APD Homicide Clearance Rate is “Exactly Where It Should Be”

APD logo and art courtesy of NMPBS
APD logo and art courtesy of NMPBS

Over the past several years, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has been able to keep its homicide clearance rate around a steady 80 percent. But halfway through fiscal year 2017, APD’s clearance rate sits at 65 percent, 15 percent below average.

The homicide clearance rate is that percentage of  total homicide cases that are solved. The homicide clearance rate is included in the Uniform Crime Reporting data (UCR) provided by   the local police departments to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Those statistics show that the national clearance rate for homicide cases has fluctuated between 60-65 percent since 2013.

Though Albuquerque has one of the highest crime rates in the country, the homicide clearance rate is higher than similar sized cities. For example, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin the clearance rate was 6o percent in 2015 and in Fresno, California, the rate was 62 percent during the same time period.

The data can be found at ucr.fbi.gov.

In 2016, APD saw 61 homicides — the most homicide cases Albuquerque has seen in the past 20 years, according to city-data.com.

“Crime is out of control in Albuquerque,” said Albuquerque Police Officers Association president Shaun Willoughby.

Willoughby says this increase in crime is largely due to an APD officer shortage.

“Crime is directly related to staffing,” Willoughby said.

Willoughby says the department only has 846 officers, but is budgeted for 1,000.

He says the APD homicide unit is overwhelmed and does not have the resources to keep up.

But APD spokeswoman Celina Espinoza says she disagrees, stating that APD does not have a staffing problem, at least not in the homicide area. Espinoza says APD has not seen any serious staffing fluctuation in the violent crimes unit, which has maintained  a steady number of investigators.

“June 2016 to June 2017 is the fiscal year,” Espinoza said. “We are eight months in and the [APD homicide clearance rate] is exactly where it should be.”

Graph by neighborhoodscout.com shows the violent crime rate for Albuquerque compared to all of New Mexico and the national median.

APD’s strategic plan for fiscal years 2013-2017 detail several goals of the department, including one plan reducing crime by at least 5 percent.

Espinoza says APD has been working on a few major contributing factors that are helping to lower the crime rates in Albuquerque.

“APD is currently forming new partnerships within the community and focusing on robust community outreach strategies. There are monthly meetings in the six area commands. Police are also focusing on proactive efforts to get to the root cause of crime in Albuquerque,” Espinoza said.

More information about Albuquerque crime and APD efforts can be found at cabq.gov/police, Espinoza said.

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