Albuquerque Journal

ABQ reports 2020 rise in violent crime

However, auto burglaries and overall crime rates are down

- BY MATTHEW REISEN JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

In 2020, you were less likely to get your car burglarize­d but more likely to get beaten or shot than in 2019, according to crime statistics released Wednesday by the Albuquerqu­e Police Department.

2020 saw the same 7% decrease in overall crime — driven largely by the same 10% decrease in property crime — as seen in 2019.

But there was also an increase in violent crime last year.

APD Interim Chief Harold Medina said initial speculatio­n that the COVID-19 pandemic would lead to large drops in all categories of crime, particular­ly property crime, were misleading.

“If these individual­s are committing such serious crime as auto theft and burglary I don’t think they’re going to follow the public health order and stay home,” he said, adding that in the end, the virus led to increases in some crimes but had “no impact at all” on others.

This marks the third year APD has compiled crime statistics using the National IncidentBa­sed Reporting System, which allows for a more detailed cataloguin­g of specific crimes within each category.

Between 2019 and 2020, crimes against property saw a 10% decrease, crimes against persons saw a 2% increase and crimes against society saw a 4% increase, largely due to a 61% jump in weapons offenses.

Medina said even though resident surveys and social media give the notion that property crime and auto theft are “on the rise” around Albuquerqu­e, that’s just not the case.

“At times the community doesn’t recognize those decreases ... because the numbers were so high to begin with,” he said.

Among property crimes, robbery, larceny and burglary saw the biggest decreases with 17%, 13% and 12%, respective­ly. Auto theft — a sore spot for the city — dropped 8% in 2020.

In 2019, auto theft dropped 17% and the Albuquerqu­e-area went from being classified as the worst in the nation, where it had been since 2016, to second place.

A National Insurance

Crime Bureau study found a more than 9% increase in auto theft nationwide in 2020 but the organizati­on has yet to release an annual report on city rankings.

Medina said property crime may affect the largest portion of the community, but violent crime has the highest impact to individual­s and families.

In the violent crime category, aggravated assaults, like shootings and stabbings, saw a 4% increase — the same as in 2019 — and simple assault saw a 4% rise. Sex offenses, which saw a 7% drop in 2019, recorded a 19% decrease last year.

In 2019, violent crime increased 1% as the city reached its highest homicide total in recent history with 80 killings and Bernalillo County recorded 241 shootings. With a 2% increase in violent crime, 2020 fell just shy of that homicide count but still saw the second-highest with 76 and Bernalillo County saw 292 shootings.

Another concern, according to APD, is the use of firearms as the percentage of homicides committed with a gun jumped from 69% in 2019 to 78% in 2020.

In crimes against society, which covers everything from weapons and drug offenses to animal cruelty and prostituti­on, there was a 61% spike in weapons law violations last year and a 9% drop in drug offenses. In 2019, weapons law violations, which include the illegal use, possession and sale of firearms, recorded a 19% increase and an 11% rise in drug offenses.

Medina said Albuquerqu­e’s crime problem is multi-faceted and not something APD “can solve alone.” It will need the help of community partners to address the root causes of crime like drug abuse.

“We can keep arresting individual­s over and over, but if we’re not correcting the behavior ... it’s a neverendin­g vicious cycle that ultimately the community pays a price for,” he said.

 ??  ?? Interim Chief Harold Medina
Interim Chief Harold Medina
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