Following are the headlines with report summaries and links to the full news stories for Halloween weekend:
November 1 ABQ Journal Headline: VIOLENCE OVER WEEKEND LEAVES 5 FATALLY SHOT, OTHERS INJURED
“Violence erupted marring the Halloween weekend around the metro area with five people fatally shot and multiple persons wounded in separate incidents which spanned from Downtown to Southeast Albuquerque, the South Valley, Corrales and the West Side. … The weekend started off with gunfire at a large house party on the West Side, a homicide in Downtown Albuquerque and a killing in Corrales.”
HEADLINE: “Albuquerque police: Party gunfire wounds multiple people”
“Albuquerque police say at least several people were shot and wounded by gunfire during what was described as a large house party early Saturday morning.”
HEADLINE: “House party shooting in northwest Albuquerque”
“A house party turned into a chaotic scene Saturday morning in northwest Albuquerque. Several people were injured after shots were fired at the party. None of the injuries are considered life-threatening. An APD spokesman says officers responded to a 911 call near McMahon Boulevard NW and Fineland Drive NW. … Stray bullets hit several houses. … APD says multiple people were shot and taken to the hospital.”
HEADLINE: “Son of former State Senator killed in first murder in Corrales, since December, 2002”
“The son of former State Senator Steve Komadina was killed Saturday in Corrales – the first murder in Corrales, since December, 2002. … Corrales Police Chief Victor Mangiacapra confirmed to Action 7 News that 46 year old Spencer Komadina was shot and killed, after an altercation with his roommate at their home, located on the 300 block of Camino De Corrales Del Norte. …”
HEADLINE: BCSO: Shooting leaves 2 dead, 4 injured at South Valley party.
“Two people are dead and four people, including a juvenile, were injured after a shooting in the South Valley at a Halloween party. … BCSO states that the victims were transported to UNMH and were last reported to be in stable condition. Investigators later learned that there was another gunshot victim, a juvenile, that was also in stable condition at the hospital.”
ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL POLL
The Halloween weekend headlines are Albuquerque’s reality verses public opinion.
The Albuquerque Journal commissioned a poll by its long-time pollster Research and Polling for the November 2 municipal election. The poll was conducted from October 15 through October 21. Included in the poll was a question if voters “felt safe” and their feelings if they felt Albuquerque Police Department (APD) is doing its job.
The Journal Poll is based on a scientific, citywide sample of 536 likely regular local election voters, including those who voted in the 2017 and/or 2019 local elections and a small sample of newly registered voters likely to vote in 2021. The voter sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.
On October 27, the Journal published a front page an article entitled “Despite crime issue, most ABQ voters feel safe” written by Journal Staff writer Matthew Reisen. The link to the full Journal article is here:
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE POLL
Following are the major highlights of the poll:
87% are “concerned” about crime.
61% say they feel either very safe or somewhat safe in Albuquerque.
15% of women said they feel very safe.
22% of men said they feel very safe.
DISPARITY IN FEELINGS OF SAFETY WIDENED WITH POLITICAL PARTY AND MAYORAL SUPPORT
76% of Democrats said they felt safe in Albuquerque.
38% of Republicans said they felt safe in Albuquerque.
75% of Mayor Tim Keller’s supporters reported feeling safe.
36% of Sheriff Gonzales’ supporters reported feeling safe.
38% of Eddy Aragon’s supporters reported feeling safe.
APD APPROVAL RATINGS
61% approve of the job Albuquerque police officers are doing.
44% of voters ages 18 to 34 said they approve of the job officers are doing.
69% of those 65 and older approve the way APD is doing its job.
70% of conservatives say they approve the way APD does its job.
47% of liberals say they approve the way APD does its job.
65% of moderates say they approve the way APD does its job.
Approval for officers dipped most among Keller supporters at 56%.
Aragon supporters showed the highest support for officers at 73%.
Regarding the disparity in feelings of safety widening with political party, Brian Sanderoff, the President of research and Polling told the Journal:
“I’ve noticed over the years that, when you ask a person, ‘how safe are you?’ – if the chief executive, whether it be a mayor, or a governor, is a Democrat, the Democrats were like – ‘Oh, I’m safe.’ There’s something about people relating it to how they feel about the chief executive. And I see that trend here to an extent. … , [the same holds true for Republicans.]
The link to the full report is here:
CITY CRIME RATES, APD’s PERFORMANCE MEASURES AND DOJ POLICE REFORMS
Given the overall poll results that 61% feel safe and somewhat safe and that 61% approve the way APD is doing its job, a review of the city’s crime rates, APD’s performance measure statistics and APD’s compliance with implementing the department of justice mandated police reforms are in order.
ALBUQUERQUE CRIME RATES IN A NUTSHELL
According to the 2020 FBI Unified Crime Reports:
Albuquerque has a crime rate of 194% higher than the national average.
Albuquerque’s Violent Crime Index for 2020 is 346% of the national average.
Albuquerque Property Crime Index for 2020 is 256% of the national average.
