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New Mexico city on pace to smash homicide record

ALBUQUERQUE – Albuquerque detectives on Monday were investigating the city’s latest string of deaths – three more cases that could push New Mexico’s largest city closer to smashing a previous homicide record.

Police Chief Harold Medina was scheduled to host a virtual town hall on social media Monday evening to discuss the city’s crime trends and answer questions submitted by residents.

While some cities around the U.S. have seen an increase in homicides over the last year, Albuquerque has been grappling with high homicide rates even before the pandemic. It set a record in 2019, when it had 80 killings for the entire year.

If the latest cases are classified as homicides, that will push the city's total so far this year to more than 60.

The city's reputation when it comes to crime is a big challenge for Democratic Mayor Tim Keller in his re-election bid. While some community groups are frustrated by the looming stigma, Keller's administration argues that it has been trying new tactics that include using acoustic surveillance to combat gun violence and the creation of a new community safety department.

Medina said earlier this year that while violent crime is up, property crime has decreased.

The Albuquerque police officers' union earlier this year mounted a $70,000 campaign aimed at encouraging residents to pressure the city's elected leaders to focus more on fighting crime rather than spending millions of dollars on oversight related to a consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department.