APD works to seal up cracks for child abuse cases

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Albuquerque police is working hard to make sure child abuse cases don’t fall through the cracks by ensuring officers get crucial information when responding to calls and they may use technology to speed up the process.

A hot button issue sparked after the death of Omaree Varela, 9. It even got the governor’s attention.

“It makes no sense for an officer and case worker to work on the same case and never share notes,” Governor Susana Martinez said in early April.

APD officers took three calls of possible child abuse against the boy before his mom kicked him to death in December 2013. However, they didn’t know of all 9 referrals to the Children Youth and Families Department.

APD recently started-up the Child Abuse Prevention Task Force to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Their goal is synching up CYFD’s and APD’s databases.

“We can make it work. We are confident we can make data connections with different agencies we can make it work,” Wilham said.

However, APD may take a step further. The department is looking at new technology to speed information.

“We’re looking at what we call GIS or GPS technology that would alert an officer’s cell phone if they step foot on a property thats connected to a warrant,” Wilham said.

Right now, APD knows the technology can send information like warrants or previous arrests. They’re wondering if they could also add alerts of previous CYFD calls.

Wilham said that information could be crucial.

“Just knowing that this child might be under the supervision of CYFD or there might be a CYFD case there is certainly important information that an officer should have,” Wilham said. “The wheels are turning on how we might be able to do that.”

That could mean that officers will know within seconds if a family has been on CYFD’s radar or which child has been the focus of child abuse allegations before.

The Child Abuse Prevention Task Force is behind the efforts to link up the two agencies. Wilham said the only hiccup is finding out how to get enough CYFD information to officers without violating privacy laws.

Wilham said the new police chief is on board and wants to see the new technology in place soon.

Right now, they’re trying to figure out how much it would cost.

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