Thursday, November 26, 2015

Crime In New Mexico

Someone tried to steal my 2003 Chevy S-10 pickup truck from the parking lot of the soon to be fashionable Tierre Pointe apartments on Los Volcanes Road. While it was being repaired I rode my bicycle or used a semi tractor.

A couple Fridays ago as I was finding my way to my credit union, which is across the expressway from where I live, I found my way to the biking/pedestrian/jogging overpass on I-40 just east of Coors. As I crossed it and glanced out over the city and the very grand Rio Grande Valley, I realized that while after 15 years I generally still appreciate New Mexico's spectacular scenery, when I cruise around Albuquerque in a motor vehicle, its majestic setting fades into a background filled with aggressive drivers, time constraints, perpetual worries -- my personal reality. So I turned around and went back and snapped a couple pictures with my cell phone camera.

Albuquerque from a mountain bike

Los Volcanes viewed through public art from more inspired times

The would be thieves had pried out the door handle and removed the cowling around the steering column, but apparently had been unable to get the truck to run because of an anti theft device that came with it from the factory.

It had happened October 26, and Allstate had had it towed to Reliable Chevrolet across from the Cottonwood Mall, which has a body shop, and they were almost a month getting it fixed. I finally started calling my agent and Allstate and I got the truck back last Friday, November 20.

When I saw that the final tally was $1,900 and something, almost twice the estimate, I questioned the woman at the desk. She got the adjuster to come out and he explained that the service department had had the pickup most of that time. There was damage to the steering column. A feature that prevents the vehicle from running unless a key is inserted into the lock had had to be replaced.

I bought the truck used so knew not of that feature. The ignition lock was sloppy when I bought it an I'd had to lube it up good with graphite to get it to work right, and the shift lever for the automatic transmission was sloppy, too. Both are tight and like new now. I'm happy about that, but I'm out the $500 deductible, of course, and my insurance rates will probably edge upward. The extended amount of time Reliable had it seems a little more reasonable now.

I'm thinking about getting some kind of anti theft device. The cop watch web sites tell about 360 degree video cameras, and cameras you can monitor on your home computer or even on your cell phone. I assume there are systems that record the video, maybe upload it somewhere, maybe a web site where you must pay a subscription fee.

Carlos, who unloads me in the morning and who grew up here, says I should just get a loud burglar alarm.

If you've ever noticed, when people install barbed wire along the top of a chain link fence (now it's usually the more deadly razor wire) that top segment of barbed or razor wire is usually angled either inward or outward. If it's angled out, it's to keep thieves out. If it's angled in, it's to keep them in. Trapped. They want to know who did this to them and to punish them, rather than prevent the crime in the first place.

Carlos grew up in New Mexico, which I see as more of a barbed wire out kind of place. You protect your own interests and don't worry about your neighbor, to put it broadly. That way of seeing the world is always under challenge and the kind of place New Mexico is is always being contested. It might be changing to a barbed wire in kind of place, but maybe not.

A murder trial took place last week for the kid who murdered the son of the guy who helps me out with my business. The jury let the kid off. Not guilty. Not enough evidence. The prosecutor had warned my friend and his wife about "New Mexico juries" and had gotten their OK to offer a plea deal, but the kid had refused it, and his lawyers had gotten the judge, a New Mexico judge, to rule a lot of the evidence inadmissible, the way it was told it to me.

New Mexico Republicans are making hay over the way defendants are treated in New Mexico, and I see where the Democratic state attorney general is now urging that more money be spent on crime. Meanwhile the Republican governor is trying to boost her career by demagogging peoples' fear of terrorism that takes place on the other side of the world.

As for me, I think I'll go with what Carlos says and hope for the best.


  1. As background I will mention that I have lived in New Mexico, off and on all my life, with extended absences due to work. I have lived in San Miguel, Santa Fe, Colfax and Otero Counties. I have also lived in several other states.

    That being said, the crime in New Mexico does not seem to me to be out of the norm. It is bad, no doubt, but for the most part it is that way everywhere, some places worse and some places less.

