Child abuse task force holds first meeting

Created: 04/01/2014 10:14 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

On Tuesday, Albuquerque’s new “child abuse prevention task force” held its first public meeting.

Organizers announced a new partnership between the Albuquerque Police Department in which five Children Youth and Families Department workers will be based in APD’s Family Advocacy Center. It will give detectives instant access to CYFD and get them involved from the start.

Emma Rose Gonzales was the light of her grandma’s life.

“She loved butterflies, she loved birds, she just loved life, she was a very happy baby, happy,” Tracey Martin said.

But police say at just 22 months old, she was violently killed by her mother’s boyfriend.

“This was the only time he had ever watched Emma, he was never there with her alone before this night. I left for work and I never saw her again,” Martin said.

Martin says her family never saw signs of abuse in the year her family knew that man, but she feels there was a lost chance at prevention.

“Education is the key. Had we been educated, had we done a background check on this person we would have found out a lot and she would never ever have spent one second around him,” Martin said.

She hopes a new city task force helps the public get that education, and seals the cracks between different agencies like nine-year-old Omaree Varela slipped through. His mother is charged with kicking him to death.

Tuesday, panelists from that task force held their first of several public forums. They want the community to weigh in on what they think would help improve the current system.

“The meeting's driving the focus areas through the input from the community,” Marie Sisi Miranda said.

They’ll take those ideas and work out the details in the “working group” sessions. 

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