Former commander to review APD abuse policies

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The city is about to take a close look at how APD handles child abuse cases.

On Friday, it announced it hired a former APD commander to review its policies.

This was all spurred by the death of 9-year-old Omaree Varela and the five officers under investigation, accused of dropping the ball and not helping him.

Not once, but three times, APD was called to investigate abuse allegations against Omaree.

The most troubling was when two officers went to Omaree’s home last summer after a 911 call revealed Omaree being verbally abused.

The APD officers who responded to Omaree’s home did nothing because they never listened to the tape.

By Christmas, Omaree would be dead, allegedly kicked to death by his mother.

“I’m gonna look at their policies and procedures, what they are doing in the field,” said investigator Sisi Miranda. “Is it what’s reflected in the policies and procedures?”

The city hired Miranda to really dig deep to figure out what’s not working and if changes need to be made when officers deal with child abuse cases.

“We want to see if we at the Albuquerque Police Department are using best practices when it comes to the interface with over service providers involving child abuse cases,” Miranda said.

She says she’ll take a look to see how APD is working with all the agencies including CYFD and the DA’s office.

APD will pay the retired APD commander $15,000 for the review which could take up to 120 days.

Miranda says she’ll start by interviewing police officers.

“Maybe there’s a training issue that exists. I don’t know that yet. I sure will find out,” she said.

Miranda will also have help from Dr. Renee Ornelas, a pediatrician who specializes in child abuse, and Krisztina Ford, the CEO of a non-profit that helps kids and families.

Miranda will also reach out for help from the community.

“It’s not that simple and that’s the reality of it,” Miranda said.

The two officers who went to Omaree’s home after that 911 call were put on paid leave. City Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry wouldn’t say whether they’ll be fired.

“Well, obviously looking at those tapes and what occurred out in the field was concerning,” Perry said. “But we really can’t pre-judge that at this particular juncture.”

Three other officers are still working while being investigated.

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