Mayor weighs in on Twitter beef involving APD chief

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The debate on how social media is getting used by city officials is not new. Back in April, the discussion at city council got heated.

“Let me make this clear, I will work personally to defund that position, defund that account and prohibit the city from using Twitter in that way if we cannot solve this problem,” City Council President Pat Davis said during that meeting.

Davis and councilor Renee Grout voiced their concerns about how the Albuquerque Police Department’s Twitter account was replying to negative comments online.

“I think it’s unacceptable, and I wouldn’t put up with it in my business, an employee that I had, and so it needs to change,” Grout said.

At the time, Medina said he didn’t have a problem with how the department was using Twitter.

“There are no plans to discipline Gilbert,” Medina said. “Me and Gilbert have talked about what works, what doesn’t work, what works really well, and we are committed to continuing to improve.”

Medina explained that using facts and statistics was the best way to combat negative comments online, but this week, that wasn’t exactly what his replies looked like.

In one case, a Twitter user was criticizing the mayor, saying the city is “on track to set a yearly homicide record for the 5th time.” The chief replied that we are not on pace for a new homicide record, but did not provide data to back his claim.

Another Twitter user chimed in, saying, “Let’s be honest Harold, 76 murders ytd.”

Medina shared the following response:

On Thursday, KOB 4 asked Mayor Tim Keller for his opinion on how Twitter should be used by city officials. He said, while it’s not for official communications, it can help spread information.

“Sometimes city officials want to respond to that – it should always be professional,” Keller said. “I haven’t seen this particular one, but at the end of the day, it’s really about pushing back on things that are straight up not true.”

So what are the facts?

Under Keller, Albuquerque has set a new homicide record in three out of the past four years. However, the claims that we are on track to shatter the homicide record are false.

With the latest surge of violence, APD’s count is at 56 homicide victims this year. But, at this time last year, APD had 70 homicide victims.

KOB 4 also checked with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, which has investigated seven homicides so far this year. Even if that was combined with APD’s numbers, that would bring the total to 63 – still behind where APD was at this time last year.