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Albuquerque Police Department seal on a parking sign located outside of the Triangle Substation in Nob Hill on March 21.

APD releases crime statistics for 2023

ACLU questions proactive policing

In recent crime statistics, the Albuquerque Police Department cited proactive enforcement as the reason they saw increased drug possession and shootings in 2023; the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico is critical of this method of policing because of the way it treats drug offenses.

APD released preliminary crime statistics for 2023 on Feb. 29. The report includes comparisons to crime numbers from 2018 onward. In 2023, APD saw a total of 65,960 reported crimes.

While most of the numbers represented small changes, there was a 49% increase in Crimes Against Society, including prostitution, drug offenses and weapons law violations, according to the report.

“Much of the increase (in Crimes Against Society is) due to proactive enforcement in two areas: drug possession and shootings,” according to a City of Albuquerque news release

Whether some of the crimes against society should be considered crimes is debatable, according to Daniel Williams, Policing Policy Advocate for the ACLU of NM. Drug abuse could be better addressed as a public health problem rather than a crime, he said.

“We would love to see policy makers treating drug use as a public health problem rather than a problem that can be treated by the legal system,” Williams said. “(We want to see) things that don’t criminalize people or punish them for substance use, but rather that prioritize harm reduction.”

Proactive policing includes all of the non-reactive strategies that are meant to prevent crime and disorder, according to “Proactive Policing: Effects on Crime and Communities.” 

APD has a history of excessive use of force, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. One of the problems with proactive enforcement, Williams said, is that it increases contact with police, which can put people in danger. 

“Proactive enforcement, especially around drug possession, isn’t working. It’s actually creating more problems,” Williams said. 

Since 2018, APD has seen a 159% increase in online reporting and, since 2019, a 64% increase in telephone reporting, according to the CABQ news release. 

Christopher Lyons, a professor in the Department of Sociology & Criminology at the University of New Mexico, explained potential reasons for the increase in online reporting.

“Online reporting often removes many of the interpersonal barriers to reporting, and the increased ease and availability of online reporting could account for some of the dramatic rise here,” Lyons said. 

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Between 2018 and 2023, Crimes Against Society increased by 136%.

APD breaks these crimes down into three categories: Crimes Against Property, Crimes Against Person and Crimes Against Society. Crimes Against Property include arson, burglary and fraud. Crimes Against Person include homicide, kidnapping and sex offenses, according to the report. 

Of the crimes, 44,746 were Crimes Against Property, 13,387 were Crimes Against Persons and 7,827 were Crimes Against Society. 

Crimes Against Property remained about the same between 2022 and 2023, according to the report, while Crimes Against Persons increased by roughly 5%.

“Many factors influence crime trends, so it is often very challenging to isolate the important drivers at a particular point in time,” Lyons said. 

APD did not respond to a request for comment. 

Arly Garcia is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @DailyLobo

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