Number of DWI arrests and citations plummet, but is it a good thing?

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE)- You see the ads and you see the checkpoints to help stop DWI, but DWI arrests in Albuquerque are way down from past years.

“We don’t have enough cops to address the crime problem in the city of Albuquerque,” said Shaun Willoughby.

Willoughby is the president of the Albuquerque Police Officer’s Association. He said the shortage in cops means fewer DWI arrests.

“This isn’t a reflection of the hard working officers that are out there everyday trying to keep the community safe, these officers are running from call, to call, to call,” said Willoughby.

According to the numbers in Mayor Richard Berry’s budget paperwork, the Albuquerque Police Department made more than 2,200 DWI arrests a couple of years ago.

In contrast, APD has only made 775 DWI arrests in the first six months of this budget year.

At that rate, DWI arrests would be down around 30 percent. A decade ago, APD was making more than 5,000 DWI arrests a year.

“This is directly related to not investing in public safety in the city of Albuquerque and having a severely understaffed police department,” said Willoughby.

When it comes to traffic citations, those are also on a pace to be down by 30 percent from what they were just a few years ago.

“In 2010 our traffic unit had more than 34 officers. Today we have less than 12,” said Willoughby.

People in Albuquerque know police are busy dealing with a crime problem in the city.

“I think police are using their time better served with other issues the city is facing,” said an Albuquerque resident.

A spokesperson for APD said that right now, officers are being utilized for specific calls.

“They’re busy responding to those Priority 1 calls, and that’s where we need them right now,” said APD spokeswoman Celina Espinoza.

Espinoza said when it comes to the low number of DWI arrests, they believe people are just being responsible.

“The crashes are down, the fatalities are down and actual DWI citations are down and the ride share is up. That’s what we think is good news,” said Espinoza.

Still, the numbers in the mayor’s budget tell a different story, showing that alcohol related crashes haven’t gone down.

APD doesn’t deny that people are getting away with a lot of bad driving because of the the officer shortage.

“You are seeing that reflected when it comes to traffic citations,” said Espinoza.

However, she said when it comes to the number of cops on the streets, there is good news: APD has recently seen a record number of recruits, and just seated a class of 50. With the new officers, APD is hoping to bring their traffic unit up to 40 members.

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