ALBUQUERQUE — An uptick in crime unfolded in the Albuquerque area over a recent multi-year period as poverty and other social issues worsened in the state’s largest metro area, according to a legislative report released Thursday.
The report that reviewed crime statistics and other data in Bernalillo County was released by the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee, a non-partisan agency that provides fiscal analyses to state lawmakers. Analysts also found that as crime increased, the police, courts and prosecutors in the county struggled to keep up with the growing caseload.
According to the report, arrests and indictments overall saw a year-over-year decline between 2013 and 2015.
Convictions also declined in the final years of the study. Figures showed that in 2015 there were some 4,000 convictions. In 2017, there were roughly half as many.
The study says different agencies that make up the county’s criminal justice system have enacted reforms to help curb crime.
Each felony case resulting in a conviction came with $169,000 in costs for taxpayers and victims. The total accounted for police and prosecution expenses, financial loss suffered by victims and ultimately prison time for the offender.
Albuquerque’s Bernalillo County is home to more than a quarter of New Mexico residents.
The county’s poverty rate for families with children jumped almost three points to 14.5 percent between 2010 and 2016.
In recent years, the city’s crime problem had been a focus of partisan debate among lawmakers until their session earlier this year when they drafted and passed a package of laws with bipartisan approval.
The legislation included measures aimed at improving police staffing levels and getting more jails to enroll inmates in need of substance abuse and mental health treatment into Medicaid. Similar initiatives were included as recommendations in the Legislative Finance Committee’s new report.
National figures show violent crime in Albuquerque in 2016 jumped around 16 percent. The city that year had a violent crime rate of 1,112 incidents per 100,000 residents.
Albuquerque also had a property crime rate per 100,000 residents of 6,860 — more than twice the average for cities with a population of 250,000 or more. National figures for 2017 have not yet been released.