Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office has struggled to get accurate and consistent crime data since it stopped using the Albuquerque Police Department’s record system in 2018.
Unofficial data provided to the Journal in response to an Inspection of Public Records Act request in June showed increases — most in double digits — in almost every category of crime reported to the sheriff’s office between 2019 and 2020. The only decrease was in homicide, which dropped by one.
However, last month, Gonzales provided the Journal with new statistics. These still showed an increase in five of the eight categories, although the spikes were less dramatic. The biggest increases were in rape — up 45% from 60 to 87; aggravated assault — up 4% from 714 to 743; and larceny — up 10% from 1,149 to 1,263.
Some fluctuations in data are always expected as cases are investigated.
Further complicating matters is that the data for 2019 through mid-May 2020 is labeled as incomplete because BCSO was in the midst of getting certified in a new way of collecting data called the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which provides more detail for the FBI’s annual report. BCSO was certified NIBRS-compliant in May 2020.
Chief Deputy Brian Lindley said the data provided to the Journal in June was “operational,” whereas the new numbers for 2019, 2020 and the first seven months of the year had been analyzed and verified, so are considered “statistical.” That’s what BCSO submitted to the FBI this year.
He said Motorola Solutions, Inc., the company that took over BCSO’s record management in 2018, had been providing conflicting numbers and experiencing technical glitches, some of which were attributed to the switch to NIBRS. He said the issues should have been fixed as of September. A spokeswoman for Motorola said it could not comment and that all questions should be directed to the agency.
Lindley said that, before about a year ago, BCSO’s crime analysts weren’t able to look at the operational data to see, for instance, the number of auto thefts in an area in order to determine where to focus crime-fighting efforts.
For the first 7½ months of 2021, the new statistics show the department on track to plunge in nearly every crime category. For instance, it says 18% fewer cars were stolen over that time period in 2021 than in the same period in 2020, and there were 16% fewer aggravated assaults.
Lindley said the decrease could be due to the fact that the numbers reported in 2019 and 2020 were skewed.
“The big issue our analyst brought up is we do not know what that data did for 2018 until May 2020,” Lindley said.
He added that tactical plans and patrols could also have led to a decrease in crime.