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Business coalition donates millions to fight crime

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

A $3 million donation from a group of businesses will allow the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office to access a criminal data platform currently under construction, giving police and prosecutors the ability to link violent groups and individuals in real time, and head off violent crime before it occurs, District Attorney Raúl Torrez said Friday.bright spot

The donation is the larger part of a $3.5 million contribution from the Business Coalition for a Better Albuquerque, and it includes a donation of $500,000 toward city initiatives addressing the problem of homelessness.

The five businesses that put up the money are: PNM Resources, Presbyterian Healthcare Services, French Funerals and Cremations, Bank of Albuquerque and New Mexico Mutual.

“We’ve been meeting for more than two years discussing how to make the best use of our charitable contributions and tackle major issues that hold our city back from economic development and quality of life,” said Business Coalition spokesman Norm Becker, who is also the chief executive officer of New Mexico Mutual.

“Public safety is a concern for everybody who lives in town, including businesses. We do believe it holds our city back,” he said.

“With homelessness, we can see the problem growing every day. There are people living on the streets and we’re not addressing their needs. … We need to get these folks into a safe environment, off the sidewalks and out from under the bridges, so we’re putting up money to support the city in its homelessness initiatives,” Becker said.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said Friday that “government alone can’t solve this problem – and in the true One Albuquerque spirit these businesses are stepping up big to help and we are grateful.”

The various city homeless initiatives, he said, are all contributing to “turning a corner in how we tackle homelessness in this city.”

Torrez said that over the past several years, his office has made “a concerted effort to build out our analytical capabilities in an attempt to understand who the primary drivers of crime are in the community and the dynamics that underlie and lead to primarily gun violence, and our homicide rate.”

The DA’s Crime Strategies Unit looks at information “from known associates, cars, addresses and cellphones,” and analyzes weekly reports “from multiple agencies across jurisdictions to try and identify patterns,” Torrez said.

The new crime data platform is being developed by the Albuquerque-based company, RS21, which specializes in interactive data analytics.

The platform will enable crime analysts, prosecutors and police officers to “understand in real time where the hotspots are, who the most violent and dangerous groups are in the city and who are the most important individuals in those respective groups so that we can focus our efforts on the right people at the right moment in time,” Torrez said.

Establishing those links and patterns allows for a proactive approach. “It’s not just about solving crime after the fact,” Torrez said, “but it will gives us a sense of where do we need to look right now to prevent the next crime.”

“The ultimate goal is not to maximize prosecutions, it’s to reduce violence and shootings,” he said.

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