Midyear crime statistics released by the Albuquerque Police Department show an incremental increase in property crime and a larger decrease in violent crime compared with the same period last year.
The data, released Wednesday by APD and subject to change by year’s end, compares the first six months of 2021 with the first six months of 2022. It shows a 1% rise in property crime, driven by spikes in auto theft, robbery and vandalism, and a 20% drop in violent crime after decreases in aggravated assault.
There was also an 18% increase in crime against society, due to an 85% jump in gun charges, according to the data.
The decreases and increases of midyear crime statistics sometimes end up washed away by a full-year’s accounting of crime.
For instance, midyear statistics released in 2021 showed 6% and 9% decreases in overall crime and property crime, respectively, and a 1% increase in violent crime from midyear 2020. But by the end of 2021 the statistics had flipped, showing that overall and property crime actually rose, by 0.85% and 1%, respectively, and violent crime rose by 3%, more than initially reported at midyear.
Despite the way it shook out last year, Police Chief Harold Medina said he’s hopeful the decreases will carry through to January this time around.
“Obviously these are great numbers, we’re always going to have people who are skeptical about it and there’s nothing I can do about that,” he said, adding that he wants “down to earth” Albuquerque residents to understand officers “are making a difference in the community.”
The midyear 2022 data released by APD on Wednesday showed that, among property crimes, destruction/damage/vandalism, auto theft and robbery increased 14%, 23% and 27%, respectively, while there was a sizable decrease of 37% in fraud offenses.
Violent crime, according to the data, saw 27%, 10%, and 39% decreases in aggravated assault, simple assault and sex offenses. At the midyear point, homicides were lower – 57 compared to 69 in 2021 – but have since skyrocketed to 110 and are on pace to break last year’s record high of 112.
Medina said the increase in gun violations and gun violence often go hand in hand, particularly when alcohol or drugs are in the mix. He said it has become “normalized to always have a firearm,” but people need to be responsible.
Medina said Downtown patrol officers have a specific goal to apprehend those who are armed. He hopes to see a legislative increase to the penalty, from a petty misdemeanor to a felony, if someone has a loaded gun while intoxicated.
Medina said the midyear decreases shown in the data is a result of patrol officers being more proactive on the street, adding that APD gave out 60% more citations this year.
“I think that bigger visual presence is sometimes what leads to some of these decreases,” he said. Anecdotally, Medina said, a “good portion” of aggravated assaults involved the unhoused population and officers are intervening more to offer resources but also cite those who are on private property.
He said the spike in auto theft – which started to rise in 2021 for the first time in years – will even out by year’s end. Without citing data, Medina said he has seen the third quarter stats, which showed the Auto Theft Unit had “turned things around.”
He said APD has the unit working closer with the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office to build stronger cases against repeat offenders.
“Before auto theft was like ‘arrest, arrest, arrest,’ and now we have them also shift focus to ‘detain, detain, put bigger cases together, prosecute stronger,’ – we’re trying to get them to look at it a little differently,” Medina said.
He pointed out that since 2018, according to the data, overall crime has dropped.
“Albuquerque is getting safer and the numbers are showing it – we’re not perfect, there’s still room to improve, we still got to make it safer, we still have a homicide problem. We acknowledge that,” Medina said.