ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque is on pace for another record year for homicides, but does Albuquerque Police have too few detectives trying to solve too many murders?
APD said murders often take time to solve, but the police union said it’s taking them even longer to solve homicide cases because they’re simply short-staffed.
Nearly four weeks passed before police finally made an arrest in the murder of Sandia High school student Sean Markey. When asked about the timing, APD said detectives were following leads as fast as they could, but the police union has a different explanation.
“Homicide is understaffed,” said Albuquerque Police Officer Association President Shaun Willoughby.
The APOA can’t talk specifics on Markey’s case, but said the homicide division doesn’t have enough manpower and it’s hurting cases.
“I think our detectives carry a caseload which is probably two to three times greater than the national average would be, which would be like three to four new cases a year,” said Willoughby.
An APD spokesperson said there were only five homicide detectives last year, but that number has since doubled to eleven.
“Mayor Keller doubled the number when he came into office, which has helped us kind of meet the demand and it helps our detectives to fully investigate,” said APD spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos.
Even with the added homicide detectives, the police union thinks it’s still not enough.
“But I think 15 with the level of homicides we have in Albuquerque is probably what we should be starting with,” said Willoughby.
APD’s spokesperson disagrees.
“We’re almost at full capacity and gonna be hiring a new one soon, so we’re doing pretty good,” said Gilbert.
“Our community deserves it, and especially the victims of crime in this community deserve the response they expect from a professional police department when it comes to bringing law and order back to the city of Albuquerque,” said Willoughby.
Mayor Keller wants at least 300 more officers, bringing the department to nearly 1,200 officers, but the police union wants an audit to see how many the department actually needs.
As far as the case against Izaiah Garcia, a judge decided to keep him behind bars until trial.