It’s hard to turn on the news anymore and not have a feeling of helplessness about the amount of crime in our state and the safety of our citizens. While it’s nice that Albuquerque is ranked as the nation’s kindest city (Whisper app, 2016), it’s equally disturbing that we are also ranked as one of the highest places for crime in the nation.

The good news is that Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Interim APD Chief Michael Geier have made combating crime and ensuring our citizens' safety a top priority. However, the mayor and police chief can’t do it alone, and while as citizens we may have a feeling of helplessness, that shouldn’t stop us from doing the things that we can to help prevent crime and promote safety. 

One of the most important things we can do is be kind.

Kindness includes taking time each day to be spontaneous, and engaging in random acts that can change the world in some small way. Give someone a smile, a compliment or offer words of encouragement. Connect with a friend, or stranger, to offer support. Say, “Thank you,” to a veteran, first responder or elected official. Send a “thanks for a job well done” card to a coworker. Volunteer or donate to the food bank or your favorite nonprofit organization.

The University of New Mexico is doing its part to promote kindness through the BeKind UNM team made up of students, staff, community members, and faculty who want to encourage kindness, civility, respect and safety. The team promotes kindness all year long, but puts the majority of its effort on several free, fun events during Random Acts of Kindness Week each year in February. This year’s celebration is Feb. 11 through 17 (Student Affairs website) and just as in years past, the team is collecting stuffed animals to donate to the Albuquerque Police Department to give to children to provide some comfort in traumatic or stressful situations. Stuffed animal donations can be made through various locations on campus, during the Lobo women’s and men’s basketball games on Feb. 10 and 14, and during the Kindness Carnival on Feb. 12. 

Additionally, every day, the UNM Police Department reaches out to students, staff and faculty to provide resources and support. UNMPD is proactively doing more community policing on campus, especially in the residence halls, to ensure that student’s questions regarding safety are answered and making sure that students are aware of the officers’ sincere concern about their safety. Their community policing provides assistance to ensure that problems can be addressed before they turn into emergencies.

There are several other ways we can use kindness to prevent or respond to crime when it happens including the Neighborhood Watch and Crime Prevention program. This program provides numerous educational safety resources and suggestions on how to organize neighborhood associations to prevent crime, theft and burglaries. Get to know your neighbors and work together to promote safety and combat crime — cabq.gov/police. Also, take time to donate your time and talents. Not sure how to do this? Go to cabq.gov/abq-volunteers for opportunities. 

We can all be alert, aware and attentive each day and “keep our eyes wide open” to observe possible situations to deter crime and encourage safety. Be proactive. When crime does occur, when possible assist the person in need. Provide comfort and reassurance. I have seen the evidence of Albuquerque being a kind city — we see stories on the news every day of people helping others who’ve suffered a loss or are in need. Let’s strengthen the community through what we do and how we treat people. Let’s all make a difference and make time for kindness.

“By each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” ― David Mitchell 

Kim Kloeppel, Ph.D., chair of the UNM BeKind team, and Patricia Ann Young, BeKind team member and UNM police officer