On Monday, August 16, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she had order 35 New Mexico State Police ( NMSP) officers to begin “proactive operations” and crime suppression operations in the Albuquerque area starting on Tuesday, August 17. The State Police were sent to the city in the wake of the killing of 13-year-old, eighth grader Bennie Hargrove being shot and killed at Washington Middle school by another student as well as the city breaking the all-time homicide rate with 81 murders, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham sent 35 New Mexico State Police Officers to the city.
The assignment of State Police was the second time in as many years that the Governor has ordered state police to the city. The first time had 50 State Police officers from around the state target specific Albuquerque neighborhoods to fight violent crime. The end result was 14,674 traffic stops and 738 arrests at a price tag of around $1 million. The first State Police initiative resulted in accusations of heavy-handed policing and shootings during the operation and resulted in local leaders and advocacy groups to criticize the effort.
The second time is dramatically different. It was in May, 2019 following the shooting of the University of New Mexico baseball player Jackson Weller outside of a Nob Hill bar that 50 state police officers were pulled from communities all over the state and patrolled the metro for two months. The state police arrested 738 people and doing more than 14,000 traffic stops. The 35 state police being sent this time will be tasked with concentrating on outstanding warrants for violent crimes.
The recent 35 NMSP officers were assigned to a 3-week-long operation in Albuquerque. State Police Officers have conducted operations along I-25 and I-40 in Bernalillo County. They were on highways during peak traffic hours. The operation involves 35 officers, 25 of whom were already working in and around Albuquerque, and is similar to the “Metro Surge Operation” in the summer of 2019. Currently, 42 state police officers are stationed in the metro area, but they patrol the area from Bernalillo to Los Lunas and Grants to Edgewood. The 35 State Police concentrated exclusively on Albuquerque.
The NMSP have been working with the New Mexico Department of Corrections and Adult Probation and Parole Department. The state department has worked together to target criminals who have outstanding warrants for violent crimes and are believed to be involved in ongoing criminal activity in the city.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham had this to say in a statement:
“We know from our last effort there were a lot of arrests made. We think this is going to make an impact and we’re going to continue to go after fugitives right and we’ve got felony warrants, people out. It takes all of us working together to get these people picked up and held.”
Tim Johnson, Chief of the New Mexico State Police, had this to say in a news release:
“Proactive crime suppression efforts can help solve crimes and often help prevent crime in the Albuquerque Metro area. … “Citizens have described the driving on the interstates in Albuquerque as chaotic, often leaving them feeling unsafe or frightened. Shootings, murder and overall violent crime feels like a daily occurrence in the metro, we hope our plan can help slow this trend.”
On September 14, it was reported that the New Mexico State Police arrested nearly 100 people on felonies during the agency’s ongoing operation combatting crime in Albuquerque. According to Governor Lujan Grisham’s spokesman Tripp Stelnicki, NMSP officers have made 93 felony arrests and 67 misdemeanor arrests since August 16 when the Governor announced the State Police initiative. Stelnicki said 58 of those arrested on felonies were people with “violent criminal histories.”
The tactical response began August 17. NMSP plans to resume its targeted efforts throughout the county and metro area for at least one additional week after the conclusion of the New Mexico State Fair.
The New Mexico State Police report the following as part of the tactical response:
13 stolen vehicles recovered
21 DWI arrests
160 total arrests, including felonies and misdemeanors; this number includes 58 arrested individuals with violent criminal histories
15 narcotics seizures, including methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl
6 illegal firearms recovered
NEW MEXIO OFFICIALS REACT
Governor Lujan Grisham said in a statement that the operation has “made a real difference” in combating crime in the Albuquerque area and had this to say:
“I believe state police officers have made a real difference in these few weeks. This targeted effort has brought in dozens of offenders with violent criminal histories, and that is and must continue to be our North Star in combating crime in our state: Keeping as many of the worst of the worst off of our streets as we possibly can. It’s why I will support a significant investment in hiring 1,000 new community-oriented officers statewide in the upcoming legislative session. And it’s why I will support a rebuttable presumption for violent offenders, because bail reform is necessary to help our officers and criminal justice system prioritize the repeat and violent offenders who have no business on our streets. I look forward to continued good work from our committed officers, and I thank them, and their partners throughout the criminal justice system, for their ongoing service to New Mexico.”
