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Outrage emerges with mayor receiving public safety award

Chris Ramirez and KOB.com Web Staff
June 29, 2017 06:33 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Crime in Albuquerque is getting out of control. Data shows more homes are broken into and more cars are stolen today than when Mayor Richard Berry took office. Despite political opinions about the mayor, those are the hard cold facts rooted in crime stats from the FBI and the Albuquerque Police Department.

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With that in mind, it came as a surprise to many in the city that the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce is giving a public safety award to the mayor.

Protesters gathered outside the Albuquerque Museum where the award will be handed out, chanting and playing music. There was also an elevated security presence. The demonstrators' frustration is rooted in the fact that a lot of people in Albuquerque just don't feel very safe.

Ironically, Berry is accepting an award for a major problem that has only gotten worse under his watch. Callers who dialed into the morning show with Bob Clark on news radio KKOB lit him up on Thursday

  • "Honestly I feel like it's awarding an arsonist for calling 911 after they set a fire," one caller said.
  • "I think the mayor's public perception on public safety is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," added another.
  • "I think it's sham. The chamber has been a backer of this corrupt and inept mayor."
  • "I just wanted to say it's a good ole boy award and they shouldn't be awarding themselves for a job poorly done."

Reaction on social media has been brutal. These are some of the more tame comments on KOB's Facebook page.

  • "As horrible crime as the crime rate is in this city, is this a joke? Until this city shows any relief from crime, he doesn't deserve anything."
  • "Is this like one of those articles from the Onion where it's so ridiculous it must be untrue?
  • "I believe he has not done enough to stop crime. The officers work hard to put criminals in jail but they are let out. The officers deserve this award, not our mayor."

KOB took these concerns to Berry Thursday afternoon.

"As a mayor, you learn fairly early on that there are times when -- like we had the lowest four crime rates in the city's history, the lowest murder rate a couple years ago, right now we're in a spike -- you understand that people react to what's happening today," he said. "I'm thankful that the chamber is looking toward the future, as we are. While we're tackling today's problems, we're thinking forward. So I understand why people are frustrated. I've had vehicles stolen here, in Arizona. My family's been a victim of crime like everyone else. You talk to mayors around the country and they'll say the same situations going on in many cases, so I understand why people are frustrated. This is about us coming together and not skirting this, not shying away from it, tackling it head-on. And I'm just very, very thankful, very thankful that we've got new partnerships in place, some new mechanisms in place so we can get our officers home safe. We can work on getting this thing turned around in the right direction so that our next mayor can succeed on driving these rates down with the tools we're building today."

Leaders with the Albuquerque Police Officers Association say they are shocked about the chamber's decision. That's why they created the "most out of touch with its community" award. Who wins it? The chamber of commerce.

APOA President Shaun Willoughby said it's laughable the chamber would choose to honor Berry in this way. He also blames the mayor for the uptick in crime.

"It's ridiculous. The chamber of commerce is out of touch with this community. And for them to do what they are doing is atrocious," he said. "… There is not a person that lives here or conducts business in the city of Albuquerque that thinks R.J. Berry has done an excellent job with crime. He's literally been the worst mayor on crime that Albuquerque has ever seen."

Willoughby said the excellence award is nothing but politics.

Credits

Chris Ramirez and KOB.com Web Staff

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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