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Berry, Council Fail On Crime

Berry, Council Fail On Crime

Consider The Statistics


Let’s be honest, come December 1, when a new mayor and new city council are sworn in, Mayor Richard Berry, APD Chief Gordon Eden, and all incumbent city councilors, need to go where they need to go, and that is into political obscurity never to be heard from again.


Well, the list of things they’ve done wrong goes on and on. But tops on their long list of incompetencies are the city’s skyrocketing crime rate and their failure to keep us safe.

That the Albuquerque metro area now leads the nation in the rate of auto thefts is proof enough that these people haven’t done their jobs.

Consider the statistics:

Twenty-seven vehicles are stolen a day in the greater Albuquerque area. More than 10,000 vehicles were stolen in 2016 in the metro area. That comes out to 1,114 thefts per 100,000 people, the highest rate in the nation.

When Berry was asked about Albuquerque being number one in stolen cars in the country, he said in characteristic style with a positive spin: “We’re working closely with the District Attorney and with [APD] to make sure we have the resources to go after repeat offenders and to make sure they have what they need to go where they need to go.”

Eight years ago when Berry ran for mayor the first time, he did a commercial about his truck being stolen, it was found totaled and burned out, and he promised to make Albuquerque a “bad place to be a criminal.”

Berry’s disastrous mismanagement of APD along with the lack of oversight leadership by the City Council has in fact made Albuquerque a good place to steal cars and commit violent and property crimes.

Exactly what has Berry and the council been doing the last eight years when it comes to our rising crime rates?

Not much.

Albuquerque has become one of the most violent cities in the country.

According to the FBI, in 2015 Albuquerque’s violent crime rates increased by 9.6 percent and property crime rates increased by 11.7 percent. In 2015, there were 34,082 property crimes reflecting a 15 percent increase.

Murders spiked from 30 in 2014 to 46 in 2015, an increase of 53 percent!

Albuquerque’s violent and property crime rates have hit a 10-year high. Since 2010, Albuquerque’s violent and property crime rates dramatically increased by 14 percent to 20 percent.

APD is unable to patrol our streets, get drunks off the road, make DWI arrests and issue traffic citations and prosecute cases.

In 2008, there were 633 felony DWI arraignments, and the number steadily declined each year to 104 in 2015. In 2008, there were 6,538 DWI/DUI misdemeanor arraignments, and the number steadily declined each year to 2,942 in 2015.

In 2008, there were 84,527 traffic court arraignments and the number steadily declined each year to 31,163 in 2015.

The severe shortage in APD staffing has a direct correlation to increased crime rates and the ability for APD to do community-based policing.

Fewer cops also means fewer can actually patrol our streets to enforce our traffic laws and arrest DWI offenders.

In eight years, APD has gone from 1,100 sworn police to 844; all under the watchful eye of Berry and the city councilors who pretend that they support public safety.

Of the 844 sworn police officers, only 436 are assigned to field services, divided into three working shifts, less any of those on vacation, sick leave or in court. At any given time, there are 124 sworn police officers assigned to the field, divided by three shifts, or 24 officers per field command shift.

Each year, field service officers respond to 69,000 priority one calls, and response times have gone from 8 minutes, 58 seconds in 2009 to close to 15 minutes in 2017, depending on the type of call and how it is dispatched.

Since 2010, there have been 41 police officer involved shootings and over $61 million dollars paid in taxpayer money for police misconduct cases, excessive use of force cases and deadly force cases. The City Council plays a crucial oversight role of APD, including controlling its budget.

During the last three years, the council has done nothing when it comes to APD reforms. The council has never challenged the APD command staff in any meaningful way, demanding compliance with the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree reforms.

Each time the Federal Monitor has presented his critical reports of APD to the council, the entire body has been silent and has declined to demand accountability from the mayor and have declined to hold the APD command staff responsible for dragging their feet on the reforms.

The people of Albuquerque have become so numb to our rising crime rates we accept it as the new norm.

It should not be this way, and we can do better as a community and demand more from our elected officials, especially the mayor and the Albuquerque City Council.

There has been no outrage to hold Berry, Eden or the city councilors accountable for the rising crime rates and what they have done to what was once one of the best law enforcement agencies in the country.

On October 2, Albuquerque will be electing a new mayor and five city councilors.

With the approaching election, now is the time for voters to start voicing and voting their outrage over what has been happening in Albuquerque when it comes to the rising crime rates and demanding that something be done to make our community safer.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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