Public Safety Secretary Jason Bowie had this to say:
“This metro operation is an outstanding example of the continued commitment to statewide law enforcement support provided by the Department of Public Safety and the New Mexico State Police. … Effective partnerships between law enforcement and community stakeholders are crucial to public safety. The dedication and commitment exhibited in this partnership was vital and has not gone unnoticed. More work is still ahead of us.”
State Police Chief Tim Johnson said in a press release had this to say:
“By arresting violent fugitives who were wanted on charges including aggravated assault, armed robbery, and drug distribution, we not only take repeat offenders off the street, but we are also able to derive valuable intelligence that help solve additional crimes and take down larger criminal operations in the area.”
Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office, said in a statement that Lujan Grisham is committed to addressing violent crime in a multi-pronged way that involves the justice system and other key agencies and said:
“The governor believes addressing violent crime requires an entire criminal justice system — from cities and counties to beat cops and courts — working together to find and arrest and bring to justice violent offenders.”
Links to quoted source material are here:
NUMBER OF APD ARRESTS LAST 7 YEARS
When it comes to the Albuquerque Police Department, arrests are broken down into 3 major categories: Felony Arrests, Misdemeanor Arrests and DWI Arrests. The number of Felony Arrest, Misdemeanor Arrests and DWI Arrests for APD over the last 7 years can be gleaned from all the fiscal year budgets.
For the Fiscal Years of F/Y 14 to F/Y 20 the total number of arrests in each of the 3 major categories are as follows:
FY/14 Arrests: Felony 9,507, Misdemeanor 27,127, DWI 2,704
FY/15 Arrests: Felony 9,049, Misdemeanor 22,639, DWI 2,213
FY/16 Arrests: Felony 8,744, Misdemeanor 19,857, DWI 1,720
FY/17 Arrests: Felony 9,527, Misdemeanor 18,562, DWI 1,338
FY/18 Arrests: Felony 11,257, Misdemeanor 19,923, DWI 1,403
FY/19 Arrests: Felony 10,945, Misdemeanor 19,440, DWI 1,788
FY/20 Arrests: Felony 6,621, Misdemeanor 16,520, DWI 1,230,
The links to the approved city budgets from 2007 to 2022 that contain the statistics can be found here:
2022 ADOPTED APD BUDGET CONTAINS TOTAL APD ARRESTS FOR 2019 AND 2020
The City’s 2022 adopted budget contains APD’s arrests statistics for 2019 and 2020. APD’s budget is a performance-based budget and the department is required to submit a number of statistics to justify its budget. Arrest numbers for felonies, misdemeanors as well as DWI are reported in the budget.
The link to the budget is here:
Following is the breakdown of arrest for the years 2019 and 2020:
NUMBER OF FELONY ARRESTS:
NUMBER OF MISDEMEANOR ARRESTS
NUMBER OF DWI ARRESTS
TOTAL NUMBER OF ARRESTS FOR 2019: 32,173
TOTAL NUMBER OF ARREST FOR 2020: 24,371
2022 APD Budget, page 151:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The arrest of 160 criminals, which included 50 violent criminals, is much appreciated by APD and the public but given the sure volume of arrests made in Albuquerque a year, it is a real stretch of the imagination for the Governor and other law enforcement state officials to believe the arrest of 160 felony and misdemeanor criminals is a major accomplishment. It is more like 160 grains of sand in and entire bucket of sand. The blunt truth is that those arrests will not have much of a major impact on the city’s crime rates. They are kidding themselves and the public if they believe 160 arrests will have and impact when APD makes 24,000 to 32,000 arrests a year. To have an impact on crime there needs to be sustained operations and tactical plans for at least a full year. A 2 to 3 week period of arrests during a major event such as the State Fair or for that matter the International Balloon Fiesta will have little if any effect.
If Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is truly committed to have an impact on Albuquerque’s high crime rates, she should advocate that the 1,000 sworn police she wants funding for be permanently assigned to the city of Albuquerque. Now THAT would make difference! With that many added police officers patrolling the streets of Albuquerque and being proactive making arrest, crime rates would go down dramatically.