On Thursday, February 18, the public relations firm of “Keller & Medina” held a press conference to tell the public “they mean business” when it comes to fighting crime and to discuss enforcement actions by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) over the last 6 months. The public relations “dynamic duo” received news coverage by Channel’s 4, 7, 13 and the Albuquerque Journal as they released information on 6 months of what they referred to as “increased” enforcement efforts.
Links to the news coverage are here:
According to the media dynamic duo Keller & Medina, they mean business! APD has arrested more than 1,000 people, seized nearly 150 guns and recovered more than 125 stolen vehicles in over 20 operations over the past six months. Interim Chief Medina had this to say:
“Since starting our anti-crime operations, we have successfully taken repeat, at times violent, offenders into custody and dangerous weapons out of their hands. … Not only are we bringing these individuals to justice, but also we are seeing the positive effects on our overall crime”
APD spokeswoman Rebecca Atkins chimed in and said the increased enforcement operations have “clearly” impacted crime in the city by recovering more weapons and arresting more repeat offenders than in the past view years. Atkins said the most recent operation, APD’s 22nd, resulted in 56 felony arrests, 31 for warrants, 4 stolen vehicles and 7 guns and 17 misdemeanor arrests, five for warrants.
When asked about the number of narcotics officers the department has right now, compared to past years, Interim Chief Medina said:
“I think it’s right around four right now. That is way less than we had 20 years ago. 20 years ago we had basically three teams of narcotics.”
It is a stunning admission by Medina that APD has only 4 narcotics officers, presumably doing under cover work. FBI statistics over the past 8 years have shown that narcotics trafficking has increased in Albuquerque significantly to the point it is being called and opioid crisis by the United States Attorney. On February 10, 2021, Medina said half of all the officer-involved shootings last year involved people on meth. In 2016, 17 and 18, it was more than 70%. On February 12, 2021 as a matter of sure coincidence with a day before story that meth usage is connected to police shootings, it was reported that a random traffic stop on the West Side in the early morning of February 11, a BCSO Deputy seized duffel bags stuffed with 160 pounds of methamphetamine.
Links to news coverage are here:
BREAKING ANOTHER RECORD IN HOMICIDES
The media couple’s presentation was done with the backdrop that the city has had yet another major spike in homicides breaking yet another record. Medina disclosed that APD is investigating 20 homicides in the metro since the start of the new year. By this same time last year, there had been 10 homicides. Only one suspect has been arrested in the 20 murders according to recent reports.
DEVIL IN THE STATISTICS
The cities record breaking number of murders for the last 3 years and now continuing in 2021 are only a small part of the city’s overall violent crime problem. The crime statistics that gage the success or failure of the city’s programs must include not just actual murders but the arrest rates and high violent crime rates. For that reason, those statistics merit review.
HOMICIDES SPIKE DURING THE LAST 3 YEARS
In 2018, during Mayor Tim 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 in 2017 when 72 homicides were reported in Mayor Berry’s last year in office. The previous high mark was in 1996, when the city had 70 homicides. The year 2020 ended with 76 homicides, the second-highest count since 1996. The decline dropped the homicide rate from 14.64 per 100,000 people in 2019 to about 13.5 in 2020.
HISTORICALLY LOW HOMICIDE CLEARANCE RATES
For the past three 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 2020 the clearance rate has dropped to 50%. Of the 75 homicides thus far in 2020, half remain unsolved. There are only a dozen homicide detectives each with caseloads high above the national average.
On Friday October 23, 2020 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 link to the entire use of force report is here:
The Use of Force 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)
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
FOUR YEAR TOTAL OF ARREST MADE BY APD: 58,226
Editor’s Note: Statistics for 2020 not reported in Use of Force report.
In 2018 during Mayor Keller’ first full year in office, there were 6,789 violent crimes, 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.
2020 VIOLENT CRIME STATS
On Monday, September 21, 2020, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released statistics that revealed that overall crime in the city is down slightly across all categories in the first six months of 2020 as compared with the first six months of 2019. Crimes against persons are all violent crimes combined and 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.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
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.
Mayor Tim Keller and Interim APD Chief Harold Medina have pushed the “peddle to the metal” and are going full throttle with their public relations campaign to convince the general public and the media that what they have done recently is having a major effect on reducing crime. Keller ostensibly felt that it was so important that he even found a razor to look clean shaven and put on a tie for the cameras as he talked with a smile on his face and a grin in his voice. Truth is that the 1,000 arrests made in the last 6 months in the enforcement efforts are nothing more than a drop in the city’s blood filled crime bucket, especially in view of the fact that the city is once again experiencing another spike in homicides with 20 murders in 6 weeks and only one arrest.
Links to two related blog articles are here: