According to a report released by the National Insurance Crime Bureau this month, the Albuquerque metro area ranks second highest in the nation for car theft rate. State Superintendent of Insurance, John Franchini, told KOAT that automobile insurance rates in New Mexico could go up 10 percent in the next two years as a result. Former Bernalillo County Sheriff's Captain and current State Representative Bill Rehm says car theft is rarely committed for joyrides or long-term use, but are often used as transportation for other crimes before being abandoned. A car-theft task force is being created by city and county police agencies in an attempt to lower the numbers. Many cases of car theft are pleaded down by defendants, resulting in shorter jail time or less severe penalties. Representative Rehm says district attorneys and judges need to take these offenses more seriously.
State Museums to Increase Ticket Prices
As of July 1, all state-run museums, including the Natural History Museum, the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the Museum of New Mexico, will be increasing their admission fees and possibly limiting the number of free Sundays for state residents. This follows the announcement of a $2 million budget cut for the Department of Cultural Affairs' next fiscal year, and the subsequent layoffs of six of the seven historical site managers, as well as five other jobs. Most state agencies are receiving decreased funding this year due to declining oil and gas revenue, a major source of funding for the state. Despite the budgetary and personnel cuts, the Department of Cultural Affairs plans to maintain its standards for the upkeep of historic sites.
Police Chief Explains Policy-making Process
In response to a letter from the Police Oversight Board chairwoman Beth Mohr, which expressed the board's frustration in not being involved in the development of the Albuquerque Police Department's new use-of-force policy, Police Chief Gorden Eden has outlined the policy-writing process in a response. In the letter, he cites time constraints as the reason for not involving the board in policy development, which had previously been described by an independent monitor overseeing the reforms process as “confusing.” Chief Eden fully outlines the process, which begins with policy discussions in the department’s newly created Office of Policy Analysis. Policy drafts then go to a Standard Operating Procedure Committee for review. They are then sent to PowerDMS, an internal police communication system where board members and officers can comment. The policies then return to the Standard Operating Procedure Committee for further review. They then go to the Policy and Procedure Review Board. And finally, they go back to the Office of Policy Analysis. Adjustments to the policies are made along the way, and even after they have been presented to the Department of Justice. Other than the Oversight Board's exclusion from the process, Mohr also expressed concern over the inclusion of the term “when feasible” in the new use-of-force policy. City officials have said the wording was discussed fully and agreed upon by all parties involved. They also say the department is nearly finished rewriting the 37 policies, as required by the DOJ.