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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

All Crime All The Time: How this Crime Wave Is Different, Plus: Repeat Offenders; How Many And Who? And: The Legal Pot Beat 

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Come on, try your best to get excited about the ABQ mayoral contest. But before you get your heart beating faster over the heat of the campaign to come, make sure you're registered to take part. From BernCo County Clerk Linda Stover:

The last day to register to vote for the 2017 ABQ Election is September 5. You may register to vote if you are a resident of New Mexico, a citizen of the United States, eighteen years old or older at the time of the next election, not legally declared mentally incapacitated, and convicted felons who have satisfied all the terms and conditions of sentencing. Voter registration information is here.

The City Clerk will administer the election but the County Clerk is responsible for voter registration.

Crime and the coverage of it is relentless during this face-off for the city's top job and that's because it is constant and widespread across the metro. That's unlike a previous crime peak in 1996 which the allies of Mayor Berry (and the Mayor) are fond of mentioning as if to downplay the current epidemic. But that long ago crime wave had much narrower geographic boundaries and we were not number one in the nation in auto theft then. Also, that crisis was resolved in a relatively short period of time under the leadership of Mayor Chavez. (Do you miss him yet?).

This current crime wave under Mayor Berry is happening in all quadrants of the city and has been ongoing for years. Sure, there's still especially high crime areas, but never have we previously heard so many citizens across the city express fear for their personal safety. Never. That's why security system sales are skyrocketing and folks continue to move out of here. That's the big difference between the 1996 crime wave and today.

Reader Steve Crespin writes with an example of how life has fundamentally changed here because of the no-end-in-sight crime outbreak:

Joe, I know crime is out of control in Albuquerque, however, I am amazed how we have started to accept it and learn to live with it. Recently I was at a Sprint store on San Mateo. While waiting to be served there were a couple of people looking at phones, then some creepy looking guy walks in and in a few minutes we heard a loud snap and the guy starts for the door. One of the Sprint employees was told by a lady that the guy just stole a phone (the loud snap was the guy ripping the cable from the wall). He just walks out the door and leaves with an $800.00 phone. The Sprint employees just go back to what they were doing as if nothing happened and the other customers went back to what they were doing as if nothing happened. When I was being served I mentioned something to the employee and he said the phone turns into "a brick" once it's reported as stolen as if it's an everyday thing. Has crime gotten so bad that we accept it as something that just happens and have learned to live with it?

P.S. One thing I failed to mention, is the police were not called. The question is how much of crime like this goes unreported because that's just the way it is. If crimes like this go unreported crime may be far worse then then we are being told.

And that may very well be another difference in this historic crime wave--fewer crimes going reported than back in the 90's because they are so common today.

WHO ARE THE REPEATERS?

What about the contention of Mayor Berry and mayoral candidate Dan Lewis that the crime wave is being caused primarily by repeat offenders. We asked retired APD Seargent Dan Klein for his thoughts:

. . . By blaming crime on “repeat offenders” without a definition of what that means, the public is just being duped. We need to know, with actual facts, exactly what type of person is a repeat offender and how much they are to blame for our current crime crisis.
I recommend that the University of New Mexico, or some independent group, review all felony arrests made in 2016 in Bernalillo County. There are thousands, but with computers this research can be done quickly.

How many of these felonies were done by first-time offenders? How many were done by people awaiting trial for other felonies? How many were committed by people out on felony probation/parole? How many were done by hardcore ex-convicts who have done prison time?

Will the number of ex-cons committing felony crimes be what we are told? That a small number of criminals are committing most of the crimes? And what is that number?
But what if we find that most arrests are for people with no prior convictions? What does that say about our community? What if the number points to people on felony probation/parole as the ones committing many criminal acts? We need to know so we can create a plan.

Good questions and ones that the next mayor could get a handle on by commissioning that study Klein recommends. Perhaps the business groups that back Mayor Berry's arguments about repeat criminal offenders could play a part by volunteering to finance such a study? Isn't it time we had some real answers instead of vague and unconfirmed statistics? Whichever way the study turned out, it would be a helpful guide for the next mayor.

MAYORAL QUESTION

Will someone please ask each of the 8 mayoral candidates if any of them plan to keep on board Rob Perry, the city's chief administrative officer? After all, that is the most powerful position in the day-to-day running of the government--not necessarily the mayor.

LEGAL POT BEAT

Uh, do we need this in an already drug-addled New Mexico? From the Denver Post:

The 2013-16 period saw a 40 percent increase in the number of all drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado, from 627 to 880, according to the NHTSA data. Those who tested positive for alcohol in fatal crashes from 2013 to 2015 — figures for 2016 were not available — grew 17 percent, from 129 to 151. By contrast, the number of drivers who tested positive for marijuana use jumped 145 percent — from 47 in 2013 to 115 in 2016. During that time, the prevalence of testing drivers for marijuana use did not change appreciably, federal fatal-crash data show.

So far the only 2018 NM Democratic Guv candidate who is advocating for legalizing marijuana is Santa Fe's Peter DeBenedittis. Ironically, he's an alcohol-prevention teacher.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017
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