When he was appointed Albuquerque's police chief in December, Mike Geier said he wanted to change the attitude at APD from one that said things couldn't be done to one of thinking that many things could be accomplished, even with an understaffed department.
On Tuesday, Geier said that there is a new , can-do attitude among cops, and he and Mayor Tim Keller attributed that attitude change to a decrease in some major crimes for the first three months of the year.
Through the first quarter of this year, auto burglaries are down 31 percent from the same period in 2017, Keller and Geier said. Auto theft was down 12 percent; commercial burglaries were down 6 percent and residential burglaries were down 7 percent.
In addition, rapes through the first quarter had decreased by 12 percent, robberies by 46 percent, and aggravated assaults by 9 percent.
Homicides were up by 50 percent, though, and non-fatal shootings stayed the same.
In addition, traffic stops by police during the quarter were up by 71 percent.
“People from all walks of life across Albuquerque have told us that public safety is their number one concern,” Keller said during a City Hall news conference to announce the crime stats. “That’s why we have made fighting crime from all sides and implementing community policing our top priority. Today, we’re sharing the most recent data so the public can stay informed. Statistics don’t tell the whole story but they help us identify trends and make informed decisions to improve public safety in our city.”
Here's a look at the crime stats for the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same period last year:
2017 2018 % Change
Traffic stops 7,940 13,586 +71
Auto Burglary 3,256 2,234 -31
Auto theft 1,904 1,668 -12
Commercial burglary 506 477 -6
Residential burglary 1,102 1,022 -7
Homicide 12 18 +50
Rape 111 98 -12
Robbery 722 393 -46
Aggravated assault 926 840 -9
Non-fatal shootings 27 27 No change
Geier said the encouraging crime stats were attributable to many things: a renewed emphasis on community policing, new policing strategies and the shifting of resources, and, most importantly, to “a change in officers' attitudes.”
When asked what he thought had caused that change in attitude, Keller put his hand on Geier's shoulder and said, “leadership.”
Keller added that in the name of transparency, his administration will released crime stats every quarter.
Keller's proposed budget for the coming fiscal year includes a $44 million hike for city operations, including about $19 million more for APD.
Keller said the increase in homicides was due to “drugs, gangs and domestic violence.” He also said that his proposed budget includes money to fight addictions and homelessness, which many say are some of the root causes of crime.
Deputy Chief Harold Medina added that APD is working on several new community policing initiatives. One, which the department hopes to take city-wide by the summer, includes targeting “hot spots” in the six police area commands.
One of those “hot spot” sort of pilot project initiatives began recently on the West Side where the area commander worked with business in the West Bluff shopping area. As a result of talking with business owners, the area commander created a bicycle unit where officers ride around the area. Medina said that since the unit was formed, “lots of arrests” have been made and crime in the area is down.
Keller wants to build up APD's ranks to 1,200 officers in four years. As of today, the department had 852 sworn officers, Geier said. Nineteen cadets are scheduled to graduate from the police training academy in May, and the department hopes to start another academy class of at least 40 cadets in June.
The department is also looking at hiring 16 officers from other departments.