ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce hosted Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez at a virtual event for the third annual CrimeSTAT briefing on Thursday, Dec. 3. Torrez updated the business community on developments in crime trends in Bernalillo County in addition to the tools, initiatives, and federal partnerships implemented or established in the last year.
COVID-19 is having an impact. This year, statistics show property crimes are down in New Mexico. However, violent crime is up by 4% and homicides are on pace with last year.
The District Attorney’s Office says COVID-19 has had a major impact on felony cases. They say they have a backlog of 1,300 cases and some of that is because of the elimination of the grand jury due to the pandemic.
“When we are on the other side of the pandemic, when we have a vaccine that is widely available and when the criminal justice system starts to function as it should, one of the things that you will see from my office is a request to the district court and the New Mexico Supreme Court to substantially increase, not just return our normal access to the grand jury but to actually increase the available grand jury panels so that we can start digging out of this hole,” said Torrez.
Torrez also highlighted his office’s continued efforts using technology to help crime fighting and prosecution efforts. The DA’s Office is working on a new system called “Case Catcher,” designed to streamline evidence collection needed for prosecution. Equating the system to a data repository like TurboTax, Torrez says the now under development system will standardized information coming into his office and ideally reduce the number of cases that are dismissed based on missing “discovery,” or evidence that hasn’t been handed off from police department to the prosecutors.
The DA’s Office is also continuing its partnership with New Mexico Tech and Albuquerque-based data and analytics firm RS21 to create a new criminal information system called “Intela.” Torrez says the system “enhances public safety” by allowed prosecutors to identify, separate and focus on the “violent drivers of crime” in the community and their corresponding “co-offender networkers.”
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