Community members react to OMI funding boost for MMIW cases, expanded research

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Community members and advocates are now responding to news of the Office of the Medical Investigator receiving $374,000 in federal funds to help with data collection.

According to community members and advocates, this funding should be the first of many steps.

"This story, unfortunately, has happened since 1492, right? And that’s the sad thing," filmmaker Ricky Lee said. "The funding is absolutely necessary and it should’ve happened a long time ago."

"There needs to be more training for law enforcement," attorney Darlene Gomez said. "And that should become policy and procedure both for OMI and for different law enforcement."

Gomez has her own private practice and works as a general counsel.

"I started my first case when I was a legal intern, and that was in about 2000 and 2001," said Gomez, who has also worked with tribal government, the FBI, the courts and jails.

"When we’re talking about anthropologists and trying to find old bones, that’s just a small step in the overall failure of OMI and that’s not based on OMI themselves," Gomez added. "It’s about legislation and funding and funding with police officers, so that’s where we have to hold our leadership accountable."

"The country as a whole needs to really look after their people," filmmaker Orlando Skidmore said. "Whether the people are your neighbors or are from different backgrounds and have different stories, they’re still your neighbors."

Gomez also believes having a DNA database accessible for family members would also seriously help.