On Thursday, April 14, the Albuquerque Journal published on its front page a story written by Journal staff reporter Matthew Reisen with the banner headline: “Killings Albuquerque Nearly Double”. Following the most relevant portions of the article along with the link to the full article:
“The Albuquerque Police Department has investigated 34 homicides this year – almost twice as many as the city had at this point in each of the past two years.
By this time in both 2020 and 2019, there were 19 killings. APD ended up with 77 homicides in 2020 and a record 80 in 2019.
Homicides often ebb and flow during the year, usually spiking in warmer months. But the first four months of 2021 have seen the highest total in the past seven years.
The next highest count was in 2018, when there were 21 homicides by mid-April.
Of the 34 homicides, APD has made an arrest in six cases and filed an arrest warrant for 15-year-old Josef Toney in the double homicide of two women.
APD Chief Harold Medina said not much has changed in the department’s focus on homicides since January, when Medina held a briefing after 14 people were killed in Albuquerque during that month – including two double homicides.
“We’re very concerned. We want to see a reduction, but we also know we’re in the midst of a pandemic, and it’s a real tangible item we’re seeing nationwide that there’s an increase in homicides,” he said. “I would hope that we could be the exception – as a chief I don’t like to see it.”
Medina said the department is trying to be proactive by targeting specific areas, looking to beef up drug and gang units, and trying to prevent those known to be involved in illegal activity from becoming homicide victims or suspects.”
The link to the full Albuquerque Journal article is here:
CHANNEL 7 NEWS REPORT
On April 17, Channel 7 news reported in part with the headline:
“ABQ murder rate continues to climb in record cases”
“The homicide rate in Albuquerque continues to climb, as police are investigating another apparent murder in the city Thursday night.
When it comes to violent crime, APD says Montgomery is getting hit especially hard, with multiple homicides since January and multiple shootings. The department is now having more officers in the area, working with residents to try and teach them crime prevention tips, and target violent suspects.
The city is on its way to the highest murder rate in history. So far this year, there have been at least 35 homicides.”
APD OFFICERS QUITE THE EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM
On April 14, it was reported that more than a dozen APD officers quit the Emergency Response Team (ERT) following a counter protest over the weekend. Seventeen officers, one lieutenant, and two sergeants resigned from the team that handles protests. All the resignations stem from the protest that happened on Civic Plaza over the weekend. During the protest, officers said an armed man was taunting demonstrators, so APD field officers detained him. At the time of his detainment, the man was not charged. APD officials later reversed that decision, and put an officer on leave for the day to conduct an investigation. APD said there was a breakdown in the chain of command about whether charges would be pressed against the armed man. The officers who resigned from the ERT did not resign from being an officer at the department.
Shaun Willoughby, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association had this to say about the 17 resignations:
“This comes down to a lack of trust. … [Police] don’t feel supported here, and they don’t feel trust. They feel second guessed, and they don’t feel that they can do their job, no matter how perfect they do their job, without getting in trouble. I think Mayor Keller needs to make a serious decision of what this police department’s priority structure is. … I think that he needs to carry that sentiment down to the police chief, so that your police officers feel supported. … We are seeing a dramatic increase of Albuquerque police officers applying to go to other departments. …Morale, let’s not even talk about it because it doesn’t exist. There is no morale. Your Albuquerque police officers are absolutely miserable at work— nobody’s happy.”
Aside from the Emergency Response Team, Willoughby said many people have left the department altogether. Around 20 officers have quit over the last two months.
KIM JEW PHOTOGRAPHY BREAKINS
It was reported that very prominent Kim Jew Photography was twice the victim of commercial burglary. According to news reports, the company has installed security cameras. Video evidence of the April 5 break-in revealed a man broke into the studio and carried off money, $6,000 worth of camera equipment and priceless memory cards of people photographed. As a result of a crime stoppers tip, the name of a suspect, his address and a license plate of his car in front of his house was secured and given to Kim Jew, the owner. When Kim Jew tried to contact the APD officers who took the report to give them additional information, he was told they were off. He had no way to contact them except through an email. After well over a week, one finally contacted Kim Jew. Notwithstanding, the case was turned over to an impact team and no arrests were made and the APD sat on the case.
On April 15, the Albuquerque Journal published an editorial entitled: “A picture perfect reason ABQ crime is out of control”. The editorial said in part:
APD is still short-handed and operating under a difficult oversight agreement. Substance abuse does drive crime. But that doesn’t change the bottom line. When Tim Keller campaigned for mayor, he said crime was issue No. 1. and it is the mayor’s job to get it under control. And while violent crime is up, APD Chief Harold Medina says property crime has fallen.
But you couldn’t prove it by the Kim Jew break-in, APD’s response and the repeated police no-shows in cases involving this suspect. If we really want to get a handle on crime, APD and the criminal justice system need to do a whole lot better.
The link to the full editorial is here:
BERNALILLO COUNTY SHERIFFS’ OFFICE FAILS TO REPORT TO FBI
On April 8, the Albuquerque Journal published on its front page a story written by Journal staff reporter Matthew Reisen with the banner headline “BCSO has been silent about this year’s homicides.” It was reported that BCSO waited until the week of April 5 to report on the 2 homicides that occurred in the county and being investigated by the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office. Further, the BCSO waited until April to report that the December 2020 death of Francine Gonzales, 36, on the West Side was ruled a homicide after an autopsy in late March.
