Murders In City Down By 20%; First Decline After 5 Full Years Of Historical Highs; Clearance Rates Up After Historical Lows; Old Fashion Police Work Brought Homicides Down, Not Keller’s “Show And Tell” Programs Of “Trying To Get People Not To Shoot Each Other”; Juveniles Involvement Concerns APD And District Attorney

On January 5, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) released its end-of-year data for homicides.  During the last 6 years, the city’s murder rates rose, dropped one year, and then rose to a historical high and dropped by 20% in 2023. Following is the breakdown of homicides by year:

2017: 72 homicides
2018: 69 homicides.
2019: 82 homicides
2020: 76 homicides
2021: 117 homicides
2022:  120 homicides

2023: 97 homicides


According to the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), murders were down 20% last year. In 2023, APD said there were 97 murders, compared to 121 investigated by APD in 2022.  APD reported that 84 homicides were solved in 2023 with 53 of the cases from 2023 and 31 of the cases are from previous years. APD reported that 117 suspects were arrested, charged or died in 2023  and 12 of the homicide suspects from 2023 were juveniles.

According to APD, there are a few things that may have led to the 20% decrease in homicides. They include officers being more proactive, new and updated technology and arresting people. In 2017, APD only had five homicide detectives who investigated 72 homicides. The homicide unit now has 16 detectives, and roughly 200 officers went through the department’s detective academy.

Chief Medina said this:

“So 240 people, almost, that … have been incarcerated for homicide over the years. We know that we’ve had groups that we think were involved in several over the years. … Once we get them, we take them out of the picture. If not, they would have continued and continued.”


Chief Medina said APD will be using  technology and community programs to help reduce crime and said this:

“We’ll also be rolling out a new program where we’ll be looking out for areas with repeated shots being fired in an area, and we’re going to do a lot more community outreach in those specific neighborhoods.”

APD also plans to add more mobile cameras across the city. Medina said this:

“We just got funding to purchase some additional camera trailers, and we’re going to be positioning camera trailers in parking lots of different high schools within the area so that the Real Time Crime Center can observe them.”


The raw data breakdown for the 2023 homicides is as follows:

Of the 97 homicides:

  • 84 homicides were solved.
  • 53 of the cases were from 2023.
  • 31 of the cases are from previous years.

Of the 97 victims, 81% were male versus 19% female. Compare that to homicide suspects, where 82% are male and 18% are female. The most common weapon used in 2023 homicides was a firearm.


APD reported 117 suspects were arrested, charged or died in 2023.

  • 72 of the suspects are from 2023 cases.
    • 64 arrested
    • 5 dead
    • 3 charged or considered wanted.


  • 45 of the suspects are from previous years.
    • 20 suspects are from 2022 cases.
    • 12 suspects are from 2021 cases.
    • 7 suspects are from 2020 cases.
    • 1 suspect is from a 2019 case.
    • 1 suspect is from a 2018 case.
    • 2 suspects are from 2017 cases.
    • 1 suspect is from a 2016 case.
    • 1 suspect is from a 2014 case.


The types of weapons used to commit homicide in 2023 includes incidents with multiple suspects and where only one suspect fired a gun during commission of homicide.  The data is as follows:

Firearm used in commission of homicide: 80%

Cutting Instrument used in commission of homicide: 10%

Blunt force: 9%

Fire:  1%


The age of victims of homicides in 2023 were as follows:

  • Age 17 and under: 4%
  • Ages 18 to 25: 24%
  • Ages 26 to 35: 24%
  • Ages 36 to 45: 30%
  • Age 46 and older: 17%


The data showed that 17% of homicide suspects in 2023  are 17 years old or younger:

  • Age 17 and under: 17%
  • Ages 18 to 25: 32%
  • Ages 26 to 35: 19%
  • Ages 36 to 45: 21%
  • Age 46 and older: 11%


Total Juvenile suspects in 2023 were as follows:

  • 1 was 13 years old
  • 1 was 14 years old
  • 4 were 15 years old
  • 5 were 16 years old
  • 1 was 17 years old

Total Juvenile suspects: 12


Although the number of homicides is down, the  alarming  trend from last year is the  number of underage kids with guns committing crimes.  APD Chief Harold Medina said this:

“Approximately 10% of our homicides involve juveniles. … We’ve had two, two very young adults murdered over the last couple years in conflict over firearm. We had the incident outside of West Mesa High School, and we had one at a local hotel off of Carlisle.  A conflict over a firearm, which neither one of them should have possession of, led to a shooting. So it’s just these youth cases that are very concerning. We got to do everything we can to keep firearms out of the hands of youth and make sure that there’s consequences. …  That’s a concern because I think that number [of underage kids with guns committing crimes] is on the rise. Towards the second half of the year, we just saw an explosion of underage individuals who were involved in homicides.”


The city is taking steps to try and reduce teen violence. The Albuquerque Community Safety Department implemented the Violence Interruption Program (VIP) at West Mesa and Robert F. Kennedy High School. The program is aimed at reducing gun and gang violence in schools. The VIP focuses on students at the highest risk of becoming part of the gun violence cycle.

According to Medina, the number one criminal activity juveniles take part in is auto theft and he said this:

“The 5-year-old was killed using what we believe were two stolen cars. Other incidents involve youth in stolen cars last week. I know they pulled over some youth with firearms in stolen cars. … I’m very concerned about the involvement of youth and the fact that a lot of times, a stolen motor vehicle is viewed as a property crime.”


