In 2018, 20% of Albuquerque-area homicides were related to domestic violence. In 2019, there were 19 homicides, or 14%, of 65 homicide cases that were related to domestic violence.
On April 5, the on line news agency New Mexico Political Reports reported that domestic violence incidents in Bernalillo County jumped by a whopping 78% which coincides with soaring unemployment and gun sales during the corona virus pandemic.
RISE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DURING PANDEMIC CONFIRMED
It was on March 16, 2020 that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued her first emergency public health order to deal with the corona virus outbreak. On March 23 the Governor expanded the orders and issued social distancing and self-quarantine or “shelter orders” asking everyone who does not provide “essential services” stay home and “self-quarantine”.
Since the Governor’s March 23 stay home or self-quarantine orders, there is now more data that reveals that there is a major spike in domestic violence. On April 18, the Bernalillo County District Attorney Office announced that following the governor’s March 23 orders, domestic violence arrests jumped from 34 to 58 a week and then to 62 a week. District Attorney Raul Torrez said the caseload is actually higher because arrest numbers do not account for court summons and nonarrest cases.
According to Torrez:
“This is a trend they’ve been seeing around the country, and around the world … The thing that concerns us the most is we have victims that are either unable to report the crime or, if they’re able to report the crime, feel like they’re going to be trapped with their offender.”
DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE AND MEDIA NOT IMMUNE FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DURING PANDEMIC
Sadly, the District Attorney’s Office is not immune from the tragedy of domestic violence and neither is the local news media. On April 20, Michael Patrick, the spokesman for the Bernalillo County District Attorney, was charged with “battery on a household member.” The alleged victim is his wife, KOAT Channel 7 News Reporter Shelly Ribando. According to police reports, police were called to the couple’s Northeast Albuquerque home after a credit card agent on the phone with Ribando reported that she heard a scuffle and that Ribando said her husband had hit her.
According to the police report, the married couple were arguing because Patrick had used a credit card to get an apartment, and Ribando was trying to cancel the payment. Ribando reportedly told responding officers that Patrick pushed her down and that he also pushed their 8-year-old daughter. It was originally reported that Patrick denied the allegations. Police said they did not observe any injuries on anyone.
Three APD Officers were dispatched to the scene. Lapel camera video was released. APD originally announced that a criminal complaint would be filed, yet to date nothing has been filed. You can review the video obtained from APD and posted on Youtube by freelance videographer Charles Arasim here:
Following are 3 other links consisting of lapel video also obtained from APD and posted on Youtube by freelance videographer Charles Arasim:
One lapel camera video shows Michael Patrick deny the allegations. He is also allowed by APD to gather personal belongings as he was ordered by police to remove himself from the couple’s home. Ribando for her part told officers she did not need medical treatment.
The video with the assisting female officer has the officer conversing with Patrick at length with the assisting officer talking more than asking questions. At one point the assisting officer says words to the effect arguing is not illegal.
The DA’s office in a statement issued said that Patrick was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the alleged incident. The DA’s office also noted that APD would be making a criminal referral to an independent special prosecutor because of the conflict the office would have in prosecuting its own employee.
MICHAEL PATRICK AND SHELLY RIBANDO LAPEL CAMERA VIDEO RAISES QUESTIONS REGARDING APD’S STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES AND TRAINING
The Michael Patrick and Shelly Ribando video is a prime example of a domestic violence call out. The biggest difference is that it involves two “public figures”. Review of the video reflects a number of actions that can be consider violations of standard operating procedures or at a minimum raises many questions as to training. A few of the more glaring problems are as follows:
1. Ribando and her daughter were interviewed and asked questions together in the upstairs bedroom. Ribando and her child should have been separated immediately and asked questions separately about what happened. Ribando at one point seemed to correct the child. From what they both said, they both could have been considered victims.
