APD touts decrease in property, violent crime in 2022 - Albuquerque Journal

APD touts decrease in property, violent crime in 2022


The Albuquerque Police Department released statistics on Thursday showing a drop in property and violent crime last year.

There was a 0.3% drop in overall crime fueled by a 4% and 2% drop in violent and property crime, respectively, according to data provided by APD.

The marginal decrease in overall crime came despite a 32% leap in crimes against society — made up largely of drug and gun offenses.

APD Chief Harold Medina said as a department it is battling actual crime numbers as well as “the perception of crime” — touting success on the former.

“We’ll always have to work to reduce that perception of crime and make sure that the community knows exactly where they’re at,” he said. “… But we’re seeing a lot of positive movement, which is encouraging to us. And we’re hoping that it’ll be encouraging to the citizens of the city of Albuquerque.”

Medina attributed the decreases to endeavors taken on by APD in recent years, such as clearing more homicide cases and improving investigations via the detective academy. Going forward, he said, the department is focusing on repeat offenders, keeping violent suspects in jail and clearing the felony warrant backlog.

Crime data, trends

The FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System cannot be used to compare previous crime statistics and, on Thursday, APD used a more basic form of reporting to show violent crime and property crime had dropped 4% and 40%, respectively, since 2017.

At that time, auto theft and other property crimes were at record highs and dropped significantly in the years following. But in recent years those decreasing metrics have steadied and some, like auto theft, had risen again in 2022.

Last year, according to NIBRS data provided by APD, the largest decreases were observed in fraud, sex offenses and robbery with drops of 32%, 23% and 13%, respectively.

The largest increases were observed in weapons violations, drug offenses, auto theft, non-negligent murder and vandalism with spikes of 57%, 10%, 10%, 9% and 8%, respectively, according to the data.

APD said the gargantuan leap in weapons violations can be attributed to the hundreds of ShotSpotter alerts where an officer has collected bullet casings — each incident counts as a weapons offense.

Other crimes, such as aggravated assault, burglary and larceny saw small decreases of 3% each and 2%, respectively, while simple assault saw a 1% increase.

Medina said the recipe for success, and what’s on the menu going forward, is arresting more people in serious crimes, clearing more homicide cases — which had more solves in 2022 than years prior – and making sure violent offenders are detained until trial.

Medina said the city still has a “homicide problem” and hesitated slightly, wary of a jinx, before pointing out that the latter months of 2022 and March 2023 saw few homicides after a breakneck pace last spring, summer and fall.

“We’re very cautious of what we want to say, because the moment we talk about it, and there’s three homicides, everybody goes crazy and says, ‘Oh my god, they’ve done nothing. It’s worse than ever before.’ We see the trending going in the direction we want,” he said.

Previous reporting error

Thursday’s release also revealed a problem in previous years accounting.

APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said year-end 2021 data initially provided by APD — which showed the first rise in overall crime since 2018 — was incorrect as it included duplicates.

The data, compiled using the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System, showed a marginal 0.85% increase in overall crime driven by a 1% and 3% rise in property and violent crime, respectively.

The NIBRS data released Thursday paint a slightly rosier picture for 2021.

Between 2020 and 2021, there was a 0.4% decrease in overall crime, with 0.3% and 0.7% drops in property and violent crime, respectively, and a 1% rise in crimes against society.

Gallegos said APD’s Records Unit had to recalculate the data due to the department counting one incident as multiple incidents if there were multiple victims. He said the FBI counts one incident despite the number of victims and APD removed duplicates to adhere to the federal system.

“When you remove that duplicative data, the numbers are lower and consistent with the FBI’s process,” Gallegos said, adding that the Records Unit is in the process of recalculating data going back to 2018.

It’s not the first time APD has had issues with released crime data.

In 2019, the Journal discovered that preliminary numbers provided by APD at quarterly media briefings had shown overly optimistic crime decrease figures. However, the general trend remained true and, at the time of the discovery, APD had said it’s now making sure to verify all the data before releasing it.

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