What’s almost as depressing as Albuquerque hitting 100 homicides in September?
The mayor’s and police chief’s que sera, sera responses.
In the front-page Journal story Sept. 26, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina acknowledged the city is on pace to break another deadly record (the current high mark is 119 in 2021):
“I don’t think it’s anything any of us wanted to be talking about. But I think it’s important that we admit where we’re at. We’ve had a lot of violence this past year. I think we should be prepared. Last year we had a record-setting year, and I don’t see this slowing down.”
Sure, you could give him credit for an honest, matter-of-fact approach. And for recognizing the societal issues that make this a long-term problem to solve. In the same conversation Medina advocated for more resources for the state’s criminal justice system, better pay for prosecutors, conflict resolution courses for children and more options for mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Except none of that helps anyone in Albuquerque feel safe today or prevents the city from hitting 120-plus killings this year.
Meanwhile, Mayor Tim Keller said “we are facing an epidemic of gun violence in America that has left Albuquerque families with wounds deeper than we can imagine. Today, APD is apprehending more of these perpetrators than ever before. We must, at every level, work to fix our broken criminal justice system to break these cycles of violence and to keep offenders off our streets.”
Yes, we have heard ad nauseam that things are bad everywhere. But we don’t live everywhere. We live in Albuquerque.
While we recognize the long-term and systemic issues behind much of this crime, we are not hearing what APD is doing right now to try to curb this. More than 16,000 calls were handled by the new Public Community Safety Department the past year — calls that previously would have been handled by police. The mayor says they are freeing up officers for higher priority calls.
Is that getting more officers on the streets? Is APD deploying them where data says the most crime occurs?
We cannot accept daily homicides as business as usual. Since the 100th killing Sept. 25, these have been the headlines:
Sept. 29, “1 dead in reported shooting in Southwest Albuquerque”
Sept. 29, “Man found dead in NE ABQ”
Sept. 30, “Teen, 14, charged in fatal shooting on the West Side”
Sept. 30 “APD investigating homicide on East Central”
Sept. 30, “Homicide on West Side leaves 1 dead”
Oct. 2, “APD investigates ‘suspicious death’ on West Side”
Yes, long-term systemic changes are essential to breaking the cycle of violence, as the mayor said. But Albuquerqueans need to know what the city is doing short-term to attack violent crime.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.