2. Two officers where present with Ribando and both interacted and asked questions. Only one officer should have asked all the questions and conversed with Ribando conducting the interview, and that was the officer who had his lapel camera on. The other officer should have stood absolutely quiet or conversed only with the other officer in the room who was conducting the interview. When asked how and where she was shoved, the “non-interviewing” officer suggested perhaps in the shoulders. Ribando never made make it clear just how or where she was shoved but said she was of slight buildt and fell.
3. Neither Ribando nor the child were asked about bruising or physical injury inflicted. Ribando was asked if she needed medical attention and she said no, but it was never determined if the child needed such attention. There was a female officer who was present that could have asked to be shown any bruising or physical injury.
4. Patrick was never confronted directly by the investing officers with the accusations made by Ribando nor the child. The female assisting officer did engage in a lengthy conversation with Patrick and at one point expressed an opinion that it is not illegal for people to argue.
5. When Patrick asked to get belongings so he could leave the residence, he was given unfettered access to the entire house first to an upstairs bedroom and then down downstairs into the garage, followed by one police officer who lost direct sight of Patrick’s whereabouts and the police officer could not see what Patrick was actually retrieving .
6. Neither Patrick nor Ribando were asked their employment nor future contacts, at least not in the video.
7. The video does not give any indications if Ribando was given contact information for the Albuquerque Domestic Violence Resource Center which works with APD.
8. Patrick was allowed to leave the home without providing contact information where he was going or how he could be found.
9. The video that was released by APD did not have the face of the 8 year old child redacted which was solely the responsibility of APD forensics before the video was released.
10. Although it was originally reported that APD would be issuing a criminal summons for Michael Patrick for the charge of battery on a household member, to date nothing has been filed. Sources have confirmed that APD has not filed any criminal complaint with the courts and that it is not likely one will be filed at all.
Michael Patrick has resigned his position as spokesman for the District Attorney’s office.
PANDEMIC “STAY HOME ORDERS” CONTRIBUTES TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE “CYCLE OF VIOLENCE”
The term “cycle of violence” refers in domestic violence cases to repeated and dangerous acts of violence as a cyclical pattern. The term is associated with high emotions and violent actions of retribution or revenge. The pattern, or cycle, repeats over and over again in time, it can last years, happening many times during a relationship. The pandemic quarantine orders have added to the cycle of violence. You can read about the cycle of violence in the postscript to this blog article.
According local advocacy groups that help domestic violence victims, the pandemic quarantine orders have created a volatile and even more complicated problems for victims of domestic violence. The quarantine orders are resulting in victims being isolated with their abuser during times of severe emotional strain bought on by unemployment and the financial strain that accompanies it.
Domestic violence shelters are reporting that they are being forced to cut their capacity to follow social distancing guidelines. Advocacy groups are also largely being force to change the way they interact with victims of domestic violence and are forced to use mobile devices for counseling and to do interventions to help victims.
Vincent Galbiati, executive director at the Domestic Violence Resource Center, said the pandemic has created the “perfect storm” for domestic violence by saying:
“There’s not one set pattern, but you can imagine that if you are isolated as a victim with your abuser, it’s an incredibly vulnerable, and at times dangerous, situation.”
Galbiati said that his resource center has seen an increase in one month by a staggering 80% in all services it offers. Those increases include the counseling help line, remote counseling and overall intakes. Normally, the resource center helps around 350 victims each month. The number of intakes has jumped to 450 since the virus outbreak. Galbiati said he expects the number of victims to peak to 650 victims a month and said:
“When this became something that we felt could compromise our operations, we pulled our directors together and went through, I’ll call it, a ‘war room scenario … We’re just not planning for the next six weeks – we’re planning for the next six months. … What it really boils down to, in every case where there is a victim that is under immediate or dire threat, they need services and we’re just not going to deny that. That’s just not part of our culture ”
Galbiati said that in the “most dire” cases, where a restraining order or relocation is needed, the Domestic Violence Resource Center will dispatch someone to be there in person.