In 2018 there were 69 homicides.
In 2019 there were 82 homicides.
In 2020, there were 76 homicides.
As of November 3, 2021 there have been 96 homicides within the city limits a new all-time record high.
In 2018 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 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 Crimes Against Persons went from 14,971 in 2019 to 15,262 in 2020.
APD PERFORMANCE MEASURE STATISICS
APD arrests have plummeted. APD statistics for the budget years of 2019 and 2020 reflect the department is not doing its job of investigating and arresting people. APD felony arrests went down from 2019 to 2020 by 39.51% going down from 10,945 to 6,621. Misdemeanor arrests went down by 15% going down from 19,440 to 16,520. DWI arrests went down from 1,788 in 2019 to 1,230 in 2020, down 26%. The total number of all arrests went down from 32,173 in 2019 to 24,371 in 2020 or by 25%.
In 2019 APD had 924 full time police. In 2020, APD had 1,004 sworn police or 80 more sworn police in 2020 than in 2019, yet arrests went down during the first year of the pandemic.
APD’s homicide unit has an anemic clearance rate of 36%. The police union falsely proclaims officer’s hands are tied by the DOJ reforms and are afraid of doing their jobs for fear of being disciplined.
HISTORICAL LOW HOMICIDE CLEARANCE RATES
For the past three years, 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, the homicide clearance rate was 70%.
In 2018, the homicide clearance rate was 56%.
In 2019, 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.
AUTO THEFTS STILL HIGH
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) reported that Albuquerque is now ranked #2 in the nation for auto theft.
A February 20th KOAT TV Target 7 investigation into the Albuquerque Police Department’s (APD’s) response times revealed an alarming level of time it takes APD to respond to 911 emergency calls. The time it takes for APD to respond to priority 1 calls in all likely has a major impact on increasing physical injury. It was reported that it takes APD 23 minutes longer to get to an emergency call than it did 8 years ago. There has been an astonishing 93% increase since 2011 with response times getting worse every year since.
In 2011, the average response time to all calls, whether it was a life-or-death emergency or a minor traffic crash was 25 minutes. In 2019, that time period spiked to 48 minutes in the average response time.
The main reason for the dramatic increase in response times is a reduction in the number of sworn police with a corresponding increase in calls for service and 911 emergency calls. Not at all surprising is that when you examine APD’s manpower levels over the past nine years, response times were quicker when there were more sworn police assigned to the field services.
On December 1, 2009, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) was staffed at 1,100 police officers. At the time, APD was the best trained, best funded, best equipped and best staffed in the history of the police department. The city’s overall crime rates were significantly lower than they are today.
For the full 8 years from December 1, 2009 to December 1, 2017, APD spiraled down wards as a result of poor management, budget cuts, police salary cuts and an investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) resulting in a finding of a “culture of aggression” within the department. The DOJ investigation resulted in a federal lawsuit and a consent decree mandating major reforms to APD and included the appointment of a federal monitor. When Mayor Keller took office on December 1, 2017, APD had plunged to approximately 870 full time police officers and the numbers went down even further to 830 at one time.
Today, APD staffing has not gotten much better. According to recent reports, APD is down to 940 sworn police.
APD’S FAILURE TO IMPLEMENT MANDATED REFORMS
The Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) mandates 271 police reforms that APD is still struggling to implement after 6 years and millions spent. The most recent 13th Federal Monitors report released finds that APD is deteriorating further in not achieving the mandatory compliance levels.
On May 3, 2021 the Federal Court Appointed Monitor filed with the Federal Court the 13th compliance report of APD. The report covers the time frame of August 2020 through January 2021. It appears that things have only gotten worse for APD.
Under the terms and conditions of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA), once APD achieves a 95% compliance rate in the 3 identified compliance levels and maintains it for 2 consecutive years, the case can be dismissed.
In the IMR-13 report, the Federal Monitor made the following findings on the 3 compliance levels:
Primary Compliance: 100%;
Secondary Compliance: 82%;
Operational Compliance: 59%.
Since the last report, IMR-12, the following changes in compliance levels are noted:
Primary Compliance: No change at 100%
Secondary Compliance: A loss of 9.9%
Operational Compliance: A loss of 7.8%
All documents related to APD’s settlement agreement can be downloaded and reviewed at this city web site link:
The 13th Federal Monitor’s report contains a number of very disturbing findings given that over 6 years has elapsed and millions spent on the reforms.
The link to review the 13th Federal Monitor’s report:
To quote the 13th federal monitor’s report:
“At the present time, APD’s most critical tasks are two-fold. …
First, it needs to control the uses of force effectuated by its personnel, ensuring that each use of force is carefully assessed for compliance to approved policy and that each use of force was the minimum necessary to accomplish a legitimate policing objective.
Secondly, APD needs to actually enforce the mandates of its established disciplinary system and ensure that improper uses of force in the field are addressed through fairly applied remedial measures, e.g., counseling, retraining, enhanced supervision, and discipline.”
