Albuquerque police is under new scrutiny about how it handled two high-profile cases involving children, and the Police Oversight Board has questions about detectives and how they do their work.
Over the last two years APD has been involved in two high profile cases involving children.
“There appears to be a pattern, issues with investigations,” Ed Harness said.
Harness is the executive director of the Civilian Police Oversight Agency. It’s an independent group that investigates and reviews civilian complaints against officers.
In one case, Harness is referring to Victoria Martens, the 10-year-old raped and murder in her mother’s westside apartment in 2016.
Then, this year two Albuquerque parents were accused of abusing and prostituting their 7-year-old daughter.
Harness said both cases showed investigative flaws. So, Thursday night at a regularly scheduled meeting with APD, the police oversight board has a list of questions for the department
“We want to go back to the basics of detectives,” Harness said. “How they’re chosen, what training do they get, and how is it decided what investigative unit they go to?”
In the prostitution case, the department fell under heavy criticism when an officer, shown on lapel video, questioned collecting a pair of bloody underwear as evidence after the 7-year-old’s teacher told police the girl was wearing them the day before. That was back in November.
APD said the officer on the call, was given direction by a detective not to collect the evidence because they had not been stored in a secure area.
Then, last week in the Victoria Martens’ case, District Attorney Raul Torres told KRQE News 13 that when he took office five months after the murder, cellphone data had not been checked, witness statements were incomplete, and the DNA found on Victoria hadn’t been tested.
“So where does APD drop that off to the district attorney’s office for (the DA’s office) investigation to pick up, is a question that the board will ask (Thursday) night,” Harness said.
KRQE News 13 tried reaching out to police to ask some of the same questions. The department declined to comment and said someone will be at Thursday’s meeting to respond to the board.