Posts Tagged ‘New Mexico’

Rape kits in New Mexico

December 17, 2018

New Mexico has cleared its state crime lab backlog of 1,400 rape kits, while Albuquerque PD has cleared about half of its nearly 6,000 kit backlog, according to this article. The city’s testing has led to 575 matches so far, including both previously identified and unidentified suspects. To date, only 4 new cases have been referred for prosecution. Police say that once they get a match, they “begin a lengthy review of the evidence in the case and identify witnesses before reaching out to victims about the outcome of the rape kit tests.”

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Navajo Nation police revival

October 3, 2018

The largest tribal police force is Navajo Nation, which covers an area larger than West Virginia. The agency struggled for almost a decade without a permanent police chief, but recently re-opened its police academy and graduated a new class of officers, with another class underway, according to this article. A senior officer says homegrown policing is key: “We are from this community. We understand the language, the personalities, the puns that we have. We understand our own people better than anyone who would come in.”

DNA errors

September 27, 2018

DNA evidence is widely regarded as iron-clad. Particularly when the evidence is a mixture from several people, however, crime labs are prone to make errors, according to this op-ed column. In one study, 74 out of 105 labs incorrectly implicated an innocent person in a test sample, and the labs’ calculations of probability statistics varied hugely. Independent reanalysis of DNA has recently led courts to overturn 5 convictions. Efficient methods are now available for reanalysis of DNA mixtures in past cases, but labs and prosecutors do not seem anxious to adopt them.

Federal judge rules against Albuquerque civil forfeiture

July 31, 2018

This article reports a federal district court ruling that Albuquerque’s civil forfeiture procedure for vehicle seizure is unconstitutional. The city had a practice of seizing cars involved in DUI and driving while revoked cases even though the offending driver was not the owner, and then requiring the owner to prove their innocence in the case and pay heavy fines before getting the vehicle back. Also, the city used the revenue from the program to directly support program staff, creating a clear incentive to raise funds at the expense of vehicle owners.

Improving line-up procedures

July 16, 2018

This article reviews suggested modifications to police line-up procedures designed to reduce mistaken identifications by witnesses, which account for 29% of post-conviction exonerations. Better procedures have been well known for 20+ years and have been endorsed by professional organizations, but not all departments have adopted them. Louisiana recently enacted statewide requirements, with proposals also pending in California, Iowa, and New Mexico.

Prevalence of police in schools varies

July 12, 2018

This article reviews data on police assigned to schools. Two-thirds of high school students attend a school that has an officer assigned, compared to 45% for middle school and 19% for elementary school. School officers are most common in Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and North Carolina, least common in New York, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Iowa, and Michigan. The evidence on the impact of officers in schools on arrests, offenses, and student behavior is mixed and inconclusive.

Gun deaths of men by race & state

May 12, 2018

This article and video report an analysis of 9 years of U.S. death certificates, comparing non-Hispanic black and white men. Four findings stand out regarding men’s gun deaths: (1) nationally, black men were about 15 times more likely than white men to die of firearm homicides; (2) white men were almost 3 times more likely to die of gun suicides; (3) rates varied widely across the states; and (4) firearm homicides were higher in urban areas while gun suicides were higher in rural areas. Rhode Island had the lowest overall gun homicide rate, Missouri the highest. Massachusetts had the lowest firearm suicide rate, New Mexico the highest.

NMSP chief urges more transparency

December 13, 2017

In New Mexico the Law Enforcement Academy Board has the authority to suspend or revoke officer certification. Its decisions are public but supporting documents are not posted, although they can be obtained through a public records request. According to this article, the state police chief has suggested posting the full record in the interest of transparency and to ensure that any agency considering hiring a previously fired officer has ready access to such information.

Transparency or public relations?

October 26, 2017

This article reviews police practices in releasing body cam video, noting a tendency to promote positive stories while refusing to provide video in situations where actions might have been improper. This pattern risks hurting police legitimacy if the public comes to believe that officials are cherry-picking what to release rather than truly honoring transparency.

Making the transition from soldier to cop

March 31, 2017

This article highlights challenges faced by officers and their departments when transitioning from combat to civilian policing. National data are elusive but the rate of psychological issues, including PTSD and suicide, seems higher among returning soldiers. In addition, veterans’ preference in police hiring often interferes with efforts to increase the number of women and minority officers.