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APD explains incomplete crime data

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

For almost two years, the Albuquerque Police Department has released quarterly crime data, comparing year-to-date statistics against the previous year.

The stats were generally impressive, showing double-digit drops in almost every category each quarter.

But, on Friday, APD officials met with reporters and explained that they have since determined that the administration had been unintentionally releasing incomplete data all along. The meeting came a couple of weeks after APD disclosed that it had dramatically overstated the decrease in crimes across every category in its midyear briefing over the summer. Last week, the city announced it has hired a researcher to conduct an independent review of APD’s data systems.


Deputy Chief of Staff Elizabeth Armijo.(Source: APD)

Deputy chief of staff Elizabeth Armijo said they realized in the past couple of months that all the quarterly briefings had been comparing the previous year’s final numbers for each time period to the current year’s preliminary numbers.

“First of all, you’re going to have at least a week’s worth of data that’s not even in there because the reports haven’t gone through the system,” added Gilbert Gallegos, an APD spokesman. “Compounding that, we had a backlog because there was not enough personnel so that data wasn’t in the (Record Management System) … . If we had waited a month or two months or three months, you’re going to get more of those reports in the RMS and it would have been a fairer comparison to 2017.”

APD did not provide final data correcting its prior quarterly briefings by press time.

Deputy Chief of Police J.J. Griego is now in charge of the records division. He said there has always been a backlog of reports, but it has fluctuated over the years.

“At one point, that backlog that I was talking about was up to 25,000 reports that had not been processed all the way through the system,” Griego said. “Due to the efforts – I can’t praise them enough – of the records division it’s below that now, at 6,700 reports. That is current as of yesterday.”

He said there are 15 positions in the records unit but, at some point, it had dwindled to just five employees for a three-month period. He said that, as of the beginning of December, there are 11 employees, with four other positions being advertised. The goal is to eventually increase the unit to 20 staffers.

Compounding the issue was a switch in the way APD reports data to the FBI for its annual report. Prior to 2018, APD reported data using the Summary Reporting System, which included eight categories and counted only the most serious offense during an incident.

However, starting in January 2021, the FBI will no longer accept data in this format. It is instead asking for crimes to be counted through the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which splits them into much more specific categories and counts all crimes within an incident rather than just the most serious.


Deputy Chief of Police J.J. Griego.(Source: APD)

Deputy Chief Griego said the FBI has warned that an agency can expect to see an increase in crime just because more are being counted now. He also said that means you should not compare data submitted to the FBI in 2017 to 2018.

“What is safe to say is it’s a different reporting system and this one captures more crime,” Griego said.

Deputy chief of staff Armijo said the administration is now evaluating how it will release data to make sure it’s as accurate and up to date as possible. She said they’re not sure yet how frequently it will be provided.

“Moving forward, the data that is released will be that finalized data where everything has been analyzed,” she said. “The margin of change will be much more minute.”

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