Mayor’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force Presents Findings
Albuquerque, NM— Today, Mayor Richard J. Berry, joined Children, Youth, and Families Deputy Secretary Jennifer Padgett, Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden Jr., and Task Force Coordinator Marie (Sisi) Miranda to rollout the recommendations provided by the child protection community and clinical experts. The goals of the task force were to:
1) Identify focus areas and opportunities to improve collaboration
2) Consider technological solutions to share critical information
3) Enhance training for APD Officers and adjunct child protection personnel
4) Bring about public awareness regarding a comprehensive strategy for ensuring the safety and welfare of children
In February 2014, following the tragic death of Omaree Varela, Mayor Berry launched a task force with the mission to help victims of child abuse and to improve prevention methods. The task force, led by Miranda, a former city’s Crimes Against Children Unit and former deputy secretary of the state Department of Public Safety, hosted multiple community meetings and included a variety of experts in the development and formulation of recommendations. Focusing on sustainable reforms, the task force developed multiple recommendations, including:
- The co-location of CYFD’s Protective Services Division to work in collaboration with Detectives at the Family Advocacy Center
- Child abuse calls require a mandatory written police report (since starting the Task Force there have been no cases of unfiled reports)
- Specialized scenario-based training, that surpass the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy’s recommendations, related to the handling of child abuse cases
- The sharing of critical information and child abuse data between CYFD and APD
- Hiring of Social Workers to work with Crimes Against Children Detectives
- Tracking System for CYFD and APD cases that go to the District Attorney’s Office
- Suggested legislation to be pursued at the state level
The Mayor included in his budget, which was approved by City Council, more than $200,000 dedicated to hiring a Child Abuse Liaison, seed money for a computerized child protection network, along with funds to upgrade equipment used during child abuse interviews.
“This detailed task force report bolsters our efforts to ensure that our city does all we can to care for those who are most vulnerable in our community,” said Mayor Berry. “These young victims deserve all the support we can offer. The task force recommendations highlight and build upon existing partnerships to tackle this heartbreaking issue.”
Chief Eden said, “I’m proud the department has absorbed these recommendations. We have dedicated personnel that are moms, dads, sisters, and brothers, who are eager to improve our community and embrace these efforts to protect the children within our city.”
“Protecting the children of our community has always been a passion of mine. I’m so thankful to the Mayor and CAO Rob Perry for allowing me to oversee this most important process,” said Miranda.
Although the Task Force recommendations are specific to the Albuquerque Police Department and its collaborative partners, some findings could assist partners across multiple jurisdictions and other important organizations, involved in this issue, throughout Albuquerque.