by MATTHEW REISEN / JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
Monday, January 21st, 2019
A grandmother stabbed to death by her family over a rent dispute, her body doused in fuel and set afire atop a flimsy box spring on the desolate mesa.
A prominent Albuquerque attorney and his roommate beaten to death, their bodies stuffed in garbage bins and left a couple of miles apart in a remote area 50 miles east of the city.
A 17-year-old lured with $40 worth of marijuana only to be gunned down on a neighborhood corner allegedly by a man and two teens during a violent rampage that left others blind and paralyzed in execution-style shootings across the city.
These brutal slayings were among 66 homicides perpetrated in Albuquerque in 2018, a year punctuated by increases in gun violence and juvenile arrests in homicide cases.
But the news isn’t all bad.
Albuquerque managed to record its first drop in homicides following a dramatic spike that had played out over the past three years. …
… And while the drop in crime is welcome news to Albuquerque residents, Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, warns that Albuquerque police and local leaders should be cautious and not take the decrease for granted.
“A one-year trend, it’s not actionable. There’s no policy relevance to that,” he said. “The numbers, they fluctuate, and the only thing you can do is interpret trends over time. Five years in a row of decreases, or increases, is something to pay attention to.”
However, on a statistical basis, Butts said the homicides category has an edge over other crimes when it comes to drawing conclusions about how safe a community is.
“That’s the best number to compare public safety over time, like over decades or even centuries,” he said. Butts said it’s also the best way to compare cities.