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Friday, October 30, 2015

Whether You're 4 Or Fortysomething ABQ Presents Danger; Top Reasons For the Violent Crime Scourge, Plus: Politically Incorrect?: Taking On The City Leadership While Awaiting Police Officer's Funeral 

Goodbye, Lilly (Brose, Journal)
Whether you're a 4 year old little girl or a 40 something cop, ABQ has become a dangerous and unsafe city.

As we have heard all week there are a number of reasons for this, but the one that stands out most to us is offered by police union Vice-President Shaun Willoughby. He explains that the severe understaffing of APD that began over five years ago has sent a clear signal to the criminal element that they have much room to run in the state's largest city. That understaffing has led to historically slow police response times to priority calls.

The bad guys read the papers. They drive the streets and they see the sparse police presence. And they act like...well...bad guys. Even if repeat offenders are responsible for many of the violent crimes, it can be reasonably assumed that a strong police presence would inhibit them. That's why we agree with Vice-President Willoughby.

Jaws dropped when APD Chief Gorden Eden announced the understaffing is going to get worse. Willoughby argues convincingly that the understaffing is endangering the officers who are out there.

This is one of those problems solved by money. Seek out officers from other departments, offer them high pay and bonuses. Get those cadet classes bursting with prospective officers. In other words, those in charge at APD and City Hall, get off your collective asses and do the job you are being paid to do.

FROM ALL SIDES

We're getting it from all sides now. Forbes hit us, ranking NM 47th in the USA as a desirable place to do business. And now the Wall Street Journal picks up on the city's violent streak. Since the Mayor and his minions are fond of spinning the crime numbers, the national paper's take on that is worth noting:

Violent crime in ABQ...reached a five year high in 2014. . .Violent crime in ABQ rose 14% in 2014, and the city's violent crime rate is above the average of similarly sized cities.

It's interesting that Forbes and the WSJ are business publications calling out  New Mexico conditions presided over by a GOP Governor and ABQ GOP Mayor Berry. It's not just a bunch of disgruntled liberals.

We might add that the #2 reason for the outbreak of violent crime here is not the courts and judicial system (although there are serious issues there) but the low wage, impoverished economy. That economy has gotten much, much worse and predictably so has violent crime.

SAYING IT

Officer Webster
It can be tricky being critical of APD's leadership or the mayoral administration when the city is mourning the Thursday death of Officer Webster, but his senseless murder and that of 4 year old Lilly Garcia demand debate and action, not just funerals that will soon be forgotten. The frustration is found in our email:

It might be uncomfortable to say right now, but I think it needs to be said. Mayor Berry, ABQ Chief Administrative officer Rob Perry and APD Chief Eden - because of their malfeasance and intentional neglect--allowed the dangerous conditions that exist in our city to go unchecked. Maybe if APD were fully-staffed and running the way a police department should, none of these deaths and shootings would have happened. But we'll never know. Instead, the department is a demoralized, understaffed disaster and Albuquerque has became Gotham on the Rio Grande.

It's a natural impulse for people to support the mayor and the chief at times like this, but do either one of them--or CAO Rob Perry--actually deserve our support? A lot of the deaths, shootings and crime probably wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the way they've run the city into the ground. Instead of sympathy, these three collectively--the CAO, the Chief and the Mayor - deserve scorn, condemnation and removal from office. The same can be said for each and every member of the City Council.

Reader Jason Fejer has more:

Joe, here is part of an email I sent media outlets in January 2015 regarding violence in Albuquerque. Nothing has changed except the blue lights are now ribbons and we bought some pizzas. APD is still in crisis mode, they are still dangerously understaffed and overworked and there is zero measurable progress to show for millions paid out, a Department of Justice investigation, the $30K spent in the search to find Eden, and officers being critically injured or killed in the line of duty. What will it take?

Where were the all APD supporters that stood by as APD Chief Schultz ran the department into the ground? Where were all the supporters of APD when two cops were fired for apprehending a violent felon without firing a shot? Where were all the APD supporters at when their pay was cut, contract broken and retirement benefits changed? Where were all the supporters at when Mayor Berry spent $30K of taxpayer dollars on a national search for a new police chief just to appoint an administrator from the governors cabinet? APD deserves better than this. It shouldn't take a cop getting shot to bring out the "supporters". I stand with APD, I work with APD. They are not perfect, they are human just like the rest of us and deserve the support and respect of the community they serve. It shouldn't take a shooting to get our community behind our department.

APD has been failed by this administration, its command staff, the community and local media. Instead of just shining a blue light, call the mayors office, city council and other media outlets. Let them know you support APD. Let them know you expect better performance and increased accountability. Not just accountability from the officers on patrol, but all the way up the chain including the mayor. Every city leader and resident who just stood by and did nothing while APD imploded is responsible for the current state of APD and the social climate we are experiencing.

It shouldn't take a cop getting shot to get community support. It shouldn't take a DOJ investigation to get APD back on the right track. The apathetic residents and elected leaders have failed APD and it's officers. Mayor Berry and his perpetual denial has done little to improve the inner workings of APD.

It is time to hold everyone accountable for the current state of Albuquerque. It shouldn't take a public servant getting shot to stimulate change."

We've often said the epic changes in the New Mexican economy will be the biggest story we ever cover here, but the crime crisis is giving it a run for its money.

WHAT'S TO LIKE

Earlier in the week a reader asked other readers to email in the best things about ABQ. We awarded the best entry a free lunch, but there were other excellent submissions., including this from Alan Wagman:

So, what is there to like about Albuquerque? 

Green chile.

People are not self-important.

Everything is casual -- they have to make a written rule requiring attorneys to wear jackets and ties in the courtroom, or attorneys would not do it. (And bolos qualify as ties.)

People are not a hurry (which can be frustrating if you're in a hurry -- so stop rushing!)

Green chile.

More live theater per capita than anywhere else in the United States.

Just because it's raining where you are doesn't mean it's raining a block over.

Rarely a real traffic jam..

The sky when it's clear.

Green chile.

Sunset.

Red chile.

Sunrise.

The sky when it's cloudy or stormy.

Red chile.

Desert.

Christmas all year round at any eatery.

The airport.

The official state question: Red or green?.

Green chile.

Virga: rain falling from the clouds and evaporating before it hits the ground.

The Rio Grande. 

Indian jewelry.

The Sandia ("Watermelon") Mountains turning pink at sunset.

Did I mention green chile?

Thanks for that, Alan. It looks like red chile lost this round, but you know it will be back.

Thanks for stopping by this week.

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