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Los Alamos crime rises 7% last year

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Los Alamos Police Department’s latest statistics show there was more crime in the community than last year, but the city was still one of the safest communities in the nation.

“When we have low numbers to begin with, any change in the number can have a large appearance by percentage. In fact, we still remain one of the safest communities in the nation,” Sgambellone said.

The department’s report documented a 7% increase in what the FBI calls “part one” crimes and a 9% increase in property crimes. Property crimes increased from 101 crimes in 2017 to 110 in 2018.  Part one offenses include arson, burglary, larceny, homicide, manslaughter, rape, aggravated robbery and aggravated assault.

In 2018, there were no homicides or manslaughters, but there were five rapes, one aggravated robbery and 19 aggravated assaults. There were also 19 burglaries, 88 larcenies two auto thefts and one arson. There were also 44 DWIs reported. Last year there were 32.

He said first quarter reports for 2019 will show a sharp decline in the numbers.

“It’s a comparatively low number and we continue to try and to be as effective as we can with our resources to interrupt any emerging crime patterns,” Sgambellone said.

Car accidents also went up this year, which the department attributed to the series of heavy storms the county endured throughout the winter. There were 212 car crashes in 2018. In 2017, there were 186.

The department released the figures in its annual report that is available online at the department’s website at lacnm.us.

The department released an annual report for the past several years in order to keep the public apprised of its activities and performance.

“It’s important to maintain that level of transparency with the community in terms in what their department is doing, how it’s allocating its resources, and how those allocations impact the community,” Sgambellone said.

The department’s most notable achievement for 2018 was being accredited by an agency that few departments achieve… or maintain.

The department reported it achieved 100 percent compliance with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies since being accredited in March 2018. Only 702 law enforcement agencies throughout the world are accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

The Los Alamos Police Department is the third law enforcement agency in the state to be accredited by the commission. Other departments in the state include the New Mexico State Police and the Farmington Police Department.

It’s been a year since the LAPD was first accredited.

“A lot of work that had gone into that process was finalized when we gained accreditation.  The work then went from preparation to maintenance where we maintained those standards moving forward,” Sgambellone said.

In a written statement, Sgambellone thanked the community and Sgt. Daniel Roberts for spearheading the effort.

“The department worked very hard to become nationally accredited in 2018, and we did it with 100% compliance to applicable standards.” Sgambellone said. “We could not have reached this goal without our community partners, and for that, I thank you and look forward to continued, collaborative efforts.”

The annual report also saw the department make a big push toward going digital, installing special computers to help officers in the field write citations and other forms electronically.

“The new GETAC mobile computers allow for more usability of public safety systems in the field which, coupled with barcode scanners, have transitioned LAPD to be able to write electronic citations,” the annual report said.

Sgambellone said everything  isn’t totally electronic yet, and probably won’t be, but the new equipment for the patrol cars will save time and reduce duplication.

“We try to be digital when we can, but some things are always going to require paper,” Sgambellone said. “It definitely saves us time. If you had multiple citations, each one, from a paper perspective, you have to write each one over.

Digital saves time because it doesn’t have to be automatically reentered. It’s definitely more efficient for us.”

The annual report also documents the department’s community outreach efforts, like how many businesses and organizations the department’s active shooter training team helped prevent or escape and active shooter situation.

The department has increased its efforts with Special Olympics, having raised $2,000 more during the annual torch run this year. That’s $500 more than last year. Besides raising money for the organization a group of officers from the department run 42 miles with the torch from department headquarters to the relay point in Jemez Springs.

“Cmdr. Oliver Morris does a great job with that program, the department and the community as a whole,” Sgambellone said. “They get into this line of work because they care. They care about people they care about the community they live and work in. Special Olympics is just one example of the compassion shown by the men and women of the department.”