(IMR 13, page 1)
APD FAILS TO CONTROL “USE OF FORCE”
“… it continues to be apparent that APD has not had and currently does not have an appetite for taking serious approaches to control excessive or unwarranted uses of force during its police operations in the field. Command and control practices regarding the use of force continue to be weak. APD continues to lack the ability to consistently “call the ball” on questionable uses of force, and at times is unable to “see” obvious violations of policy or procedure related to its officers’ use of force.”
APD’S FAILING DICIPLINARY PROCESS
“At this point, the disciplinary system at APD routinely fails to follow its own written policy, guiding disciplinary matrices, and virtually decimates its disciplinary requirements in favor of refusals to recognize substantial policy violations, and instead, often sustaining minor related violations and ignoring more serious violations. In other cases, APD simply defies its own written guidance.”
(IMR-13, page 2)
MACHINATIONS TO AVOID DISCIPLINING OFFICERS
“… APD is willing to go through almost any machination to avoid disciplining officers who violate policy or supervisors who fail to note policy violations or fail to act on them in a timely manner.”
CLEAR AND DELIBERATE INDIFFERENCE AND IGNORING MONITOR’S RECOMMENDATIONS
“Interestingly, we note this aversion to discipline does not seem to apply to civilian personnel, who are often subjected to maximum penalties for relatively minor violations. To the monitor, this constitutes clear evidence of deliberate indifference to the requirements of the CASA [as applied to APD sworn police personnel]. Again, during this reporting period, we provided APD with highly detailed step-by-step recommendations regarding the use of force investigations and supervision at all levels of the department, among other critical issues. Despite this advice, APD has actually lost ground in its compliance efforts as it relates to training related to and operational implementation of the requirements of the CASA.”
(IMR-13, page 3)
CATASTROPHIC FAILURE IN TRAINING OVERSIGHT
“This monitor’s report can be synopsized in a single sentence. Due to a catastrophic failure in training oversight this reporting period and similar failures at the supervisory and command levels of APD, the agency suffered a 9.9%-point loss in compliance elements related to the training and supervisory functions at APD and a 7.8% loss in overall compliance …. Overall, there is an argument to be made that operational compliance rates have held relatively steady, at slightly less than 60 percent, since IMR-8, two and one-half years ago.”
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
In general, public opinion polls are conducted to gage the degrees of positive or negative reactions to a given issue. For that reason, it is difficult to reconcile the results of the Journal poll showing 87% are “concerned” about crime, yet 61% “feel safe and somewhat safe” in a city with such high crime rates.
Had those polled been told that Albuquerque has a crime rate of 194% higher than the national average and that the city’s violent crime index for 2020 is 346% of the national average, it is highly unlikely 61% would say they “feel safe” or “somewhat safe” if they were told. Pollsters call such polls containing such information “push polls” to get a desired response. Instead of being “concerned” about crime, more than a few would likely say they felt “upset”, “angry” or even “afraid” if they were given the information on the city’s crime rates. One feasible response from those polled is that city residence have become “numb” to the reality of violent crime so long as they are not the victim.
It is equally difficult to reconcile that 61% approve the way APD police are doing their jobs. The reality is APD has a very low arrest rates and homicides clearance rates. Response times to 911 calls have spiked by 93% since 2011. Further, APD is still a law enforcement department under a court approved settlement agreement failing to implement the mandated police reforms after a full 7 years and millions spent.
Too many times public opinion polls do not reflect reality. They are a “snapshot in time” of public sentiment. The blunt truth is that public opinion polls are nothing more than an expression of people’s perception on how they feel at one given time and attitudes can change overnight. In Albuquerque, it’s a stretch to say that people are actually safe given our high violent crime rates. It is also a stretch of the imagination to say that APD is doing its job given the decline in arrests and low clearance rates.
Voters may say the feel safe in an opinion poll, but that does not make it so.
Below are the two major questions asked in the poll with the results reported:
1. OVERALL, HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL IN ALBUQUERQUE?
Very Safe: 18%
Somewhat Safe: 43%
Somewhat Unsafe: 23%
Very Unsafe: 12%
2. DO YOU APPROVE OR DISAPPROVE OF THE WAY ALBUQUERQUE POLICE OFFICERS ARE DOING THEIR JOB?
Mix feeling: 17%
BREAKDOWN BY IDEOLOGY OF APPROVE OR DISAPPROVE WAY APD OFFICERS DOING JOB
Mixed Feelings: 15%
Mixed Feelings: 16%
Mixed Feelings: 18%
BREAKDOWN BY AGE GROUP OF APPROVE OR DISAPPROVE WAY APD OFFICERS DOING JOB
18 TO 34 AGE GROUP
Mixed Feelings: 17%
35 TO 49 AGE GROUP
Mixed Feelings: 17%
50 TO 64 AGE GROUP
Mixed Feelings: 15%
65+ AGE GROUP
Mixed Feelings: 18%
The full Journal article can be read here: