APD Releases 2023 Crime Statistics Reflecting 19% Decline In Homicides; Reflects National Trend Not Success Of Mayor Tim Keller’s Programs To Bring Down Crime

On February 29, the Albuquerque Police Department released the city’s crime statistics for 2023 compiled using the FBI’s National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The postscript to this blog article provides a short synopsis of NIBRS.

STATISTICS RELEASED

The overall statistics released by APD showed a very small decrease in overall property crime and a small increase in violent crime.  The statistics showed APD officers made more felony arrests and wrote more traffic citations last year.

The statistics showed property crime has leveled off in the city since measuring large decreases from 2018 to 2020. Property crime saw its largest increase, 43%, in shoplifting, with about 2,100 more offenses reported. Auto theft, burglary and robbery saw decreases of 13%, 16% and 41%, respectively.

The data showed that, from 2022 to 2023, there was a 0.18% decrease in Crime Against Property and a 3% increase in Crime Against Person.

Violent crime has ebbed and flowed from 2022 to 2023 rising and falling marginally. Violent crime saw 5% increases in both aggravated and simple assault. There was and a 9% drop in sex crimes. Homicides, which hit a record-high of 121 cases in 2022, decreased 19%, and nonfatal shootings dropped 6%.

The city also saw a 6% drop in nonfatal shootings, according to Albuquerque police data, from 353 in 2022 to 332 in 2023. Last year’s total still remained well above the 265 and 285 shootings recorded in 2021 and 2020, respectively.

Crimes Against Society include gambling, prostitution, and drug violations, and represent society’s prohibition against engaging in certain types of activity and are typically victimless crimes. Crime Against Society  had  a 49% spike, driven mainly by increases of 69%, 42% and 15% in drug offenses, trespassing and weapons violations, respectively.  Since 2018, the Crime Against Society category has skyrocketed by 136%.  According to APD Spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos,  the spike in drug offenses is due to more trafficking investigations, but also “much more aggressive” enforcement on “low-level fentanyl possession.”

APD Spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos said some of the largest crime increases,  such as the increases in drug offenses and shoplifting, go hand in hand. Gallegos said this:

“Obviously, we know that a lot of these offenses … those are people who go into jail (and) come right back out. …To actually make a difference … it’s going to take a concerted effort to address the addiction and those [issues] that’s driving this crime.”

Statistics also showed large jumps in APD’s felony arrests, cleared felony warrants and traffic citations with 14%, 26% and 28% increases, respectively.  According to the data released, crimes reported over the phone and online were 64% and 159% higher last year than in 2018 and 2019, respectively, when the technology was in its infancy.

The link to quoted news source materials is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/albuquerque-police-release-data-showing-overall-crime-hasnt-budged-much/article_1f3acfb2-d757-11ee-a31f-b3f0da812de9.html#tncms-source=home-featured-7-block

https://www.cabq.gov/police/news/apd-releases-2023-crime-stats-1#:~:text=Crimes%20against%20property%20remained%20the,National%20Incident%2DBased%20Reporting%20System.&text=In%20the%20Crimes%20against%20Person,19%25%20between%202022%20and%202023.

https://www.cabq.gov/police/documents/crime-stats-2023-presentation.pdf

HOMICIDES DROP BY 19%

The most significant statistic reported is that the city’s homicides are down 19% from last year going from 121 in 2022 to 98 in 2023. It marked Albuquerque’s largest annual decrease since 2010, when homicide totals hovered in the 30s.

According to APD, the downward trend in homicides is a result of better staffing, making more arrests in violent crime and solving cases. Police Chief Harold Medina attributed an improving solve rate to boosting the homicide unit to 16 detectives and training them better. He said he believed the sheer number of homicide suspects arrested — 117 in 2023 alone  has driven down new cases.

APD detectives solved 53 of the 84 homicide cases from 2023 for a 63% clearance rate. Some involved multiple victims, and several suspects have since died or are on the loose.

Medina said getting thousands of stolen and pandemic-purchased guns off the streets is a major hurdle in reducing violent crime and homicides.  Medina  said the surplus of guns means more people are armed when a “simple conflict” arises.  The “simple conflict” defined  by APD as “individual disrespect” accounted for 57% of 2023’s killings.

The Albuquerque Police Department also solved 31 homicide cases from previous years, including a case that had long gone cold, a 2014 killing of a local homeless advocate.

The city also saw a 6% drop in nonfatal shootings from 353 in 2022 to 332 in 2023. Last year’s total still remained well above the 265 and 285 shootings recorded in 2021 and 2020, respectively.

