On Thursday February 18, Channel 4 during its 6:00 PM news cast reported the following story:
STORY LINE: “Keller details proactive strategies to tackle crime in Albuquerque”
“ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Mayor Tim Keller addressed Thursday how his administration is trying to turn around the crime crisis in Albuquerque.
“We’ve shifted focus to consistent proactive policing,” Keller said.
After former APD Chief Mike Geier, Keller said the department shifted to a more proactive strategy that he says is, in-part, only possible because of his efforts to hire more officers.
“Almost all of our efforts and resources and hours were soaked up by reactively responding to calls,” Keller said. “And I think everyone knows my continuing commitment to hire more officers.”
Weekly anti-crime operations have resulted in more than 1,000 arrest, more than 140 gun recoveries and 120 stolen cars being located, according to APD. However, there have been approximately 20 homicides in the city since the start of 2021.
While many of the people officers have arrested are still behind bars, officials said they continue to spend time and resources arrested the same person when they are released.
Under the Keller administration, numerous crime-fighting initiatives have been launched. He was asked Thursday when results from those initiatives would be noticed.
“I think it’s a challenging question because of COVID and what we’re seeing around the country. And actually we are concerned and worried about the reverse,” Keller said. “Violent crime is skyrocketing everywhere in the country. That is what we are trying to plan for, brace for and deal with. So until we have all the other associated aspects with COVID and violent crime and drug use show some kind of clear direction. Then we can give you an accurate forecast.”
The link to the news story is here:
FEBRUARY 12 CHANNEL 4 REPORT
On Friday, February 12, KOB Channel 4 did another report interviewing Interim Chief Harold Medina on the city’s crime rates.
Following are the relevant portions of the Channel 4 report:
STORY LINE: “Interim APD chief says pandemic, drugs contributing to crime in Albuquerque.”
The Albuquerque Police Department has opened up 20 homicide investigations in 2021. Interim APD Chief of Police Harold Medina spoke with KOB 4 about the crime crisis.
He didn’t have details about how many of the homicides have been solved. However, he pointed to an arrest from a January homicide. He also said they have leads in half of the homicides committed this week.
Medina added that he believes the pandemic is contributing to crime.
“I think this is directly related to the COVID situation that we’re in,” he said.
In addition to the pandemic, Medina said drugs are also fueling crime. Medina said he’s working on new strategies to help combat crime.
“One of the things that I’ve implemented as interim chief is we have an 8:45 call every morning that includes all the commanders, all the deputy chiefs, and we discuss what occurred the previous 24 hours. … I even created a new process where we get a 24-hour overall crime report broken down by area command.”
The homicide unit has 14 detectives. Medina said he eventually wants to add two more detectives to the unit.
Medina believes dealing with crime goes beyond the police department. He said the community comes together. But how will that work when it’s still unclear—who the next police chief will be?
“It’s realistic that chiefs aren’t going to be around like they were in the past for decades,” Medina said. “Their short-term goals have to be tied in to long-term sustainable goals that are based on the department’s needs, and are going to be sustained by the department.”
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
It is absolutely pathetic that Mayor Tim Keller and Interim Chief Harold Medina would make any attempt at all in blaming the city’s out of control crime rates in any degree on the pandemic. The blunt truth, crime has been out of control since Keller was sworn into office in 2017 and virtually all time Keller has been in office. The pandemic hit the city hard just last year in February, 2020. For that reason alone, Keller must think the public will believe anything he says when he blames the city’s crime rates on the pandemic.
In August, 2017, New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller and candidate for Albuquerque Mayor had this to say about the city’s high crime rates:
“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.”
Fast forward to today. When Keller tells Channel 4 with a smile on his face and a grin in his voice: “We’ve shifted focus to consistent proactive policing …Almost all of our efforts and resources and hours were soaked up by reactively responding to calls”, he no doubt believes that the general public have forgotten what has happened.
Keller said when he announced the programs in 2019 were “pro-active” and “not reactive” as he is obviously is now claiming.
Lest anyone forget, Keller campaigned hard in part on bringing down the cities crime rates. During his term violent crime had only gotten worse and despite programs he initiated.
It’s truly amazing that Mayor Tim Keller and Interim Chief Harold Medina are essentially blaming the city’s high violent crime rates on the pandemic. They both damn well know full well that the pandemic hit the city hard last February, 2020.
During the last 3 years of Keller’s term in office, the city has had a record-breaking number of murders. In 2018, there were 69 homicides. In 2019, there were 82 homicides. As of February 18, 2021, the city has had 20 homicides, yet another major record of murders so early in the year.
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. 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.
KELLER’S FAILURE TO BRING VIOLENT CRIME RATES DOWN AS PROMISED
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, he has failed. In 2019, Keller implemented 4 new programs to address violent crime, increased APD personnel by 116, and spent millions. Violent crime is still “absolutely out of control”. Regrettably, Mayor Tim Keller has failed to do his “job to actually address crime in Albuquerque.”
Given Mayor Keller’s words as to whose job it is to address crime, a discussion of crime statics during Mayor Tim Keller’s tenure is in order.
VIOLENT CRIME UNDER KELLER
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.
On Monday, September 21, 2020, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released statistics that revealed that overall crime in the city was down by less than 1% cross 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% decrease. Over a 2-year period, 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.
AUTO THEFTS STILL HIGH UNDER KELLER
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. On July 30, 2020, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that Albuquerque is now ranked #2 in the nation for auto theft.
HISTORICAL HIGH HOMICIDE NUMBERS UNDER KELLER
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 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.
In 2019, Mayor Tim Keller reacting to the spiking violent crime rates, announced 4 programs in 9 months to deal with and bring down the city’s high violent crime rates . Those APD programs are: the Shield Unit, Declaring Violent Crime “public health” issue, the Metro 15 Operation, “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP Program). Based on the city’s high violent crime and murder rates, it appears Keller’s programs have been a failure
HISTORICALLY LOW HOMICIDE CLEARANCE RATES UNDER KELLER
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.
KELLER’S FAILED PROGRAMS
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
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.
2. 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.
3. The “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. According to Keller vulnerable communities and law enforcement will be working together and building trust has proven results for public safety. 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. …”
4. The Metro 15 Operation program.
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. According to Keller and then APD Chief Michael Geier the new program would target the top 15 most violent offenders in Albuquerque. It’s the city’s version of the FBI’s 10 most wanted list.
Links to news coverage are here:
During the first year Mayor Tim Keller was in office, he was confronted with a crisis where APD failed to gather and tag evidence of a 9 year old’s bloody underwear in a child abuse case. Initially, Keller defended the department and then back off after more than a few public out cry’s including the Albuquerque Journal. Keller acknowledged the mistake and said at the time his administration would acknowledge mistakes and take corrective action and would be transparent and take responsibility for mistakes made.
During the last 3 years under Mayor Tim Keller’s leadership, things have only gotten worse in the city as has Keller’s failure to be candid with the public. The sweeping and dynamic change that Keller was perceived to represent in 2017 never materialized. APD continues to implode, violent crime is still out of control and with a pandemic. Based on the city’s high violent crime and murder rates, APD is failing in its primary mission of combating crime and keeping the city safe.