Most NM police departments fail to report crime data, LFC analysts say

Most NM police departments fail to report crime data, LFC analysts say

According to information sent to senators on Wednesday, less than one-third of New Mexico’s police agencies are complying with the statute that compels them to provide crime statistics to the state’s department of public safety.

Every police department is required by law to submit reports to the state Department of Public Safety. The state has a consolidated system that connects to the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System since 2008.

Legislative experts have previously raised the problem, at least twice in 2018. All police departments are subject to the law.

Only 35 police agencies, however, have reported. According to DPS data used in a study created by Legislative Finance Committee staff, 49 were not reporting and 29 were in a 6-month testing phase where the FBI was assuring the statistics are accurate.

According to the analysts for the committee, this has the result of depriving New Mexico of timely information on statewide crime trends.

At a gathering of lawmakers on Wednesday held in the Miller Library at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, one senator questioned why the data still wasn’t reaching the necessary levels.

Sen. Nancy Rodriguez stated, “I just want to make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure this data gets through to where it needs to go, so you can collaborate” (D-Santa Fe). Why are departments not submitting the data, she questioned.

The LFC noted that the FBI database is not being updated by the Albuquerque Police Department and the New Mexico State Police because of “changes in their records management systems.”

The state intends to begin testing with State Police when their new system goes live in December and is collaborating with APD “to bring them into the testing process,” according to the LFC.

Police could incur financial losses if they do not adhere to the reporting requirements already stipulated in state legislation as part of the crime package signed into law this year.

The money in question, which is kept in the Law Enforcement Protection Fund, can be used to purchase any type of “law enforcement equipment,” including firearms, surveillance equipment, vehicles, uniforms, belts, badges, computers, printers, phones, training manuals and classes, conference costs, and police dogs.

Every year, $100,000 from the crime package is given to the Department of Public Safety to assist local police agencies in fulfilling their reporting obligations.

State Police records and computer-assisted dispatch systems, according to Department of Public Safety Secretary Jason Bowie, are “antiquated.”

Bowie stated, “We are making improvements there, and we have a new system that will go live in December.”

After they put it online, he claimed, the FBI must certify it, which will push down the process until 2023.

Once the certification procedure, Bowie remarked, “We hope to be online for six months after we are successful online with the system in December.”

Rodriguez, however, inquired about all other police forces, as well as about public defenders, jails, and prisons.

Is there any way to connect all of those people?” she enquired. “Obviously, there are many disconnects, and we need to be connected in order to communicate and consolidate data.”

DPS is collaborating with local police departments to get them to provide the data, according to Ellen Rabin, one of the paper’s authors.

She also informed Rodriguez that a new legislation, which was passed in 2019, mandates that all the entities involved in the criminal justice system meet with the same information.

The state Sentencing Commission, which advises the government on the criminal justice system, is mandated by that 2019 law to establish a network to share information with local Criminal Justice Coordinating Councils, panels of the highest-ranking judicial and police officials in each judicial district.

That is being worked on, but it is undoubtedly challenging, according to Rabin. It’s a heavy lift, I know. There are many different people, many various systems, and different levels of data sharing willingness.

Santa Fe-based journalist Austin Fisher works in that city. For Source New Mexico, he reports.

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