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New City Diversion Program Aims to Break Career-Criminal Pipeline, Reduce Crime

Rapid Accountability Diversion Program will help bring restorative justice, decrease recidivism.

January 21, 2020

Mayor Tim Keller launched the Albuquerque Police Department’s Rapid Accountability Diversion (RAD) Program. RAD is a diversion program designed to end the pipeline that escalates first-time offenders into lifelong criminals. It will be limited to qualified, low-level, infrequent offenders, including youth, giving them the opportunity to participate in rehabilitative programs.

Mayor Keller said, “We know repeat offenders are a big part of the crime problem. When we let low-level crimes lead to isolation, escalation, and eventually violence, we miss a huge opportunity to intervene early and halt that cycle in its tracks. Especially with youth, we want to make sure they have the opportunity to get on the right path and become part of the solution. This is just one part of our effort to break cycles of violence and ultimately reduce crime in lasting ways.”

RAD is a restorative justice program that will focus on the reducing the cycle of harm that is involved in each individual criminal act and how it interrupts healthy development in specific communities. RAD goes hand-in-hand with other APD initiatives, like the VIP Program, which proactively interrupts the cycle of violent crime in Albuquerque by focusing on victims and offenders and pairing public health and law enforcement.

Mayor Keller has appointed Tonya Covington, an expert in mediation, coalition and consensus building, community collaboration, and restorative justice training to run the program. 

“Diversion is instrumental in helping first time offenders into a rehabilitative program instead of just putting them on a path to career criminality,” said Covington. “I know addressing the underlying causes of crime is this administration’s top priority, and I’ll bring all my experience in our community to bear to build healthier, safer neighborhoods for all of us.”

Before joining the City’s public safety effort, Covington was the Director of Conflict Resolution at Outcomes, Inc. She brings experience with APS’ Restorative Justice program and has worked as a mediator with the Metropolitan Court and the Thirteenth Judicial District Court.

She has been a Community Health Worker with the New Mexico Shared Strategic Plan Leadership Committee, the African American Health Network, the Native American Partnership, Project HOPE, and the New Mexico Health Equity Working Group, where she chaired the Deconstructing Racism Committee, as well as a Racial Justice Coordinator with the YWCA of the Middle Rio Grande.

As the program director, Covington will develop and manage the RAD Program in the Albuquerque Police Department, overseeing a range of programs and services that reduce recidivism and heal communities impacted by crime.

The RAD program will work directly with the offenders and their families, as well as track the participation of offenders in the programs, work with police, the courts, educators, and program providers.