Albuquerque’s High Crime Spots And Some Possible Solutions

Cutting Edge Magazine 
October 1991
Tom Terry

Where do you live? Depending upon how you answer that question you will either be happy or concerned. The Albuquerque Crime Statistics Report is released quarterly by the Albuquerque Police Department and is available at all public libraries. CE wanted to discover if there is a correlation between certain crimes and neighborhood influences.

Some may remember CE’s July report about the relation of sex crimes to Albuquerque’s sexually oriented businesses. The report noted that the type of sex crime matched the type of sexually oriented business for the crime’s location. For instance, where hard-core adult theaters are located the rape rate is enormously high in the immediate area. Where soft porn (topless) clubs are located, “Other sexual offenses” are abnormally high. There are other crimes which also fit this pattern.

So, where do you live? If you live in police beat 331 (the area south of Central between Louisiana and Wyoming), you are in one of the worst crime areas in Albuquerque. For 1990, it ranked first for DWI, first in narcotic and drug offenses. first in crimes against families and children, first in disorderly conduct and second in prostitution. While 331 holds a high rate of

crimes we might consider a menace. one of the more violent areas is just to the west.

Police beats 31 1 and 312 (everything south of central between 1-25 and Girard) are high in more violent crimes—highest in rape, assault, robbery and auto theft. You wouldn’t want to leave your car there. Nor would you want to go for an evening walk.

One of the most interesting discoveries is the location of DWI reports. There are four beats, all connected, that together account for 23 percent of all DWIs during 1990. The area includes everything between 1-40 and Gibson, between parts of Wyoming, and San Pedro, San Mateo and Pennsylvania. In fact, half of that area accounts for 32% of prostitution reports for all of

Albuquerque. Extend the boundaries to Washington and Wyoming up to 1-40, and the prostitution rate jumps to a whopping 54%.

It’s no secret that Central is “the strip.” A drive down Central Ave will reveal a proliferation of bars, clubs, sexually oriented businesses, and wandering men and women. When alcohol, and sex are mixed in tight quarters you have an explosive criminal potential. That could help explain the high rate for disorderly conduct and the proliferation of drugs.

As trends go, 1991 is not shaping up to be a good year for the Northeast Heights. There is a marked difference in the percentage of crimes in the Heights from 1990 to the first quarter of 1991. While the final stats for the entire year won’t be available for some time, the trend is at least disturbing. Crime is moving northward. Beat 424 (everything between Chelwood and the city limits and Constitution and I-40) ranks first in vandalism and second in rape for 1991. Its high rape rate tied during the first quarter with beats 335 (Eubank to Juan Tabo south of I-40) and 444 [Wyoming to Eubank, Montgomery north to the city limits). Beat 431 (between 1-25 and San Mateo, Comanche to San Antonio) already has a history of high assault, auto theft, disorderly conduct and vandalism, but during 1991 its surrounding areas rose in other crimes.

The combined beats of 412 and 413 (Comanche to 1-40, Carlisle to Louisiana) both rank third for robbery. They were outdone by 421 (Candelaria to 1-40, Wyoming to Eubank). It holds second place for robberies, disorderly conduct and third for DWI.

When examining the rate of crime in these areas, and what may be contributing factors, we are forced to the conclusion that if you rid yourself of the contributing influence, you stand a reasonably good chance of reducing the crime rate. With that in mind, the following solutions may be viable for reducing the crime problem in these trouble spots.

Since the highest rate of DWIIs seem to be located near a large amount of taverns and clubs, let’s re-evaluate our regulation of these businesses. For instance:

  • Restrict the number of bars per square mile and increase the permissible distance between each.
  • Refuse to renew liquor licenses to drinking establishments with an unusually high record
    of police calls.
  • Require bar patrons in high DWI areas to surrender their car keys to the bartender
    before buying a drink.
  • Eliminate drive-up liquor windows .

The same areas that are high in DWI and drugs are also high in prostitution. Let’s consider these changes:

  • Close all sexually oriented businesses.
  • Have APD supply hotel managers on the strip with Photos of known repeat prostitutes that work the area. Require the photos be posted in a convenient place for the staff to see. Fine any motel or hotel for renting to one of the posted ladies.

In the areas where narcotic and drug offenses are the highest, downtown and in beat 331, consider these approaches:

  • Post photos of known drug pushers in the main office of area schools. Once school officials know what they look like, employees will better be able to recognize who is whom and take the the appropriate action. 
  • Promote drug-free neighborhoods similar to neighborhood watch programs.

Finally: police officers tend to be very practical in their approach to crime because of their daily experiences. Therefore:

  • Free up the police department to handle crime prevention in its own manner. Nobody knows how to prevent crime better than a cop.

Solutions like some of those presented above may seem to some a bit radical, but not all are intended as permanent solutions. Some may only require temporary enforcement to curb neighborhood difficulties.

Though APD has come under fire recently for its policies on the use of deadly force. it should be recognized that the city police not only provide a desperately needed service but are doing all they can to maintain public safety and reduce crime. APD’s community programs complimenting the efforts of the officer on the street are a superb example of a department that knows crime prevention is equally, if not more important than crime fighting. But, understandably, cops can’t solve our crime problems alone—it’s simply an impossible task no matter how well trained and motivated the force. Moral training in the home, reinforced in the schools and churches is the first, best preventative medicine we can apply in the long term to crime prevention. Until then, the high crime areas of Albuquerque may do well to organize citizen patrols with cooperation and limited training from the police department. Cooperation between affected families and the police could give neighborhoods the edge they need to protect themselves more effectively.