Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Metro Area One of Most Dangerous
By T.J. Wilham
Copyright © 2007 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer
The Albuquerque area ranks as one of the most dangerous places in the country, according to FBI statistics released Tuesday.
Police officials, though, say the recent statistics are misleading, adding that the city is still a safe place.
"I live here. My kids live here, and they go to school here," Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said. "I feel safe."
According to the data, the metro area per capita ranks in the top 10 percent for violent crimes, which include murder, rape and robbery. And the metro area ranks in the top 13 percent for property crime, such as auto theft and burglaries.
The statistics are based on 349 metropolitan areas throughout the country. The Albuquerque area covers Bernalillo, Sandoval, Torrance and Valencia counties.
Detroit-Dearborn area was No. 1 in violent crime, and Hot Springs, Ark., was tops in property crime, according to the data.
The information is based on 2006 statistics.
But crime in the Albuquerque area decreased. Violent crime dropped by 9 percent and property crime went down by about 2 percent, compared with 2005 statistics.
Every fall, the FBI issues a Uniform Crime Report and publishes crime data that was submitted to them by all law enforcement agencies. The FBI sets specific guidelines on what agencies should and should not report.
The rankings were compiled by the Journal using FBI data.
The FBI does not rank cities, because doing so "provides no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime ... and often creates misleading perceptions."
Schultz said the FBI statistics are misleading because Albuquerque residents tend to report crime more often than residents from other cities.
"This is not a dangerous place," Schultz said. "This is a place in which people take crime very seriously and will report it when it occurs.
"In certain places, some crimes are written off as a standard and never reported to police. Crime is not a standard here in Albuquerque."
Schultz said he thought the data showed promising trends. Aggravated assaults, murders and larcenies dropped in 2006.
According to latest APD records, property crimes in the city are continuing to drop but violent crimes have risen.
In the first six months of 2007, burglaries dropped by 11 percent and larcenies were down 4 percent. Rapes were up 10 percent, assaults were up 13 percent and the number of murders had doubled, APD records show.
Where Albuquerque ranks:
Out of the 349 metropolitan areas in the country, here is how the Albuquerque area ranks:
Aggravated assaults: 32nd
Auto Theft: 17th
Other New Mexico metro areas: Santa Fe ranks second in burglaries; Farmington ranks eighth in rapes; Las Cruces ranks 17th in rapes.
-- Source: Rankings were compiled by the Journal using FBI data.