Crime Beat

Keller’s Policy Failure: Police Solve Murders, City Leadership Prevents Them

The size of your army doesn’t matter without a general with a battle strategy.

The Albuquerque Police Department is doing its part to tackle a backlog of already record-setting homicides in 2021. As reported in The Albuquerque Journal, detectives on Friday discussed the findings of a homicide location analysis, showing hot spots and breaking down victim traits. 

They outlined plans to meet with hotel owners, offer services to higher-risk communities, and increase the number of detectives with a new two-week academy starting next month. 

All of this is a step in the right direction considering less than 25% of homicides this year even have a suspect.

But solving crimes that have already been committed is not the same as preventing crimes in the first place. That responsibility falls on city leaders, not cops on the street. 

Mayor Tim Keller launched a “new system” to address violent crime in the city, focusing on decentralization and mapping of criminal hot spots, but since March the murder rate has only worsened. 

Murders more than doubled to 14 in April, up from seven in March and six in February, according to city data

via KRQE, data from APD

Keller talks a good game. He claims that public safety is his “top priority,” as “Crime is the most pressing issue in Albuquerque,” and yet he spends almost no time talking about crime.

If Keller isn’t tweeting about sports, it’s climate change or COVID or pet adoption. 

His “plan” for reducing crime includes regurgitating talking points about anti-Asian hate, “de-militarizing” the police, and patting himself on the back for improving “trust” in APD and increasing constituent support for his “Community Safety Department” (which is little more than a plan to replace cops with social workers and “homelessness specialists”).

These aren’t nothing, but the City of Albuquerque’s own homicide data proves that people don’t commit murder because they lack trust in the police. 

Criminals don’t burglarize homes because their city doesn’t have enough social workers. 

Keeping SWAT teams from receiving surplus rifles, trucks, computers, and protective gear because “military grade” equipment is “racist” neither keeps officers safer nor quells crime.

Of the 42 homicides in Albuquerque so far this year, 18 were tied to robberies, 7 to domestic violence, and 5 to “individual disrespect,” according to the Journal report. 

In the first three years Keller has been mayor, there were 69 (2018), 84 (2019), and 76 (2020) murders, an average of 76 per year. Compare that to 58 per year in the three years prior to Keller’s election, and an average of 45 murders per year under the two-term tenure of Mayor Richard Berry. 

Albuquerque this year is on track for 125 murders. More detectives, social workers, and homelessness specialists won’t solve that.

(Yes, catching a murderer will prevent him from murdering again, but most homicides aren’t committed by serial murderers.)

It would be unfair not to point out the three-year decline in almost every crime category in 2020. That happened under Keller’s watch. But it would be false to credit Keller with the natural effect a pandemic has on local crime. 

You can’t say a 10% reduction in property crime had nothing to do with a global health pandemic. Albuquerque’s sharp decline in pedestrian deaths in 2020 is also exactly what you would expect when businesses were closed or operating at limited capacity, sports events were cancelled, more people worked from home, and governments at every level were issuing stay-at-home orders.

There’s no clear-cut solution to crime, but it is clear that the Keller Administration is not moving in the right direction. This isn’t a partisan issue. Everybody wants less crime. Nobody wants more murders. Who’s in charge or what their politics are wouldn’t matter if the policies in place were making the city safer rather than more dangerous. 

If the data objectively shows that crime is getting worse, then the policies are to blame, and if that’s the case then this is what we know:

  • Racial talking points don’t solve ABQ’s crime problem.
  • Community “feelings” about Tim Keller doesn’t solve ABQ’s crime problem.
  • Shelters and hospitals and resources for the homeless don’t solve ABQ’s crime problem.
  • Puppies don’t solve ABQ’s crime problem.
  • “Climate change” doesn’t solve ABQ’s crime problem.
  • “De-militarization” of police doesn’t solve ABQ’s crime problem.
  • Speeches don’t solve ABQ’s crime problem.
  • Keller’s “Violence Intervention Program” doesn’t solve ABQ’s crime problem.
  • Replacing cops with social workers doesn’t solve ABQ’s crime problem.
  • Tweeting about soccer and baseball doesn’t solve ABQ’s crime problem.
  • Putting more detectives on the beat to solve murders that have already happened doesn’t solve ABQ’s crime problem.
  • Police Reforms” don’t solve ABQ’s crime problem.
  • And “refocusing millions in Public Safety resources” doesn’t solve ABQ’s crime problem.

Whatever the ultimate solution is, if what you are doing isn’t working, stop doing it.

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