Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city
All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head
[At night it’s not a different world, as murders continue to swirl.]
“Summer In The City”, Lovin Spoonful, 1966. (Editors note: Apologies to the “Lovin Spoonful” for adding last line to a great summer song.)
On August 7, KOAT, TV investigative reporter Nancy Laflin reported as follows:
“Last year was one of the highest murder rates in Albuquerque’s history.
KOAT asked Albuquerque police if the city is on track for another record no one wants to have.
APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos says there have been at least 41 homicides in the city, so far this year.
Police are investigating two other deaths to see if those cases are homicides as well.
Gallegos said there was a spike in homicides in July, with at least seven deaths. In August, there have been three murders.
At this time last year he says there were 46.
Gallegos said many of these cases have one thing in common.
“Probably the biggest problem for us has been and continues to be gun crimes. Shootings with injuries, homicides involving guns,” he said. Gallegos said the department is targeting crimes involving guns.
Gallegos said there are arrests in about 56% of the homicides in Albuquerque. He says there are between eight to 10 detectives to investigate these cases. Federal officers are also working with local police to address Albuquerque’s crime crisis.”
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 7, there have been 41 homicides reported in Albuquerque for 2020.
APD HOMICIDE CLEARANCE RATE AT HISTORICAL LOW, DROPS FROM 80% TO 52%
On Sunday, February 23rd, 2020, it was reported that there has been a dramatic surge in the number of homicides and the percentage of those solved by arrest has dropped dramatically.” In 2019, the city had a historical high of 82 homicides in one year with a 52% solve rate. From January 1, to February 01, the city had 8 homicides, the same number of homicides as in January 2019. On February 22 and 22, three more homicides were reported in the city with arrests yet to be made.
Below are links to the news coverage:
APD STAFFING AND CASE LOADS
According to APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos the homicide unit has 11 detectives and one sergeant. In 2017, APD had 5 detective and one sergeant. APD officials claim that the homicides are being vigorously investigated and detectives are following numerous leads. However, APD does not maintain collective data to show how many murders over the years have gone unsolved and still considered open cases. Some APD homicide detectives have fewer than 10 cases each.
According to APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos:
“Others with the most years in homicide may have more than 20, which includes cases that may be three, four or five years old and awaiting new leads.”
The city’s APD yearly budget contains performance evaluation statistics mandated by the city’s “performance evaluation” based budget. According to city budget documents, APD’s homicide clearance rate reported in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report was 80% from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2016. In each of the last two calendar years, the percentage of homicides solved in the city dropped to 52%. That number reflects homicides that weren’t deemed justifiable. The overall clearance rate for 2018 and 2019 was is slightly higher because detectives solved 9 homicides from prior years.
APD maintains a website showing “Active Homicide Investigations.” But the website lists just 25 cases, which occurred from January 2018 to August 2018.
HOMICIDE CLEARANCE RATES UNDER MAYOR KELLER
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.
During an October, 2019 City Council meeting, APD management said it was working on new strategies to ease the workload on APD sworn officers and homicide detectives.
During an October, 2019 City Council meeting, APD Commander of Criminal Investigations Joe Burke had this to say:
“I would say in the long term if I was looking at a long-term solution—I believe we need two homicide units. I think the best practices around the nation normally have two homicide units. Detectives should be balancing between three to five investigations and we’re nearly double that. … We absolutely need detectives in criminal investigations. … I was happy when I went over at the end of July and was briefed on the status of the unit that there’s a plan in place within the executive staff that when cadets are graduating from the academy that we’re going to get a certain percentage specifically for the criminal investigations bureau.”
The APD homicide unit has 10 detectives assigned to it. Given the testimony of Commander Joe Burke, total number of detective assigned to the homicide unit should be upwards of 20 with two sperate units.
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.
