ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — The Albuquerque Police Department recently published statistics on when and where officers used force while interacting with the public. The latest data, from 2021, is “preliminary” and subject to change according to the department, but they reveal some trends across the city.
In the big picture, use of force decreased from 2020 to 2021. But so did arrests and calls per service. So to account for that, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) reported force interactions per 100 custodial arrests (arrests where the suspect was taken into police custody).
After making that adjustment, the latest preliminary data reveals that the number of encounters with a single, distinct community members that involved force, per 100 custodial arrests, actually rose since 2017. Citywide, there was an average of 1.04 force interactions per 100 custodial arrests in 2017, but in 2021, there was 1.34, an increase of nearly 30%.
And the increase varied by region of the city. The preliminary report shows that the Valley Area Command (including the Downtown area and the Valley) saw a 53% increase in the number of force interactions per 100 custodial arrests. All other areas saw essentially no change or a decrease. The Foothills Area Command, for example, saw a 17% decline from 2017 numbers.
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Force interactions per 100 custodial arrests varied across police command areas. Data from APD.
The latest preliminary data also reveals that in 2021, individuals involved in force interactions with the Albuquerque Police were unarmed 77% of the time. But it’s worth remembering that this statistic doesn’t include all use of force cases from 2021, as only about 58% of the 2021 cases were reviewed by the time APD published the report. So, that 77% is subject to change.
The data also shows that of the 739 force interactions counted by APD in 2021, 465 resulted in injury to the involved community member. And of those, 372 were caused by the officer. So, of the 739 total interactions involving force, about 50% resulted in officer-caused injuries, the preliminary data shows.
Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesperson from APD, notes that the changes in data over time could be impacted by changes in the types of calls APD responds to. That’s because recently, the Albuquerque Community Safety Department has been responding to some call types APD used to handle. Additionally, policy revisions mean that APD might simply be reporting more uses of force than before. And the total number of custodial arrests APD makes has decreased, particularly for misdemeanor charges, which are less likely to result in force interactions. All of these make it difficult draw strong conclusions from the data.