A major obstacle for the Domestic Violence Resource Center is victims refusing to reach out for help. Galbiati explained the reluctance of victims this way:
“If you are in a situation that you’re isolated, you’re just not going to take a risk. Even reaching out to DVRC constitutes a risk. … You’re not going to try to provoke any situation that may turn violent, and you are also not going to turn to help in the event that your abuser realizes you’re trying to get yourself out of that situation. It’s a huge, huge concern.”
When it comes to “safe houses” for domestic violence victims, safe houses are being affected in a totally different way. Patricia Gonzales, executive director at, said she saw a drop in crisis calls and intakes to the shelter and said:
“I suspect people were kind of hunkered down at home, afraid to leave, there was such an unknown about this virus. In general, people coming into a shelter are afraid because it’s communal living. You don’t know who you’re sharing space with, where these people are coming from, whether they’ve been exposed or not. Right now we are at about half-capacity, that we can adequately serve individuals and still keep social distancing. And so, everyone else we are putting them up in hotels.” S.A.F.E. House New Mexico has cut their shelter capacity, from 85 to 40 to abide by social distancing regulations.
INCREASED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE NEW NORMAL PREDICTED
Galbiati believes the domestic violence cases will move much like the virus. He believes that the initial spike will plateau and then go down in May or June before it surges up again and finally tapers off later into the year. Galbiati also cautions about a “new normal” by saying:
“I just think this second wave is what people have to pay attention to equally as what we’re paying attention to now. … The elevation of being isolated with a victim, I think it heightens everybody’s awareness that they are in situations that are volatile. I think what you’re going to see from this, and this elevation, is you’re going to see a new normal. … Let’s say DVRC is seeing 350 victims a month, to think that we are going to begin seeing, as our new normal, 500 a month is relatively predictable and probably will happen.”
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PERSISTENT PROBLEM
According to the most recent annual study published by the Violence Policy Center, it was reported women are more likely to be killed by men in New Mexico than nearly any other states.
The study found the state has the 10th-highest rate of women killed by men, marking the third straight year New Mexico had appeared toward the top of the list, while New Mexico’s overall homicide rate ranked lower. The report found that New Mexico spends little on treatment programs for domestic violence offenders and has little evidence of the effectiveness of those programs. The study counted 16 women killed by men in New Mexico during 2015, the most recent year for which data was are available at the time.
The rate of 1.52 victims per 100,000 women is higher than the national rate of 1.12. Nearly all the woman killed were by someone they knew. Most of the killings were not connected to any other felony. Half followed arguments between the victim and her killer. Current statistics are 1 in 3 New Mexico women will experience domestic violence in thier lifetime. 18,000 domestic violence calls were made in 2017 with 8,000 calls made in Albuquerque. 30% of the calls had a child as a witness. Nationwide 3 women are killed daily from domestic violence.
New Mexico has ranked among the top 10 states with the highest rates of women killed by men during the last decade. The Violence Policy Center promotes gun control and found that each state at the top of the list of women killed by men have a high rate of firearm ownership which no doubt includes New Mexico’s gun culture. Children exposed to domestic violence often come from broken homes and live in poverty. Study after study reveal that domestic violence involving children usually results in the child growing up with mental health problems and become an abuser of their own children and spouse.
For more see the following links:
NEW MEXICO TRIES TO GET AHEAD OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CRISIS
Two major gun control measures were enacted by the 2019 New Mexico Legislature, one requiring back ground checks on private sales of guns and the other requiring domestic violence abusers to surrender firearms. Senate Bill 8 enacted by legislature and signed into law requires background checks for guns sold privately and at gun shows. Private gun sales have to go through a federal firearms licensee to do a federal instant background check. Senate Bill 328 also enacted and signed into law prohibits gun possession by someone who’s subject to an order of protection under the Family Violence Protection Act. Under the enacted legislation domestic abusers must surrender their firearms to law enforcement. The gun possession prohibition also applies to people convicted of other crimes such as battery on a household member.