Chief Medina highlighted the success rate of APD solving homicides with 84 cases solved. The chief said increasing the number of homicide detectives on staff from 5 to 16 and doubling supervision from 1 sergeant to 2 sergeants was a big part of the reason APD has been able to solve more cases. Medina said this:

“There is a specific reason why we are getting more cases cleared from the past, we’ve actually brought in more resources. … Number one, officers are getting more proactive, number two, technology is starting to catch up in a lot of different places, and number three, there is a large portion of individuals who are in custody.”

During the January 5 press conference, Chief Medina said it was  a worry that more people in the city are getting their hands on guns. There were 14 officer-involved shootings last year, and APD said 12 of the individuals involved were armed.  APD  also said they categorized 16 shootings as justified, which means in particular it was in self-defense. Those are reported separately to the FBI and not included in the homicide numbers.

Links to quoted news sources are here


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 Richard  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. In 2021, the year ended with an astounding 117 homicides with 2022 ending even higher at 120 homicides. Finally after a full 6 years of Keller in office, the city saw a decline in homicide for the first time, with 97 homicides reported.


The city of Albuquerque is a performance-based budget. Each year, city departments must submit statistics to substantiate their accomplishments and justify their budgets. The homicide clearance rates for the Albuquerque Police Department are disclosed  in the annual APD city budgets.

For the years 2019 to 2021, the city’s homicide clearance percentage rate have been in the 50%-60% range but have in fact dropped dramatically to less than 40% one year.

According to the 2019,  2020, 2021,  2022 and 2023  APD approved city budgets, following are APD’s homicide clearance rates for the years 2016 to 2024:


2016: APD homicide clearance rate 80%

Fiscal year 2019 APD approved budget, Page 212:


  • 2017: APD homicide clearance rate 70%.
    2018: APD homicide clearance rate 47%.

Fiscal year 2020, approved budget, Page 213:


  • 2018: APD homicide clearance rate 47%.
  • 2019: APD homicide clearance rate 57%

Fiscal year 2021 approved budget, Page 227:


  • 2020: APD’s actual homicide clearance rate reported: 57%
  • 2021: APD’s actual homicide clearance rate reported: 53%

Fiscal year 2023 approved budget, Page 245:

Click to access fy23-approved-budget-final-sept-13.pdf


  • 2022: APD’s actual homicide clearance rate reported: 71%
  • 2023: APD’s actual homicide clearance rate reported: 79%

Fiscal year 2024 approved budget, page 238

Click to access fy24-proposed-web-version.pdf

The link to review all city budgets from Fiscal years 2007 to 2024 is here:


On January 9, Bernalillo County District Attorney Bregman held a press conference to announce a new policy  where juveniles  facing firearm-related charges must tell the District Attorney’s  where they got their gun before any plea discussions can take place. The new policy comes a year after Bregman came out with an “anti-gun” initiative that encouraged gun owners to keep their firearms secure from their children and that would prosecute students who bring them to schools. According to the Bernalillo County District Attorney Office, in 2023, juvenile crimes went up from 568 cases in 2022 to 781 cases. Of the 781 cases, about 34% of those  or 268 cases involved a firearm.

Bregman said this of the new policy:

“… We need to find out where these guns are coming from. There are far too many juveniles getting access to firearms and doing crazy, crazy stuff. … [W]e have to get a hold of the people who are distributing these guns. … This office is committed 100% to finding out where these kids are getting their firearms. … [the DA’s office will work with law enforcement] “to find the source of that gun, and if it leads to other sources of other guns, we’ll continue that investigation until we know we’re doing everything we can to keep guns out of juveniles’ hands. … I can’t think of anything more dangerous to a community, to a school, to our children. ”

District Attorney Sam Bregman has been visiting Albuquerque Public Schools students, where he tells them about the ramifications of bringing firearms to campus.  There have been and will continue to be some “honest and frank discussions,” he said, adding that he plans to visit more schools including Highland High School Wednesday.


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:

  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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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. …”

  1. 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:

Based on the city’s high violent crime and murder rates from 2018 to 2022, it appears Mayor Tim Keller’s and APD’s novel little policy  programs  implemented for show and tell of  declaring violent crime a “Public Health” Issue” and the “Violence Intervention Plan” oftrying to get these people not to shoot each other”  to bring down the city’s homicides have  in fact been overall failures, if not somewhat embarrassing, and were never taken as serious law enforcement practices.

The blunt truth is that what has likely brought the homicides down in the city has been APD finally dedicating sufficient staff and resources to get the job done of investigating, making arrests and actually solving and clearing the cases.  APD Chief Medina emphasized how increasing the number of homicide detectives on staff from 5 to 16 and doubling supervision from 1 sergeant to 2 sergeants was a big part of the reason APD has been able to solve more cases. Training has also been a big component with upwards of  200 officers going through APD’s detective academy. APD detectives  are no longer overwhelmed with pending cases and they have become more proactive,  technology is being relied upon to solve cases, and more people are being arrested and presumably tried and convicted.

Notwithstanding the 20% drop in the homicides, the public perception is that the city has become a very violent city and many simply do not feel safe. Complicating matters is the sure number of juveniles committing crimes with guns. The biggest question is if homicides will continue to decline.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.