ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It was a crime so shocking, so brutal, it shook the state to its core. A little girl who had just turned 10 years old one day earlier, raped, murdered and dismembered.
It left many wondering how the system failed, and there were a lot of promises to fix it, so has it been? One year after the crime, KRQE News 13 asked the head of the Children, Youth and Families Department to find out.
Victoria Martens’ own mother, her boyfriend and his cousin are accused in the crime.
There was a lot of blame after it was revealed that CYFD had received at least five calls about Victoria and her brother, and that CYFD case workers had contact with Victoria on at least four prior occasions.
There were promises by CYFD to do better.
“I truly believe that everyone who’s had any interaction with this child and with this family has lost sleep asking themselves that question…Did they do enough?” CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson said in January 2017.
So one year later, what has changed?
CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson says lots of changes have been made, and not just with law enforcement.
CYFD officials also say big changes have happened in their dealings with the schools by creating new school liaisons, which can be front and center in the fight against child abuse.
Another big issue dealt with staffing. In 2014, they had 340 workers and should’ve had 448. They now have 447 field workers and 509 slots.
More people on the ground can help investigate more cases, and more thoroughly. However, Jacobson says a big part of this is still the public and accountability.
“If you believe abuse is happening, call us, and [if you] don’t think we do enough, call again,” Jacobson said.
The secretary says people are often very good at hiding what’s going on in their homes, so persistence from people who suspect abuse is good. They’re also working with case workers to do better on that as well.
CYFD officials say they’ve also recently started a new program identifying at-risk kids and then intervening early on, in an effort to stop abuse before it ever starts.