During the 2020 legislative session, the “Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act” or red flag was enacted, signed into law by the Governor and will take effect May 20, which is 90 days after the 2020 New Mexico legislative session ended. New Mexico will be the 18th state to adopt such a “red flag” law. The petitions can be filed upon request from a spouse, ex-spouse, parent, child, grandparent, school administrator or employer. If a law enforcement officer declines to file a petition upon request, the officer will have to file a notice of the decision with the county sheriff. A District Judge can enter an emergency 10-day risk protection order if “probable cause” is found that an individual poses a danger of causing “imminent” injury to themselves or others. The individual is then required to surrender all their firearms within 48 hours of a judge’s order or sooner. A one-year order can be imposed after a court hearing, although such an order requires a higher evidence threshold. One-year risk protection orders are subject to appeal. All firearms are required to be returned to their owner within 10 days after an order’s expiration.
During both the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions, 30 of the state’s 33 elected county sheriffs strenuously objected to the legislation as did virtually all Republican lawmakers. Elected sheriffs mounted a strong lobbying campaign to defeat passage to the point of appearing before the legislative committees in mass, fully uniformed and armed to make their point of disdain for the legislation. The County Sheriffs repeatedly spoke out against the gun legislation during legislative committee hearings. Some elected sheriffs testified that they simply would not enforce the legislation if it became law.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Some of the most dangerous calls for service any APD officer can handle are domestic violence call outs. All too often, such calls result in a suspect, a victim or a police officer getting killed because the call escalates out of control. At a bare minimum, APD needs to review the Michael Patrick and Shelly Ribando lapel camera video and determine if there was in fact any violations of the APD’s standard operating procedures, and determine why no arrests were made. If the officers involved need further training, then it should happen. More importantly, APD needs to determine if its training in the area of handling domestic violence cases is lacking. Further, APD Chief Michael Geier needs to explain why no criminal charges have been filed and the reasons given why they have not been filed.
Three years ago, then New Mexico State Auditor and candidate for Mayor Tim Keller garnered much publicity with his efforts to get the backlog of rape crisis kits processed, which had now been accomplished. As Mayor, Keller has identified that domestic violence is also a very big part of the city’s increasing violent crime and murder rates. If Keller is to believed that he is committed to addressing the city’s violent and domestic violence crime rates, he needs to get to the bottom of what happened in with the Michael Patrick and Shelly Ribando domestic call out and make sure APD’s command staff are addressing the issues. Keller should not view it as just another photo op or the subject of a press conference. Its called holding your police department accountable for their actions, including the command staff.
Bringing down violent crime involving guns, such as murders and domestic violence, is always more difficult because of issues such as inadequate mental health care and substance abuse problems. Domestic violence is clearly the most difficult category to bring down when it comes to violent crime because of the “cycle of violence” involved with such crimes. All too often in domestic violence cases, the abused decline to charge and prosecute and return to their partner or spouse with the “cycle of violence” continuing. New Mexico has ranked among the top 10 states with the highest rates of women killed by men during the last decade.
Years ago, early on in my legal career, as an Assistant District Attorney, I was assigned to the violent crime’s division and prosecuted murders and rape cases, and even reviewed child abuse cases. Years later, as Chief Deputy District Attorney for Bernalillo County, I had supervisory authority over all the felony divisions, including the Violent Crimes Division and the Domestic Violence Division. What I learned as Chief Deputy District Attorney is that Albuquerque’s dirty little secret is that domestic violence is the number-one reason why a woman is admitted to the emergency room of the University of New Mexico Hospital. Statics in Albuquerque showed that after about the 10th or 11th time there is a call out of the Albuquerque Police Department to a home for domestic violence, it is usually to pick a woman up in a body bag.
