Frank Baca is a life-long resident of Albuquerque, having graduated from Rio Grande High School, Yale University (B.A., History) and the UNM School of Law. Mr. Baca is retired after 40 years of practicing law, including work as a criminal defense lawyer and as a prosecutor. Mr. Baca has submitted the following guest column to www.PeteDinelli.com for publication.
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this guest column written by Frank Baca are those of Mr. Baca and do not necessarily reflect those of the www.petedinelli.com blog. Mr. Baca has not been paid any compensation to publish the guest column and has given his consent to publish on www.PeteDinelli.com.
A CRIMINAL JUSTICE INTERVENTION PROPOSAL
“Recently, I experienced a situation that I heard about occurring in other locations but never thought I would personally experience, that being an attempt to evict an extremely violent and uncooperative “tenant.” I never thought I would be writing an obituary for Ricky Newman. One reason is, I do not know Ricky Newman. He was a squatter living in a unit in a small apartment complex that I own. He was abusive to his “girlfriend” and to the various female neighbors in the complex; he threatened and assaulted people and pets, damaged property and generally made life miserable for a whole lot of innocent folks.
I had predicted on many occasions, to police officers, probation officers, assistant district attorneys and basically to anyone who would listen, that he would eventually kill someone or be killed. The latter occurred on or about July 19, 2022 when he was found lying dead along 2nd street, a victim of homicide. I am not prophetic but, quite frankly, it was not difficult to see he was on a path towards destruction, of self or otherwise. I do not know the circumstances of his life and upbringing that caused him to become who he became. I strongly speculate that he contributed greatly to his own condition by a multitude of bad choices.
It is not total speculation. A brief review of his criminal record shows a dozen or so arrests for domestic violence and many, many other charges, including Aggravated fleeing from an officer, Aggravated DWI, Aggravated Assault and Battery-you get the picture. At the time of his death, he was on pre-trial release and awaiting disposition of charges for Receiving Stolen Property and Felon in Possession of a Firearm. He left a trail of destruction that, in fact, leads me to believe that the world is now a safer place to live.
After his life ended the way it did, I wrote an email to friends and family to vent over the experience. The result is a conclusion that is an approach to deal with violent individuals who are causing havoc in an array of contexts and not only evictions. The approach I suggest is similar to the crisis intervention initiative that APD currently maintains, but it must be much broader. There may be similar programs that currently exist in other jurisdictions.
The approach must be broad, as crises comes in many shapes and forms, including mental health/suicide issues, substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness and financial desperation. This approach involves boots-on-the-ground intervention, which serves the purposes of addressing the underlying causes of the dysfunctional conduct and the safety concerns of the immediate victims and the community at large.
A key aspect of my proposal is to develop “teams” comprised of the following components:
- People with multi-disciplinary backgrounds,
- Government involvement (law enforcement, CYFD, probation and parole)
- Non-profit service providers involvement (domestic violence, housing, substance abuse etc.).
The tactical approach would involve the following steps:
1. Contact the individual/family in question based on calls for service from ANY of the above-listed entities or members of the public (APD program only takes referrals from a patrol officer)
2. The intervention would be with NO intent to file new charges (with obvious potential exceptions).
3. There would be temporary separation of all the individuals involved to identify issues.
4. Law enforcement must offer the individuals a no-nonsense assessment of future consequences and to advise them that they will be closely monitored.
5. non-profits should offer the individuals immediate access to resources (housing/treatment etc) and
6. Both law enforcement and non-profit reps MUST communicate with victims (they become the eyes and ears of both groups and they can start to feel safe).
7. Social workers to make contact with the family members of the targeted individuals who could be helpful in many ways.
Follow up measures would be critical. Support of the “the team” and acknowledgment of the importance of their work is crucial. The private sector or business community could be involved in this aspect. On-going communication with victims is also vital to demonstrate that their concerns are being heard. Regular follow-up by “the team” with the targeted individuals and family members.”
Had Ricky Newman been taken into custody, as was attempted, or had he been diverted to an in-patient substance abuse treatment program, he would be alive today and the community and his family would still be safe.
I absolutely advocate for consequences for violations of the law. It’s a matter of common sense. However, I also understand that to end the cycle, often requires more than punishment. I further understand that this proposal only scratches the surface and this approach requires funding. I am calling on elected officials to develop a task force to consider and fine-tune this model. This approach absolutely requires political will and support.