The Albuquerque Police Department says it will soon train current and future violent crime detectives under a whole new set of standards.
APD says the new standards will incorporate homicide investigations, warrant writing, interview and interrogations and management of major case investigations along with a first-of-its-kind “year-long mentorship” for new detectives.
“In the past we haven’t had a thoughtful set of standards that we want for our detectives to meet,” said Gilbert Gallegos, communications director for Albuquerque Police.
While the department says it has been looking at setting new training standards for some time, the change comes more than six months after the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office made a surprising announcement in the Victoria Martens murder case.
Nearly two years after Martens murder, the DA publicly announced in a June 2018 news conference that much of what detectives first thought about how Victoria was killed was wrong. Detectives initial theory was mainly based on a confession from Michelle Martens.
“Many of the key elements in Michelle Martens’ statement to police were false, and that much of what has been reported about this case is simply not true,” said District Raul Torrez during the June 2018 news conference.
“I think that is an example where you had a really unique set of circumstances, where people involved in the actual crime, the mother’s confession to these crimes that turned out not to be true, you know, a detective takes that and kind of runs with it,” said Gallegos reflecting on APD’s initial investigation.
Gallegos told KRQE News 13 Friday that the Martens’ case was notable in considering its standards for detectives training.
“It did play a role and helps us more thoughtfully on what we wanted of our detectives,” said Gallegos.
The upcoming training overhaul will apply to all violent crime detectives. According to APD, that includes about 75 investigators, supervisors and civilian employees across homicide, sex crimes, armed robbery, multi-agency task force, child exploitation, cold case, missing person, area command impact teams, major crime scene and crime scene specialist divisions.
“We wanted it consistent, across the board, so everyone knows exactly how to do every aspect of the investigation,” said Gallegos.
In the past, APD says a detective’s promotion has mainly been granted to officers based on years of service, then learning from current detectives.
Gallegos says the new training will formalize standards and incorporate skills testing.
“Conducting interviews and interrogations, writing warrants, appearing in courtrooms, the whole investigatory process, from the start of investigation all the way through the prosecution,” said Gallegos.
The department expects to finish the training in the next four months. It’s spending at least $70,000 on the training, which is being led by former APD homicide detective Damon Fay.