Studies reveal that domestic violence involving children usually results in the child growing up and become an abuser of their own children and spouse. Children exposed to domestic violence often come from broken homes and poverty.
New Mexico has now enacted 3 very reasonable gun control laws:
1. Back ground checks on private sales of guns
2. A law requiring domestic violence abusers to surrender firearms
3. The “Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act”
During these very difficult times brought on by the corona virus pandemic and the financial and emotional problems associated with layoffs because of the pandemic, all three laws can have a major impact on getting a handled on the increase in domestic violence. The public’s safety and enactment of all 3 laws were for the protection of those who easily become victims of gun violence especially family members and domestic violence. Now is the time for law enforcement to set aside its objection to the laws. Now that all 3 laws are on the books, law enforcement should set aside any political reservations and objections to the laws and do everything they can to enforce all 3 laws and save a few lives in the process.
CYCLE OF VIOLENCE
The term “cycle of violence” refers in domestic violence cases to repeated and dangerous acts of violence as a cyclical pattern. The term is associated with high emotions and violent actions of retribution or revenge. The pattern, or cycle, repeats over and over again in time, it can last years, happening many times during a relationship.
According to the Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services of Stockton, California, the “cycle of violence” theory was developed by Dr. Lenore Walker.
The Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services explains the cycle of violence has three distinct phases which are generally present in violent relationships:
1. Tension Building Phase
2. Violent Episode Phase
3. Remorseful/Honeymoon Phase
Outlined below by the Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services are typical feelings and behaviors exhibited by family members in the various phases of the cycle of violence.
PHASE ONE: TENSION BUILDING
WOMAN FEELS: Angry, unfairly treated, hopeless, tense, afraid, embarrassed, humiliated, disgusted, depressed.
BEHAVIOR: Nurturing, submissive, “walking on eggshells,” afraid to express feelings, may use alcohol and/or drugs to avoid situation.
PARTNER FEELS: Tense, frustrated, disgusted, self-righteous, or jealous.
BEHAVIOR: Verbally abusive, fits of anger, silent, controlling, arrogant, possessive, demanding, irritable, may use alcohol or drugs.
PHASE TWO: VIOLENT EPISODE
WOMAN FEELS: Frightened, trapped, helpless or numb.
BEHAVIOR: May try to protect self, hit back, submit helplessly, get away or seek help.
PARTNER FEELS: Angry, enraged, “right,” jealous and/or frustrated.
BEHAVIOR: Dangerously violent, has a deliberate desire to hurt or kill, out of control, irrational, “Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde”.
PHASE THREE: REMORSEFUL OR HONEYMOON
WOMAN FEELS: Relieved, angry over the incident, resentful, guilty, hopeful, in denial over the seriousness of the incident.
BEHAVIOR: Offers excuses for the batterer, may be withdrawn, tries to solve or prevent future incidents, hopes/believes changes will last.
PARTNER FEELS: Apologetic, remorseful, forgetful about degree of violence, self-righteous, unable to understand why the woman is still angry.
BEHAVIOR: Makes promises to change, blames her or others for the problem, may use alcohol or drugs as an excuse.”
For more information on the Stockton, California Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services click on the below links:
Study after study has revealed that domestic violence involving children usually results in the child growing up with psychological issues and becomes an abuser of their own children and spouse.
THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESOURCE CENTER (DVRC, INC.)
According to their web site “The Albuquerque Domestic Violence Resource Center” organization was formed in 1996 to provide an advocate alongside the Albuquerque Police at domestic violence scenes. The Domestic Violence Resource Center provides trauma informed counseling for survivors of domestic violence working towards recovery and specializing in counseling for child witnesses.
The location and contact information for the Domestic Violence Resource Center are:
Domestic Violence Resource Center
625 Silver SW, Suite 185
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102
Main Office Line: (505) 843 – 9123
Services Helpline: (505) 248 – 3165
For more on the Albuquerque Domestic Violence Resource Center click on the below link: