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APD Releases Results from Balloon Fiesta Public Safety Operation

Property crime decreased by 39% at area hotels.

October 15, 2019

The Albuquerque Police Department used hundreds of officers from 24 different units this year to help keep the visitors, residents and balloonists safe during the 2019 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Property crimes decreased by 39-percent in 2019 at the hotels were balloonists stayed and within Balloon Fiesta Park, when compared to figures in 2018.

“APD worked closely with Albuquerque Fire Rescue, Bernalillo County Emergency Management, other public safety agencies, and several city departments to keep people safe,” Mayor Tim Keller said. “The police department was prepared for incidents at the park and conducted proactive auto theft and street crime operations around the city, resulting in dozens of felony arrests. Officers stepped up and helped make this huge event safe and fun for visitors and residents.”

For the first time, APD trained City security personnel from the Department of Municipal Development to help direct traffic during fiesta. APD also carved out time from the police academy for recruits to put their new skills to the test and direct traffic at the fiesta.

“In addition to providing valuable learning opportunities for recruits, these changes to traffic control helped us save nearly $40,000 in overtime costs for police officers,” said Deputy Chief Michael Smathers.

The most notable incident during the event was a motor vehicle accident involving a six-year-old. The child had minor injuries and was able to stay and enjoy the balloon fiesta.

Here is a breakdown of incidents during the fiesta:

  • Missing/Separated Adults-6
  • Missing/Separated Children-52
  • Miscellaneous Law Enforcement Calls-16
  • Traffic Reports-2
  • Balloon Accidents-3 downed balloons handled by NMSP.

APD also used the Auto Theft Unit and the Street Crimes Unit to conduct public safety operations around the city in connection with the Balloon Fiesta. While these units conduct tactical operations year-round, their focus was in areas like hotels where the Balloon Fiesta created additional traffic or risk.

  • Felony arrest/warrants: 48 (2 homicide offenders, 1 attempted homicide offender)
  • Misdemeanor arrest: 1
  • Recovered stolen vehicles: 16
  • Bait Car Arrests: 3
  • Guns recovered/seized: 9 (1 concealed pellet gun)
  • Narcotics arrest: 7 narcotics arrests (Meth and Heroin)
  • Positive Community Contacts: numerous