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Albuquerque police have issued 82% more traffic citations this year than last, according to newly released numbers, something officials attribute to an increasingly “assertive” effort to combat speeding and reckless driving.
The Albuquerque Police Department has tweaked patrol schedules, used Real Time Crime Center data to determine where to deploy officers and even asked citizens to submit videos of road rage and aggressive driving for law enforcement review, APD leaders said during a news conference Thursday.
“We did rededicate ourselves in this bureau and within this division to have a greater impact in the city for traffic safety,” said Deputy Chief Mike Smathers, who oversees APD’s traffic division.
All told, APD says it has issued 34,108 traffic tickets so far this year – about 15,447 more than it did for all of 2021. That does not include the nearly 26,000 citations issued via the new mobile speed camera program.
Crash numbers have simultaneously improved; APD reports 61 fatal crashes so far in 2022 compared with 86 in 2021. Serious-injury crashes also are lower: 37 this year after 51 last year.
The department’s Traffic Division – which includes 19 officers, plus five specifically for DWI enforcement – is smaller than it once was, Chief Harold Medina said, but is currently operating across longer stretches of the day. He cited that as a key change.
“We realized the traffic section had become Monday to Friday 8 to 4, and we expanded their hours because we wanted more coverage during all parts of the day,” Medina said.
Mayor Tim Keller and others acknowledged Thursday that many issues persist on Albuquerque roadways; the city has a history of high pedestrian death rates and has recorded 23 fatal pedestrian crashes so far this year. Though that is down from 36 last year, city leaders said there are ongoing efforts to address it.
Safety – including for those not in cars – was a main impetus for the city’s new mobile speed camera program, said Valerie Hermanson, the city’s public works strategic program manager. Albuquerque has 10 speed cameras snapping photos around town now – resulting in 25,998 citations since late May – and wants to add more. Bernalillo County, meanwhile, is considering whether to place cameras in its jurisdiction, too.
APD is also now preparing to administer a “noise camera” pilot project aimed at reducing loud vehicular traffic. Smathers said the department is still reviewing data from other cities and talking to potential vendors and will eventually take a proposal to the City Council.
“There’s obviously much, much more to be done,” Keller said. “We still hear the mufflers, we still see the pedestrian fatalities. But I think we also see progress in the right direction.”