On December 10, it was reported that since August, the Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD’s) anti-crime operations have netted 508 arrests, and recovered 76 guns and 62 stolen vehicles. The 508 arrests over the 5-month period are in reality a very small fraction of the number of arrests made per year during the last 4 years which are as follows:
2016: 14,022 total arrests
2017: 13,582 total arrests
2018: 15,471 total arrests
2019: 15,151 total arrests
The police operations focus on those who are wanted on “no bond hold” warrants. These are just a few of the violent defendants who are behind the majority of the crimes committed in the city.
In was in October that the Metropolitan Detention Center was experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19. At that time Bernalillo County Detention officials asked APD to use more discretion on who they arrested. According to Interim Chief Harold Medina, APD is honoring the request as to low-level offenders, presumably nonviolent offenders, but will continue to arrest violent offenders and said:
“We were willing, and we are listening on these low-level crimes. … But some of these serious repeat offenders are not going to get a pass because of COVID in the jail.”
A spokeswoman for the detention center said the jail’s outbreak is beginning to decline and on December 10, it was reported that the jail had 4 inmates and 11 staff with the virus and in quarantine.
MEDINA’S FALSE NARRATIVE
According to Interim Chief Harold Medina, there are some encouraging signs that APD’s anti-crime operations, such as the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) are having an impact on the city’s violent crime. In support of his argument, Medina pointed out that Albuquerque has had a slight dip in all four violent crime categories of homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Medina had this to say:
“When we started these anti-crime operations in the fall, we wanted to shift gears from reactive to proactive. … One of the things we recognize in crime that’s occurring in the city is … it seems like every time we arrest someone for a violent crime, that individual had a warrant out for their arrest when we took that individual into custody.”
According to a December 10 report, shootings in the city have been high over the last 5 years and are above where they were this time last year. In August, shootings resulting in injury or death were 33% above where they were at the same time last year. As of December 10, there were a total of 290 shootings. The 290 shootings included non-fatal shootings, homicides and accidental shootings and there was a reduction over the past couple of months.
While shootings have increased this year, other violent crime categories have decreased through the end of September when the data was collected. According to a report from the Major Cities Chiefs Association, a tally of 67 cities from across the United States showed there were more homicides and aggravated assaults in the first nine months of 2020 compared with the same time period in 2019.
A link to source material is here:
VIOLENE CRIME VERY PROBLEMATIC
Despite multiple efforts and anti-crime operations to crackdown on shootings and violent crime, both continues to be a problem in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. APD reports that gun violence has gone down in recent months. This is simply not true. According to the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office which prosecutes APD and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office cases, there have been a 15% spike in shootings in 2020. The DA’s office reports a 31% increase in deadly shootings in 2020, compared to 2019. So far this year, there have been more than 350 shootings. About 95% of them happened in the metro area.
Kyle Hartsock, special agent in charge of the DA’s Crime Strategies Unit, said the office just launched a dashboard to track shootings around the Albuquerque area. The new tool complies data on location, possible motive and whether it could be gang or group related. Hartsock had this to say about the program:
“The basic investigation always happens, but we’re trying to look beyond that. … So getting a bigger picture and fuller story on violent incident they help every step of the process.”
2019 WAS BANNER YEAR FOR KELLER TO INTRODUCE NEW 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 are:
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)
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.
On August 18, Mayor Tim Keller introduced his Violence Intervention Team of 4 experts tasked to help reach the small percentage of violent offenders. They include a former gang member, a juvenile justice professional, a mediator, and a police commander. They say they will make a difference by identifying and intervening with potential crime drivers.
According to Keller vulnerable communities and law enforcement will be working together and building trust has proven results for public safety. The goal of the team is to find crucial common ground, build new relationships, and significantly reduce gun violence in our neighborhoods. Mayor Keller stated:
“… This is about trying to get these people not to shoot each other. …This is about understanding who they are and why they are engaged in violent crime. … And so, this actually in some ways, in that respect, this is the opposite of data. This is action. This is actually doing something with people. …”
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 then APD Chief Michael 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.
Links to news coverage are here:
On December 10, 2020, APD released an updated Metro 15 list after consulting with the District Attorney’s Office to identify wanted offenders. The list includes a murder suspect and an offender wanted for child abuse resulting in death.
A total of 50 offenders have been arrested since the Metro 15 operation began. The Metro 15 Operation is a targeted component of Mayor Keller’s Violence Intervention Program – a proactive effort to attack violent crime from all sides.
The Metro 15 is a working list of the top 15 violent crime offenders in Albuquerque identified by the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, the state Office of Superintendent of Insurance, and APD.
