Albuquerque police chief talks crime in 2023
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Among the homicide investigations, car thefts, and retail crime of 2023 – Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina finds success in his department.
“One thing that I’m proud of is 2023 is that we moved the ball forward in all aspects,” said Medina.
Including the city’s homicide rate – Medina says it’s down 22% from last year.
Albuquerque sits at 95 homicides so far in 2023, including this week’s murder at a downtown strip club. Another homicide this week is being investigated as justifiable.
Medina says it was also a big year for advancement in APD’s Department of Justice settlement agreement.
“We hit 94% compliance, our highest rate ever. And we’re on the verge, in my mind, of hopefully getting out of this process in the near future, being called in compliance and going into that monitoring period,” Medina said.
That came during a year of notable violent crimes involving juvenile suspects. Teens are accused of killing victims like Froylan Villegas, Sydney Wilson, and Alana Gamboa.
“I think we’ve had some very high profile cases of serious cases involving juveniles that really show that we need to make some changes,” said Medina. “I think it’s so imperative that we use the Metro Crime Initiative to help straighten out legislation and make sure that the changes are occurring in that individuals, number one, are held accountable and that we have more education for individuals to ensure that they know what the consequences are for what they’re doing.”
2023 was also a year of new technology across APD, and more civilians taking some of the workload away from sworn officers. For example, the Digital Intelligence Team.
“We’re actually asking for a few more positions with the digital team so that we could expand it to other units. Right now they really focus on violent crimes, they really focus on homicide, that takes up the vast majority of their time. They’ve cracked more cases open probably than any other group with their expertise,” Medina said.
Medina credits public service aids with making the same impact.
“We talked about how we can solve problems with the factor of not using the factor of a sworn officer. And our civilianization and our professional staff have been the game changers for us,” Medina said.
APD’s biggest recruiting class in recent history – 55 cadets – is set to graduate early next year. Medina says another 60 will start in the spring.
Giuli Frendak: “Is there that exact number that you’re working toward, for sworn officers?
“You know, for me next year, I’d love to finish the year somewhere solidly above 1,000,” said Medina. “They’re very proactive, and they feel that they’re valued and compensated. And all these are recipes for success for 2023 that we’re going to build upon in 2024.”
The chief admits the data doesn’t always reflect how the community feels.
Medina says a goal for 2024 is to get more accurate information to the public more frequently so they feel the same way the department does – that crime is decreasing. Because, from where the chief sits, 2023 was a successful year.
One other piece of information KOB 4 learned in this interview is Medina confirmed he plans to retire from the department in December 2025.
He said that will give him time to get the department out from under the DOJ, continue the downward crime trend, and groom someone internally to take over when he leaves.