Crime numbers decreased 4 percent overall in Rio Rancho last year and police response times became faster, according to Rio Rancho Police Department’s 2020 annual report.
Looking at numbers RRPD tracks for its reporting for the U.S. Department of Justice annual Uniform Crime Report, Rio Rancho saw almost 8,200 criminal offenses last year, down from more than 8,500 in 2019 and almost 8,800 in 2018, according to the report.
RRPD Patrol Lt. K.C. Martin said crimes were down last year because there was less interaction among members of the public due to COVID. Police leaders are uncertain of how COVID will affect crime now that restrictions have greatly eased.
“We just want to make sure the public knows we’re out there working, trying to make our community the best, safest community out there and trying to provide quality services to all our citizens,” said RRPD Lt. Richard Koschade.
Calls and response times
Rio Rancho Police responded to almost 70,600 calls last year, according to the report, a 2 percent decrease from the prior year. That’s an average of more than 193 calls per day.
Not quite 4.6 percent of 2020 calls were Priority 1, the type of call with the highest priority, based on the risk to human life
Almost 60 percent were Priority 2 calls, the next highest priority. Priority 3 calls accounted for about 36 percent of the call volume.
The report showed average response times became faster in 2020 for all types of calls. The average times in 2020 were 7½ minutes for the highest-priority calls, 7¼ minutes for Priority 2 calls and 42-1/3 minutes for the lowest-priority calls.
Those numbers are lower than in 2019, in which the average response took 9-1/3 minutes for the highest-priority calls, 16-1/3 minutes for Priority 2 calls and 52 ½ minutes for lowest-priority calls, according to the report.
“With overall calls for service decreasing and the increase in our officer staffing, the officers’ response times have decreased,” Koschade said.
RRPD recorded one murder case in 2020, compared to three in 2019 and five in 2018, according to the report. The 2020 murder victim was an unidentified woman whose body was found on the mesa.
Koschade said detectives were working on the case, but he had no further information to release.
In 2020, there were 35 cases of rape by force — as opposed to charges of rape based on victims being underage, even if they weren’t forced. That number is down two cases from 2019.
According to the report, RRPD handled 38 rape cases in 2018.
RRPD had 201 reports of aggravated assault and 445 reports of simple assault in 2020. In UCR terms, assault includes what New Mexico law calls battery — harming or touching someone in a rude, insolent or angry manner — and assault, which is attempting or threatening to harm someone.
Simple assaults were up from 2019 by 21 percent, or by 78 cases, in 2020. Aggravated assaults were also up last year, compared to 114 incidents in 2019 and 150 in 2018. That’s a 76 percent increase between 2020 and 2019.
The amount of robberies was the same in 2020 and 2019: 22 incidents. That number is lower than in 2018, when there were 32 reports of robberies.
According to the report, strong-arm robbery — robbery without a dangerous weapon — was the most common type of robbery in 2020. In 2018 and ’19, robbery with a firearm was most common.
On the other hand, burglaries and attempted burglaries were down 28 percent in Rio Rancho, to 190 in 2020 compared to 263 in 2019, according to the report. The city had 239 reports of burglary and attempted burglary in 2018.
Motor-vehicle thefts went up 6 percent from 137 reported in 2019 to 145 in 2020. However, according to the report, the vehicle thefts in 2020 were lower than in 2018, which had 185 such incidents.
In 2020, Rio Rancho Police recorded more than 1,400 cases of larceny, up 30 percent from about 1,100 in 2019, according to the report. In 2018, just more than 1,200 cases of larceny were reported.
In 2020, shoplifting was the most common type of larceny, followed by theft from a motor vehicle.
Incidents of arson also increased, to 24 cases in 2020 from 12 cases in 2019 and 16 cases in 2018, according to the report. That’s a 50 percent increase between 2020 and 2019.
Koschade wasn’t sure why larceny and arson went up last year.
“We can’t speculate on why there was an increase, as there could be a number of reasons: more people were home, change in social dynamics, etc.,” he said.
Other criminal offenses, such as stalking, domestic incidents and child-related crimes, were recorded as one category, with more than 5,600 offenses reported. That’s down 12 percent from 2019, which brought more than 6,400 reports in that category.
Martin said “other criminal offense” numbers were reported that way because RRPD switched recording systems in the middle of the year to match what the FBI uses. The old and new systems don’t share information or track crimes the same way.
According to the report, the internal affairs officer instigated seven investigations and took in 86 complaints from civilians and RRPD employees in 2020, plus any complaints that carried over from prior years. Of those, 12 accusations were sustained, 59 were not sustained and two investigations were suspended.
Three more complaints, all internally made, were filed in 2020 than in 2019. In 2019, 25 accusations were sustained, 63 were not sustained, one officer was exonerated and no investigations were suspended.
The investigations of complaints filed in one year may run over into the next year, especially if a complaint was filed in late December. In those cases, the complaint is counted in the year it was filed, but the resolution is recorded in the next year.
So, the numbers of complaints filed and resolutions don’t always add up. The report shows case statuses at a single point in time.
“It’s like taking a photograph,” said RRPD Capt. Brian Rees.
Numbers of investigations
In the RRPD Criminal Investigations Division, detectives were assigned 411 cases last year and carried over 96 from 2019, plus any cases from years prior to that. They closed 528 cases, with 102 left open, according to the report.
Those numbers show a 9 percent increase in new cases and a 77 percent jump in cases closed, compared to 2019. That year, detectives received 376 new cases, carried over 97 from 2018, closed 298 and had 121 still open and active at the end of the year.
Those numbers may not add up because cases are counted the year they’re opened and only marked as carried over the next year even if they’re open for multiple years.
To read the full RRPD annual report, visit rrnm.gov/2784/Annual-Report.