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HPD reports increase in crime for 2022

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HPD reports increase in crime for 2022

Gabrielle Arsiaga/News-Sun

The City of Hobbs has seen an exponential increase in shootings from 2021, Hobbs Police Chief August Fons said during Monday night’s city commission meeting.

Fons provided commissioners with the annual fiscal year 2022-2023 report for HPD containing annual crime statistics from 2021 and 2022.

According to Fons, statistically in 2022, the City of Hobbs experienced an overall 9 percent increase in reported crime and a 6 percent increase in calls for service compared to 2021.

Assault and battery increased by 13 percent, Fons said, along with larceny increasing 70 percent, forgery increasing 33 percent, fraud increasing 27 percent, vandalism increasing 38 percent, and weapons violations and shooting at or from a motor vehicle or dwelling increasing 195 percent. 

But, Fons said murder was down 33 percent, robbery was down 18 percent, burglary was down 4 percent, auto theft down by 10 percent, shoplifting down 9 percent, and receiving stolen property saw a 25 percent decrease.

According to statistics provided by HPD, from 2020 to 2021, overall reported crime remained steady while calls for service increased by 3 percent from 2020 to 2021.

Shooting at or from a motor vehicle or dwelling  increased by 31 percent from 2020 to 2021, assaults and batteries increased by 13 percent, larceny saw a 6 percent decrease, forgery increased 20 percent, fraud increased 1 percent, and vandalism increased 26 percent in the same period.

From 2020 to 2021, murder increased 200 percent, robbery increased 29 percent, burglary decreased by seven percent, auto theft increased 52 percent, shoplifting remained steady, and receiving stolen property increased 33 percent.

Fons also said percentage increases or decreases do not give an accurate picture of the number of events happening. 

A 100 percent change could be the difference between one or two occurrences of a particular crime.

For example, from 2020 to 2021, rape increased by 63 percent, but the actual number of reported incidents in 2020 was 24 and 39 in 2021, according to HPD reported crime statistics. Also, murder increasing by 200 percent from 2020 to 2021 was a difference of four incidents – meaning in 2020, two murders were reported, but in 2021, six were. 

Though no single explanation was given as to why shootings increased in 2022, Fons said crime has always, been a “moving target.”

“Crime is always, for a lack of a better term, somewhat of a moving target with some types of crime being emotional based (i.e, murder, domestic violence, assault/battery), and exponentially difficult to prevent, while some crimes are primarily opportunity based (i.e, burglary, shoplifting) -which are much more preventable with help from the community and a patrol presence,” Fons said. 

According to Fons, the community has been a factor in helping the department combat crime and without the community’s assistance, HPD would have a difficult time in solving some crimes.

“We cannot do this by ourselves. We are not an island into ourselves. We count on community response and community assistance,” Fons said. “Yesterday (Sunday) is a great example. … the men and women here at the PD – we’re pretty short staffed and we’re doing a lot of stuff out there – and when I was talking about that example, we had a double, fatal, hit and run just a couple nights ago. That crime was solved over night with the assistance, not only the hard work of the PD, the CID and patrol, but we also had some serious community assistance that helped resolve that.” 

“It wasn’t just the work of the police department. My thanks to the people in the community who stepped up and helped us solve that pretty major crime in a short amount of time.”

In addition to updating the commission on crime statistics for 2022, Fons told commissioners HPD currently operates with a $27 million budget, employs 151 staff, 96 of whom are sworn officers, 26 officer vacancies, 55 support staff positions with seven vacancies.

To assist with recruitment, retention and staffing, HPD received a $4.8 million state allocation for officer salaries and recruitment strategies (which they have used on commercials).

Commissioner Joe Calderon told Fons he appreciates the work Fons and his department do – not only for the community, but for the schools as well.

“I’m really proud of you guys, and when we go knocking on doors you go, and people appreciate that. Some of people addressed safety in the schools and were concerned, and you answered the questions better than I could,” Calderon said.

“We have more officers in the schools today than probably any other community in the state of New Mexico,” Fons said. “My primary concern, other than officer safety is it’d be hard to deal with some children being hurt in the school if we didn’t have effective response. We have put officers in as many schools as we can. We’ve probably doubled the amount of school officers we have.”

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