ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With crime on the rise in Albuquerque, especially property crime, Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry rolled out a plan aimed at reversing a trend that has plagued residents.
After crime dipped soon after Mayor Berry took office, it has been on the rise in recent years. In 2012, there were 2,743 auto thefts. In 2015, that number skyrocketed to 5,179 and is already on pace in 2016 to significantly eclipse that.
“There’s a lot of uncertainties about this issue but at the end of the day… people don’t feel safe,” said Terri Cole, president of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.
In a speech in front of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, Berry laid out the reasons that could be behind the spike, including a court order that has led to more suspects getting released from custody early including many repeat offenders and a continued shortage of police officers.
“All of us have some uncomfortable data,” Berry said. “All of us need to look at ourselves.”
The 14 point Attack Crime Together Now (ACT Now) plan. It lists:
- Improving data sharing between courts, MDC and APD
- Increasing the number of APD officers
- Hiring retired cops as “Community Response Specialists”
- Focus on property crime hot spots and commit more manpower to the traffic unit
- Adjust pre-trial release rules by working with MDC and courts
- Tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders
- Pass a constitutional amendment reforming the bail bond system to allow judges to hold dangerous offenders without bond
- Fix the New Mexico Supreme Court’s case management order
- Hire repeat offender citizen advocates to speak in court regarding repeat offenders
- Strengthen penalties including bringing back the death penalty and reforming the state’s three strikes law
- Launch a “Mobile PD” app to allow citizens to file reports and submit tips from their phone
- Focus on mental health, substance abuse treatment
- Encouraging the public to help cut down on crimes of opportunity that lead to things like warm-up thefts
- Supporting police officers
Among the more interesting parts of the plan is the creation of the position of Community Response Specialists to specifically battle property crime.
With city council approval, the city would hire 22 retired officers for those jobs. They would not carry a badge or gun but could interview witnesses, conduct crime scene investigation and file reports. They would only be assigned to Priority III calls, property crimes with no imminent danger nor an existing immediate suspect.
“In general [they will] relieve our over stressed police officers in our community so they can go out and do other proactive policing things,” said Berry.
Much of the ACT Now plan involves things that are not under the direct control of the city. Berry hopes that the city, county, courts and state will all work together to solve a growing problem.
“All of us, myself as a mayor, have work to do and we’re gonna roll up our sleeves and we’re gonna do it,” Berry said.
To see crime in the city broken down by ZIP code, click here.