ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Police Department has released newly compiled crime statistics from 2022. While indicating a continued feeling that “crime is too high,” APD Chief Harold said at a news conference Thursday that he believes “great progress has been made since 2017.”
Breaking down a handful of some of the most prominent crimes in the city, Albuquerque Police says violent crime is down 6% overall from 2017 to 2022. Property crime, according to the department, is down 40% from 2017 to 2022.
“2017 is a key year,” said APD Communications Director Gilbert Gallegos. “That’s the year that most of these crimes hit their highest point, I think, especially property crime and violent crime.”
Property crime includes crimes like burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson. Violent crime includes crimes like murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
“[Crime] is a major concern in the community, and we’re doing two things, we’re battling actual crime numbers and the perception of crime,” Medina said. “We’ll always have to work to reduce that perception of crime and make sure the community knows exactly where they’re at.”
In addressing violent crime, Medina called homicides one of the largest challenges Albuquerque continues to face. 2022 was a record year for homicides within the city. APD says 120 homicides occurred in 2022. That count exceeds the 2021 record of 110 homicides counted by APD.
Statistically, homicides are up 71% from 2017 to 2022, according to APD’s statistics. In 2017, 70 homicides were reported.
While acknowledging the serious nature of homicide, Gallegos noted that statistically, the number of homicides cases is not a large number amid the rest of the city’s reports of violent crime. In total, 7,442 reports of violent crime (including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) were made in 2022.
“We’re very clear, we still have a homicide problem,” Medina said. “We can’t deny that, we still have a homicide problem. Although all the other crimes are down, we still have a homicide problem and our intent is to continue to investigate them and do everything we can and make that our number one focus.” Medina added that the department had taken “more than 150 murder suspects” “off the streets in the last 15 months.”
Meanwhile, the most popular violent crime, aggravated assault is up, from 4,213 cases in 2017, to 5,399 cases in 2022. That’s a 28% increase over six years. The 2022 figure is lower than the 5,669 aggravated assault cases charted in 2021.
New division aimed at keeping suspects detained
To address violent crime, APD says it has created a new investigative division called the “Investigation Enhancement Division.” APD Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock explained the effort as a partnership between community detectives and investigators who provide information to prosecutors and judges.
“What we’re hoping to do is increase the type of person we’re assisting the DA’s office in filing detention motions on,” Hartsock said. “We think more people should be detained in jail for some of these violent crimes and the way we’re going to attack that is by giving as much information as is possible to the prosecutors and judges so they can make these decisions.”
Deputy commander of APD’s Criminal Investigations Division, Hartsock explained that many times following a suspect’s arrest, prosecutors and judges only have a criminal complaint to review days after an arrest. Hartsock said with more information, the department hopes judges may be able to make more informed decisions.
“What [judges] might not understand is that same person is listed in one, two, or five other APD reports, causing other mischief,” Hartsock said. “Maybe they just weren’t charged yet, they’re suspected of it, maybe they’re having mental health contacts with us.”
With the new division, APD says it has moved some of its officers into the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office and into the Metro Court building, where most criminal defendants make a first appearance in front of a judge.
“This will just greatly speed up how quickly we can share information back and forth with our partners,” Hartsock said. “The court itself can have direct access to APD and some of our systems, resources and processes to take a lot of the wait and lag time out of the justice system.”
Focusing on property crime, APD says the number of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson cases are down in every single category when comparing 2022 numbers to 2017 data. In total, the department says there’s been a 40% decline in property crime cases over the last six years.
“I think it’s important to recognize that [property crime] is the crime that affects most people in the city of Albuquerque,” Medina said. “I think it should be encouraging to the citizens of the city of Albuquerque that there has been progress over the past six years.”
Gallegos noted that the city is still struggling with auto theft “in certain parts of the city.” 5,631 cases of motor vehicle theft were logged in Albuquerque in 2022, up from 5,065 cases in 2021. However, auto-theft cases are down 27% in the six-year stretch from 2017 to 2022.
Medina called auto theft one of the top concerns within the city. However, he also highlighted 2022 as a tough auto-theft year across the nation.
“I think this is where, you know, we need help, we need help in a lot of different ways,” Medina said in respects to auto-theft. “We’ve done a good job of trying to advertise, ‘don’t leave cars warming up in your driveway,’ ‘don’t leave keys in your ignition,’ but I think there’s also some responsibility of auto dealers.”
Medina mentioned some cars, specifically naming Hyundai and Kia as two cars makes that are “easy to steal.” Last month, those two car makers rolled out a software patch supposedly making the cars harder to steal.
“We’re going to continue to push forward, I think we’re at a much better place than we were years ago,” Medina said, speaking broadly about addressing crime. “We’re at a much better place with our settlement agreement, we’ve increase the compliance in there, and we have sustainable processes.”