EDITORIAL: Albuquerque Citizens and Businesses are the Criminals
BY: ABQ RAW EDITORIAL BOARD
A family member cries while talking on the phone at a scene of a deadly suicide homicide involving a child in 2023.
The Albuquerque metro has seen a rise in brazen violent crimes, with victims ranging from toddlers to the elderly. There have been long-standing businesses within the community that closed up shop because the cost of keeping thieves at bay was finally just too much.
We have received countless messages from people who had their cars stolen. They continuously ask us to post about their missing vehicle in hopes that it would be recovered. We also receive messages from people crying for help because they or their family were victims of a violent crime.
The Facebook and other social media crime pages within Albuquerque are full of posts about crimes that just occurred in front of citizens, along with descriptions of suspects leaving a store with many stolen items in their possession. Sometimes there is video attached to the post of the felons fleeing with large amounts of merchandise with bystanders watching them walk out of the store.
The most common response: "Welcome to Albuquerque."
Albuquerque residents are pleading for help from city leaders over the out-of-control crime problem in the Duke City. The recent tragedy of a young woman searching day and night for her car ended with her being killed by a kid who had just turned 13. Sydney Wilson was shot and killed by the young teen over a car. All Sydney was trying to do was recover her vehicle that was the lifeblood of her going to work and contributing to the good of Albuquerque.
Sydney Wilson's vehicle at the scene of her violent murder by teen thugs.
The Albuquerque Police Department held a press conference about the case. APD's Police Chief Harold Medina responded to the tragedy by saying he was going to write a letter to Walgreens and car manufacturers to stop making it easier for thieves to steal. Many within the community pointed to this gesture from Medina as victim blaming.
"Walgreens should also consider a Level 3 security guard, who is knowledgeable in the relevant New Mexico security guard regulations and statutes, at the entrance/ exit and utilize them to ID and escort people off of the property as requested by management and prevent underaged patrons from having access to alcohol." - APD Chief Harold Medina to Walgreen's Corporate Headquarters
NOTE: Level 3 security is a security guard that can carry a firearm.
Members of the media were sent this letter, along with an email containing a link to body camera footage of APD officers reviewing security footage of an alcohol theft cited in the violent murder of Sydney Wilson. A day later, the media received a retraction from civilian APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos:
"The video link that was provided with this news release on Monday incorrectly connected the alcohol theft at that Walgreens with the teens involved in the homicide on July 31, 2023. Conflicting accounts of the theft were provided by the teens about the burglary the night of the homicide. While there was a robbery the night of July 31 about 5:45 p.m. at the Walgreens at 98th Street and Gibson Blvd (Case: 230063975), the identity of the suspects is not known. Detectives believe the Walgreens alcohol burglary described by teens during the homicide investigation was likely a different incident. There were at least four robbery/burglaries of alcohol at that Walgreens location on that weekend."
On the flip side, Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen has shown more public compassion towards citizens and business owners. Allen has said during public appearances and press conferences that Albuquerque has to be tougher on crime. He himself off duty also apprehended one of three shoplifters at a sporting goods store in Albuquerque recently. He was not in uniform but was able to initiate an arrest of the thug thief with a violent felony arrest record dating back to 2014.
On August 17th, 2023, the Bernalillo County Sheriff's office had a retail visibility patrol near Cottonwood Mall. BCSO said the goal of this operation is to suppress ORC (Organized Retail Crime) in the NW Business district near Cottonwood Corners and Seven Bar Ranch area, to deter ORC prolific offenders from returning to these locations, and implement simultaneous social work referrals and mobile crisis team support for the community. Their focus is to make an impact on the crime in the area and provide resources to those in need who frequent the area through crisis intervention and our social workers.
This area is within the City of Albuquerque and the BCSO patrol was clearly in the jurisdiction of the Albuquerque Police Department. However it appears the Bernalillo County Sheriff's office is taking a more visible and proactive approach to crime, they appear to be working with businesses to try and save their bottom line and provide safety to their employees/clients.
"They are the eyes and ears, right? We only know what they report to us. So, we are trying to be proactive and that's why we are out here now because we have heard the information they have been reporting that they are having these specific issues and it has gotten quite organized," said Major Hollie Anderson of Bernalillo County Sheriff's office.
There are many businesses around Albuquerque that are one more major crime incident away from shutting their doors completely. National and local chains have closed in all parts of the city. One of the most notable ones is Rebel Donut, Griff's Hamburgers, the Super Walmart in the International War Zone District, and many other businesses.
The abandoned buildings have left behind plywood covered doors and windows, and unhoused residents from the streets are using the properties as a staging ground for their homeless encampment. The camps are spilling over into open businesses and causing property damage. Some businesses have told us they spend nearly 1.5 million dollars a year in security and repairs. Others have told us they are a few bad weeks of theft and business away from closing the doors for good.
Former Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White is a very vocal critic of Chief Medina's Walgreens letter:
His letter is a yet another tired attempt to deflect accountability from his own leadership shortcomings. With nearly six years in office, Chief Medina's failure to implement a comprehensive crime-fighting strategy has Albuquerque confronting the worst crime epidemic in history. The next letter he writes should be his resignation.
Crime is rising and becoming more and more violent. Albuquerque citizens who have lived good lives are being treated like criminals and prisoners themselves and are being murdered by actual criminals with little consequence. We can't afford to lose any more businesses or citizens.
Will the City of Albuquerque and APD do less blaming and attacking of its populace for being a victim in a devil's playground?
This editorial appears on ABQRAW's social media and website. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the news site rather than any specific writers.
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