It is being reported that when two APD officers and two detectives with APD’s Crimes Against Children Unit looked into an allegation that a 7 year old child had blood on her underwear someone from APD in fact accessed the states Children Youth and Families law enforcement portal.
(May 29, 2018 Albuquerque Journal, front page, “APD likely aware of CYFD contacts with girl; Chief earlier said officers might have acted differently if they’d known the history)
The entire Albuquerque Journal report can be read here:
According to the Journal report, last year on May 16, 2017, the then-director of the Real Time Crime Center issued a directive to APD staff operators to look at a child’s contacts with CYFD sending out a procedural order laying out the center’s access to the CYFD’s law enforcement portal.
According to the city interoffice memorandum, APD Real Time Center operators were ordered to use the portal in all cases in which a juvenile has been injured or neglected, there is a history of violence and in “all cases where a juvenile call originated from a school.”
In other words, APD was aware or should have been aware of the family’s lengthy history with the Children, Youth and Families Department when an APD officer and a CYFD investigator met with the child’s teacher at the girl’s school.
TESTIMONY OF FAILURE BY APD
During a three-day detention hearing for the child’s parents being held in custody on charges of sex trafficking, the child’s teacher testified under oath that she told an APD officer and the CYFD Investigator the child went to school unkempt and smelling of urine, evidence of child neglect.
When the teacher testified she helped the child change into clean clothes, the teacher saw the child had blood on the crotch of her underwear.
The teacher removed the underwear from the 7-year-old student and saved it for investigators.
The teacher testified when a police officer went to the school the following day, the APD officer said they could not use the underwear as evidence and threw the clothing in the dumpster.
The teacher testified she was told by the officer that the underwear had not been kept in a secure location and that the police office said “they’re going to have a field day if this ever went to court.”
A PUBLIC RELATIONS NIGHTMARE DEFENSE
Mayor Keller and Interim Chief Geier both bent over backwards to repeatedly say to news media outlets that no one with APD violated any policies or procedures investigating the case.
Both Mayor Keller and the Interim Chief Geier also said that no one violated any policies or procedures, including when an APD officer tossed out the blood-stained underwear of an innocent 7-year-old child rather than tagging it into evidence.
Geier repeatedly said that the blood-stained underwear by itself was not a strong enough reason to cause further investigation beyond what the officer did that day.
Mayor Tim Keller said “Based on information they had at the time we have no reason to believe protocol wasn’t followed and procedure wasn’t followed.”
Mayor Keller even went so far as to say that he was not going to discipline someone just because everyone is mad about what happened in the case.
APD Interim Chief Michael Geier has also told media outlets that officers and detectives did everything they could with the information they had at the time and if they knew more, they would have done things differently.
The report APD in fact accessed the states Children Youth and Families law enforcement portal is evidence that APD did not do everything they could have with the information they had at the time.
INTERNAL AFFAIRS INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED
It was learned that on Friday, May 25, 2018, after continued media coverage and inquiries, APD launched an Internal Affairs investigation to provide a more complete accounting of the department’s interactions related to the November 2017 incident involving the parents of the child.
The Internal Affairs Investigation was not announced until Tuesday, May 25, 2018 with a follow up press conference.
The Internal Affairs investigation is to provide Mayor Keller and Chief Geier with the complete details and the steps taken or missed by officers and detectives during interviews with family and school personnel.
The Internal Affairs investigation will also explore any other actions by APD personnel who had a role, or should have had a role, before a determination was made about allegations of child neglect or abuse.
The big question is, why did the Chief nor the Mayor nor order the Internal Affairs Investigation in the first place seeing is that the events occurred last year and before they took office on December 1, 2018?
REPEAT OF HISTORY
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” to quote George Santayana.
In response to the controversy, the original response was for Mayor Tim Keller to issue directives to APD to undertake steps to review child abuse cases for patterns that raise red flags, reach out to other law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, the courts, CYFD and child advocates to coordinate crimes against children cases and evaluate policies on evidence collection.
Keller’s defense of APD and Chief Geier is identical to what former Mayor Berry did with former APD Chief Gorden Eden and APD.
Why does Mayor Keller’s directives also sound all too familiar?
The blunt truth is that Mayor Tim Keller took the typical public relations approach by demanding a review of policies and procedures and vowing to hold people accountable for their inaction or incompetence if that is what happened in this case.
All too often after horrific crimes against a child happen, elected officials express outrage and quickly announce proposed changes in the law, increasing penalties, often including reinstating the death penalty for heinous crimes against children, or order review of policies and procedures, which is exactly what happened in the Victoria Martens case and Maree Varela case.
In 2014, 9-year-old Omaree Varela was found beaten to death months after placing a desperate 911 call to APD.
The autopsy report said Omaree had lost about 25 percent of his blood volume through internal bleeding.
On August 24, 2016, in one of the most brutal murders seen in Albuquerque’s history, APD found the dead body of ten-year-old Victoria Martens in an Albuquerque apartment.
Victoria Martens had been beaten, drug, raped, dismembered and then burned.
It was later reported that APD had received prior referrals from CYFD to investigate.
APD spokesperson said that APD had interviewed Victoria Martens and her mother had been conducted which was a lie in that APD never interviewed of the 10 year old nor her mother.
This city has seen and heard all this before from elected officials, mayors included, yet the heinous crimes continue.
All too often people do not hear, or for that matter do not want to hear or even care about the horrific details of crimes against children.
Ultimately, nothing happens and no one is held accountable.
APD, all police officers and the command staff need to fully commit without any reservation whatsoever to fulfill their motto of “to serve and protect”, especially when it comes to our children, otherwise the motto is meaningless.
Every effort must be made by APD to protect our children.
Law enforcement must ensure swift justice is bought upon those who do harm to our innocent children.
There must be severe ramifications and people must be held accountable, including APD personnel and CYFD personnel, for the shoddy investigation such as what happened with a child and the denial by an APD officer to accept evidence and tag it and ask for a forensic evaluation.
Our children’s lives depend upon it.