Local non-profit questions who Albuquerque police continue to arrest

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An Albuquerque non-profit is outraged over who Albuquerque police continue to arrest despite an order from the former chief of police.

Last May, former Chief Gorden Eden sent a directive, ordering officers to issue citations instead of arrests for non-violent crimes, like prostitution.

The orders are part of the McClendon Lawsuit. Jimmie McClendon filed a lawsuit in 1995 on behalf of a group of inmates at MDC. He sued the city and county following a misdemeanor arrest. It centered on jail overcrowding and took more than 20 years to resolve.

So for things like trespassing, indecent exposure and prostitution, officers were told to issue citations.

“We have been told repeatedly by the police that they are no longer arresting for any petty misdemeanors,” Christine Barber said.

Barber is the Executive Director of Street Safe New Mexico, a non-profit dedicated to helping women get off the street. 

Barber claims APD hasn’t followed through with the special order. She said, there have been a few dozen people arrested for prostitution since January. So Barber has some questions for the new administration.

KRQE News 13 looked at the city’s crime map to collect the numbers, but they were not posted.

“Why are they still arresting them and is it because they’re women and they’re an easy population to harass because they’re visible on the street?” Barber said.

KRQE News 13 found five women were arrested just last week and all of them charged with prostitution. APD spokesperson, Officer Simon Drobik, explained that when the department’s VICE unit holds a prostitution operation, due to officer safety, they can’t just issue citations.

“Officers are under cover. If they have a two day operation and we cite somebody, that person has now looked at us. What we’re wearing. Who we are,” Officer Drobik said. “We can’t release that person back into the public and then they come across somebody and they say, ‘That’s an officer.’ Then you’re putting that officer’s life in jeopardy.”

Barber argues there has to be another way, and she’s willing to speak with APD to find a solution.

“Stop thinking, ‘Oh. She’s just a prostitute on Central,’ to, ‘She’s a sex trafficking victim,’ because she was either forced to or started under age, have that be your mind set,” Barber said. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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