Albuquerque police say they’ll target gun violence in 2019

January 3, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police plan to tackle gun violence in 2019, following a year in which the police chief said crimes involving firearms appeared to be on the rise and said numerous shootings by officers had been preceded by reports of suspects with a gun.

There were 10 shootings by Albuquerque police in 2018, seven of them fatal. Out of those 10, nine involved a person who had possessed a firearm, while one person who was shot in January 2018 had been armed with a knife and metal pipe, a police spokesman said.

Half of the shootings by police in 2018 came in the last two months of the year.

The number of officer-involved shootings for the year was higher than in other recent years, including 2014 — the year Albuquerque police entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to reform when and how officers use force. The Albuquerque Police Department had faced public scrutiny for a high rate of shootings by police between 2010 and 2014.

Albuquerque Police Chief Michael Geier declined to attribute the shootings to any single factor, but he has indicated the presence of guns in each of the cases has been notable in the past year.

Meanwhile, David Correia, a professor at the University of New Mexico who protested police shootings in the past, suggested still more internal review seems needed within the department amid a multiyear reform process ordered by a federal judge.

“APD always has an explanation. It’s always about the crime problem; it’s always about gun violence,” Correia said. “It’s never an internal problem.”

Geier said the department’s strategy for addressing gun violence includes targeting the “worst of the worst” offenders in the city, and using data to determine areas within Albuquerque that may be especially prone to gun violence. Officials planned to unveil a strategy in more detail early this year.

Indications that there has been a rise in gun violence in the city could be found in figures showing nearly 70 percent of homicides involved a firearm, he said.