ABQ 4WARD: How do law enforcement officers feel about the pretrial detention system? | KOB 4
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ABQ 4WARD: How do law enforcement officers feel about the pretrial detention system?

Ryan Laughlin
Created: February 03, 2020 10:41 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— Many law enforcement officers are no stranger to the game of catch and release. That’s where they arrest the same offender multiple times.  For many officers, the repetition of arresting the same person is frustrating.

“I think the most I think I've cited and or arrested the same person probably upwards of ten for the same thing which was criminal trespass, I think,” said APD Sergeant Larry Middleton.

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KOB 4 sent out a survey to members of the police officers’ union to get their feedback on the state’s pretrial detention system. Of the dozen who’ve responded so far, a vast majority said it wasn’t working.

The change to the system was approved by voters several years ago in order to reform the state’s bail procedure. In order to keep a defendant behind bars until trial, prosecutors must prove the defendant is a danger to the community.

Data from the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office show about half of the time, judges allow defendants to be released, even in cases involving firearms.

One officer who responded to the survey said the bond system should be brought back. Another said “violent criminals reoffend with no fear of staying in jail pending trial.”

"And it just seems to be that revolving door concept,” said APD Chief Mike Geier.

Geier sees the problem from the top.

"It's frustrating for the officers because you arrest somebody—auto theft for example. You catch an auto thief, it's a felony, but it's a low grade felony. So, when they get their hearing there's no evidence of violence,” he said.

"To me that is something that's a legislative thing. That's something that's—my job is to enforce the laws and I can't change the legislation,” said Sergeant Middleton.

As officers wait to see changed to the system, they continue to do what they can with the laws already in place.

“The only thing I can do and explain to my officers, is make sure we have good cases. I have them slow down the way we write our cases because if it's articulating a danger to the community and if we don't do a good job on our end—articulating it—if I’m lazy and I just arrest him and I just arrest him and say I arrested him for a warrant for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, well that’s not enough,” Sergeant Middleton said.

Despite the frustrations, there is optimism.

"I think Albuquerque has the potential to turn around completely,” Middleton said. "I think everybody is getting fed up with it. And if we come together as a community and say this is our town not the criminals' town, we can all make a change."


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