HISTORICAL TREND

The city’s  recorded 19% drop in homicides last year marked Albuquerque’s largest annual decrease since 2010, when homicide totals hovered in the 30s. Following are the numbers from the 7 years:

  • 2017: 70 homicides
  • 2018: 69 homicides
  • 2019: 80 homicides
  • 2020: 78 homicides
  • 2021: 110 homicides
  • 2022: 120 homicides
  • 2023: 93 homicides

Following are the Aggravated Assaults numbers for the past 7 years also reflect a slight decline:

  • 2017: 4,213
  • 2018: 5,156
  • 2019: 5,337
  • 2020: 5,592
  • 2021: 5,669
  • 2022: 5,399
  • 2023: 4,961

The trend downward mirrored those seen nationally, even in the most violent cities. Across the country, the decrease has been attributed to an easing of the societal impacts of the pandemic. Locally, authorities say it is a result of better staffing and making more arrests in violent crime.

APD CHIEF HAROLD MEDINA REACTS TO NUMBERS

APD Chief Harold Medina in announcing the statistics said he hopes to see two trends continue: decreasing crime and increasing enforcement. He said some of the issues, like the underlying causes of crime, are not going to be solved by APD.

Medina said this:

“I know the critics will stick to the numbers that benefit them the most, but I think most everyday citizens are going to look at the individual number categories and recognize that there was a lot of hard work put in last year by officers. … And there’s a lot of success … inside of those numbers. … While we’re making a lot of improvement on the enforcement side, we still have a ways to go to actually curb the problem. So that’s a huge thing that’s on our minds. And I think it was going to take the entire criminal justice system.”

HOMICIDES DECREASE IN BERNALILLO COUNTY

The decrease in homicides also occurred in Bernalillo County.  The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office investigated 17 homicides in 2023 compared with 21 in 2022.

BCSO Sheriff John Allen said being more proactive and singling out the drivers of crime, such as auto theft, will hopefully keep the numbers going down. Allen said the community also needs to address the root causes of crime, using education and outreach to divert young people from “that path.” Allen said there needs to be a better balance between punishment and rehabilitation for youths. He said easy access to guns over social media and the cultural notion that guns are “cool” need to be addressed.

Sheriff John Allen said this:

“A lot of homicides are an argument over a $25 laptop or small amount of money that you’ve misplaced for drugs. … So it’s over pretty dumb stuff, honestly. … One life to me is huge. Everybody wants the masses, I see why, because they’re in panic mode and want a quick-fix solution.  …  It’s a long-term solution … and we have to be multifaceted. … We see the news all the time of crime, crime, crime. I get it. But we’re going in a positive direction. …There will always be crime, but our city will grow and it’ll flourish and it’ll be back to what it used to be like when I grew up and went to West Mesa High School. That’s my end goal for when I leave office, or at least provide a footprint or something to get to that goal.”

DATA DOWNLOAD

The statistics APD released  for the city in last two years are:

HOMICIDES

2022: 121  

2023: 98

AGGRAVATED ASSAULT

2022: 4,746

2023: 4,961

WEAPONS LAW VIOLATIONS

2022: 2,964

2023: 3,398

BURGLARY

2022: 4,548

2023: 3,824

ROBBERY

2022: 1,669

2023: 984

DRUG OFFENSES

 2022: 1,491

2023: 2,516

AUTO THEFT

2022: 6,036

2023: 5,280

SHOPLIFTING

2022: 5,092

2023: 7,252

TRESPASSING

2022: 1,356

2023: 1,928

The link to the quoted news source is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/albuquerque-police-release-data-showing-overall-crime-hasnt-budged-much/article_1f3acfb2-d757-11ee-a31f-b3f0da812de9.html#tncms-source=home-featured-7-block

 INTERTPRETING THE DATA

Paul Guerin, director of the University of New Mexico’s Center for Applied Research and Analysis was asked by the Albuquerque Journal to review the APD-provided data on the city’s 2023 homicides. The statistics detailed motive (“individual disrespect,” drug-related and domestic violence took the top three categories), victims’ ages (most were between 36 and 45), suspects’ ages (most were between 18 and 25), weapons used (80% involved a gun) and victim and suspect race/ethnicity (the majority involved Hispanics, but Black people were disproportionately represented).

Guerin said the data lacked case-by-case specifics to “paint a better picture of murders in Albuquerque. ” He said such information could be used to bring the death toll down but also solve more cases. He said nationally and locally, the previous increase in homicides and violence is often blamed on what he called “the degrading of the social contract.” Guerin said this:

“There’s this general idea of this change in behavior that the pandemic kind of accelerated … [such as more] reckless driving, suicides, drug use and overdoses.  …  Homicides could just be another example.”

Guerin said that whatever the causes, the upside is that the trend reverted last year in many cities, including Albuquerque. Guerin said:

“Things always just revert to the norm. …The problem is, our norm is always higher than everyone else’s.”

