State law requires crime data reporting

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

The New Mexico Department of Public Safety began reporting crime data collected from state law enforcement agencies on its Web site this month.

Spurred by state legislation requiring the department of public safety to serve as a statewide clearing house for crime reporting, the first data report was made public June 15.

“We’ve never had one central repository in the state before,” DPS Communications Director Peter Olson said.

The compiled data will be forwarded to the FBI for annual crime data compilation.

Only two of six Roosevelt and Curry County law enforcement agencies data were included in the report, a reflection of troubles with the new system, Olson said.

“We’re having a hard time getting everybody to report,” he said, explaining the legislation did not provide any sanctions or enforcement options to compel compliance.

The initial report reflects data through April. Reports may become more frequent as the reporting process is refined, Olson said.

The initial report includes 52 agencies, some of which reported monthly totals through April, while other agencies reported partial or incomplete numbers.

Olson said he didn’t know the exact number of law enforcement agencies in the state, but there are 33 counties, each with a sheriff’s department, and 103 municipalities, virtually all of which have police departments in addition to state police units and other certified law enforcement agencies.

Among local agencies, the Clovis Police Department reported data through April and the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office reported figures for January.

Portales, Melrose and Texico Police departments and the Curry County Sheriff’s Office were not listed.

Curry County Undersheriff Wesley Waller said his department has always reported directly to the FBI on a monthly basis and is in the process of shifting its reporting to DPS.

CCSO will also report on behalf of Melrose police, he said.

“At this point DPS hasn’t set us up to report to them,” he said.

“We should be shortly. We anticipate within the next reporting period we should be in sync with New Mexico DPS and all of our reports should go to them instead of the FBI. I think they’re on the right track, it’s just going to take time when you have that many people trying to switch to a new system.”

As a small town with minimal administrative staff in its police department, Portales City Manager Debi Lee said the PPD has fallen behind on reporting by about three months and is working to get caught up.

They hope to turn its data in by the end of the week, she said.

“We’re an accredited department and it’s really important to (police administrators) that we stay in compliance and to maintain credibility,” she said.

Lee said the department is in support of the data collection and is just adjusting to the new responsibility.

“There’s a right to know and the information submitted to the DPS is important for the coordination of all the crime solving and dealing with all the crime issues throughout the state,” she said.

Roosevelt County Chief Deputy Malin Parker said his office has been submitting monthly data to DPS.

Parker said the system of reporting is a new process to his department but hasn’t caused any issues because they were already generating the data for annual reports.

As to why only January’s data made the report, Malin said he doesn’t know.

Texico Police Chief Doug Bowman, who took over the department in April, said he is still familiarizing himself with the law and statute changes that occurred in the more than a year he was out of law enforcement.

“If it’s a requirement upon me, then that’s something I’ll have to comply with,” he said.

Following the standards set by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report, the data details seven categories of crime, reporting the number of incidents, percentage of the total crime that each type represents and a comparison volume rate based on 100,000 people.

Clovis Police Department crime data through April:

Homicide: 0

Forcible rape: 9

Robbery: 13

Assault: 240

Burglary: 177

Larceny: 469

Motor vehicle theft: 33