VIOLENT CRIME STATISTICS FOR LAST 12 YEARS
Below are the total homicides, aggravated assault and violent crimes reported for the last 12 full years:
The number of HOMICIDES reported each year from 2008 to 2019 are:
2020: 42 as of August 3.
The number of AGGRAVATED ASSAULTS (assaults with deadly weapon) reported each year from 2008 to 2018 are:
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.
The total number of VIOLENT CRIMES (murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault combined) reported each year from 2008 to 2018 are:
2017: 7,686 (Aggravated Assaults: 4,213, Non-Fatal Shootings: 470)
2018: 6,789 (Aggravated Assaults: 3,885, Non-Fatal Shootings: 491)
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.
INCREASE IN MURDERS IS A NATIONAL TREND
Diane Dimond, age 68, is a national “Crime and Justice Columnist.” Ms. Dimond is an American investigative journalist, author, syndicated columnist, and TV commentator. She is best known for breaking the story of child molestation allegations against singer Michael Jackson and her coverage of the subsequent criminal trial. On August 8, one of her columns appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. The article as a whole is about crime rates during the pandemic. According to the column the U.S. murder rate had been significantly slowing since the early ’90s but that is no longer the case and she reports:
“Homicides and gun violence are on the rise. Murders have spiked in 36 of the 50 biggest American cities that were studied during a newly released Wall Street Journal analysis of crime stats.
On average, the nation’s homicide rate is up 24% so far this year compared to the same period in 2019. But in certain cities the murder rate is much higher. In Chicago homicides are up 52%. In San Antonio it’s 34%. Phoenix has seen a 32% rise in murders, Philadelphia 31% and Houston 27%. Gang activity is most frequently blamed for the rise as gang members are also feeling the economic pinch of isolation and turf wars have ignited, playing out on near-empty street corners. This year’s recent huge jump in gun sales may have also played a part in the rising inner-city death toll.
As for the idea that the escalation in murders is exclusively happening in American cities run by Democrats, such as the cities mentioned above – baloney! According to the [Wall Street Journal] “Homicides are rising at a double-digit rate in most of the big cities run by Republicans, including Miami; San Diego; Omaha; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Jacksonville, Florida.” And, by the way, the aforementioned San Antonio is led by a mayor who is a member of the Independent Party. Murder is truly a bipartisan problem.
I’m no social scientist, but I’m thinking that it’s not just the cabin fever caused by COVID-19 isolation that has caused this increase in gun violence and murders. It seems obvious that the current spate of anything-goes-lawlessness and destructive anti-police fervor has added to the idea that illegal, anarchistic behavior won’t be punished. As proof we see disproportionately few arrests given the growing number of destructive acts of property damage – and, yes, even murders – that have occurred in several states.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
In 2017, candidate for Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller campaigned to get elected Mayor on the platform of implementing the Department of Justice (DOJ) 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. Tim Keller has already made it known he is running for a second term in 2021.
Mayor Tim Keller can take very little comfort with the fact that the city’s increase in homicides is part of a national trend. The truth is, Albuquerque has been in the forefront of the trend for the last 5 years and homicides have more than doubled. In 2014, the city had 30 homicides and each year thereafter homicides increased and in 2019 the city had 82 homicides, the most in the city’s history. As of August 8, the city has had 43 homicides, yet Mayor Keller says violent crime is a top priority of his administration yet he has done nothing to beef up the homicide unit to a level that is needed to deal with the crisis and the unacceptable clearance rates.
In 2019, in response to the continuing increase in violent crime rates, Mayor Keller scrambled to implement 4 major crime fighting programs to reduce violent crime: the Shield Unit, Declaring Violent Crime “Public Health” issue, the “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP program) and the Metro 15 Operation program. Based upon the statistics, the Keller programs have had very little effect on reducing violent crime.
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. People no longer feel safe in their own homes. No amount of data collection, public relations or nuance programs are going to satisfy those demands or make people feel any safer. Then there is next summer which promises to be as bad as the summers of the last 5 years.