Don’t judge us by murder rate alone

As the PNM ad­min­is­tra­tion pre­pares to ask the pop­u­la­tion for a sec­ond term in of­fice, Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley is ask­ing that cit­i­zens not judge his ad­min­is­tra­tion sole­ly on the out of con­trol mur­der rate even though he ad­mit­ted that his gov­ern­ment has not been suc­cess­ful on crime.

Run­away crime has been one of the fail­ings that have tar­nished the PNM ad­min­is­tra­tion’s record of of­fice with more than 2000 cit­i­zens be­ing killed un­der their watch. Since the PNM took of­fice in 2015, mur­ders moved from 463 in 2016 to 538 in 2019. Last year’s fig­ure rep­re­sent­ed the sec­ond high­est mur­der toll in this coun­try’s his­to­ry. Al­though Dr Kei­th Row­ley is op­ti­mistic that cit­i­zens will no­tice re­sults in the com­ing weeks and months, he al­so be­lieves the en­tire coun­try is un­der­es­ti­mat­ing the chal­lenge posed by crim­i­nals.

“It would not be fair to the gov­ern­ment to be mea­sured by this sit­u­a­tion that didn’t arise overnight, and is not a fea­ture of this ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Dr Row­ley said.

“While we would not have elim­i­nat­ed or even re­duced mur­ders as we have em­barked up­on, there are a lot of oth­er things that the gov­ern­ment has been suc­cess­ful at, so I would hope that the pop­u­la­tion will judge us on the broad­er can­vas than this chron­ic prob­lem that we are grap­pling with,” said the prime min­is­ter.

That po­si­tion con­trasts that tak­en in the PNM’s 2015 man­i­festo where it crit­i­cised the UNC for a mur­der count that ex­ceed­ed 400, lament­ing that vi­o­lent crime was “out of con­trol.” When ques­tioned on this, Dr Row­ley cred­it­ed that state­ment to an ex­pres­sion of op­ti­mism about the ef­fort that his ad­min­is­tra­tion in­tend­ed to make. But in a one-on-one in­ter­view at the Prime Min­is­ter’s of­fice at White­hall, he ad­mit­ted that en­thu­si­asm had not yet yield­ed the de­sired re­sults.

“We have not made the lev­el of progress that the cit­i­zens ex­pect and de­mand and are en­ti­tled to,” the Prime Min­is­ter con­ced­ed in a no­tice­ably calm tone. “We are in fact fac­ing an on­go­ing crime wave.”

In the wide-rang­ing in­ter­view, Dr Row­ley field­ed ques­tions on crime, the econ­o­my, mar­i­jua­na de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion, suc­ces­sion plan­ning, among oth­er top­ics. The in­ter­view re­quest was ac­cept­ed un­der the strict agree­ment that no top­ic or ques­tion would be off the ta­ble, Guardian Me­dia would have com­plete con­trol over the line of ques­tion­ing, and that the in­ter­view would be aired with­out ed­its.

De­spite the abysmal re­sult, Dr Row­ley has giv­en Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young his full sup­port. “I don’t see a min­is­te­r­i­al change as the re­sponse,” Dr Row­ley as­sert­ed when ques­tioned whether Young would con­tin­ue in the na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty post.

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