Crime on the rise in state, Albuquerque, FBI says

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico had the third-highest violent crime rate and second-highest property crime rate in the nation in 2015, according to new data released by the FBI on Monday, which also shows an increase in Albuquerque’s crime rates.

The data show that there were 656.1 violent crimes per 100,000 New Mexico residents last year, more than five times the rate of low-crime states in New England such as Maine and Vermont. The national average was 372.6 violent crimes per 100,000 people.

Violent crime is defined as including murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

And New Mexico was second only to Hawaii in terms of property crime rates with 3,697.4 per 100,000 people.

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The data sets are part of Crime in the United States or the Uniform Crime Report compiled each year by the FBI. Law enforcement agencies nationwide voluntarily report their crime data to the FBI, which releases the report to the public the following year.

New Mexico mirrors national trends of a small jump in violent crime rates and a large jump in murders.

Nationally, the violent crime rate rose 3.1 percent in 2015, whereas in New Mexico it rose 9.8 percent.

The rate of murders and non-negligent manslaughters jumped across the country by 11.4 percent, while in New Mexico the rate increased by 16.7 percent.

The property crime rate rose 4.4 percent in 2015 across the state.

Both violent crime and property crime in Albuquerque also increased last year, by 9.2 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively.

The violent crime rate – which was 966 per 100,000 residents – was higher than rates in cities with comparable populations, including Tucson, Louisville, Ky., Las Vegas, Nev., and Oklahoma City.

The property crime rate was also higher than that of Las Vegas, Oklahoma City and Louisville, while slightly below Tucson’s.

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Through a spokesman, Gov. Susana Martinez responded to the rising crime rates Monday by calling for harsher penalties on repeat offenders and noted the Democratic-controlled state Senate did not pass some crime-related bills she supported.

“This is yet another reason legislators need to find the courage to get tough on crime and strengthen penalties against violent offenders,” wrote spokesman Michael Lonergan.

Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, the Senate majority whip, said he believes the root causes of the high crime rates are poverty and poor job opportunities.

“Crime reduction is everybody’s responsibility from the Legislature to the governor,” he said. “When you see a statistic like this, it is time for Democrats and Republicans to come together to solve these issues in a bipartisan fashion.”

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