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Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
Several categories of crime in Albuquerque have fallen by more than 30% since 2018, new data show, though Mayor Tim Keller and Police Department officials said they know the city still has a significant problem.
Numbers for the first half of 2019, released Monday, show year-to-year improvement in every category, including property and violent crimes.
But neither Keller nor Albuquerque Police Chief Michael Geier is claiming victory, with each stressing the need to keep getting better.
“Crime is still far too high, and the fight is nowhere near being over,” Keller told a news conference at APD’s Foothills substation. “This is something for us that is about a long-term, sustained effort that we have deep resolve around, and what we’re sharing today at least shows we believe these efforts are at least pushing us in the right direction.”
Geier called the numbers encouraging, but said many in the community have not personally felt the progress indicated in the bar charts presented at the news conference.
“We’re starting to see these results, but, again, we know that people are still being victimized every day,” he said.
A national leader in auto theft, the city reported 1,750 stolen vehicles during the first six months of 2019. But that is 39% lower than during the same period last year. Auto burglaries dropped almost as much.
Officials on Monday also heralded double-digit drops in certain violent offenses, including robberies (down 47%), aggravated assaults (down 33%) and rapes (down 29%).
Geier attributed much of the robbery decline to partnering with federal authorities. His department is working with the FBI to target repeat offenders, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed almost double the number of cases during the first half of 2019 than it did in the first half of 2018.
He said the partnership has helped get, and keep, serial robbers off the streets.
“Now we get them on federal charges (and) they’re sitting in federal prison,” he said. “We saw these (robbery) numbers just drop.”
The chief also noted APD’s increasing number of traffic stops.
Police conducted 25,284 such stops during the first half of the year – that’s 11% more than last year and 52% more than the same period in 2017.
Geier said his department should be doing even more.
“The data are showing that probably even with these great numbers, we’re not doing as many as we could,” he said. “Some of the national data show one out of three traffic stops will result in an arrest of somebody with a warrant or finding stuff in the car, so that’s our first emphasis.”
The city did not on Monday release figures for nonfatal shootings, a crime that its previous two data releases showed was rising even as all other categories of crime were falling.
Spokeswoman Alicia Manzano said in a written statement that “using the broad data of non-fatal shootings didn’t provide the necessary detail to tackle gun violence. Now we are able to drill down to get more meaningful information.”
The Journal did request all non-fatal shooting data for 2019, but the city did not provide it by deadline.
She said the city has replaced the broader “nonfatal shootings” category to “shootings with injury.” There were 94 such shootings in the first half of 2019, 8% fewer than in the same period last year.
Keller credited APD’s growing ranks for some of the city’s progress in reducing crime. The department hired 100 officers over the past year.
He also cited community policing initiatives, such as the “problem response teams” that put officers in routine contact with residents and businesses in certain parts of the city. APD has those teams in Downtown, on West Central and in the Nob Hill area, but Keller said resource constraints limit expansion.
“In the long term, we want them to basically be all over town,” the mayor said.