Culture of Policing in Albuquerque, New Mexico

The aim of policing and law enforcement is to maintain law and order, peace and tranquility in the regions under jurisdiction, which has proved to be an uphill battle in Albuquerque, New Mexico. From the late 1990s through at least 2002, the Albuquerque Police Department partnered with researchers from the University of Mexico to promote organizational change. Specifically, they hoped to make a substantial difference in the Albuquerque Police Department by “(1) undermining the high wall dividing sworn and civilian police employees by fomenting much greater civilian/sworn collaboration built on mutual respect; and (2) fostering the consolidation within APD of what we have termed a strong culture of policing that combines the most effective elements of all the current subcultures into something approximating a coherent organizational culture of policing (David & Wood, 2002, p.6)”. This essay aims to provide suggestions for a way ahead to more effectively manage change in the Albuquerque Police Department in tandem with the New Mexico law enforcement system.

The U.S. system of jurisprudence was significantly influenced by the nature of colonization of America. The concept of retribution and ‘making an example’ out of an offender of those days was codified into state laws, which also crystallized into the federal laws leading to two main approaches for sentencing; namely the indeterminate and the determinate policies of sentencing. The indeterminate system was considered as too soft to serve as a deterrent and over 50 states including New Mexico chose to implement the determinate or mandatory system of sentencing. Policing in New Mexico too followed tough line which has not helped curb crime rates. The Political Research Associates(2005) very pithily observe that “ This “tougher” and harsher (U.S.) stance is not as effective as approaches other nations use, which focus more on crime prevention and rehabilitation”(p.1). Evidently, the European nations have certain policies which have resulted in better success in keeping crime rates low.

In Europe, the indeterminate type of sentencing has greater prominence. The focus of law enforcement is on rehabilitation of the offender. The European system believes that most humans can be ‘retrieved’ if given the right chance and opportunity. Some variation of the European system is found in New Zealand where a pilot program called ‘Project Turnaround’ has met with notable success. “Project Turnaround in New Zealand allows the offender, victim, and community representatives to attempt to come to terms with the crime committed and to create a plan of action for the offender to make amends to the victim and the community” (Political Research Associates, p. 2).

In case of the younger adults and teenagers, “early interventions to divert individuals from offending have been found to be one of the most effective types of intervention overall” (Rubin, Rabinovich, & Hallsworth, 2006, p. 11). By early intervention, the community, the Police and the social workers identify the vulnerable individuals who are most likely to take up a life of crime. Having identified such individuals, the community then puts into place measures to prevent those individuals from falling wayside by providing them education, jobs and other avenues to utilize their energies. Early intervention also looks at providing counseling to help the vulnerable cope up with psychological rigors of modern life. In the UK, such counseling is called as Cognitive Behavioral counseling in which the vulnerable individuals are encouraged to vocalize their inner thoughts and are then shown the alternatives to a better life through psychological counseling. This program has met with significant success.

Albuquerque has one of the highest crime rates in America. The national median for violent crimes per 1000 residents is 4.7 while that in Albuquerque is 10.7 (Neighborhood Scout , 2008) which shows the extent of crime penetration in the city. They are characterized by aging, low-quality multi-family housing and deteriorating infrastructure. As a result, drug dealers and gangs, along with other low-income families and individuals move into the neighborhood (Morrison, 2000, p.1). The ‘weed’ and ‘seed’ strategy used by the APD has not resulted in lowering of crime rates because all departments of the New Mexico government are not acting in unison. The way forward is not just policing but whole community action. The prime cause of crime is poor socio-economic condition of the Hispanic population and poor standards of education. These have to form part of the overall plan. Only reforming the organizational structure of Albuquerque Police Department will not help.

The concept of ‘Restorative Justice’ is gaining ground in Europe. In this approach, the offender, the victim, their families, the community and the police, all are involved in the rehabilitative process. This method has been found to reduce repeat offences and has helped bring a number of criminals back into the mainstream society. Improving the health of disadvantaged children and providing social and economic stability to such families would help in reduce crime. Therefore, policing would now involve substantial amount of community work and community building as the way ahead for reducing crime rates. With a 39% Hispanic population, Albuquerque Police Department needs to induct proportional number of Hispanics in its police force as ethnic amalgamation helps in a long way in providing horizontal communications with the populace. Concepts such as situational intervention also help bring down crime. The police, in this case, not only carry out the routine patrols, but also look at community protection holistically through measures such as providing better street lighting in the neighborhood during hours of darkness. Ensuring adequate number of taxis at night helps prevent ‘street corner’ muggings. Measures such as substituting glassware in pubs with plastic ware can help bring down incidents of violent assault.

For the policy makers, a return to the indeterminate sentencing policy with some variations offers the best solution for reducing crimes in New Mexico. The Minnesota model, where sentences are decided through a grid based on the severity of the offense and the past history of similar offences by the individual has helped reduce repeat offences and lowered prison occupancy. In the Minnesota model of ‘presumptive’ sentencing, judges can impose a sentence within the range or deviate from the recommended stretch (Hayes, 2006, p. 21). Limiting the duration of mandatory sentencing and allowing greater powers to the corrections managers can help reduce prison overcrowding.

In conclusion it can be reiterated that the measures required for reducing crime in Albuquerque would require a comprehensive revamp of the entire operating philosophy of the APD. The concepts of early intervention and the European models of law enforcement would need to be studied, analyzed and suitably modified to align with American conditions. The New Mexico government needs to return to the indeterminate sentencing policy and look at European concepts of Restorative justice. At the macro level, crime prevention requires not only a well equipped police department but also a mechanism to redress the pitiable socio-economic conditions of the Albuquerque populace.

Works Cited

  1. David, M., & Wood, R. L. (2002). Rethinking Organizational Change in Policing Summary. Web.
  2. Morrison, S. (2000). Evaluation of Alburqueque Weed and Seed Sites: Trumbull and La Mesa Neighbhorhoods.
  3. Neighborhood Scout. (2008). Crime rates for Albuquerque, NM. Web.
  4. Political Research Associates. (2005). United States Versus the World.
  5. Rubin, J., Rabinovich, L., & Hallsworth, M. a. (2006). Intervention to Reduce Antisocial Behaviour and Crime. Web.

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DemoEssays. 2023. "Culture of Policing in Albuquerque, New Mexico." January 4, 2023.

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DemoEssays. "Culture of Policing in Albuquerque, New Mexico." January 4, 2023.