In July, The Albuquerque Journal published a story on unofficial crime statistics they received from the office of Sheriff Manny Gonzales. The self-described “tough on crime” sheriff is campaigning to be Albuquerque’s next mayor on a promise to crack down on crime concerns. But crime data obtained by The Paper. after months of delayed public records requests shows that the sheriff’s department underreported some crimes to news outlets earlier this summer and that in some categories, crimes in the county increased significantly while decreasing in areas policed by the Albuquerque Police Department.
Frustrated records staff finally told The Paper. that for months it was unable to determine how many crimes actually occurred in unincorporated Bernalillo County.
After the Journal published its story this summer, The Paper. submitted public records requests to the county seeking the same data. A sheriff’s spokesperson repeatedly asked for more time before finally telling us that due to “software issues with Motorola,” the company contracted to manage county data, accurate numbers were not yet accessible. When the staff at The Paper. attempted to follow up on the public records request, staff were told by a records keeper that it might be easier to “contact Motorola directly.” A sheriff’s spokesperson asked about the discrepancies told The Paper. earlier this month that the statistics that the department provided to the Albuquerque Journal had a high margin of error and were hand-compiled by county staff. The department did not explain if it had since corrected the incorrect stats with other news outlets.
On September 20, we received data that tells a more accurate story about crime than the statistics provided to the Albuquerque Journal in July. The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office says they have since sent the same information we received through a public records request to the FBI for its annual Crime in the United States report. The data shows that violent crime rose considerably in 2019 and 2020 under Sheriff Manny Gonzales.
According to the revised statistics, reported violent crime climbed from 783 in 2019 to 838 in 2020 – an 8-percent increase. The department had previously reported an increase of more than 26-percent. It is not clear which crimes the department “hand counted” in July were changed or removed from the final statistics submitted to the FBI and provided to The Paper. in September. New statistics show that Bernalillo County had one fewer homicide in 2020 but other violent crimes including rape and aggravated assaults, which jumped from 714 cases in 2019 to 743 in 2020, increased significantly.
Property crimes in the county also increased from 2019 to 2020 by about 4-percent. The statistics show that 2,734 cases of property crime were reported in 2020 compared to 2,629 cases in 2019. The area that experienced the most significant increase in property crime was larceny-theft, which increased from 1,149 in 2019 to 1,263 in 2020 (10-percent).
The rise in property crimes for the county contrasts with trends in the City of Albuquerque. The Albuquerque Police Department reported an overall decrease of 10 percent for property crimes from 2019 to 2020.
According to records provided, crime in Bernalillo County through August of 2021 stands at 472 accounts for violent crime, and property crime stands at 1,814, with numbers continuing to rise.
The Paper. reached out to the sheriff and his public information officer but received no comment on the report.