Sandia LabNews

District Attorney presents update on metro crime


Speaker series addresses vital local issues

CRIME UPDATE — Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez visited Sandia to present an update on crime rates and law enforcement strategies on July 20. His presentation is part of the ongoing Community Engagement Speaker Series. (Photo by Lonnie Anderson)

Executive director and chief information officer John Zepper hosted the third visit of Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez, who returned after a two-year hiatus. Torrez updated a mostly virtual Sandia audience of over 1,200 staff on the improvements and ongoing challenges facing law enforcement and prosecutors in the Albuquerque metro area. The presentation is part of the ongoing Community Engagement Speaker Series.

Torrez opened by noting how photos of him displayed in the auditorium tracked the progression of gray in his hair, which he attributed to his years as district attorney in the Albuquerque area. In his presentation, Torrez discussed his efforts to incorporate data analytics techniques and practices in law enforcement investigations to better anticipate violent crime before it occurs.

Torrez said his approach focuses on repeat offenders who largely drive crime in the metro area.

“There’s a tiny percentage of very violent, very dangerous individuals who commit an overwhelming share of crime.” Torrez said traditional law enforcement methods are less effective on this population, and his use of analytics and tactics like the use of social media tracking is intended to address this population.

Torrez showed examples of social media posts from people charged with violent crimes who use social media to buy and sell illegal items and post about their activities online. He said they are able to do this because law enforcement uses old-school methods to fight crime.

“They are using technology in ways that most law enforcement hasn’t caught up with yet,” Torrez said.

In his update of crime statistics since 2019, Torrez noted increases in property crime rates in Albuquerque and nationally. Despite this, the auto theft rate has decreased. Torrez said Albuquerque has dropped from number one to number two in the nation in auto thefts, reflecting a significant reduction, but the rate is still high.

Due to time constraints, Torrez was not able to share all the information he planned, so he recorded a supplemental presentation for Sandia staff. In his second presentation, he discussed the efforts of Sandia volunteers, the use of social media and genealogical data in reducing crime rates. He also answered questions that he received during the initial presentation.

Staff can watch the July 20 presentation and supplemental video online. Employees interested in volunteering in the crime data analysis and victims advocate programs can contact Roberta Rivera at rjriver@sandia.gov.