APD’S “USE OF FORCE” REPORT
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. The city recorded 82 murders in 2019. FBI statistics reveal that Albuquerque has the dubious distinction of having a crime rate 194% higher than the national average. The link to the entire use of force report is here:
RATIONAL FOR LOOKING AT 4 YEAR TIME PERIOD
The 4-year time period of January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2019 was selected for two major reasons:
First: Refined data collection methods have allowed for updated and more accurate data, even retroactively. As of October 2019, APD’s Internal Affairs Force Division (IAFD) completed a thorough review of 304 cases, largely from 2017. Findings and revisions from this dataset have been incorporated into [the] updated report.
Second: The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and City of Albuquerque Court-Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) specifies exactly what information should be included in APD’s Use of Force Annual Reports. The use of a multi-year data set provides a better basis for defining these use of force measures, variables and analytic processes. Examining four years’ worth of data, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 allows for examination of trends and longitudinal patterns, which can inform best practices.
SHOW OF FORCE, USE OF FORCE
A “Show Of Force Case” involves one or more individuals, one or more police officers, and one or more displays of weapons, but no actual use of force during that incident.
A “Use Of Force Type Or Show Of Force” is the specific application of a force type or types in a Use of Force or Show Of Force incident. Use of force includes as empty-hand techniques such as hand strikes, knee strikes and kicks, use of an electronic control weapon such as a Taser, use of a baton, pepper spray or less lethal weapons. Show of force includes cases in which an officer displays a weapon at a suspect
For example, one police officer may display or use several kinds of force such as displaying a handgun, or empty hand techniques or electronic device, with one individual during one encounter. Therefore, the number of “Use Of Force Types” or “Show Of Force Types” will be higher than the number of individuals involved in Use Of Force or Show Of Force Cases.
NUTSHELL OF MAJOR APD STATISTICS FOR 2016, 2917, 2918, 2019
The Use of Force report released by APD in October contains an number of other statistics that merit review. The report has upwards of 56 bar graphs and charts and 8 maps in the 73-page report.
Below are the combined totals in the top 8 blogger “consolidated” categories for the years 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019. The calculations for the 7 categories are based on the raw numbers gleaned from the various bar graphs in the report.
Civilian deaths in 4 years involving APD shootings: 19
Number APD arrests: 58,251
APD “use of force” incidents (Empty hand, TAZER, gun discharge): 2,395
APD “show of force” incidents (Handgun, rifle, TAZER): 1,087
APD firearm discharges: 65
Number of times APD officers displayed a hand gun: 524
Number of times APD officers displayed a rifle: 212
Times APD used “electronic control weapon” (TAZER): 365
Estimated total “calls for service” generating “case numbers” 312,000 to 375,000
(Combined number of cases generated by all 6 area commands)
HIGHLIGHTS OF 4 YEAR USE OF FORCE REPORT
Following are major highlights gleaned from the report and bars graphs used:
– According to the use of force report for the 4-year period, the “use of force” and “show of force” incidents by APD increased each year for the years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
– The report stated 98% of the violations of use of force incidents were in policy, but there still was an increase in use of force for the 4 years.
– Approximately 88% of individuals involved in a use of force are arrested.
– 63% of individuals involved in a “force event” are between the ages 20-36.
When it comes to race and ethnicity:
1. 72% of individuals involved in a combined “show of force” and “use of force” events are white. (page 46)
2. 53% of individuals involved in strictly “use of force” events are Hispanic (page 49 of use of force report)
3. “Black and Native American individuals appear to be over-represented in “shows of force” and “uses of force.” However, statistical testing designed to compare expected (proportional) and actual values was completed and, due to small numbers, no conclusive results could be found as to Black and Native Americans.
Since certain demographic categories returned small expected values, statistical testing is inappropriate. Setting aside the percentages, the actual numbers are relatively small for Black and Native Americans. For instance, 11 Black individuals were involved in shows of force in 2017.
It is inappropriate to conclude that minority populations are over-represented; however, this is not an impossibility either. In short, while these percentages may look disproportionate, because of relatively small numbers of individuals of minority races involved in force events, it is impossible to say for sure if they are or are not statistically disproportionate.”
-95% of individuals involved in use of force incidents did not exhibit “limited or no English language proficiency”. (Page 52 of report)
-Sexual orientation was reported as unknown in 78% of force events. (Page 44 of report).
-Use of force incidents saw the biggest jump from 2018 to 2019 with a 23% increase. Notwithstanding the increase, overall, the report states that “use of force” and “show of force” are “an extremely rare occurrence ” during the 4 years reported upon.
From January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2019, about 1 per 500 to 1 per 1,000 “calls for service” and “officer-initiated actions” (OIA) involved APD using force.
