On Monday, September 21, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released statistics that revealed that overall crime in the city is down slightly. According to the statistics, crime is down by 5% across all categories in the first six months of 2020 as compared with the first six months of 2019. The good news is APD reported that crime has decreased 15% since 2018. The bad news is that in some cases, the improvements this year were minuscule.
This year, APD is releasing the city’s crime statistics using the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). It is the new system the FBI will require of all police departments use in their annual reports starting in 2021. According to APD, this is the third year APD has used NIBRS and for that reason the city cannot compare pre-2018 crime statistics to 2018 statistics and later.
CRIMES AGAINST PERSONS: Under NIBRS, all violent crime combined is called “Crimes Against Persons”. The crimes include murder, deadly weapons assault and injury and rape. The decreases in “violent crime” from 2019 to 2020 was a decrease by only 21 crimes or a 0.28%. Over a two year, it decreased 4%. According to the FBI statistics released, there were 7,362 crimes against persons reported in the first six months of 2020 and there were 152 more in the second quarter than in the first.
CRIMES AGAINST PROPERTY: Under NIBRS, “Crimes Against Property”, which includes arson, burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny, robbery, and more, have decreased 6% from 2019 to 2020, but decreased by 19% since 2018. There were 24,052 crimes against property reported in the first half of 2020, with about 2,000 more in the first quarter than in the second.
CRIMES AGAINST SOCIETY: Under NIBRS, “Crimes Against Society” include animal cruelty, drug offenses, prostitution, weapon law violations and more. Crimes against society have decreased 8% from 2019 to 2020, and 12% from 2018 to 2020. There were a total of 1,644 crimes against society reported in the first half of 2020, with 130 more in the first quarter than in the second.
According to APD Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos:
“Rape and robbery were down, but aggravated assault was up slightly. … The one difference is Albuquerque’s homicide rate was down while most major cities [reported]increases in homicides. However, we have since seen an increase in homicides in the third quarter.”
2020 RAW DATA
Following is the raw data gleaned from the 2020 mid-year crime statistics:
2020 NIBRS MIDYEAR CRIMES BY CATEGORY
Crimes Against Property: 24,052
Crimes Against Persons: 7,362
Crimes Against Society: 1,644
2020 NIBRS “CRIMES AGAINST PROPERTY”
1st Quarter: 13,035
2nd Quarter: 11, 007
Mid-Year Albuquerque Police Department: 24,052
2020 NIBRS “CRIMES AGAINST PERSON”
1st Quarter: 3,605
2nd Quarter: 3,57
Mid-Year Albuquerque Police Department: 7,362
2020 NIBRS “CRIMES AGAINST SOCIETY”
1st Quarter: 887
2nd Quarter: 757
Mid-Year Albuquerque Police Department: 1,644
The link to the cities mid-year crime statistics report is here:
Corrected crime statistics for 2018 and 2019 are contained in the postscript to this blog article.
NUMBER OF ARRESTS
On Friday October 23, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released its “Use of Force” report covering a four-year time period from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2019. The Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) with the Department of Justice (DOJ) mandates that APD compile the report once a year. The 74-page Use of Force report shows the findings from APD’s Internal Affairs Division as they looked into the department’s use of force for the 4-year time period.
APD’s Use for Force number a very small part the overall picture when it comes to the City’s crime rates. However, review of APD’s number of arrest in comparison to the overall city’s numbers reveals just how small a fraction arrests are made in cases.
The link to the entire use of force report is here:
A link to a blog article on the Use of Force report is here:
Arrest is defined as “the taking of one person into custody by another. To constitute arrest there must be an actual restraint of the person. The restraint may be imposed by force or may result from the submission of the person arrested to the custody of the one arresting the person. An arrest is a restraint of greater scope or duration than an investigatory stop or detention. An arrest is lawful when supported by probable cause.”
The number of arrests for the four years of 2016-2019 are as follows:
2016: 14,022 total arrests made
2017: 13,582 total arrests made
2018: 15,471 total arrests made
2019: 15,151 total arrests made
TOTAL NUMBER OF ARREST MADE BY APD OVER 4 YEARS: 58,226
(Page 14, Use of Force Reports)
2020 NIBRS MIDYEAR CRIMES BY CATEGORY
Crimes Against Property: 24,052
Crimes Against Persons: 7,362
Crimes Against Society: 1,644
ARRESTS MADE IN CONTEX TO CRIME COMMITTED
Individual APD officers in the field service patrolling the streets have thousands of interactions with the public in a given year and are measured by the volume of calls for service, officer-initiated actions and arrests and force events are an extremely rare occurrence. From the years of 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, roughly 1 per 500 hundred to 1,000 calls for service and officer-initiated actions are associated with a use of force. Between 4% and 5% percent of arrests are associated with force.
Following is the breakdown of statistics for each year:
Dispatched Calls: 422,471
Officer Initiated Actions (OIAs): 45,672
Custodial Arrests: 14,022
Force Incidents: 524
Dispatched calls: 429,598
Officer Initiated Actions (OIAs): 55,856
Custodial Arrests: 13,582
Force Incidents: 570
Officer Initiated Actions (OIAs): 70,151
Custodial Arrests: 15,471
Force Incidents: 643
Dispatched calls: 370,036
Officer Initiated Actions (OIAs): 70,903
Custodial Arrests: 15,151
Force Incidents: 768
TOTAL APD FORCE INCIDENTS: 2,505
(Page 15, Use of Force report)
CITY IS IN STEP WITH NATION WIDE VIOLENT CRIME TRENDS
The Major Cities Chiefs Association reported that Albuquerque has been in step with nationwide violent crime trends this year. The Major Cities Chiefs Association polled 67 cities throughout the country, including Albuquerque, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago and Denver. In Albuquerque, the data shows, there were 6% more aggravated assaults the first six months of 2020 than a year earlier.
Although homicides were down the first six months of the year, they surpassed last year’s pace for a while in the third quarter. As of mid-October, there have been 55 homicides this year, compared with 57 by the same time last year, according to APD records.
In an APD news release, Interim Police Chief Harold Medina attributed the decrease in crime to the hiring of more officers and the department’s crime-fighting tactics and had this to say:
“Our strategy of hiring more officers is bringing steady, hard-won progress. … We initially used limited resources to tackle auto theft and robbery, and the additional officers are helping us to expand our crime-fighting efforts. We are in a better position to more aggressively tackle gun violence, which remains a long-standing challenge in our community.”
A NATIONAL TREND
Diane Dimond is a national “Crime and Justice Columnist.” Ms. Dimond is an American investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. In a recent column, she reported that 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.”
In yet another column, Dimond reports that FBI statistics reveal that Albuquerque has the dubious distinction of having a crime rate about 194% higher than the national average.
APD EXPANDING HOMICIDE UNIT
On September 3, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) announced it is increasing the Homicide Investigative Unit to keep up with the increasing number of cases. As of October 10, the APD Homicide unit is investigating 58 homicides so far in 2020, which is ahead of the record-breaking pace in 2019. According to APD Officials, the department will be adding another sergeant to the Homicide Investigative Unit, which will increase the size of the unit to 10 detectives and 2 sergeants.
According to a September 30 news report, APD currently has 984 sworn officers, 88 joined in 2020 and the APD is planning to hire two case preparation specialists. There are currently 60 more officers in training at the APD Academy. Growing the ranks of APD is part of the strategy to reduce spiking crime rates, but the academy is having difficulty in keeping up with retirements. So far in 2020, there have been a total of 66 officers who left the department and more are expected to retire at the end of the year.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
City residents can take very small comfort from the released statistics that revealed that overall crime in the city is down slightly. Further, the slight reduction in crime is not the result of anything Mayor Tim Keller nor the APD programs his administration has implemented. The response to the pandemic certainly is a contributing reason for lower property crime rates and many other crimes. The slight reduction in crime can be easily attributed the the pandemic that hit the city hard in February resulting in quarantine, major event cancellations not to mention the closure of thousands of businesses closed for several months. In others words, people being home, malls and businesses being closed means opportunities for criminals were reduced, businesses could not be robbed or have shoplifters, homes could not be robbed and many cars were parked in garages reducing auto thefts.
The disparity of the number of arrests as being a fraction as to the number of criminal incidents and dispatched calls is to be expected and is not at all surprising. Successful arrest are usually made at the time of a crime is committed or very soon thereafter. Cases involving such crime as auto theft, burglaries, even rapes and murder require extensive investigations and even then no arrests may be made in the cases because no suspects are found.
FBI statistics reveal that Albuquerque has the dubious distinction of having a crime rate 194% higher than the national average. Albuquerque has been on the forefront of the trend on violent crime increasing 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 October 9, the city has had 58 homicides this year alone.
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.
The country will have a vaccine sooner rather than latter to deal with the pandemic. However, crime is not getting any better and only worse in Albuquerque and there appears to be no real hope in the near future to reduce crime at least not from Mayor Tim Keller and his administration. Mayor Tim Keller forcing the retirement of Chief Michael Geier is an admission of failure on Keller’s part to bring down our crime rates as he promised 3 years ago running for Mayor. Dr. Keller has been a failure in finding a vaccine for our high crime rates.
From December 1, 2017 when he was sworn into office, until July 1, 2019, every quarter Mayor Tim Keller would hold a press conference to release the city’s crime statistics. 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. Keller reported that crime was down significantly , with double-digit drops in many categories including violent offenses such as robberies, aggravated assaults, and rapes.
On Sunday, December 1, 2019, the Albuquerque Journal published a front-page article that reported that all the crime rate reductions Mayor Tim Keller reported in a July 1, 2019 press conference were in fact seriously flawed and inaccurate. According to the report, both the 2019 mid-year statistics and the statistics released at the end of 2018 were revised dramatically to include hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of more incidents than were initially reported.
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 May 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.
CORRECTED CRIME STATISTICS
On December 13, 2019 APD officials held a news conference to explain what went wrong and what they are doing to prevent it from happening again. APD announced changes in how it handles and reports crime statistics. The officials said that the Keller Administration had been unintentionally releasing incomplete data for the last two years
Prior to 2018, APD reported data using the Summary Reporting System (SRS), which included eight categories and counted only the most serious offense during an incident. Starting in January 2021, the FBI will no longer accept data in this format. The FBI is requiring crimes to be counted through the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which uses far more specific categories and counts virtually all crimes within a single incident rather than just the most serious.
The corrected statistics reported for 2019 are as follows:
Auto burglaries decreased 16%, not the 38% as previously announced by Mayor Keller
Auto theft decreased 22%, not the 39% 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 broken the all-time record and is at 76 as of December 17.
Rape decreased 3%, not the 29% Keller reported
Robbery decreased 30%, not the 47% reported by Keller
Aggravated assault decreased 7.5%, not the 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% as announced by Keller
Auto theft decreased 14%, not the 31% reported by Keller
Robbery decreased 32% and Keller reported it decreasing by 36%