ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The center of Albuquerque’s commercial and nightlife district has a history of crime. Over the years, shootings have echoed throughout downtown Albuquerque. But now police say efforts to cut crime seem to be working.
Data presented by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) suggests a slight decrease in crime downtown, according to the department. That change follows the start of a Targeted Enforcement and Active Monitoring initiative last September.
The initiative called “TEAM” for short, uses data-driven planning to address crime. For example, APD said data showed that Wednesdays were the day with the most crime downtown. With that info, APD scheduled additional officers to target crime hotspots on Wednesdays. And the data-driven approach helps the department better use limited resources to fight crime.
“Business owners . . . mom and pop shops that work every day downtown, they said, ‘we want more enforcement’,” Mayor Tim Keller said in a press conference Wednesday. “And they said they will help.”
Sure enough, local community members did donate to support enforcement efforts. Donors contributed $150,000 to pay for overtime for eight officers to patrol downtown, according to APD.
Keller said the idea is nothing new. It’s similar to so-called ‘chief’s overtime’ where officers patrol outside big box stores that foot the bill. But this time, the work is focused on protecting smaller, local businesses.
“We are seeing early indications that this is helping,” Keller said. “Downtown feels a little bit safer.” But Keller noted that the city and community still has a way to go towards addressing crime.
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Image of evidence, including fentanyl, that APD seized from Central Ave. Courtesy APD.
As evidence that the program seems to be working, APD says the number of several types of crimes has gone down. For example, they say there have been 19 auto burglaries so far this year. Over the same period last year, there were 33.
They also say there have been slightly fewer commercial burglaries (seven compared to nine last year) and less vandalism.
The data does show, however, that some categories increased. For example, the number of shootings (including with and without injuries) has been 31 so far this year. That’s compared to 26 last year.
And given the small total number of data points, it’s possible that any differences in the data are due to randomness and not necessarily increased police efforts. But as any crime victim will tell you: Even one instance of crime prevention is meaningful for those involved.
And APD Spokesperson Rebecca Atkins points out that even though the program is just getting started, local business owners say they feel safer. Overall, officials are optimistic to continue the program.
“Creating TEAM was part of a bigger plan to make our downtown a thriving, lively destination for our community and visitors to feel safe,” Keller said in a press release. “I’m grateful for our business community who has invested in this program that has been a successful model for fighting crime with a data-driven approach.”
The city plans to continue the downtown operation. For individuals or businesses in the community that want to donate to the operation, they can do so at the One Albuquerque Fund page.