The link to the full report is here:
According to the Journal report, in previous years, including 2020, BCSO regularly sent out email and Twitter alerts when BCSO detectives opened a homicide investigation. BCSO usually gave details on the incident and solicited tips from the public. Until April 7, BCSO had been silent on the 2021 cases, yet increased email and Twitter notifications for warrant roundup operations and “repeat offender” arrests often criticizing the actions of courts for previously releasing the suspects.
BCSO Transparency and Public Information Coordinator Jayme Fuller explained the delay in reporting on the 2 homicides as not always told about homicides, or other incidents, until reporters ask about them and they confirm them with supervisors.
The most troubling fact in the Journal report was glossed over. Buried in the article is the statement:
“Last year, BCSO’s crime statistics were not included in the annual FBI report because the agency didn’t meet the March deadline to report them, and they couldn’t be certified in time.”
The problem is that the yearly FBI statistics are the best measure as to performance measures of BCSO. Further, Bernalillo County and BCSO rely upon those statistics to secure federal grant funding.
On April 13, the Albuquerque Journal published an editorial making its displeasure known over BCSO withholding information on the 2 homicides with the editorial headline reading “BCSO is wrong to sit on homicide info for months”. The editorial reads in part:
“The Albuquerque Police Department and N.M. State Police investigate many more homicides; each alert the public and media within hours. That’s how it should be. Waiting months to notify the public about a couple of bodies an agency found is unacceptable and raises the specter of what else is BCSO sitting on? Mayoral prospect Sheriff Manuel Gonzales should understand the public’s high interest in crime in their communities and correct this shortcoming. BCSO needs to treat the public as a partner, not an afterthought or worse, an enemy.”
ABQ’S CRIME STATISTICS IN A NUTSHELL FOR 3 YEARS
In 2020, FBI statistics reveal that Albuquerque has the dubious distinction of having a crime rate about 194% higher than the national average.
A synopsis of the statics during Mayor Tim Keller’s 3 years in office is in order.
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.
In 2020, there were 76 homicides in Albuquerque.
As April, 14 2021, there have been 34 homicides in the city, another record.
EDITOR’S NOTE: 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.
HOMICIDE CLEARANCE RATES
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. In 2020, the APD homicide clearance rate continued to deteriorate was less than 50%.
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.
In 2020 during Keller’s third full year in office, Crimes Against Persons went 2019: 14,971 in 2019 to 15,262 in 2020.
“Crimes Against Society” include drug offenses, prostitution and animal cruelty.
In 2018 During Keller’s first full year in office, total Crimes Against Society were 3,365
In 2019 during Keller’s second full year in office, total Crimes Against Society increased to 3,711 for a total increase of 346 more crimes or a 9% increase.
In 2020 during Keller’s third full year in office Crimes Against Society, had 61% increase weapons law violations last year.
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.
911 EMERGENCY RESPONSE TIMES
In 2009, under Democrat Mayor Martin Chavez, the average 911 emergency response time to calls, whether it was a life-or-death emergency or a minor traffic crash was 8 minutes 50 seconds.
In 2011, under Republican Mayor RJ Berry the average response times to 911 emergency calls was 25 minutes.
In 2018 and 2019, under Democrat Mayor Tim Keller, the average response times to 911 emergency calls spiked to a full 48 minutes.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
These are the very type of headlines and statistics that no doubt give Mayor Tim Keller and Sheriff Manny Gonzales nightmares as they run against each other for Mayor. The comments by the President of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association also are clear evidence who the police union will likely be supporting for Mayor.
APD and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department have “concurrent jurisdiction” and both Keller and Gonzales have proclaimed they were taking action to curb violent crime. Keller has been Mayor 3 years and Gonzales has been Sheriff for 6 years. BCSO Sheriff Gonzales even did a number “sweep” actions in the SE Heights to make arrests and was 100% behind Führer Trump’s law enforcement policies. Both Keller’s and Gonzales’s initiatives and programs to bring down violent crime did very little to bring down the city’s high crime rates.
BCSO’s crime statistics not being included in the annual FBI report was likely no mistake. BCSO Sheriff Manny Gonzales has notified the City Clerk that he is running for Mayor. No doubt Gonzales wants to hide the statistics that show our out-of-control high crime rates are just as bad in the county as in the city.
The city is facing any number of problems that are bringing it to its knees. Those problems include the coronavirus pandemic, business closures, high unemployment rates, exceptionally high violent crime and murder rates, continuing mismanagement of the Albuquerque Police Department, failed implementation of the Department of Justice reforms after a full six years and millions spent, declining revenues and gross receipts tax, high unemployment rates, increasing homeless numbers, lack of mental health programs and little economic development.
The city cannot afford another mayor who makes promises and offers only eternal hope for better times that result in broken campaign promises. What is needed is a mayor who actually knows what they are doing, who will make the hard decisions without an eye on the next election, not make decisions only to placate their base and please only those who voted for them. What’s needed is a healthy debate on solutions and new ideas to solve our mutual problems, a debate that can happen only with a contested election. A highly contested race for mayor will reveal solutions to our problems. With Keller and Gonzales, we are faced with voting for the lesser of two evils, or not voting.”
At this point, city voters will have to decide between the lesser of two evils of Keller and Gonzales for Mayor. Frankly, the city needs far more candidates to run for Mayor, otherwise all we have to choose from is a lesser of two evils and just deciding not to vote.
A link to a related blog article is here: