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To defeat crime problem, we must get involved

A Rio Rancho Police Department Traffic Unit officer speaks to a motorist pulled over off Unser Boulevard. Rio Rancho’s crime rates are lower than Albuquerque’s. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

Living so close to Albuquerque, Rio Rancho folks can become so involved in our neighboring city’s political issues that it’s difficult to remember we don’t actually get to vote in the upcoming mayoral election. It does, however, remind us that the whole metropolitan area is impacted by similar issues.

Crime has become the issue that concerns Albuquerque the most, which is understandable considering what’s been going on in the city. But education isn’t doing too well either, unemployment numbers aren’t great, and poverty especially for our children is way too high. Yet crime is bad enough that people care more about it than any other issue.

People’s concerns are real. Their concerns about safety are justified.

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Some close friends of ours recently moved out of state. They were a young professional family, secure financially, with three young children. They left because of crime and education. Although they lived in Rio Rancho, they worked in Albuquerque.

They understood there was less crime in Rio Rancho and our schools rank substantially better, but they were still concerned, understanding that our lives are, and will remain, linked with Albuquerque. They knew that Rio Rancho wasn’t an island and that what happens in Albuquerque will also have an impact in Rio Rancho.

So they decided to leave. We can debate the merits of their decision, but the problems facing Albuquerque and the metropolitan area are real. Our friends aren’t the only ones who are concerned or who may decide this isn’t the best place to raise a family, regardless of our arguments.

Crime rates in Rio Rancho are substantially better than those in Albuquerque, and we are thankful for an excellent police force. But the city still faces higher crime rates than it did a few years ago, and we all know these increases in crime make us less safe than we used to be.

We know it is not safe to leave our doors unlocked, nor should we leave valuables in our cars or leave them unlocked. We know we should watch our surroundings and report anything suspicious. Although we can’t vouch for all neighborhoods, personally we are also fortunate enough to have neighbors who keep a close watch on one another’s property. We know the police in Rio Rancho are great; in fact one knocked on our door recently to tell us we had left our garage door open. There are great reasons to live in Rio Rancho.

But crime is scary for all of us. Gangs are everywhere. The number of car thefts is increasing. We are all more watchful than we used to be. Albuquerque’s crime problems are seeping into Rio Rancho and will probably continue to. We see it, we hear about it, and we read the crime reports.

Outside of taking safety precautions, residents must get involved. We must elect the best public officials that we can and make certain they understand what is important to us. We must demand a quality police department that has the necessary personnel and resources. We must assist in every way possible, watch out for neighbors, and report anything suspicious. We must also understand what is possible and what is not and what requires more money out of our pockets.

We want Rio Rancho to remain a safe city, and we want our children to grow up secure and unafraid.

Contact the Ryans at ryan@abqjournal.com.

 


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