Farmington crime stats show a decrease in violent and property crimes

Farmington, N.M. – Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe presented crime statistics at the city council meeting earlier this week, showing an overall decrease in crime in the Farmington city limits. The data measures 20 different calls for service, ranging from homicides to shoplifting reports, from January 1, 2016, to December 31, 2021.

At the Farmington City Council meeting on January 27, Chief Hebbe spoke about crime trends over the last five years and the data gathered by FPD. The statistics show a decrease in most of the data points measured, and they also show a reduction in the overall calls for service. The stats don’t reflect the decreased number of officers working for FPD, and Hebbe reports the number of officers employed by the department has been down for a year and a half.

“One thing that can have a significant impact on statistics is the number of officers you have. If you have more officers on patrol, they’re making more contacts and driving up your calls for service. If your numbers are lower, your calls for service are lower.” explained Chief Hebbe.

Chief Hebbe next spoke about the violent crime stats and the 20% decrease in the number of robberies reported. He mentioned FPD’s efforts to better support and coordinate with victims of crimes in the city’s street inebriate population over the last year. Hebbe expressed hope that the program is responsible for the impact on violent crimes within the city. 

“We’ve dedicated a victim advocate to primarily work with that community to keep them attached to the process so we do get convictions that we previously couldn’t,” the chief reported. 

The chief then discussed property crimes, specifically the burglary and shoplifting categories. Hebbe touted the shoplifting data point showing a 29% decrease when there has been a national trend of massive shopliftings in larger cities around the country. The three burglary categories have been trending down locally since 2017, showing an average reduction of 53%. 

“The average citizen is probably most affected by their car, house, or business being broken into. The fact that all of these numbers are down is good for our community,” said Chief Hebbe.  

Overall, Chief Hebbe spoke of his goals to recruit more officers and his department’s recent hiring challenges. The city council and mayor’s support for the department in their recruiting efforts were highlighted when Mayor Nate Duckett mentioned he was trying to recruit for the police department on a recent trip.

Chief Hebbe finished the presentation by saying, “I’m hopeful that the national narrative continues to change, and being a cop is something that people will want to be again.”

FPD’s response to recent article about crime in our city

A recent article published by 24/7 Wall Street that also ran in The Daily Times, listed Farmington as #8 in 25 cities where violent crime is “soaring.” Once again, our city is being named in an article that is misleading because they are referring to the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) data and not solely to Farmington proper data.

We would like to remind citizens that our extended geographical area has a population exceeding 50,000. Therefore, it has been designated by the federal government as an MSA; Farmington is a subset of the overall MSA. Aztec, Kirtland, Bloomfield, Shiprock, unincorporated areas of San Juan County and parts of the Navajo Nation are also part of the “Farmington MSA.” The MSA is named after Farmington because it has the largest population of the MSA territory. Our MSA is 5,500 square miles, an area larger than the State of Connecticut. Farmington is 32 square miles, which is less than one percent of the MSA.

A positive benefit of being considered an MSA is that we are on the national map for various forms of economic, commercial and retail development. On the negative side, media outlets publish non-independently verified “facts” regarding the Farmington MSA. Typically these reports do not make it clear they are analyzing the entire MSA, leaving readers to assume it is limited to Farmington proper. These media stories can give an incomplete or inaccurate picture of our city. This issue was addressed in a previous episode of The Mayor’s Table (attached). We encourage citizens to watch that episode as it provides a more in-depth explanation of the MSA and the status of our community.

Chief Hebbe stated, “I’m disappointed with yet another article that distorts the image of our city. Like many communities, we do have some violent crime. However, our incidents of random violent crime are significantly less than this article insinuates. Like all of you, the men and women of the Farmington Police Department care deeply about our community and do their best to ensure this remains a safe and wonderful community to live and raise families.”