City to review APD's handling of child abuse cases

Posted at: 02/28/2014 3:05 PM
Updated at: 02/28/2014 6:37 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

No more falling through the cracks. Albuquerque’s city government is tackling the way police handle child abuse cases.

Somehow cops missed the red flags in the notorious child abuse murder case of Omaree Varela. Now the goal is to make sure it never happens again.

The 9-year-old boy’s own mother is accused of kicking him to death the day after Christmas. The family should have been on the radar screen for both the Albuquerque Police Department and the state Children Youth and Families Department, but in this case just about everybody agrees the system failed. Ditto for baby Izabella Montano. Police say her mother’s boyfriend raped her and beat her to death.

“When we deal with child abuse and this vulnerable population, we’ve got to tear down the barriers,’ said city Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry.

Retired APD Commander Marie “Sisi” Miranda will lead a review of police policies and procedures in child abuse cases.

“I think it’s a good idea to take a look at the policies and procedures,” Miranda said. “I’m going to look at the technology. I’m going to take a look at the training.”

Perry said the review will go beyond APD.

“They will look at the criminal justice system, the social services system, the protective services people, the service providers in the community,” Perry said. “ They’ll look at how the system works as a whole in its connectivity.”

“We’ll see the relationships that exist, how they work together, how we can improve that communication,” Miranda said. “I want to see if there’s a way we can help both the supervisors and the officers do their job better.”

The review is expected to take three or four months. Miranda will be paid $15,000 for her work leading the review.