FBI data shows that when homicides and violent crime decreased in the United States in the 1990s, Albuquerque and New Mexico never caught up. The homicide rate, save for in three distinct years, never fell as low as the national rate over three decades.

Even in comparison to violent locales like Baltimore and Chicago, which were high but steady, the homicide rate in New Mexico, driven largely by Albuquerque as the biggest city, vacillated greatly from year to year. Guerin said this:

“There’s something unique about Albuquerque. What is it about our location? … Why do we always have more murders? … [Is the nexus of Interstate 25 and Interstate 40 invited crime, or if violence is somehow ingrained in the state’s culture.”

In his 32 years conducting studies at UNM for government agencies and policymakers, Guerin said nobody has studied those particulars.

“Right now, all we can do is we can say, ‘Here’s our (homicide) count, here’s what they look like, they kind of follow trends.’ But to get down to the nuances of this, like, ‘why?’ we’ve never done it,” he said. “It’s not like math, where something equals something. We’re taking our best understanding of these things with the information that was available.”

Guerin said crime, in general, is always underreported but there’s no indication the data available doesn’t give an accurate picture.

A 2023 Gallup survey found that 77% of those polled think crime was higher than the previous year. The national poll found 63% believed “the crime situation in the U.S. is extremely or very serious.” Guerin said of the poll “That’s not true, but they perceive it to be true. …It’s always been a problem, and the problem goes both directions. People telescope either way … exaggerate either way.”

The link to the quoted news source is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/albuquerque-sees-shootings-decrease-in-2023-even-as-gun-violence-tears-families-apart/article_46cfaa60-c60a-11ee-9c68-530f06c95c43.html

On April 26, 2023, the Major Cities Chiefs Association released its Violent Crime Survey and national totals for the crimes of homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults. According to the report, Albuquerque was ranked 17th among 70 of the largest cities in the nation looking at trends in the 4 categories. The single most troubling statistic was  Albuquerque’s increase in homicides.

The Major Cities Chiefs Association report shows in 2022, there was a 5% drop in homicides nationwide. According to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, Albuquerque had one of the worst homicide rates in the nation and is one of 27 cities across the nation that saw an increase in homicides. The report shows in 2021, there were 106 homicides. In 2022, there were 115, an 8% increase. Other nearby cities like Phoenix saw a 13% increase in homicides. Meanwhile, to the north, the Denver Police Department reported an 8% decrease in homicides. Just four hours south, the city of El Paso saw a 28% decrease in homicides, one of the highest drops in the report.

Click to access MCCA-Violent-Crime-Report-2022-and-2021-Midyear.pdf

https://www.koat.com/article/albuquerque-homicide-rate-increase/43702586

Mayor Tim Keller reacting to the April 26, 2023 Major Cities Chiefs Association report had this to say:

“We have two challenges working against us. One is national trends that are all getting worse so we have to do what we can in our city, but when there’s a tidal wave of crime across America, it’s going to affect us.”

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

There has been a decrease in homicides in big cities including Los Angeles and Detroit, but also in those long besieged by gun violence, like Chicago. Baltimore, with a similar population and reputation as Albuquerque for years has been known as one of the most violent American cities.  Last year, Baltimore recorded a 22.5% drop in homicides, its largest single-year decrease, and a 7% drop in nonfatal shootings.

Albuquerque’s trend downward in homicides reflects an identical downward trend nationally, even in the most violent cities. Across the country, the decrease has been attributed to an easing of the societal impacts of the pandemic.

KELLER’S FAILED VIOLENT CRIME REDUCTION PROGRAMS

One thing that is very certain is that the downward trend in Albuquerque’s  homicides has nothing to do with the Mayor Tim Keller’s failed Violent Crime reduction programs.

In 2017 when the New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller ran for Mayor, he ran on the platform of reducing the city’s high crime rates, implementing the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree reforms, increasing the size of the Albuquerque Police Department from the then 950 to 1,200 and returning to “community-based policing”. In August, 2017, Keller went so far as 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 October 4, 2021 when Keller was running for a second term and confronted by the Albuquerque Journal about the city’s spiking crime rates during his first term.  Keller said this:

 “I think we have honored the commitment to fight crime in a real way. That’s not just about talking tough or doing roundups or something like that, we’re actually trying to address crime from all sides. … And we have done that. Had we not done that our city would be in a much, much worse place. … It’s either naive or disingenuous for anyone to think that our crime and drug problems are so surface level that they can just be fixed by being tougher, or by arresting people. … I don’t think it’s fair to say that there’s something we could have done that would have prevented an increase in homicide … I think all around the country, it’s just shown that that’s just not true right now. … I think I’ve provided the right kind leadership at the right time and in a difficult time …”

KELLER’S FAILED VIOLENT CRIME REDUCTION PROGRAMS

It was in 2019 that 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. Keller also launched his “Community Safety Department” and his “Metro Crime Initiative” which he claimed will fix the “broken criminal justice” system.