From January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2019, between 4-5% of arrests involved police “use of force.”
An overwhelming majority of “use of force incidents” across all 4 years were found to be compliant with APD Use of Force policy.
In 2019 there were 605 uses of force and 163 shows of force with 10 uses of force incidents found to be out of policy or 1.6% of the total.
When it came to officer-initiated actions, such as spotting a stolen car, or witnesses a disturbance, APD officers used force a mere 212 times out of more than 242,000 incidents.
According to the report:
“It is unclear what may be driving the increase in use of force incidents from 2017 to 2018 and again from 2018 to 2019. … More proactive policing strategies, better reporting of force incidents and other initiatives may account for this increase. Additionally, four years of data is insufficient to draw conclusions about trends over time; the fluctuations may be simply ‘regression to the mean.’”
(Page 17, Use of Force report.)
NUMBER OF ARRESTS
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: 58,226
FORCE INCIDENTS IN CONTEX OF NUMBER OF CALL OUTS
“Given how much interaction APD officers have with the public in a given year, as measured by the volume of calls for service, officer-initiated actions and arrests, 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
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
In 2017, New Mexico State Auditor and candidate for Mayor 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”.
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 even worse since Keller has taken office, especially in terms of violent crime.
City residents can take very little comfort from Interim Chief Medina’s comments and the released statistics that since August, over a 5-month period, 508 arrests and recovered 76 guns and 62 stolen vehicles. The truth is such a number of arrests is a very low figure in the entire spectrum of violent crime. Further, the reports that that overall crime in the city is down slightly offers little comfort.
The truth is 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 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 December 10, the city has had 72 homicides and its likely there will be more.
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:
1. The Shield Unit,
2. Declaring Violent Crime “Public Health” issue,
3. The “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP program) and
4. The Metro 15 Operation program. Based upon the statistics, the Keller anti crime programs have had very little effect on reducing violent crime.
All four programs have now been in effect for a full year. Based on the statistics, it is painfully obvious that the 4 programs have had very little to do with brining down the city’s high crime rates. Under normal circumstances, the public would give Keller and APD a pass an say “at least he tried.” However, it was Keller who promised to bring down the city’s high crime rates and saying he was “uniquely” qualified to be Mayor.
COOKING THE BOOKS
Then there is the matter of Mayor Keller “cooking the books” on APD’s crime statistics. When Keller took office on December 1, 2017, every quarter when APD released the city’s crime statistics, Mayor Keller would do a press conference to proclaim and to some extent take credit for crime going down in all categories. He did so on July 1, 2019, only 1 day after the second quarter of 2019 ended to report the mid-year crime statistics compared to last year midterm numbers. Mayor Keller reported that crime was down substantially, with double-digit drops in nearly every category, between the first six months of 2018 and the first six months of 2019.
The statistics released during the July 1, 2019 Keller press conference were the statistics the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) reported to the FBI in the first 6 months of 2019 that the property crimes of home burglaries were down and auto burglaries were down. Robberies, sexual assaults and murders were also reported as down from the first 6 months of last year. Double-digit drops were reported during the 6 months in violent offenses included robberies, down, aggravated assaults, and rapes.
On Sunday, December 1, the Albuquerque Journal reported that all the crime rate reductions Keller reported in his July 1, 2019 press conference were in fact seriously flawed and not accurate, and by big percentages. 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, more incidents than were initially reported. The final numbers for all of 2018 showed violent crime actually increased.
At an October meeting of the City Council, APD provided the revised statistics to it but failed to report that the numbers had changed drastically no doubt believing no one would notice. Mayor Keller also did not hold any kind of a press conference to correct nor announce the corrected statistics. The Keller Administration blamed the false numbers on antiquated software programs, but only after the Keller Administration had essentially been caught by the Albuquerque Journal. Mayor Keller for his part has never issued his own personal apology for misleading the public and trying to take credit for bringing down crime rates by using false statistics.
Here are the corrected statistics:
Auto burglaries decreased 16%, not 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
The link to the full December 1 Journal article is here:
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 safer. And neither is Interim Chief Harold Medina giving false narratives on success of Keller’s anti-crime initiatives.
Links to related blog articles are here:
APD “Use of Force” Report Shows 4 Year Increase In APD Use Of Force; 19 Civilian Deaths; 58,251 Arrests; 2,395 Uses of Force, 1,087 Shows Of Force; Small Fraction Of Overall Crime Stats; No Data Compiled On APD’s Intervention With The Mentally ILL
Mayor Keller’s Coffee Klatsch Program To Combat Violent Crime; APD Clearance Rates, Operation Legend, And Police Union Survey