the city has only become worse since Tim Keller has taken office, especially in terms of violent crime. For the first 18 months of his term Mayor Tim Keller tried repeatedly to take credit for crime rates being on the decline in all categories other than violent crime offenses, but the statistics he released were seriously flawed and mislead the public.
In 2019, in response to the continuing increase in violent crime rates, Mayor Keller scrambled to implement 4 major crime fighting programs that based upon the statistics being released have had very little effect on reducing violent crime.
Although progress has been made with implementation of the DOJ reforms, APD still falls short in completing the reforms within 4 years as agreed to and reforms are still being implemented after a full 6 years. Increasing and growing APD to 1,200 has been somewhat anemic, with the number of sworn police by the end of the year projected to be 1,000.
Mayor Tim Keller can take some limited comfort that the statistics show Crimes Against Property have dropped by a little more than 10%. Property crime may be down, but it is still higher than when Keller was sworn into office.
The far more serious Crimes Against Persons increased by 1% to 14,971, with both aggravated assault and statutory rape showing significant increases. There were 80 murders in the City last year which was the highest number of murders in the city’s history, up from 69 the year before. There were also 2,796 drug offenses and 709 weapons violations.
Tim Keller has already made it known he is running for a second term in 2021. Despite all of his new programs, increases in budgets and millions spent, violent crime is still very much out of control. Simply put people do not feel safe in their own homes. Voters are very fickle and unforgiving when politicians make promises they do not or cannot keep. Sooner rather than later people demand and want results. No amount of data collection, public relations or nuance programs are going to satisfy those demands or make people feel any safe.
When Tim Keller was asked in 2017 why he was running fro Mayor he said “I think it would be really neat to be Mayor of my home town and I have done good job at all the jobs I have ever had.” A re election campaign based on “Give me more time and another chance to do good” is not a winning strategy, especially after what Tim Keller promised when he was running the first time and what is still happening with violent crime being “absolutely out of control”.