    The prosecutor using the terms "New Mexico juries" and "New Mexico judge" has the appearance of a lack of confidence in his or her abilities or of a lack of evidence sufficient to get a guilty verdict. That in itself should have been sufficient notice to anyone of what the outcome of the trial would be. I would tend to blame the prosecutor for the outcome, for the reasons mentioned above.

    The racial makeup of the population in New Mexico, and thus juries, makes many very uncomfortable. The preference would be to have juries made up of folks just like the person bringing charges. That will never happen in New Mexico and hence the "New Mexican juries".

    I would assume that the term "New Mexican" judge refers to an Hispanic New Mexican. Would that be correct? Those are the definitions of the terms we as New Mexicans have come to understand.

    Dog whistle terms that we in New mexico use, and there are many of these terms in common use for a variety of reasons by a variety of different folks. Sometimes it seems to me that these terms constitute another language in use only in New Mexico. A way for us to express our prejudices with one another without having to use the terms we are really thinking about.

    New Mexico has always been different, always! That attracts many and discourages many others.

    I recall may years ago when I was asked to assist with interviews with folks applying for jobs with my employer. It would be my job to explain the "multicultural" nature of the population of our area if the folks were from some other place. It seems that some of those who came loved it and could not get into the New Mexican scene quick enough and others were surprised at the situation and could not wait to get out. That caused a huge problem with turnover at my place of employment.

    That is the nature of New Mexico..

  2. Thanks for the comment, NM.

    I guess I could have been more precise in how I termed things. I put "New Mexico jury" in quotes because that was the phrase as was told to me by my friend. It was the prosecutor talking to him and him relaying the sentiment to me in those words.

    New Mexico judge, with no quotes, is my phrase, meaning the judge was in New Mexico. The context I placed it in does suggest a judgment on my part, but it was more of a generalized, non ethnic characterization of what I think of as "New Mexican."

    The kid who was killed, by the way, was Hispanic and the accused was Hispanic. The judge for the trial was Alisa Hadfield. I don't know what she is. The prosecutor, an assistant DA, and the defense lawyers were Anglo, judging by their names.

    This link may take you to the case and all the names:

    I had to go through a catcha page to get there so if that link doesn't work you can look up the case at

    Once you get past the captcha page you can search using "Martinez Daryl" (the defendant.) That will bring up cases against several Daryl Martinez, and it will be the capital murder case.

    My friend hasn't suggested prosecutorial mishandling of the case but that has come to my mind, especially since I've been reading in the paper about how understaffed the police are and how that affects criminal cases. He of course feels some loyalty to the prosecutor, who seemed to have done a lot of gain it, keeping him informed, asking his input on the plea bargain offer, etc. For the purposes of the blog post I just tried to take from the case what I thought applied to what I was saying. It was an example of someone getting off, basically, and potentially of a "New Mexican" jury being unwilling to convict. I know nothing of the makeup of this jury.

    But as for the meaning of New Mexican, I differentiate in some circumstances between Hispanic New Mexicans and Anglo New Mexicans, but I also think of one archetype in some circumstances. Here, where I was alluding to the libertarian, self reliant, vein of New Mexican culture I was thinking of all long time residents of New Mexico. The Anglo ranch hand type of New Mexican I encountered while living in Moriarty and working in the Estancia Valley as a hired hand on a pheasant farm, and the Albuquerque working class and small business owner type Anglos I've encountered here, seem to fit into that broad generalization. The outsiders might well have picked their attitudes up once they got here, because that's how it was here, I gather anyway. I'm always appreciative, though, of your input. (I actually save your comments to a text file.)

    But yes, it may be naive of me to think of a generic New Mexican, and in light of what you say about dog whistle terms, of which "New Mexican" itself may be one, I will try to keep understanding what that term means. Thanks again for your comment, and the story about your time as the New Mexico cultural coach where you worked. Great story!

  3. “What really stands out is that of all 50 states, New Mexico has the widest gulf between the laws that are on the books and the vigor with which they’re implemented: the so-called “enforcement gap.” While The Center for Public Integrity was making reference to political ethics and campaign finance in N.M., the description accurately describes our criminal justice system.

    1. Great comment! Thanks.

      And thanks for that link. I didn't know of that study and will post something about it