All 5 initiatives involve early intervention and partnership with other agencies and are summarized as follows:

  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.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1325167/apd-expands-unit-that-preps-cases-for-prosecution.html

  1. DECLARING VIOLENT CRIME A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS

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 crisis” and dealing with crimes involving guns in an effort to bring down violent crime in Albuquerque.

  1. THE “VIOLENCE INTERVENTION PLAN” The “Violence Intervention PLAN (VIP program)

On November 22, 2019 Mayor Tim Keller announced what he called a “new initiative” to target violent offenders called “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP). Mayor Keller proclaimed the VIP is a “partnership system” that includes law enforcement, prosecutors and social service and community provides to reduce violent crime. 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. …”

The “Violence Intervention Plan” can be described as a “fantasy land” experiment especially when there is little that can be done to prevent the violent crime of murder by “trying to get these people not to shoot each other” and “understanding who they are and why they are engaged in violent crime.”

  1. THE METRO 15 OPERATION PROGRAM

On Tuesday, November 26, 2019 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.

  1. METRO CRIME INITIATIVE

On September 23, 2021 Mayor Keller concluded a conference he dubbed he the “Metro Crime Initiative”. Participants included APD, the DA’s Office, the Courts and many other stakeholders to address what all participants labelled the “broken criminal justice” system.

The entire “Metro Crime Initiative” started with the phony proposition declared by Mayor Keller and all the participants that our criminal justice system is broken. During the September 23 concluding press conference, local leaders admitted they have not been providing enough protection and resources to keep people safe.

A list of 40 action items were revealed by Keller with the hope that once implemented they will lower Albuquerque’s crime efficiently and quickly. All the participants patted each other on the back for doing such a good job and asserting they have found the solution.

When you examine the “check list” of the 40 different proposals that were the result of the Metro Crime Initiative, the proposals are essentially what all the participants have been working on over the past 3 years and include many programs already announced. The list contains nothing new. The items listed are ones that the participants should have been doing in the first place

Simply put, all 5 of Keller’s programs can be described simply as failures and not having any real statistical impact on reducing crime. The truth is that for a good 3 years before the COVID pandemic hit the city hard in 2020 under Keller’s watch, violent crime rates were spiking, so much so that 6 years ago then candidate for Mayor Tim Keller made reducing the city’s crime rates a cornerstone of his campaign.

Notwithstanding the 19% reduction in homicides in 2023, the sure  spike in homicides during Keller’s 6 year tenure as Mayor is an obscene reflection that the city is  one of the most violent cities in the country under his tenure.  This is our new norm as the city follows national trends.  Keller’s promised 1,200 sworn police never materialized and currently the city has less than 900 sworn police. The city and APD never once in his 6 years as Mayor even has had 1,000 sworn police.  Keller’s community base policing has yet to fully materialize and APD is still struggling to fully implement the Department of Justice reforms and come into compliance with the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

Mayor Tim Keller’s is expected to run for a third term in 2025 and has already made it know to his executive staff he is running. There is no doubt Mayor Tim  Keller will try and  take credit for the City’s declining crime rates when in fact all of his efforts have been a failure.  Albuquerque  is worse off today with Tim Keller as Mayor than when he was elected the first time 6 years ago. Hope springs eternal that he will move on and not seek another 4 years.  A full 8  years of Tim Keller as Mayor is enough.

________________________________________

POSTSCRIPT

THE NIBRS SYSTEM

Starting in January 2021, the FBI requires crimes to be counted and reported by law enforcement through the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)  and not the “most serious incident-based” reporting system known as SRS.

In NIBRS, there are 3 major reporting broad categories:

Crimes Against Persons include murder, rape, and assault, and are those in which the victims are always individuals.

Crimes Against Property include robbery, bribery, and burglary, or to obtain money, property, or some other benefit.

Crimes Against Society include gambling, prostitution, and drug violations, and represent society’s prohibition against engaging in certain types of activity and are typically victimless crimes.

The 3 major categories are then broken down into 52 sub-categories. NIBRS counts virtually all crimes committed during an incident.  The NIMRS is far more sophisticated than the “most serious incident-based” reporting system (SRS) which was used by law enforcement for decades.

SRS has only 8 broad categories of crime:

  1. Murder and Nonnegligent Manslaughter,
  2. Forcible Rape,
  3. Robbery,
  4. Aggravated Assault,
  5. Burglary,
  6. Larceny-theft,
  7. Motor Vehicle Theft and
  8. Arson

A link to a complete guide to the NIBRS crime reporting system is here:

https://ucr.fbi.gov/nibrs/nibrs_dcguide.pdf

 

 

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About

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.