The results of the Albuquerque Police Department’s Safe Streets 1997 program are reported in this section in three categories: Effects of the program on crime, Effects of the program on traffic safety, and Other indicators of program effects.
The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program of the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, promotes the use of standard terminology and definitions of crimes among law enforcement agencies to facilitate the collection, reporting, and analysis of crime data for the United States. Local and state definitions might vary, but the FBI’s two-part taxonomy of standard categories is used when reporting crimes to the Department of Justice. The more serious, or Part I crimes, are defined by the UCR guidelines to include criminal homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny/theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. Part II crimes included in this analysis are simple assault, sex offenses, kidnapping, intimidation, stolen property, fraud, embezzlement, destruction of property/vandalism, counterfeiting/forgery, bribery, bad checks, and arson. Part I and Part II crimes also can be categorized as either crimes against persons or crimes against property. Figure 1 illustrates the trend of increasing frequency of crimes in Albuquerque from 1989 through 1996. It was the alarming 16 percent increase in crime from 1995 to 1996 that precipitated the initial emphasis of the Safe Streets program on crime deterrence.
Part 1 Crimes in Albuquerque 1989-1996
Crimes Against Persons in the Special Enforcement Areas
Table 2 presents the numbers of Part I and Part II property crimes reported in the four special enforcement areas, by month, during 1996 and 1997; Figure 3 illustrates the data presented in the table, and shows a pattern that is very similar to that of crimes against persons. The property crime data show the effects of the special enforcement effort during the period when traffic enforcement in the high crime neighborhoods was the focus. The four special enforcement areas together experienced a 12 percent decrease in Part I and Part II property crimes during the first six months of the program, compared to the same months one year earlier. However, the incidence of property crimes began to increase above the previous year’s rates when the special traffic enforcement shifted from high crime neighborhoods to the arterials at about the mid-point of the program. The incidence of property crimes increased six percent above the previous year’s rates during the second half of the program. Overall, property crimes in 1997 were three percent below the 1996 tallies in the four special enforcement areas. The overall decline includes a 36 percent decline in arson, a ten percent decline in fraud, and nine percent declines in both robbery and burglary.
Property Crimes in the Special Enforcement Areas
Traffic collisions increased by 51 percent in Albuquerque during the five years prior to implementing Safe Streets 1997. The 13 percent increase in all collisions from 1995 to 1996 was accompanied by an increase in aggressive driving and the road rage incidents that precipitated the special enforcement effort. Table 3 presents the numbers of motor vehicle crashes in Albuquerque, by crash type, for the years 1992 through 1997, the year of the Safe Streets program. Figure 4 illustrates the trend of increasing numbers of crashes in Albuquerque during the five years prior to 1997.
All Crashes in Albuquerque: 1992-1997
Table 3 and Figure 4 also show the effects of the Safe Streets program. The decline in total crashes from 1996 to 1997 was composed of a nine percent decline in property damage only (PDO) crashes, an 18 percent decline in injury crashes, a 20 percent decline in DWI crashes, and a 34 percent decline in fatal crashes. While Albuquerque experienced 18 percent fewer crashes resulting in serious injury in 1997, compared to 1996, the remainder of New Mexico’s urban areas declined by only three percent. Similarly, the sum of all crashes declined in Albuquerque by 12 percent during Safe Streets 1997, while total crashes increased by four percent in the state’s other urban areas. James Davis, of the University of New Mexico, found the differences between Albuquerque and the other urban areas of the state to be statistically significant (Chi square, p < .002).
Table 4 presents the numbers of all crashes in Albuquerque, by month, for the years 1996 and 1997. The table also includes the difference in the number of crashes, expressed as the percent change, from each month in 1996 to the corresponding month in 1997. Table 4 shows that fewer crashes occurred in nine of the 12 months of 1997 than during the corresponding month of the previous year. Albuquerque experienced a four percent increase in total crashes during the first six months of 1997, compared to the same period of 1996. However, nearly all of the increase is attributable to the substantially greater number of property damage only crashes that occurred in January of 1997, a month of particularly severe winter weather and the period during which Safe Streets tactics were being developed prior to the formal kickoff of the program. Albuquerque experienced a 23 percent decline in total crashes during the second half of Safe Streets 1997, compared to the same months of 1996. Figure 5 illustrates the crash data presented in Table 4.
All Crashes in Albuquerque by Month: 1996 and 1997
The data reflect the shift in traffic enforcement emphasis from high crime neighborhoods to arterials at the mid-point of the program. The shift in traffic enforcement emphasis from improving traffic safety and deterring crime on side streets to focusing exclusively on improving traffic safety on major thoroughfares is evident in the large differences between the numbers of crashes that occurred during the last six months of 1997 and the corresponding months of 1996. The total number of crashes in Albuquerque increased slightly during the six months when the emphasis was on neighborhoods, but declined by 23 percent during the second half of Safe Streets 1997, when the traffic enforcement effort was focused on arterials and dangerous intersections. Figure 6 illustrates the numbers of injury and fatal crashes, combined, by month during 1996 and 1997. The figure shows that Albuquerque experienced fewer serious crashes during each month of Safe Streets 1997, compared to the corresponding month one year earlier; there were 13 percent fewer serious crashes during the first half of the program and 24 percent fewer serious crashes during the second half. Overall, Albuquerque experienced 18 percent fewer injury crashes and 34 percent fewer fatal crashes during 1997 than 1996.
Injury and Fatal Crashes in Albuquerque
by Month: 1996 and 1997
Figures 7 and 8 use different methods to illustrate the frequencies of three categories of crashes in Albuquerque from 1992 through 1997. The right–hand scale in Figure 7 refers to the numbers of Injury and DWI crashes; the left–hand scale refers to the numbers of PDO crashes. The figures show the trend of declining numbers of DWI crashes that was interrupted by an increase in 1996. The figures also show the sharp declines in all three crash categories in response to Safe Streets 1997. The University of New Mexico’s Division of Government Research’s Figures 7 and 8 use different methods to illustrate the frequencies of three categories of crashes in Albuquerque from 1992 through 1997. The figures show the trends of increasing incidence of Injury and PDO crashes during the five years prior to 1997, and estimated the saving to society from the “prevented” crashes to be more than 34 million dollars.
Injury, Property Damage Only (PDO), and DWI Crashes
in Albuquerque: 1992-1997
Crashes by Type in Albuquerque: 1992-1997
The previous paragraphs, devoted to crime and traffic safety, have described the primary measures of program effects. Sometimes, however, it is subjective indicators, or objective measures obtained unobtrusively, that more convincingly explain the full impact of a special enforcement program. The following items are presented in this category of “other” indicators of program effects.
One of the objectives during the initial phase of Safe Streets 1997 was to deter criminal activity in the four high–crime/high–crash areas by saturating one area at a time with highly visible patrols. The incidence of crime declined in response to the saturation patrols, as reported previously, and many arrests also were made as a consequence of the special enforcement effort and the increased emphasis on traffic safety and traffic enforcement throughout the Albuquerque Police Department (i.e., by “Looking Beyond the Ticket”). Figure 9 illustrates the numbers of total arrests made by the APD each year from 1989 through 1997. The figure clearly shows the 14 percent increase from the previous year in the number of arrests made in 1997. Table 5 presents the numbers of citations issued, arrests made, vehicles towed for lack of insurance, and stolen vehicles recovered by the officers who participated in the special enforcement effort of Safe Streets 1997. The citations issued generated more than four million dollars in revenue for the state’s education fund.
Total Number of Arrests
in Albuquerque: 1989-1997
|Stolen Vehicles Recovered||112|