The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court and the Albuquerque Police Department announced on Friday, February 10, 2012 an aggressive new approach to deal with DWI and domestic violence defendants who fail to appear in court or fail comply with court orders.
Albuquerque - Each week, APD will receive a package of “hot warrants” from Metropolitan Court. These are the most recently-issued bench warrants for defendants considered to be the biggest threats to community safety or those who have the most serious charges pending against them. APD officers will hit the streets to immediately seek out these offenders.
“This new effort helps us accomplish a number of goals for community safety,” said Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court Chief Judge Judith Nakamura. “It raises the expectation that those defendants will be quickly sought out and arrested. And, we want them to complete their commitments to the court and to their community.”
Mayor Richard J. Berry, who announced the new program Friday with Judge Nakamura said the joint effort between the Court and the Police Department will continue to improve public safety in Albuquerque.
“We are proud to work together with the Court on this new program that will bring people to justice,” Mayor Berry said. “This is a perfect example of how the city and the justice system can work together to improve public safety.”
The package Metro Court will provide APD will consist of warrants that have been issued to defendants who failed to show up in court or pay their fines for the previous week. Before the new program, at times it took months before law enforcement tried to serve the warrant. By then addresses had changed making it difficult to find a defendant.
“We want everyone with a bench warrant to know that if you don’t show up for court or do what the judge said we will be looking for you right away,” Police Chief Raymond Schultz said.
Both Judge Judith Nakamura and Chief Schultz said the ideal situation would be for all defendants with bench warrants to come to the courthouse to resolve their issues. The court has an easily accessible walk-up window and clerks ready to help in the Customer Service lobby of the courthouse. People can also visit Metro Court’s web site at www.metrocourt.state.nm.us to see if they have a warrant. Web browsers need to click on case look up and enter their name and date of birth.
“We want to give defendants every opportunity to resolve their warrants so they don’t have to face the embarrassment or inconvenience of being arrested and taken to jail,” said Judge Nakamura.
She added that the Hot Warrants program will not replace the court’s regular Operation Warrant Enforcement Round-ups. They occur quarterly and another is scheduled for early February.